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UPS Battery

Posted on 2013-01-24
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Last Modified: 2013-01-24
I have a question regarding UPS batteries (APC Smart-UPS 1500VA).
In general is there a way to know when it is time to replace the batteries or to upgrade to a better UPS system.  I don't seem to get any straight answers out of APC customer support.
The UPS system we have is fairly new (about a 1 year) and when the power goes out the batteries don't stay on long enough for all the systems to shutdown properly (I have the PowerChute software configured to do this right away -- but some of the servers take a while to shutdown).
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Question by:fjkaykr11
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by:R_Edwards
R_Edwards earned 100 total points
ID: 38815332
Under normal use, a UPS battery will typically last around 3 - 5 years, but the life of the UPS itself might vary depending on the environment it's used in. Like everything else, the harder a UPS is worked (the more surges and power outages it works through), the less overall life you might get out of it. Your UPS was originally warrantied for 2 years, so you should expect atleast that much from it. Maybe you'll get an additional 2 years out of it, maybe 10. Its hard to say for sure

second, if your server farm has grown over the past year you should caculate the added server load on the UPS, I would call APC and tell them your total wattage, that is how they normally size customers up by.  

hope this helps.
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by:Darr247
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ID: 38815800
The default is to wait until there are 2 minutes of battery left before telling PowerChute to shut down. I believe you can increase that up to 8 minutes.  Or do you mean you already did that but the UPS's not lasting 8 minutes because the load is too much?
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38815943
Yes the UPS doesn't last, but is that a load issue or could it just be the battery needs to be replaced? I was told that if you let the UPS battery run too many times until it gets drained that is can shorten the life.   But I have no way of specifically determining whether to upgrade because of the load being too heavy or do I need to replace the batteries or do both?
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by:R_Edwards
ID: 38815978
on the front of the UPS there should be a load meter, it is maxed out?  if it is then you are going to the least ammount of battery power.  are there any other lights (red), or blinking
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by:pgm554
ID: 38816489
for all the systems to shutdown properly

What does your load look like (file servers,switches,monitors,)?
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38816490
With this model there isn't a % indicator (i was wrong about the model, it is the 1000, not the 1500 smart ups).  It looks like the load is about 60-70% (best guess).
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by:Darr247
Darr247 earned 200 total points
ID: 38816772
Here's what the front of my Smart-UPS looks like... the outlined LEDs show the load in approximately 20% increments. Smart UPS front panelDoes yours look different? (the last time I checked, the 1500 was the smallest rack mount model.)
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by:R_Edwards
ID: 38816811
The 1000 should look like the above photo.  60-70 is not too bad, but remember these are inline ups and the battery is always working.  Have you had a lot of power outages or spikes?  These will cause your battery to go bad faster
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38816995
No mine is a rack mount unite.  yes there are multiple power outages in the building, the power is terrible.
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by:R_Edwards
ID: 38817002
Your battery might be going bad
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38817037
Right that is the whole purpose of my post. Its more than 1 unit that is not holding power long.  How do I determine if it is the battery or do I need a better unit. Thanks.
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by:R_Edwards
ID: 38817050
Because your power is not stable you are going to have the same problem if you replace the batteries or buy a new unit.  If you can get more then just the one unit to lesson the power drain on the batteries they may last longer.  I would call APC, tell them about the power issue and what equipment you have.  They will give you the best options, I have used them before and even stated I am on a tight budget.   They will work with you.

Good luck
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38817105
Right the power issues are definitely an issue. But before I order a new UPS unit and/or batteries - is there no test to run to determine the battery life, etc.  When I call APC, I don't always get a straight answer from the customer rep.  thanks.
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by:pgm554
pgm554 earned 100 total points
ID: 38817142
Powerchute has diags and tests to determine the health of the battery and unit.
Do you have a smart signaling cable attached to the unit and server?
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kode99 earned 100 total points
ID: 38817361
How long do the servers take to power down? and how many have you got on it? and how long before the UPS dies?

Probably want to check the load during the power down operation.  It likely goes higher during shutdown.  If it is taking a long time to shut them down I am guessing they are working hard.

The simple test is to just do a power down test and check the results.  If your performance is way off the discharge graph (check the APC chart for your exact model) then the batteries likely do need to be replaced.

Here's an example discharge graph for APC 1500 VA unit,
http://www.apc.com/products/runtimegraph/runtime_graph.cfm?base_sku=SUA1500&chartSize=large

If you are anywhere nearing max load during shutdown you have only around 6 minutes of battery time - ideally when new.  After a year you could easily see a minute or two less than when it was new.

From the graph you can also see how much faster the batteries run down as you push the load up.  The is a common issue with most UPS's that are only designed for really short operation periods - they have very minimal batteries.  You have to figure these to operate around half load so that after a few years you still have a safe shutdown time margin.

You probably will need a 2nd UPS now to split the load and expect new batteries in the current unit in another year.  Depends on how the test goes as to when the batteries need replacement.  After you split the load your current batteries may provide enough time for a proper shutdown.
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by:fjkaykr11
ID: 38817501
Regarding the smart signal cable. There is no NIC card in any of the UPS Units.  There is another cable (I think serial) that is connected but they aren't working correctly in a lot of the servers. I didn't set this up. It is a real mess and Powerchute doesn't seem to be installed correctly. I tried reinstalling (I have done this quite a few other environments with no problems before this time).  There servers take a least 10 minutes to shutdown (they are Hyper-V).   I can't test this because it is an environment that is suppose to be up at all times.
There are 8 UPS Units running and no room to add room (not enough electric outlets either).   It sounds like they need to upgrade the UPS but without the Powerchute diags, it is difficult to convince the manager otherwise.   Thanks for all the feedback.
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by:pgm554
ID: 38817562
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