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ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

Surge Protector vs UPS for my room?

Hello everyone,

I have quite alot of questions to ask, not sure if this is the right section to post. If any admins see this is posted on the wrong place, I apologize and feel free to move the post to another place.

So I have a couple electronics in my room. A desktop PC, a monitor, a cable modem, a router, a printer, and an external hard drive. I was wondering if I should get an UPS, or a surge protector.

The thing I like about UPSes are automatic voltage regulation, and backup battery. Although I don't really know the power quality in LA, I don't really think we had brownouts in the past several years. Maybe a couple black outs that lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Lightning, maybe once per few years in my past experience...

Surge protectors, they are lower priced, which I am willing to spend on an UPS if I have to. Comparing to UPSes and surge protectors, surge protectors seems to be more protective, since they are higher rated on joules protection. Plus I like the smart surge protectors which saves more power, something that I don't find on UPSes that often.

I am not an electrician, so if there is anything wrong on my post, please correct me so. So what do you guys think? UPS or Surge Protector?

P.S. One more thing. Does anyone uses a surge protector or UPS that has coaxial or RJ11/RJ45 protection? How effective are they, and do they lower signals? Thanks.


shdesigns
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join:2000-12-01
Stone Mountain, GA
Reviews:
·EarthLink
·Comcast
·Atlantic Nexus
I threw out most of my surge suppressors. They all burned out. Usually just a fuse but non-user replaceable. They did not protect my PC, network card and modem (ecen though phone through RJ11 on protector.) A plug in surge suppressor does not work that well as it is usually a considerable distance from a good ground to dissipate a spike.

They do work well on line-to-neutral spikes.

I had lightning issues. I added a whole house surge suppressor and the problems got better. Having the phone co replace the NID with one that had decent protection helped even more.

The phone, cable and power all connect to one ground point before going inside the house. This works best.

My PC's are on UPS's. We do get a lot of interruptions.

Note few UPS's do voltage regulation, if they do, they are not cheap.
--
Scott Henion

Embedded Systems Consultant,
SHDesigns home - DIY Welder


SmokChsr
Who let the magic smoke out?
Premium
join:2006-03-17
Saint Augustine, FL
reply to ipwn3r456
Your best bet is a UPS. Considering how unforgiving newer computers are to momentary power flickers it just makes sense that you prevent them from happening.


tschmidt
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join:2000-11-12
Milford, NH
kudos:9
Reviews:
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reply to ipwn3r456
Ideally you want everything entering the house to go through a surge protector with a good connection to the building grounding system near where they enters the house: power, phone, Cable, antenna. That becomes the primary protector. Then another point of use protector near the equipment you are trying to protect.

If you can't find a UPS that provides protection for non-power stuff get a surge protector you can plug into the output of the UPS.

The value of a UPS is that is will protect the devices from voltage sags and outages.

/tom


nonamesleft

join:2011-11-07
Manitowoc, WI
reply to ipwn3r456
I have two ups units, it is real nice for those power flickers/brown outs, or just out of the blue sunny clear day power outages.

iknow_t

join:2012-05-03
reply to tschmidt
said by tschmidt:

Ideally you want everything entering the house to go through a surge protector with a good connection to the building grounding system near where they enters the house: power, phone, Cable, antenna. That becomes the primary protector. Then another point of use protector near the equipment you are trying to protect.

If you can't find a UPS that provides protection for non-power stuff get a surge protector you can plug into the output of the UPS.

The value of a UPS is that is will protect the devices from voltage sags and outages.

/tom

voltage surges too, up to a point. also, they tend to have MOVs for further protection. P.O.U. series type surge protectors, where there is a coil in series with the line, greatly reduces the effects of lightning, where frequencies go up into the gigahertz range..

ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to ipwn3r456
Thanks for the answers so far.

@shedsigns - What are line-to-neutral spikes? And what is a whole house surge protector? Can't seem to find any info on google. I was going to plan on getting an UPS such as like this, which has AVR protection.

Link: »www.amazon.com/dp/B000QZ3UG0/ref···41&psc=1

@tschmidt - Isn't it bad to plug in an UPS to a surge protector, or the other way around?

