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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > UPS sizing for a laptop & network equip.

UPS sizing for a laptop & network equip.
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Maflynn
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Aug 19, 2008, 07:46 AM
 
Ok, this is an odd request in the laptop forum, I admit that

Anyways I had to endure a blackout recently and found myself board out of my mind when darkness fell. Couldn't read that well, couldn't watch tv, etc.

I do have my MBP, but the battery on that puppy will only last a few hours and if I pop a movie in that will severely shorten the usage. So I'm toying with the idea of getting an uninterruptible power supply this will allow me to run my cable modem and my wireless router as well as power/recharge my laptop.

Any idea what size to purchase. I'm thinking that if I get a 1300va to 1500va model. I think this will provide me with a couple of hours of charge time and if I decide to buy a macpro next year it will be sufficient for that?

Am I crazy to think about this? The cost is a couple of hundred dollars and we generally lose power once a year but we are heading into hurricane season so this is on the forefront of my brain.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 19, 2008, 08:06 AM
 
If you don't lose power all that often, I think a UPS is superfluous/a luxury item. A notebook does not draw a lot of power compared to a desktop (the ProBook's power bricks are rated at a maximum output of 85 W), that's a fraction of what a Mac Pro uses. With such a large UPS and your ProBook's battery, it should last about a day or so
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Aug 19, 2008, 09:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
If you don't lose power all that often, I think a UPS is superfluous/a luxury item.
You're 100% right, but that odd occasions when I do lose power, it may not seem like such a luxury item Also the odds of purchasing a MacPro next year is a little low. Is it worth spending the one or two hundred dollars, I'm not sure which is why I'm kicking around the idea.
     
OreoCookie
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Aug 19, 2008, 09:23 AM
 
Personally, I would say, no. The battery should keep you afloat for two hours minimum, and I would expect that power is restored before you run out -- most of the time, at least.

Not if you don't have many blackouts. Brownouts are covered by your ProBook's battery (which has saved a few documents over the years) and I do use surge protectors. If you do get a Mac Pro, it's a worthwhile investment.

Keep in mind that UPS' batteries deteriorate over time (just like any battery), so I wouldn't buy it in advance.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Aug 19, 2008, 10:24 AM
 
True Its more or less throwing a c-note, or two away since the need isn't there.
     
davidbk1
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Aug 19, 2008, 08:30 PM
 
Find the smallest one you can and plug the router and modem into it. If you can justify it, buy a second battery for the laptop. 5+ hours of internet sounds good to me and you can get plenty of use out of a second battery if you travel.
     
mduell
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Aug 19, 2008, 09:07 PM
 
There's two things to consider in selecting a UPS, power output (in W or VA) and energy storage/runtime (in Ah or minutes). Two different 1500VA UPS could have dramatically different energy storage capacities. There's generally a correlation between power output and energy storage (a 2500VA UPS with a 5 second runtime isn't terribly useful), but be sure to check both figures when selecting or comparing.

With a laptop and some low end network gear, you don't need much power output (perhaps 150W or 250VA at most) but you want runtime (takes time to recharge the laptop); UPSs with high power output capability are generally inefficient at low power output levels, so you'd want a low power output capability UPS with a big battery.
     
BreadRecipe
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Aug 19, 2008, 09:27 PM
 
Much truthiness to what mduell says. I don't know here you live, but the production company I work for in NYC is selling some old APC 1400VA units a pretty low price. The batteries are pretty old, but the unit itself is fine. They last forever practically. Something to think about. Much cheaper to get a used UPS and a new battery than a whole new setup. Not sure about minimal output, but the 1400s have lasted me on a job about 3-4 hours with 4 high-end, custom built, dual graphics card PCS, a Raritan KVM user station and matrix, an ethernet switch, a 17" confidence monitor, 4 Magenta transmitters and their Calypso PSUs, and, of course, my Alienware... Of course when the power is out, they beep like there's no tomorrow.
/sudo apt-get upgrade checking account balance <enter>...?

