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  1. #1
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    UPS and surge protector

    Hello, everyone! I'm new to this board, so please bear with my limited computer expertise.
    After losing two computers to post-Ivan power fluctuations, I have purchased a new computer and what I thought was a really good surge protector. However, after reading threads on this board (lurking, I believe you call it <G>)) I realized that a UPS would be much more useful. I have purchased a CyberPower UPS, 625AVR, with software for shutdown. The CyberPower states it provides 825 joules surge protection; the APC SurgeArrest states it provides 3400 joules protection. Should I run the surge protector from the UPS to the computer, vice versa, or leave it off altogether? Power here is still somewhat inconstant between lines being repaired and new lines being strung, and I really do not want to lose another system.
    Thanks!
    Allison

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Allison,

    Click on this link to be taken to the APC site for an article on not attaching surge power bars to a UPS. Bear in mind that this relates to APC UPS. However, I would suggest that the same logic would apply for any manufacturer's UPS.

    Just noticed that the above link is extremely long. If the above link does not work go to this one, then go to the Knowledge Base and key in the search text as shown in the snapshot.

    Bob
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Regards,
    Bob

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger
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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Just for your peace of mind, Bob, while waiting for the OP to come back - your long link worked OK for me.

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Congratulations for making one of the wisest purchases you could have made. EVERYONE should always automatically add an UPS to their MUST HAVE list. NOTE: I have one on my big screen TV and my Home Theater system too.

    I have been saying for years that surge protectors are nothing more than fancy and expensive extension cords - your story is evidence to that.

    What I do is plug the UPS into the wall and plug my fancy extension cord into the UPS. Then I use the power strip for my power blocks (transformers) - Plug the PC and monitor directly into the UPS. Yes the 3400 joules sounds more impressive, and for a surge protector, it is. But the important point to consider is that the surge protector is only a passive device - it reacts only. It is not "intelligent".

    An UPS, on the other hand, is "active" - not only does it react, it "regulates" power as well. The active circuits monitor the power all the time, so when it senses a bad power event, the batteries kick in (some UPS run off the batteries all the time) - this reaction time is fast enough so that the lower clamping capability (joules) is not as important.

    One of my biggest complaints about UPS ratings, and it is industry wide, is that they rate their products using the VA (volt amperes) figure. Although technically, this is probably the better value, most consumer products label their products by the watts value. So it makes it difficult to determine what size UPS you need.

    Your 625VA UPS is rated at 325Watts. Your power supply in your PC is likely 350Watts or more! Time to panic? No, because your power supply is not constantly drawing all that power. But I must add that your UPS is not a very big one. However, it will protect your PC and all your network equipment (the reason for the extension cord!) just fine. If you have an LCD monitor, you can add that to the battery side as well. If you are using a CRT monitor, don't! I recommend you plug that into the surge only side of the UPS as they draw a lot more power than LCD monitors.

    One more note, you don't need the software that comes with your UPS - it will work fine without it. However, with the software installed and the cable connected, your system will monitor the battery and shut your system down "gracefully" before the UPS runs out of juice. A nice touch. But, XP has this capability built in and so the 3rd party software, while fancier, is not needed.

    And for your next purchase, buy a big 1100 or bigger. Then you can plug in your computer, monitor, cable modem, router, USB hub, Ink Jet (not laser!) printer, PDA, and even a small set of speakers and not worry about over loading and have an extended run time (not good enough for hurricane induced outages, but good enough for most tornado/severe thunderstorm induced outages we get here in Nebraska!).
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    To comment on Bob's link about plugging a strip into the UPS - there is some truth the APC's claim about distributing power equally in a strip. This is why I recommend you use the strip for low power demanding power blocks, and not the PC or monitor.

    Bill
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Al,

    I tested the APC link after posting the message and it seemed to be OK. When I did the first URL insert I noticed that the link was extremely long... 320 characters if you go from extreme left to right positions. So, I added quotes to the left and right boundaries to ensure that none of the 320 characters would interfere with any Lounge features. When you hover over the link in my original reply it is certainly a lot less than 320 characters.

    BTW... I did not actually count the number of characters. I cut and pasted the link into NoteTabPro and let it advise me as to the number of characters <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    Bob
    Regards,
    Bob

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Bill

    Your recommendation that EVERYONE should always automatically add an UPS to their MUST HAVE list is only applicable in those parts of the world which have <UL><LI>inconsistent power supply voltages and frequencies (including spikes), or <LI>a risk of lightning strike[/list]In the UK, for example, we tend to have a fairly clean power supply in most areas, and lightning strikes are not common. So UPS would be recommended over here only for servers (and perhaps even then just the critical ones), or the very rich/very cautious company. Purchase of UPS for home use would be rare.

    What may apply in the US is not always representative of the entire world!

