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Old 11-01-2012, 08:52 AM   #1
neuronimo
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Default Best UPS for disasters...

So, the prolonged blackout in lower Manhattan and elsewhere has gotten me thinking about what would be the best Uninterruptible Power Supply (large battery, more or less) to charge USB devices (mainly phones) and laptops.

I know there are various USB battery packs on the market, but these are portable/smallish, and don't hold THAT much charge, so I was looking at the huge APC/Cyberpower/etc units.

Three questions:
1) There appears to be a distinction between sine-wave and sine-simulated power output. Does either matter for laptop power adapters?

2) Anyone know of any units that have USB power output ports? I figure these would be more energy efficient to charge USB devices instead of using the device's AC adapter. (Direct battery DC =>> USB DC, rather than battery DC -> UPS AC inverter =>> device AC adapter -> USB DC).

3) Is this even a good idea? Is there something better than a big UPS for such an application/emergency preparedness? (While keeping it more or less simple - no generators or overly expensive solutions...)

Thanks..
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:54 AM   #2
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If it's for a laptop, why not just buy a couple extra laptop batteries?
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:14 AM   #3
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I want it to be useful to anybody who needs a charge, and for cell phones..

(Plus, my laptop has a non-user-replaceable battery.. even if it did, they're expensive.)
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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UPS wont last you very long, plus most of it will beep when theres a power outage, you can't turn the alerts on some units.

You're looking at something like this, a high capacity battery with usb ports so you can charge hand held devices or laptop.

http://www.amazon.com/External-Unive...ar+usb+charger


http://www.amazon.com/10000mAh-Multi...ref=pd_cp_pc_0

http://www.amazon.com/Upgraded-Versi...f=pd_sim_cps_1


For super old school, heres a combo hand crank with radio, for extended time, you can hand crank some juice into your device

http://www.amazon.com/Ambient-Weathe...nk+usb+charger
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:29 AM   #5
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UPSes can be very expensive when run-time is critical. The main purpose of home UPS units are to allow a normal shut down to prevent OS corruption and keep devices from shutting down from small blips in power.

APC is my favorite. You can find 2200XL's on Ebay reasonably and these can take add on batteries. I'd recommend buying them in bare-chassis form and buying the batteries separately and new.

Keep in mind proper UPS maintenance is replacing the batteries every 3 years or more. Failure to do so will usually lead to swollen batteries rendering your UPS unservicable.
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Old 11-01-2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsutoratosu View Post
UPS wont last you very long, plus most of it will beep when theres a power outage, you can't turn the alerts on some units.
Do you mean the battery doesn't have a long life (in years), or that they generally don't hold much charge? Or, perhaps, that when disconnected from mains power they aren't intended to hold a charge for long - independent from the current you draw from them?
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alkemyst View Post
UPSes can be very expensive when run-time is critical.
Can you recommend anything that would be more appropriate? My only real criteria is it be a battery with a fairly large capacity - and able to power a couple of relatively low current devices. Charge a laptop, phone, maybe run a lightbulb or something. Simple stuff.

.. But big enough to charge a phone at LEAST, say, 10-20 times. The portable USB chargers I found max out 12,000mAh thus, 6-7 charges of an iPhone. Which is good, but won't last much if you're in an emergency and you're helping charge up your friend's and family's phones. I figured - just based on the physical size of the batteries, some of these UPSs could hold many times that charge.. I just have no idea, and suspect there may be some electrical properties that make it not work out as simply as that.

For that matter, I don't know -- is there any reasonable way to convert the wattage/VA specs of UPSs to the mAh given for portable devices - in order to compare them directly?
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:48 PM   #8
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Do you own a car? If so, it would just be easier to charge off that in an emergency. As long as you have a full tank of gas, you can easily charge your stuff.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:04 PM   #9
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For outages lasting day, a UPS isn't going to be of any use.

I have two 1500 Watt UPS's. Server on one, primary desktop on the other. Router and cable modem on one, cordless phone base on the other. Both systems are configured to shutdown 1 minute after a power failure.

That leaves the cable modem and router about 6 - 7 hours of run time, and the phone about 8 -10. So now that gives internet access to laptops and Kindle Fires.

That will get us through most outages unless it is a big one, which usually takes out cable service also. During most power outages the cable service is still active, including internet.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neuronimo View Post

(Plus, my laptop has a non-user-replaceable battery.. even if it did, they're expensive.)
WTF??

Where the hell did you buy that?
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neuronimo View Post
I want it to be useful to anybody who needs a charge, and for cell phones..

(Plus, my laptop has a non-user-replaceable battery.. even if it did, they're expensive.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Makaveli View Post
WTF??