I do know that there isn't a guarantee way to protect from lighting. But would a surge protector and an UPS protect from nearby lighting strikes (not direct lighting strike)? Thanks.


leibold
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join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

2 recommendations

reply to ipwn3r456
said by ipwn3r456:

The thing I like about UPSes are automatic voltage regulation,

It is a pretty common misconception that a UPS provides voltage regulation but in many cases that is not actually true.

Only in a double conversion UPS (most consumer UPS are not of this type) is there a clear separation between input AC and output AC. All input power is converted to DC which charges the batteries while all output power is generated from that internal DC. Even in a double conversion UPS however the output voltage may or may not be regulated. However even when unregulated the output voltage is going to be very stable and remain within acceptable tolerances (varying slightly with the DC voltage and with fluctuations in the attached load).

In a regular UPS (one that doesn't perform double conversion) the AC input is directly connected to the AC output as long as valid AC input power is available. This means all spikes and voltage fluctuations on the input side will also appear on the output. While most UPS do have surge protection build in that isn't a requirement and you will find (especially with consumer grade UPS) many with poor surge protection (or none at all) and would be better off spending the money on a quality surge protector instead.

One way in which a regular UPS "regulates the voltage" is by switching to its inverter and producing AC power from the internal battery when the AC input power does not match its criteria for valid input power (voltage too high or too low or frequency deviating from 60Hz). The problem with a UPS that has been set too sensitive however is that it will spend too much time running on battery. When that happens (battery runs out) the UPS will turn off the AC output and you get that power interruption you tried to avoid by purchasing the UPS in the first place.

There are UPS that in addition to the usual components (surge protector, battery charger, power switcher, inverter) also contain an AVR for regulation of the output voltage. However those are not very common (and more expensive).
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TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
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Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

1 recommendation

said by leibold:

There are UPS that in addition to the usual components (surge protector, battery charger, power switcher, inverter) also contain an AVR for regulation of the output voltage. However those are not very common (and more expensive).

In addition, the so-called "AVR" often marketed is not a true voltage regulation. Just a multi-tap autotransformer that can buck or boost the output voltage in a limited number of steps.

Actually the "AVR" feature as often implemented is nearly useless.


Thane_Bitter
Inquire within
Premium
join:2005-01-20
Reviews:
·Bell Sympatico
Indeed, in seven + years I have only seen my UPS ever boost the line voltage, it compensated for a brief sag in power as a piece of machinery started up after being mistakenly connected into the same circuit.

Fortunately the days of heavy iron cores are numbered, manufactures have been developing transformer-less designs that do away with the mass and bulk of them, and as an added bonus (assuming a reasonable level of design quality) they can compensate for sags and spikes in power without the relays, tap switching, an temporary flip over to battery power until the line voltage stabilizes and do so over a wider range of voltage levels (most APC Smart UPS have three taps off the transformer). Unfortunately these units are mostly being manufactured for large scale installations, but in time the technology will trickle down into the consumer market.

ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
reply to ipwn3r456
So, does AVR protection in consumer UPSes are basically useless? Do you have to get a high end UPS that has AC-DC-AC (double conversation) to get a "real" AVR protection? This is harder than I thought, but thanks for the info.


leibold
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join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
No, I wouldn't go so far as saying that AVR is useless but the (often significant) extra cost for the feature may not be a good investment if you don't really need it.

Look at the devices you are protecting and see how concerned you need to be about the line voltage. Most electronic devices these days with switch mode power supplies are perfectly happy to accept AC in a wide range (e.g. 100V to 250V) and don't really care about the line frequency either.

A historic tube radio operating directly with rectified line voltage is a lot more sensitive to voltage variations then any modern electronics would be.

Another thing to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to get a double conversion UPS is the energy efficiency. In a double conversion UPS the AC/DC and DC/AC converters are both continually operating and neither is 100% efficient. This means energy losses and excess heat.
In a simple UPS relay contacts connect input and output and the AC/DC converter is only used while charging the battery while the DC/AC converter (inverter) isn't used at all (until there is a power loss). This means in terms of energy efficiency a simple UPS will always beat a double conversion UPS.