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Maflynn  (op)
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Aug 21, 2008, 11:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
With a laptop and some low end network gear, you don't need much power output (perhaps 150W or 250VA at most) but you want runtime (takes time to recharge the laptop); UPSs with high power output capability are generally inefficient at low power output levels, so you'd want a low power output capability UPS with a big battery.
Wow thanks for the info, I did not know that. I went by the more is better mantra. A 1500va I thought would give me hours and hours because it has such a high capacity but you're saying that because the need is low wattage for a longer period those type of units will not be efficient at that.

Thanks
Mike
     
SVass
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Aug 21, 2008, 02:29 PM
 
If you have power outages in your neighborhood, a UPS is not very useful. In my area, Comcast also goes out making router and modem rather useless. Even worse, their area controller computer must be manually rebooted which means calling them to remind them to reset the stupid thing. Our electric power company polls their system to verify continuity periodically. Comcast with their computerized boxes has never heard of polling. sam
     
Eug
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Aug 21, 2008, 02:41 PM
 
My power went out the other day... and I continued to surf just fine. I have DSL, and my modem and router are both on a UPS, as is my computer as well as a bunch of peripherals.

I need a second UPS though, since my second monitor and a bunch of other peripherals are not on the UPS. Not enough power to put everything on the same lower mid-range UPS I bought. So I will buy a second lower mid-range UPS to compensate. (These things go on sale all the time, so in the end it is actually cheaper to buy two lower mid-range UPSes than it is buy one upper mid-range UPS.)

Note: I only need something that will last less than half an hour. When the power goes out, I just finish up everything and close down everything cleanly. That's why 2 x lower mid-range UPSes is OK for me.

I bought one for work too (since my workplace won't buy them). We get power outages here about once every couple of months. At the last outage I continued to edit to my Word documents fine. My colleague down the hall lost about 45 minutes worth of work.
     
ginoledesma
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Aug 21, 2008, 08:23 PM
 
I have an APC Back-UPS ES 550. Powering an AEBS + DSL modem + MBP 15" gives me a total runtime of under 20-25 minutes (didn't time exactly how long, though). While there's lots of capacity, the runtime isn't that great. So as the others mentioned, be sure to look for a UPS with your desired runtime.

And if I might add, get one that supports silencing the audible alarm. Otherwise, you might lose your sanity before the battery runs out.
     
chichow
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Aug 25, 2008, 12:56 PM
 
are you doing production work? if you are, then get a UPS...otherwise...

errr..

go for a walk? read a book? smell the fresh air?
     
ghporter
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Aug 25, 2008, 10:21 PM
 
I have an aversion to replacing hardware that suffers because some drunk runs down a utility pole or because lightning strikes three doors down (the house, not the group). So I have EVERYTHING on an UPS. Or more correctly, I have a number of UPSs scattered around the house. One for my network stuff (a 300VA "home office" APC unit), One for my desktop (a 500VA APC "office" unit), another with the cordless phone/answering system, and yet another with the entertainment system-which won't run the TV, but will preserve all my programming and clock settings. All told, I think I have about $250 tied up in UPSs; this is half of my homeowners' insurance deductable for such things. No, I don't have many outages, nor are they typically long when they happen—I'm certainly not shopping for a $5k home generator!—but the fact that all power through an UPS is "conditioned" means that my "lifetime warranted" APC units will take that bullet instead of my Macs, my TV, etc.

One note: while stationed in Central America, the base had "abysmal" power reliability (nice term, eh?) due to really old and cruddy distribution lines. EVERY computer in my unit HAD TO BE plugged in to an UPS by order of the commander. And because there were UPSs aplenty, those of us with personal computers generally could find one for our quarters, too. My room went dark about 5% of the entire time I was there, and several times this happened after a surge (lose one phase and you usually get a surge or spike on the other two). The air conditioner had to be replaced twice (theirs, not mine), but my computer just kept truckin' along. An UPS is not a luxury; an over-sized one might be, but just having one is not.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ginoledesma
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Aug 26, 2008, 02:10 AM
 
On that note, I've been very, very pleased with APC's handling of their warranties. On 3 occasions now they've upheld their lifetime warranties on their products in various regions.

1. In Canada, it was their replacing a surge protector/outlet that shielded my AEBS from a power surge (neighborhood transformer blew up during maintenance).

2. In the Philippines, I got them to replace a Back-UPS whose battery gave up under 2 years of use (they claim 2-year warranty on battery).