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Nor a whole COUNTRY, John. I agree with you and have had the best surge protector money can buy for years and have NEVER had a piece of equipment harmed over all those years. In my area we hardly ever have power outages or surges and a UPS would be a luxury item for most HOME computer users. When, on rare occasion, the power does go off, it's usually just that - a power loss, and I for one am willing to put up with a disk check to see if any files got damaged in the shutdown. Rarely do I even experience that problem, so I for one take advice from gurus like Bill with a grain of salt.

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Even if I lived someplace with very consistent power and infrequent lightning, I would still have a UPS on my PC. Even a very short power interruption can cause the loss of hours of work. A UPS is so inexpensive these days, it is not worth the risk of losing my work.
    Legare Coleman

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Well, I used to live in England too and we did have an occasional outage. But let me remind you that an UPS is not just for outages. In fact, backup power is only the icing on the cake.

    No surge protector will protect you from sags or extended surges. MOVs (metal oxide varistors) - the primary clamping device in surge protectors, actually age every time they take a hit. Now you say you rarely take a hit, I beg to differ. Every time the compressor in your refrigerator - the hungriest energy consumer in the house - kicks in, it places a huge demand for current on the house mains for a couple hundred milliseconds. That places a sag on the line which, with no regulation in your surge protector, must be compensated for by the power regulators in your power supply and on the motherboard. After that sag, there is a minor surge as the everything stabilizes. Then when the refrigerator cycles off, a spike is sent down line, followed by another surge. This occurs for every cycle of the refrigerator! A similar event occurs when you toast a piece of bread, blow dry your hair, cook in the oven, or cycle on and off any large appliance. This is not my opinion, it is just the way it is. So 100s of times a day, you are subjecting your power strip and PC to spikes and surges. If you live in a multifamily dwelling, you may be talking 1000s of hits a day!

    An UPS will compensate for all those spikes, surges, sags (brownouts) with aplomb. Your surge protector will clamp down on the spike (which delivers a nice chopped off square wave to your power supply - not necessarily a good thing either) and it will suppress a short term surge. But, being passive electronic devices, they do wear out and lose their effectiveness over time. And unfortunately when they lose their effectiveness, they don't tell you - they just pass the surge or spike along.

    An UPS on the other hand, has active circuits that monitor the voltages and current at all times. If the voltage sags, it bumps it up. If a surge or spike occurs, it doesn't just clamp off the top of the sine wave and hand off a dirty square wave to the computer's power supply to deal with, it "regulates", that is, it conditions that signal and hands off a nice curvy sine wave at the proper voltage. And the UPS is doing this all day long - not just when the power is dirty.

    Note now that the power supply's regulator circuits have a nice clean signal to deal with. This, in turn, allows the power supply to deliver, an even more stable/clean 5, 12, and 3.3 VDC to the motherboard and peripherals.

    But the advantage does not stop there. The motherboard regulator circuits take that clean power and clean it up even more before handing it off to the oscillator circuits for CPU/Chipset/FSB/RAM timing - allowing for an even more stable, and potentially longer lasting system.

    Getting back to a real power outage, just remember, if your hard drive just happens to be writing to the disk at that moment (like during a defragging), it may not just be a chkdsk/scandisk to get you going. And note too, what happens when power is restored? Every device in the building draws power at that moment - now that's a sag.

    Granted, the batteries do wear out after 3 or 4 years and need replacing, but you have warnings of that by the system itself.

    I don't know what you use your personal computer for, but I have 10 years of email, personal and work contacts, digital pictures, education and work papers, 10 years of taxes, etc. on my system. Even though I actually do backup weekly, I would not want to lose anything when it could easily be prevented. Not to mention I have a good deal of money tied up in this computer, the monitor, cable modem and home network equipment - all of which will run for nearly 45 minutes on my UPS. I would not dare trust it to a surge protector on a good weather day.

    What saddens me is the added commentary that, to me I feel is unnecessary. Not all Americans, John, believe that the American Way is the only way. But we do believe it is a good way, and we do believe that America is not what is wrong with the world today. And Al, certainly I would not expect everyone to take what I say as the gospel truth, which I why I try to justify what I say. And often, as you can see, at great (maybe too great) length. And please do take what I say with a grain of salt - but check it out yourself. But note the irony in that. We are talking about preserving our systems, and "salt" is one of Mother Natures best preservative.

    The very rich, John? Not hardly. When I see that you can get a 650VA APC 400W UPS from ebuyer for 75 Quid or you, Al, can go to Best Buy for a similar product for $80, all I can think about is, why not? I don't understand it.

    You two may think me the fool, but to think $75 - $85 (or 75 Pounds Sterling) is a fool's money wasted, I am sorry, but when I think how much money and time it would take to replace my computer, I sure wonder who the fool is?

    With all due respect to both of you (and I mean that), I believe your reasoning is misguided as I think the cost of an UPS, even a bigger one costing twice as much as the two I pointed out, is a small price to pay for what they offer - no matter what part of the world you live in.

