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Need a UPS expert to help out with UPS problmes.  HARD QUESTION!

Posted on 2004-10-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Ok Im going to start of by letting you all know in advanced that this is going to be a HARD question. There is NO logic in the issue.

We are a small Wire Harness company,  www.alteksystemsinc.com .  We have 9 UPS  for power back up on our small computer net work.

The problme has occured 2 times in 2 months.  ALL nine UPS go off at the same time... they all blink a red light to indacate that the power has been lost and that they are on battery back up.   From what I can tell they are on 3 diffrent circuts and they are spread through out our factory.  

One of the UPS is on a PC based wire cutter.. basicly it is a small computer running windows 2k and a custom program to draw cable and cut it based on how long we need it.  

Once the battery life is up we loose power.... today we lost 100% power to the file server, and teh wire cutter.  I also have 1 UPS running our phone system, router, and swtich.  That one lost power to once the battery life was drained....

WE didn't loose any power to our lights or other equpment.  There was no "flicker".  It seems as if they sockets still had electricty....

Please comment.  Ideas, thoughts... what could it be?

Oh yea..

All hte UPS are cheap $100 BELKIN and should keep a PC on for about 5min when we loose power.
Question by:mrchaos101
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LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12412744
Well, the "cheap" UPS seems to be the crux of the matter.  I think your plant had a voltage drop, caused by a motor kicking in and when it went beyond a certain threshold, the UPS'es thought power went out.  If they are all of the same manufacture, then they all suffer from the same bad sensing circuit.  Try an APC UPS and see if it behaves the same way.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 12412967
We have the same thing happen every morning at our plant when they turn on or activate the heavy machinery.  Just like Callandor stated, we switched to APC ups's and have never lost power, they still beep but recover from the voltage drop without using the battery up.
LVL 12

Accepted Solution

Joel_Sisko earned 2000 total points
ID: 12413460
Few things to consider:

First and foremost, isolated circuit for the computer equipment, isolated circuit for the phone system. Isolated circuit means that a separate ground is ran from the electrical outlet to the electrical panel.

Also computers and phone systems should never be on the same circuits and or UPS systems. Since phone system equipment and computer equipment have opposite potentials, it creates an environment that introduces inductive signals , electrical pulses/spikes that causes all kinds of problems.

You can refer to http://cablingdb.com/Standards/607/607TOC.asp for more information on this matter.

Also, by having other machines on the same circuits, can have adverse  effects on computer equipment, more so if you are using DC motors and 3 phase equipment. The machinery and lights in your building are not as susceptible to voltages drops, phase shifts and voltage spikes. Industrial equipment can have a 10% drop in voltage and not have any problems, where as a 2% drop on a computer power supply can cause adverse effects.

Just a thought, yes using a better UPS will help, but the BELKIN units did there job if you had a drop or problem in the voltage.
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Expert Comment

ID: 12414658
There's a difference between a UPS and a Line leveler also.  Alot of the more expensive UPS's from APC for example have a line leveler built in.  

Dirty electricty isnt always spikes or low voltage electricty, which is just as bad for computer equipment as the later two.

If this is for business applications, spend some cash, get some good UPS's.  APC 700 Smart-UPS or something similar should run your machines just fine for 20 to 30 mins in a power outage, as well as isolate electrical problems on the same circut so that they never reach your equipment.

Expert Comment

ID: 12418529
I had a similer problem, the cause of the problem was the power company.  Normally power is in a sine wave, but some times for different reasons power companys will put a capacitor on the lane, this causes the normal sine wave to become a squared wave, for most equipment this is not a problem, but low end UPS's have a problem with square sine waves, they are expecting a normal sine wave.  The reason you don't see it all the time is because the capacitor is set in a way that it only kicks in durring peak power hours, IE when you or some other factory and drawing a large amount of electricity.  Such as when you are starting up your wire equipment.  The reason the capacitor is installed by the power company is because when there is a huge draw of power it causes a drop in the line, trigging the capacitor to discharge, when the capacitor discharges it evens out the line.  The problem is capacitors can create square sine waves.  Which in turn cause UPS's to have problems.  This is why you don't see a brown out or spike. The solution is to buy UPS designed to handle that type of power.  APC does make a model, I don't remember what it is off hand, but if you call them and ask they can tell you.  This was hour solution and since then we have had no problems.
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12420265
Some data is missing:
1. What type are the UPSs (online, standby)?
2. Does the UPSs are connected to monitors as well as servers?
3. How many phases are you using (single or 3 phase (not >'different') circuit)?

My thoughts
If the UPS should carry the Server for 5 extended mintues beyond power failure (assuming the monitor is not being backedup and you use a single phase circuit) you are talking an approx 10KVA UPS (100W x 110V). Each power failure may require a hugh demand when it is back for the reason that UPSs consuming a hugh power to refill their batteries; something may cause circuit overload thus another shut down in a small period.
Also, you should take in mind that long term usage may corrupt the battery if emptied once. See, batteries life sycle may be longer if there was no electricity power cut (or such a short cut). But in case the battery suffers a total drain, it may damage it (depens on the quality of the battery).

Anyway, I need more answers.


Expert Comment

ID: 12424245
It is quite possibly that the Back-EMF (electric motor force) generated by one of the large machines cycling up is causing your UPS's to interpret that as an outage. Its the same thing you notice if you turn the hair dryer on in your bathroom (depending on your wiring) and the lights flicker momentarily. It may be that you aren't noticing it for the lights if its small enough, but the cheap UPS's are faulting out.

I wasn't sure I'd ever use all that Physics I took in university....

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