If you live in a place with a stable electric utility grid I would say that an AVR feature is really not necessary. If you live in a place where power is unreliable and fluctuates a lot then AVR (or double conversion) would certainly rise in priority.
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Thane_Bitter
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Reviews:
·Bell Sympatico
reply to ipwn3r456
Not useless, they just have a limited range and use, anyways 99% of the average power problems you will face are outages or brief dropouts at which any UPS will switch to battery mode. Unless your desktop is a 286 (which used heavy things called linear power supplies), a modern PSU of reasonable quality can handle a wide range of input power because of how they operate. Conversely a modern motherboard and processor setup can also dynamically change voltage levels depending on demand (and other factors) using the same underlying technology. Suffice to say computers are much more tolerant to minor voltage fluctuations than they use to be.

It's a function of what sort of features you want vs the price you can afford. Are you interested in having a long run time, do you care if the output is true sinusoidal or stepped, do you want detailed UPS stats or just basic signalling shutdown, ease of getting replacement batteries, added run time via expansion battery boxes, switchable outlets, network control (useful if running virtual machines), etc.? Most of the above is likely more than you want, need, or is practical for your setup. Most manufactures have a sizing tool which will help you select the right size of UPS that best suits your needs.

One thing if you have a laser printer, don't connect it to your UPS or include it as part of your loads for sizing a potential UPS. Laser printers tend to draw a sicking amount of power in short bursts to maintain the temperature of the fuser (the part that melts the toner to the paper), it would suck the battery life out of any reasonably sized UPS in a short period of time.

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

1 recommendation

reply to leibold
said by leibold:

Most electronic devices these days with switch mode power supplies are perfectly happy to accept AC in a wide range (e.g. 100V to 250V) and don't really care about the line frequency either.

And that 100-250V rating is the nominal line voltage. There is an added tolerance on top of that. Realistically, most devices rated 100-250V should operate fine from about 90-270V or wider range.

For comparison the AVR feature in APC SmartUPS products, if my information is correct, only operates down to a minimum of 85V. So there's only a margin of about 5V where the AVR is actually useful as far as modern electronics are concerned.

Some double-conversion type UPS that I have tested (oh the fun one can have with a variac) will go down to 60V without using the batteries and maintain 120V at the output!

TheMG
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Canada
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Reviews:
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1 recommendation

reply to Thane_Bitter
said by Thane_Bitter:

Unless your desktop is a 286 (which used heavy things called linear power supplies)

I've actually never seen a 286 desktop with a linear supply. Some of them had fairly large and bulky power supplies, but they were still switchmode power supplies.

Heck, even most desktop computers predating the 286 used SMPS.

Regardless, a healthy and properly designed linear regulated power supply is usually very tolerant of supply voltage fluctuations.

said by Thane_Bitter:

laser printer, don't connect it to your UPS or include it as part of your loads for sizing a potential UPS. Laser printers tend to draw a sicking amount of power in short bursts to maintain the temperature of the fuser (the part that melts the toner to the paper), it would suck the battery life out of any reasonably sized UPS in a short period of time.

Not only that, but the very high current inrush when the fuser heater comes on will most likely immediately trip a small UPS during battery operation. Most laser printers use a halogen lamp inside the fuser roller to heat it. Halogen lamps have a very low resistance when cold.


Thane_Bitter
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join:2005-01-20
Reviews:
·Bell Sympatico
I think you are right, I was thinking of an old Zenith 286 Desktop, the thing weighed a ton and had a freakishly huge PSU, I suspect the bulk of the weight was the heavy gauge metal used in the chassis. The funny thing was it had a flat screen (though CRT) monitor which also weighed a ton.

ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to ipwn3r456
Wow. Just came back from a family dinner and already saw like 5 responses. Thanks for all the replies so far.

@leibold - I totally forgot about most electronic devices that can run on wide range of AC voltage. Thanks for the reminder. I do realize double conversation UPSes are not efficient. And they are usually expensive either. I probably won't get them.

