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Got a Bigger, Badder UPS

I have an APC Back-UPS ES 500R that, for darn near a year now ((Really, it probably began failing when I got my Mac Pro.)), has not really behaved very well. I've always had the computer (Mac Pro) and my 23" Cinema plugged into the battery powered side, and a single other item (my mouse docking station/charger) plugged into the surge-protection side. The rest of my accessories (like a scanner and a USB hub) are powered from another outlet.

The darn thing would beep and within three seconds, my computer would shut off. This happened anywhere from zero to four times per week, with an average of about once per week. Sometimes it would occur when I wasn't using the computer (I'd return to find it sitting at the login screen), and other times I'd be sitting here just reading a web page when the thing would go off.

It's not the most stout of UPSes, but I thought it should have handled the job and given me 2-3 minutes to quit apps and shut down when the power went out. It didn't - even the slightest flicker or drop in power and BAMMO, instant shutdown. It worked fine with my 23" Cinema and my previous tower - a G5 - but this Mac Pro must use a good bit more juice.

As of today, I've replaced it with a APC Back-UPS RS 1500VA LCD. This thing can pump out 865 watts as opposed to the 300 from the previous model. According to the LCD panel, I'm typically at about 280 watts. That's right up against the limit on the previous model. At 432.5 watts (half of this unit's output), I should have 13.4 minutes to shut down cleanly. This parallels what the unit itself tells me: that I have between 16 and 17 minutes.

So anyway, a few words of advice: have a UPS for your desktop machines (laptops aren't as vulnerable given their internal batteries, but a surge protector is still a wise investment), and make sure it's powerful enough to suit your needs, both now and in the future.

Now I have to figure out what to do with a fairly good UPS…

6 Responses to "Got a Bigger, Badder UPS"

  1. Ah, you should have put a post up before with the problem. If there was a feasible method of sending it 2 hours north, I'd have sent you a Smart-UPS 1400.

  2. Somewhat offtopic, the only indication I had that your post was longer than it appeared in my RSS reader was the way it ended without actually mentioning anything about the bigger badder UPS. I've seen other RSS feeds cut with a "Read more..." or similar.

  3. I have had this issue with other UPS'es in the future, but honestly I have never been as tolerant as you are. I've basically upgraded my UPS situation three times in the past.
    I will start by saying that I buy ALL of my UPS equipment refurb with NEW batteries. You can get CRAZY deals this way and I would never buy them any other way.
    I'm also not sure how you could tolerate a UPS failing, I have consistently had a one-strike failure policy.
    I started off with a SmartUPS 1000VA, nice box, worked fine for a year or two but eventually the batteries died, it eventually was unable to preform AVR (voltage boost) and was ditched.
    I then purchased a nice SU1400RMNET, this was rather oversized for what I needed and as a result did last for nearly 4! years.
    That UPS developed an issue that caused it to one time simply shut down completely. It was thus retired.
    It's now been replaced with an APC SU3000RMXL3U, hopefully this one will last a good long while.

    While this may seem like a bit of overkill, I am in a somewhat unique situation. Due to the area that I am in brownouts are a "frequent" occurrence. Especially in the summer months (like right now) I can see (I graph the data from the SNMP card in the UPS) the input voltage on the UPS dropping as low as 110V on a daily basis.
    This leads to frequent bursts of AVR.

    I would also say that while the RS series of back-ups products seems better than the other back-ups products I have only had bad experiences with the back-ups stuff and stick strictly to the commercial-grade smart-ups stuff.

  4. I have the ES 700 myself, and though I luckily don't use it that much, it has always worked when needed to. Nice feature with the LCD though, could be handy. Hope it works out for ya.

  5. I have the ES550 with a Mac Pro, a 23" LCD and a 17" LCD (via ADC adapters) plugged into the battery side.

    I've never had a brown-out, though, as the power is pretty well conditioned at my office... so i don't know if it'll stand up to the task.

    I wonder if i should go bigger... and an LCD would be a nice feature to have.

  6. [...] APC Back-UPS RS 1500VA LCD that I got in July, 2008 (product page) has served me well. It's an 865 Watt, 1500 VA unit that gives me around 18 minutes [...]