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Are UPS Battery Backups OK for non-computer devices?

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I'm told the reason many UPS Battery Backups state they are only for computers is because computer PSUs are beefy enough to be able to handle the "dirty" (step sine wave) battery power. But how about your typical electronics device (cordless phone, alarm clock, etc.) that uses a 120V wall-wart (non-switching type)? Will running these devices off of a UPS Battery Backup potentially harm these non-computer devices?

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I don't know about dumb UPSes but SmartUPS's with AVR (I think that's what it is called, Automattic Voltage Regulation) should provide good protection for any device as long as it is within the UPS's Wattage/Voltage range.

I use two APC SmartUPs (1000 and 1400) for all my computer and workspace stuff, including, xbox, xbox360, phone, satelite receiver, dvd player, 15" LCD TV, VCR, 4 external HDs, 19" LCD monitor, and a loaded P4 with 10 hard drives.

I haven't had a single power related failure in many years, the UPSes can power all my stuff for about 30-40 minutes :)

BestBuy sells what are called power conditioners for AV equipment, basically that is the AVR from the UPS so it just cleans the power to provide constant stable voltage. For the cost of them you are better off getting a lowend SmartUPS that will give you some battery backup as well.

Of course major appliances can't be plugged into a UPS, so no fridges, stoves, etc. Even large CRT TVs would probably require a large UPS to give more than a few seconds protection. LCD/Plasma TVs should be fine as they are much lower wattage than CRT/projection TVs.

YMMV

I'm told the reason many UPS Battery Backups state they are only for computers is because computer PSUs are beefy enough to be able to handle the "dirty" (step sine wave) battery power. But how about your typical electronics device (cordless phone, alarm clock, etc.) that uses a 120V wall-wart (non-switching type)? Will running these devices off of a UPS Battery Backup potentially harm these non-computer devices?
Edited by TFArchive

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One thing that you've got keep in mind is that the first thing most devices do (cordless phone, alarm clock, stereo, etc) is rectify the incoming AC into DC and then perhaps add a regulator of some sort to maintain the output at a set voltage over varying input conditions. It doesn't really matter if the device is getting a true sine wave input or step approximated...it's still going to recify into about the same thing.

The only issue I could see is that the step approximation used on most all UPS's is going to introduce a number of harmonics which depending on the quality of the output filtering on the UPS and the susceptibillity of the device may cause a problem. That being said though, most devices that would be susceptible are pretty well regulated and filtered internally; they have to be....even normal line power itself can get pretty dirty.

-Chris

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Wall-warts for electronics are fine, but anything using AC motors (like a fish tank) is going to need a sine wave output UPS. The SmartUPS units larger than 700VA or the old under-monitor ones are sine-wave, and go for under $5 used (need new batteries) at the local stores here.

A plasma tv uses about the same energy as a CRT of the same screen size would. I run mine off a SmartUPS 2200 that was $12 and actually came with ok batteries. Yes, I did try unplugging it when everything was running and it worked great, but someday I'm going to need to spring for $80 in new batteries.

Edited by bfg9000

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My apartment has some really wonky wiring (sometimes when the elevator kicks into gear my lights dim) so I've been investing in good UPS setups for anything important. Everything has seemed to be fine the last few years. I have my 36" CRT TV, DVD player, and amp on an APC Back-UPS 1500. One time I hooked up a laptop to it to test power draw and it said it could power that setup, in full surround sound mode, for 36 minutes.

Granted, I haven't pulled the plug to test but I HAVE seen it click on for a split second and do fine. I'm figuring I can freak the neighbours out if we ever have a bad power outage and start up Star Wars or something. ;)

Edited by Justin42

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I'll just add that laser printers draw far too much power to connect to a UPS.

Actaully, they draw too much current to connect to an affordable UPS. Something in the 3-5 KVA range can handle a small laser printer, but that's not somehting you'll find in the typical home or office.

Edited by Zark

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I'm told the reason many UPS Battery Backups state they are only for computers is because computer PSUs are beefy enough to be able to handle the "dirty" (step sine wave) battery power. But how about your typical electronics device (cordless phone, alarm clock, etc.) that uses a 120V wall-wart (non-switching type)? Will running these devices off of a UPS Battery Backup potentially harm these non-computer devices?