@Thane_Bitter - I have an ink printer. Honestly, I wouldn't plug in my printer to the battery load either, plus I am planning to get a laser printer as well. Thanks for the heads up.

@TheMG - So, consumer USPes can only operate at a certain voltage? Like in your example, APC SmartUPS series can only go as low as 85V? Anything lower than 85V will stop working?

I learned alot of stuff today, thank you all. But, I still don't really understand how effective do AVR protection in consumer UPS is. Sorry about that. Do they only work in a small voltage range? Would you think an UPS is a good replacement of surge protectors in terms of surge protection?

I also learned about sine waves today. Some of the UPSes on the market only simulates the sine wave. Should I invest on a pure sine wave UPS, such as like this?

Link: »www.cyberpowersystems.com/produc···#tab-box

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
said by ipwn3r456:

@TheMG - So, consumer USPes can only operate at a certain voltage? Like in your example, APC SmartUPS series can only go as low as 85V? Anything lower than 85V will stop working?

No. What happens below 85V is that the UPS goes to battery operation.

The AVR is only able to compensate (somewhat) down to 85V. Below that, the batteries and inverter kick in.

Note that I haven't tested this myself, this is from information available on the internet.

b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA
Reviews:
·Comcast Formerl..
reply to ipwn3r456
I would like to comment on UPS's and voltage regulation. If you can afford it buy a ferroresonant or better yet a controlled ferroresonant based transformer UPS.

The ferroresonant approach is attractive due to its lack of active components, relying on the square loop saturation characteristics of the tank circuit to absorb variations in average input voltage. Saturating transformers provide a simple rugged method to stabilize an AC power supply.

Older designs of ferroresonant transformers had an output with high harmonic content, leading to a distorted output waveform. Modern devices are used to construct a perfect sine wave. The ferroresonant action is a flux limiter rather than a voltage regulator, but with a fixed supply frequency it can maintain an almost constant average output voltage even as the input voltage varies widely.

The ferroresonant transformers, which are also known as Constant Voltage Transformers (CVTs) or ferros, are also good surge suppressors, as they provide high isolation and inherent short-circuit protection.

A ferroresonant transformer can operate with an input voltage range ±40% or more of the nominal voltage.

Because it regenerates an output voltage waveform, output distortion, which is typically less than 4%, is independent of any input voltage distortion, including notching.

Caveats they are hot and loud when not loaded as the transformer is constantly ran in saturation. They are heavy and the are expensive due to the large amount of iron and copper in the transformer.

But a good one is bullet proof. My company makes FR and CFR based UPS's some models have 20+ years in the field and are still humming along.
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aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
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Reviews:
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reply to ipwn3r456
said by ipwn3r456:

I also learned about sine waves today. Some of the UPSes on the market only simulates the sine wave. Should I invest on a pure sine wave UPS, such as like this?

Link: »www.cyberpowersystems.com/produc···#tab-box

You can get "pure sine wave" when the electricity is generated by a rotating magnetic field, and I don't think very many UPS does that. In general, they just simulate sine wave, and some do it better than others.

Do you have an issue with power?
--
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dandeman
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join:2001-12-05
Chapel Hill, NC
Reviews:
·AT&T Southeast

4 edits
reply to b10010011
ditto..
quote:
But a good one is bullet proof. My company makes FR and CFR based UPS's some models have 20+ years in the field and are still humming along.
Hope I'm correct in assuming you are referring to the Alpha CFR Series....»www.alpha.ca/library/showdocs.as···b&salp=1

and if so, a salute to Alpha Technologies.. awesome technology in the AMPS 80 and 24 series.. limited experience with the CFRs. Alpha was the only company I could find that had the level of expertise in systems reliability I come to expect as the business as usual from my earlier career in the high end computer semiconductor field.

I have a Best FERRUPS ME1.4kva UPS system with the external battery bank option, running all my household electronics, computers, phones, HDTV, security system, and minimal standby lighting. With the external battery bank I have, I can run for up to 3 days loss of commercial power, provided I throttle back the heavier loads and just keep the essentials online..

The older ones are bullet proof... It is pure sine wave output.. well close enough.. the AC peaks are slightly broader as a result of how the saturated resonant winding works.