Where the hell did you buy that?
I think I smell an apple, not sure what variety, but defiantly some variety of apple.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:28 PM   #12
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^ Hey new ultrabooks do the same thing now, but its its older def smells like apple lol
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:46 PM   #13
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yeah smells very fruity in here.

i would probably just buy a nice jump pack that has a 12v lighter and a usb socket. charge people $5 a jump to have it pay for itself, and use it in emergencies to charge your stuff.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:20 AM   #14
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One of these is what we're really talking about:


A UPS is primarily for short outtages and to maintain a stable, clean, feed of power. Granted, one with at least 500 VA would probably go a long way with smaller devices, it's not intended to be used for extended outtages by any means. This will obviously be changing in the near future, with new battery cellular (meaning organic) technologies being developed and battery retention capabilities improving vastly over current, but we're no where near that yet.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:50 AM   #15
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What you probably want is an inverter-charger. It's essentially a UPS without a battery - you buy a big or multiple big batteries yourself (cheaper than the equivalent battery power from a real UPS). Ensure it's pure sinewave so you don't have to worry about what it can run. Grab a couple deep cycle marine batteries at Canadian Tire or whatever is the equivalent store in the US and you'll have plenty of power. In fact you can save some money and get just a plain inverter, but if you do this make sure the batteries are on a trickle charger at all times. The nice thing with the inverter-charger though is it's always on, your stuff is always plugged into it (such as server/comptuers) and when the power goes off it takes over without a hitch, like a UPS.

I have a Tripp Lite one for my server equipment, it's good for about 5 hours on 300w. For charging phones you'd probably have over a day of power, more if you turn it off/on only as needed. We recently had a 5 hour scheduled outage here and it was a life saver. My priority is keeping my main server up as it is very old and on it's last legs. Shutdown/restart sequences are very hard on it. So I shut down the less sensitive stuff and was good to go. Helped that the outage was scheduled so I knew how long it would last.



If you do go with a setup like this keep in mind these batteries do produce a very small amount of hydrogen if overcharged. I recommend a sensor of some sort to be alerted if they do start producing some, and make sure they're vented into a big room, or outside. Hydrogen is a very light gas and will actually pass through solids, so it will eventually make it's way out of the house even without being vented outside. Though if a lot of it is produced it will accumulate somewhere and that's where it gets dangerous, so a sensor is a good idea. You can also get the more expensive gel cells and not have to worry about hydrogen.
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Old 11-02-2012, 04:42 AM   #16
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I'd consider a 1kw gas generator before any of that other stuff and they aren't that expensive and are light weight.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thescreensavers View Post
^ Hey new ultrabooks do the same thing now, but its its older def smells like apple lol
Correct! Not Apple.. Lenovo ultrabook (Ideapad U300S).
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TemjinGold View Post
Do you own a car? If so, it would just be easier to charge off that in an emergency. As long as you have a full tank of gas, you can easily charge your stuff.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pandemonium View Post
One of these is what we're really talking about:
Unfortunatly, as an apartment-dwelling, car-less urbanite, I can't go the internal combustion engine route..

Quote:
Originally Posted by pandemonium View Post
A UPS is primarily for short outtages and to maintain a stable, clean, feed of power. Granted, one with at least 500 VA would probably go a long way with smaller devices, [...]
That's what I was hoping for! As long as it works - one way or the other..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
What you probably want is an inverter-charger. [...]
Thanks, I'll look into that.. As long as I can find an inverter-charger + battery (that doesn't leak H2 into my bedroom , within the price range of a relatively big UPS ~$200..
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neuronimo View Post
Unfortunatly, as an apartment-dwelling, car-less urbanite, I can't go the internal combustion engine route..



That's what I was hoping for! As long as it works - one way or the other..



Thanks, I'll look into that.. As long as I can find an inverter-charger + battery (that doesn't leak H2 into my bedroom , within the price range of a relatively big UPS ~$200..
At that price range, and since your main concern is charging stuff, what you could also do is get one of those cheap car lighter inverters and a single big (sealed) marine battery and trickle charger. Should come up to around $200 or so (battery being the most expensive part). Now you *could* just plug the inverter in the car, but you don't want to risk running down your car battery and you don't want to keep starting the car and waste all that fuel which will be hard to come by in a disaster.


And yeah a 1000va UPS with barely no load on it will last hours. So that's another option. A typical phone takes what, a couple hours to charge at most? So you could turn it off and back on as needed, and keep a couple spare batteries, just be sure to regularly charge them. Make it part of a routine.

I have my cordless phone plugged into a APC and it lasted through a full 5 hour outage.
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