    Bill
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

  11. #11
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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Thank you all for the responses!
    I had never heard of a UPS prior to joining this forum, but as I have just had the headaches of trying to retrieve all my data from two computers, I'm now at the point of "back-up, protect, and double it again!" I've bought an external hard drive to back up all my files to, and will probably now go and buy a bigger UPS for my computer system, as it seems the one I have may be inadequate. Surge is a big factor here in FL, but so is fluctuation. I am finishing a degree online, and cannot afford to have years of resources wiped out. It's worth it from what I've read to safeguard my system as well as I can.
    Thank you again!

  12. #12
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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    UPS have been around for many years and in the beginning, they were big, supported whole rooms or buildings (some still do) and they were very expensive. But now, thanks to advancements in battery technology, they have come down in prices so that the average consumer can easily afford at least a modest UPS to protect their PC. 300 Watt models are readily available for around $50USD. That is not much more than the cost of some surge protector/power strips. Granted, those models may only provide 2 or 3 minutes of reserve power, but that is more than enough to save what you are working on and gracefully shut down your system.

    That 300 watt model will even supply enough power to protect a LCD monitor as well as the computer - which, of course makes it a little easier to see what you are doing when you are in a panic! <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

    If you can afford a bigger model, go for it. It will certainly offer longer run time but it will also support a bigger load (more devices). You should never put a laser printer on an UPS, however (except on a BIG UPS by itself) - they draw too much current. Ink jets however, are fine. And again, CRT monitors also draw a lots and will greatly lower your run time.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    This is how I'm thinking of setting it up:
    Processor and external drive (when used ) to UPS, everything else to surge protector on a separate outlet. I'd rather go and spend $150 for a new CRT monitor than draw protection away from the important stuff. When I buy a larger UPS, I'll add more to the UPS itself. I have separate computer insurance through my insurance company, and also an extended service plan which gives "unlimited lifetime surge protection" but the hassles of getting back up and running these past few eeks have been unbelievable.
    Of course, if I had been smart enough to faithfully back up my data, a lot of this could have been avoided. Don't they teach you to "always back up" when you're about 5 or so? So, lesson learned for me...guess sometimes it does take a hard smack with a two-by-four <G>.

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    Does anyone have any good methods of correctly sizing UPS VA ratings to match the actual power ratings of the equipment connected to it?

    I have some Belkin HO 350VAC units attached to my workstations, and we are finding that they work very inconsistently. On some boxes, they will gracefull shut down all the applications and the OS gracefully. On others, it just cuts power to the machine at the slightest power hit.

    Belkin T.S. tells me I need to replace these units with ones that cost twice as much (which in my case may be true, however, I rather suspect they tell everybody that). Unfortunatley, their "product sizing " web pages either indacte that they really like you to buyt the $150 model in all cases, or that the VAC ratings of their product line is _way_ overstated.

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    Re: UPS and surge protector

    ALW - This all depends on the size of your UPS.

    Jim - Same thing. But note that you do not have a 350VAC UPS - VAC = Volts AC (alternating current). You probably mean 350VA - which is Volt-Amps.

    Note too that 350VAs is very small - for that I would have my PC only - certainly no monitors - and not a big PC with several HDs, CD, DVD, USB devices.

    My oldest UPS, (a 425VA/285Watts) is suppling a 1.6 P4 Celeron, 512, 1 HD, 1 DVD, 1 CD/RW, and a 17" Viewsonic LCD and it will hold about 5 minutes.

    A new APC 500VA model (about 300Watts @ 110VAC) will run an AMD XP2500+, 512MB RAM, 1 HD, 1 DVD/RW, 2 Case Fans, and a 17" LCD monitor will hold for over 10 minutes.

    On my main system, I have a Cyberpower 1250VA/670Watts and it runs my P4HT 3.06G, 1 G RDRAM, 3 HDs, 1 DVD/RW, 1 CD/RW, Cable modem, 8-port router, USB hub, Palm charger/cradle, and Samsung 17" LCD AND it also supplies power to my 2nd PC, a AMD XP3000+, 1Gb DDR RAM, 2 HDs, 2 optical drives, and it will hold both for over 20 minutes! Note, the second PC has a CRT which is not supported by the UPS.

    I have noticed that the sites that are supposed to help you decide what size to buy, often suggest more than you really need - I think (assume) what most home consumers are after is protection, as opposed to uptime. If your requirements are all about keeping that system up and running - you need the biggest UPS you can afford with the longest up time rates. But if all you want is enough time to save your work, gracefully shutdown, a much smaller UPS will do.

    I suggest you visit a store and check out the boxes - most have a chart that will give you an idea based on the size of your PC (Tower, Mid, MAC, etc) and your monitor size - then go from there.

    An added note - most power outages are "flickers" in which case you just have an instant panic, a look around, a sigh of relief as your work is still right in front of you, and you press on. UPS are cool.

    BillB
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

    ─────────────────────

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