Will a Larger UPS Prevent Power Spikes

Posted on 2010-09-09
Last Modified: 2013-12-11

I have been having problems with my daughter's PC.  Every time she turns on the printer or sends a file to print, there is a spike in the power that causes her UPS to make a quick sound.  Sometimes her computer locks up.  For other reasons, I just purchased a new computer and the problem remains.

Here is her set-up:

1. The UPS is an APC Back-UPS ES 350.  It is a few years old and is rated at 200 W / 350 VA.
2. The computer is an Acer AX3400 and the monitor is a 19" LCD.  The computer and monitor are plugged into the UPS sockets that provide battery backup.
3. Her speakers (small ones), desk lamp, and pencil sharpener are plugged into the surge protection only plugs.
4. Her printer is a Brother HL-2040 laser.  We have plugged it into the UPS in a surge protection only plug, and directly into the wall.  Either way when the printer starts to run we get that pop and problem.

Q. Would a new, larger UPS with a much higher rating prevent the issue?  
Q. If yes, how high a wattage rating do we need?  I do not care about having a run time of more than a few minutes.  I would only buy a bigger UPS if it would fix these power spikes.
Q. Could this problem be caused by the printer itself?  If I need to buy a new printer I will, but I prefer not to.
Q. Any other suggestions how to fix this?

Thanks (from my daughter and I)!!!
Question by:MrChip2
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LVL 12

Assisted Solution

geowrian earned 350 total points
ID: 33642685
Generally, it is highly recommended not to put any laser printers on the same surge protector (or UPS) as other devices. The amount of power drawn during the initial warm-up and print cycle triggers a spike. A "larger" UPS may or may not help you as this is truly seen as a "spike", but it would need to be much larger as 200W / 350VA is minimal for a new PC, monitor, speakers, etc. It's not overkill, but my relatively low power PC tips 250 or more under full load.

Either way, I think the best option is not to use an UPS for a laser printer. Is there any particular reason you need to be able to print when you have no power? Even if you weren't having the PC problems, you likely wouldn't even be able to print a couple pages before completely draining that UPS.

Assisted Solution

thakurdinesh earned 150 total points
ID: 33642731
You do not need to buy a new Printer or UPS, because this behaviour is normal, specially when the power outlet is way far from distribution grid. Even if you buy higher capacity UPS such as 2KVA, still at the start for a sec the Printer will drain lot of power and you will judge the spike.

In my openion please dont put the Laser Printer to this little UPS. This is because of high capaity Capacitor inside the powersupply of Laser Printer.

Author Comment

ID: 33642743
Thank you both for commenting.  The only reason I am using the UPS is to get a higher quality surge protection.  In terms of battery backup - only the PC and monitor are protected and a couple of minutes is enough.

The wall outlet has two plugs.  The UPS is plugged into the bottom one.  Would it help if I bought a high quality surge protector, plugged it into the top wall outlet, and used it just for the printer?

Another idea is to plug the printer into an outlet that is on the other side of the bedroom.  I would need a long USB cable (like 30 feet) to stretch from the PC to the printer.  The printer does not have any networking capabilities.  Would this be better?
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Assisted Solution

thakurdinesh earned 150 total points
ID: 33642761
To test if plugging in other outlet helps, you can test it by taking the printer with power cord to other room and switch it on and see if you still see any spike. You dont need to connect the USB cable to PC for this test purpose, because the printer will drain the same amount of power from any wall outlet.

If you feel the difference, then you can go for the longer extension cord or longer USB cable, either way. But if the spike is still there in other rooms as well, then you dont need to go for any options, just separate the Power for Printer from Computer.
LVL 12

Accepted Solution

geowrian earned 350 total points
ID: 33642768
Putting the printer on a different circuit/breaker than anything else is optimal, but isn't always possible. The next best option is to put the printer on a different plug than the surge protector/UPS so it is not triggering the surge protection on all the devices on the UPS/surge protector. Basically, anything on the same surge protector as the laser printer is likely to be affected by the "surge" when the printer kicks in.

See some advice here:
LVL 12

Assisted Solution

geowrian earned 350 total points
ID: 33642784
Using a USB cable 30 feet or more is not recommend. The max length supported is 5 meters. Even adding hubs won't help as the cause for the limit is due to timings, which hubs will only make worse. It may or may not work if the cables (from PC to device counting hubs) longer than 5 meters - it depends on how strict the devices follow the standard and how much data is being passed. If you need cables that long, you may want to look into using a CAT5 balun to convert the USB to CAT5 wire and back, or just getting a wireless printer server device if you already have a wireless router.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 33643365
Based on all of the above, I am going to go find a 15' extension chord, then I will leave the printer where it is on the desk by the PC, but plug it into an outlet on the other side of the room.  I will also use a good quality surge protector and will have nothing else on that line.  Thanks!

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