3. In the US, they've replaced ProtectNet and Back-UPSs that protected my computers and switches from getting fried through phone lines and CAT5 cables during a thunderstorm. The only casualty was 1 port fried on the workgroup switch (but ProtectNet made sure the server it was connected to didn't get hit).

In each case, the investment in the UPS already paid off (I'd hate to imagine the cost in replacing fried gear, not to mention the downtime involved)
     
Trygve
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Aug 27, 2008, 03:47 AM
 
I lived in the Republic of Georgia for a while and we only had electricity about 4-6 hours per day in winter. I bought a 750VA APC UPS on my second day in Tbilisi. When The power failed, I would run the laptop down, then turn on the UPS and recharge the laptop. A full UPS charge would do one full recharge of the laptop. There is a lot lost in the DC>AC>DC conversion.

This gave me better time than just leaving the UPS powering the laptop off its battery.
     
chichow
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Aug 27, 2008, 03:07 PM
 
Well that was Central America vs say New York City.

You don't have your LaserPrinter and maybe monitor on the UPS right? Surge maybe...UPS...maybe not
     
Maflynn  (op)
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Aug 27, 2008, 03:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Trygve View Post
I lived in the Republic of Georgia
Originally Posted by chichow View Post
Well that was Central America vs say New York City.
you ah, should brush up on your geography. Especially given current events. The country of Georgia is not in Central America but rather next to Russia!
     
Eug
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Aug 27, 2008, 03:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by chichow View Post
Well that was Central America vs say New York City.
On another note... A UPS might not protect your equipment from an uber-spike (lightning?) in your line. But it might.

However, if you have the same spike with unprotected equipment your chances of having fried equipment is much, much higher.
     
ghporter
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Aug 27, 2008, 07:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
On another note... A UPS might not protect your equipment from an uber-spike (lightning?) in your line. But it might.

However, if you have the same spike with unprotected equipment your chances of having fried equipment is much, much higher.
An UPS is way more likely to protect your stuff than a "surge suppressor." I had one when lightning struck the light pole two houses down, and the suppressor failed to stop the surge. Note that the lightning struck THE METAL POLE, not even power lines. I had surges through power, TV cable and telephone lines, destroying my stereo, messing up a monitor, and destroying a telephone modem. A chip on my modem's board literally exploded... But the one computer that was on an UPS didn't even notice.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
BreadRecipe
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Aug 27, 2008, 08:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by chichow View Post
Well that was Central America vs say New York City.

You don't have your LaserPrinter and maybe monitor on the UPS right? Surge maybe...UPS...maybe not
I'd like to know where you get this amazingly clean and reliable power in NYC because here in Queens it aint so good. Generally, from the wall, I get between 113-124V, which isn't too terrible, but let me tell you all about the 2.2V avg. neutral-ground current UPS=necessity. There I told you all about it
/sudo apt-get upgrade checking account balance <enter>...?

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ghporter
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Aug 27, 2008, 09:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by BreadRecipe View Post
I'd like to know where you get this amazingly clean and reliable power in NYC because here in Queens it aint so good. Generally, from the wall, I get between 113-124V, which isn't too terrible, but let me tell you all about the 2.2V avg. neutral-ground current UPS=necessity. There I told you all about it
That neutral-ground current ain't ConEd, it's the building, But that doesn't mean that you don't need an UPS. There's no requirement for existing structures to be brought up to current code, and there are a LOT of buildings all over the country that are way more than 50 years old, that don't have grounded outlets, reliable insulation, or even reliable bonding for the panel board. If you can't verify that the structure is both properly wired and properly connected to the utility, you're gambling that you won't have a problem. And Murphy always wins.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
BreadRecipe
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Aug 27, 2008, 09:14 PM
 
Oh it's totally the building. I've been looking for another apartment (not because of the power) and all the ones around NYC are pretty bad power-wise. Yes I'm that lame, when I scope out a new place, I bring a meter with me haha. But I agree, it's always good to be prepared
/sudo apt-get upgrade checking account balance <enter>...?

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romeosc
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Sep 5, 2008, 02:37 PM
 
Buy a 12 volt inverter and plug into car or if car is too far from Macbook, etc buy an extra Car battery with a trickle charger! Much cheaper than a ups!
     
   
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