Specs quote a 2000:1 transient voltage isolation. e.g. if a 2000 volt spike were to appear on the input, 1 volt would get through.. When BEST was to sold to Eaton, they did go through a period of the newer production models having some problems.

Once you understand how a ferro resonant transformer works, easy to see how it can to this.....

After retirement I worked part time for a company that installed many BEST FerrUPS, PECO II, GE, Powerware and most impressive of all the Alpha Technologies AMPS 80 and AMPS 24 Series systems..

These systems use IGBT transistor technology to achieve 94% operational efficiency..

»www.alpha.ca/web2/products/stand···ory_id=7

»www.alpha.ca/web2/products/stand···ory_id=7
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b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA
Reviews:
·Comcast Formerl..
said by dandeman:

Hope I'm correct in assuming you are referring to the Alpha CFR Series....

I can neither confirm nor deny that.


aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
reply to dandeman
He's in Bellingham, WA
quote:
Alpha Technologies Inc.
3767 Alpha Way
Bellingham, WA 98226
United States

but that's most likely the same Alpha, or under the same Alpha.
--
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ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to ipwn3r456
Wait a minute guys, I am not hosting a huge file server or anything that massive, those enterprise UPS solutions are way too overkill for my home electronics. I just want an UPS that can last me a few minutes of power, in case of power failure, I can do a proper shutdown.

After my personal research and with the help from this post, I might end up and get this: »www.amazon.com/CyberPower-CP1000···gw_p_d_1

Would you think an UPS is a good replacement of surge protectors in terms of surge protection?


aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..

1 recommendation

said by ipwn3r456:

Would you think an UPS is a good replacement of surge protectors in terms of surge protection?

As it was already mentioned, consumer grade UPSs are usually not the best choices when what you really need is a surge protector.

The UPSs I've seen (half a dozen or so) all had *some* surge protection, but they were just token surge protectors with 1 or 2 MOvs and 1 -2 caps per line. Enough to claim "surge protection" in the spec sheet, but not a whole lot more.

If you need a good surge protector, Isobar might be a better choice: »www.tripplite.com/shared/literat···9-EN.pdf

If you need a UPS, the one you linked looks good.
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ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
reply to ipwn3r456
Ugh, hard to find to fit the best of both worlds. What if I get both a surge protector and an UPS, plug in the UPS to the surge protector, and plug in the surge protector to the wall? Is this a good idea?

lutful
... of ideas
Premium
join:2005-06-16
Ottawa, ON
kudos:1
said by ipwn3r456:

Ugh, hard to find to fit the best of both worlds. What if I get both a surge protector and an UPS, plug in the UPS to the surge protector, and plug in the surge protector to the wall? Is this a good idea?

Staples sells higher Joules rating power bars with AC filtering for office use. Newegg and many other sites sell Tripp-Lite products with "ISO" prefix in model name. They are even better.

If your power rarely goes out, you don't really need a typical consumer UPS. But if you buy one, connect it to a 2-port Tripp-Lite unit plugged into the wall plate.

It is not a good idea to connect an UPS with AC cord to a power bar with another AC cord. When the depleted battery is charging back up, it also creates a lot of AC noise which will go to other connected equipment.

ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to ipwn3r456
If I am using a laptop, then I will just get a surge protector instead, since they have a battery build in. But I am using a desktop at the moment, not getting a laptop until another year. I might be also building a NAS using my current desktop when I get my laptop, so I might need it. There isn't really any huge power problems, maybe a few outages in the past, but not as much now.

ipwn3r456

join:2013-07-31
Los Angeles, CA
reply to ipwn3r456
One more question. How well does a consumer UPS with AVR protection against over voltage?

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

1 recommendation

said by ipwn3r456:

One more question. How well does a consumer UPS with AVR protection against over voltage?

As far as I know, pretty much all UPS protect against both under- and over-voltage, even those without AVR.

In an over-voltage condition, a UPS without AVR will switch to battery operation. Even a UPS with AVR will switch to battery if the voltage is higher than what the AVR can compensate for.