Computers are extremely sensitive equipment. If power from Battery Backups doesn't hurt them, it won't hurt a microwave, phone or alarm clock. It isn't like those things have disks spinning at over 150 miles per hour with mechnical heads that read individual bits off these spinning disks to below a micron of precision and hundreds of millions of circuits that can be measured in nanometers in an extremely compact space that would die if a single thing went wrong with any of them.

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My apartment has some really wonky wiring (sometimes when the elevator kicks into gear my lights dim) so I've been investing in good UPS setups for anything important. Everything has seemed to be fine the last few years. I have my 36" CRT TV, DVD player, and amp on an APC Back-UPS 1500. One time I hooked up a laptop to it to test power draw and it said it could power that setup, in full surround sound mode, for 36 minutes.

Granted, I haven't pulled the plug to test but I HAVE seen it click on for a split second and do fine. I'm figuring I can freak the neighbours out if we ever have a bad power outage and start up Star Wars or something. ;)

Was Star Wars playing when you checked how long it could sustain the current power output? The chances are that playing Star Wars will cause things to draw more power as they'll be active rather than idle.

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I use the surge-only outlets on APC RS1500 for some devices, have had most of my office on surge (we get 10 second blips that are enough to have to reset the time on VCR etc). And, your PSU should last longer if it doesn't have to always be cleaning up the power coming in, so I recmmend UPS even where you don't "need" one.

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We tried to make a pot of coffee once during an extended power outage using an APC SmartUPS 1000, but it couldn't handle the draw.

Hey, this is important information!

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My apartment has some really wonky wiring (sometimes when the elevator kicks into gear my lights dim) so I've been investing in good UPS setups for anything important. Everything has seemed to be fine the last few years. I have my 36" CRT TV, DVD player, and amp on an APC Back-UPS 1500. One time I hooked up a laptop to it to test power draw and it said it could power that setup, in full surround sound mode, for 36 minutes.

Granted, I haven't pulled the plug to test but I HAVE seen it click on for a split second and do fine. I'm figuring I can freak the neighbours out if we ever have a bad power outage and start up Star Wars or something. ;)

Was Star Wars playing when you checked how long it could sustain the current power output? The chances are that playing Star Wars will cause things to draw more power as they'll be active rather than idle.

Actually, yes, cause I wanted a good "real world" test.

I doubt I'd get 36 minutes (those self-timers APC builds in to their software seem to be a weeeeee bit on the optimistic side ;) ) but it's still kind of a funny thought. :)

Edited by Justin42

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For about $125 or less, you can get an APC BACK-UPS RS 1500VA BATTERY ( BR24BP ) unit from Amazon that plugs into your RS1500, and adds a couple hours, depending on how much coffee you need to make ;)

I had an RS1500 die a sudden death, not battery even, and even without asking for over-night, just 2-day service, it arrived the very next day (during the hectic pre-Xmas rush, too) from Amazon. Amazing service - and very welcome.

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I have a server running off an older APC SmartUPS 1000. Since it is located at a place with very unstable power and long outages I thought about finding an add-on unit like Mad hatter suggested but could not find the part locally.

As a solution a friend suggested I wire a high capacity dry car battery. Since it’s 12V it worked great. Now the server goes for about 6-7 hours on battery power. I think it used to dry out the original 1000Va battery in about 45 min. I’m not sure how long would it go with an original extension battery but most likely less…

However, my knowledgeable friend warned me that the only drawback would be the fact that the car battery will take at least 24 hours to fully recharge when emptied by long power outages.

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When it come to UPS's...you can get absolute steals on ebay. People through out perfectly good UPS equipment all the time on there....and because there's so much of it it goes for nothing.

The trick is to get them to ship the UPS (or expansion chasis) without batteries (which are probably dead anyway) yet include all the hardware that came with the batteries (cables, lugs, quick connects, etc). All you need to do then is order new batteries from an electronics distributor (digikey), reuse all the existing cabling and you're all set.

A few years ago i put together an APC 2200XL with 3 expansion chasis with 14 all new 20Ah batteries for about $800.

-Chris

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