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Message boards : Number crunching : Oops! Lesson learned about UPS and active PFC power supplies

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Michael GoetzProject donor
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Message 73908 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 16:39:43 UTC

Last night, while feeling particularly good about my shiny new computer, I decided to test out the UPS it's attached to. This is an 825 AVR Cybperpower unit, the first time I've ever bought a UPS that isn't APC.

I made sure both the CPU and GPU were running full tilt, drawing something just north of 400 watts (including the monitors), and unplugged the UPS and expected to get a beep, a sad noise from the speakers (they're not plugged into the battery side of the UPS), and a computer that continues to happily run as if nothing had happened. The UPS is rated for 450 watts, so there's some room to spare, although not a lot.

What actually happened was I got a beep, a sad noise from the speakers, and everything on the battery side of the UPS power-cycled. That was not good, and not at all expected.

Next I tried it with the GPU idle and the monitors plugged into the non-battery plugs, so the computer was drawing about 200 watts. Same result -- the computer and network switch both power cycled.

Repeated again with the computer at idle (about 125 watts) and everything transitioned to battery power just fine.

I've had this UPS for about 8 months and never had a problem before.

Somewhat annoyed, I fired off an email to Cyberpower tech support complaining about how I'd always been happy with APC, Cyberpower's products are obviously inferior and defective, and their mothers wear combat boots. I won't hear anything until Monday; their tech support only works weekdays.

Assuming I'll need a new UPS (and kind of wanting to get a larger one anyway) I started looking around at both APC and Cyberpower UPSs and learned something new. This is important information for anyone who uses a UPS with their computer.

Less expensive consumer UPSs produce simulated sine wave outputs that step up and down rather than having smooth sine wave outputs.

More expensive consumer UPSs (and probably ALL business UPSs) produce smooth sine wave outputs.

For the most part, this doesn't make a difference. At least it didn't use to. It matters now.

Modern computer power supplies are more efficient than ever, and also incorporate something called "active PFC". I'm going to skip the electrical engineering lesson (you can look it up if you're interested), but active PFC is a good thing, and more and more power supplies are using it.

Active PFC and stepped sine waves do NOT play well together. If you get a new computer, or a new power supply, it's possible it might not work with your old UPS. If you buy a new UPS, you should make sure it produces a true sine wave output, not only because you're current computer might need that, but because your next computer is even more likely to require it.

I just ordered this UPS. It's got twice the capacity of the old UPS and has a true sine wave output. It's about the same price as APC's 1500 VA Back-UPS Pro, but the APC does NOT have a true sine wave output and would have the same problem as my old UPS. To get an APC UPS with a true sine wave output I think you have to get their Smart-UPS products, and those are targeted at businesses and are a lot more expensive.

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Message 73911 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 16:56:47 UTC

That's great to know - i was thinking of buying one myself. Let us know how the new one works. Btw, does it show how much power is being used? like a kill-a-watt does?
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Message 73913 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 17:23:43 UTC - in response to Message 73911.

That's great to know - i was thinking of buying one myself. Let us know how the new one works. Btw, does it show how much power is being used? like a kill-a-watt does?


The Windows sortware that comes with the Cyberpower shows the watts being used. Cyberpower also has a Windows 7 desktop gadget that shows various things, including watts. As far as I know, the consumer level APC UPSs do not provide that information. They can tell you the battery state, but not the power being used.

A lot of the larger UPSs such as the one I just bought also have a front panel display that can display the watts being used.
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Message 73914 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 17:36:13 UTC

Along those lines, here's what my old UPS is reading as I drain down the BOINC queue in preparation for the challenge start in 30 minutes:

(This is with just the computer and a very green network switch plugged into the battery side of the UPS.)

4 cores running PPSE-LLR:

220 watts

3 cores:

198 watts

2 cores:

184 watts

1 cores:

162 watts

idle:

130 watts

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Message 73915 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 17:45:21 UTC - in response to Message 73914.

Along those lines, here's what my old UPS is reading as I drain down the BOINC queue in preparation for the challenge start in 30 minutes:

(This is with just the computer and a very green network switch plugged into the battery side of the UPS.)

4 cores running PPSE-LLR:

220 watts

3 cores:

198 watts

2 cores:

184 watts

1 cores:

162 watts

idle:

130 watts

Good to know - what does it do with your power hungry gtx 460?
____________

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Message 73916 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 17:47:15 UTC - in response to Message 73914.

130W idle ???

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Message 73918 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 18:01:27 UTC - in response to Message 73916.

130W idle ???

This is an overclocked Q6600, isn't it? Also, what's the PSU on your computer? Some PSUs are better than others at handling UPSes (and everything else for that matter.) I have a Seasonic PSU in my machine, with a 750VA UPS.

Also note that 450VA != 450W: I think there's some weird AC/DC conversion factor or something.
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Message 73921 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 18:06:55 UTC - in response to Message 73918.

This is an overclocked Q6600, isn't it?
No. His new Haswell based machine from thread A new machine.
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Message 73922 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 18:27:37 UTC

A couple of misconceptions there.

Those readings are WATTS, not VA.

That computer is the new Core i5. The cpu itself shuts itself down very nicely when idle, but the rest of the computer is another story. (I've seen the CPU drop to below 1 watt when idle.) The motherboard, disk drives, optical disk, etc. are all drawing power. Also, computer power supplies aren't very efficient at low power. And don't forget I have a network switch on there too. It's very power efficient, but it's still drawing 5 watts or so. It all adds up.

(To be honest, there's a lot of power saving options on the motherboard I could probably use, but mostly it's either going to be crunching, or I'll put it to sleep, so idle power isn't a big deal.

The old 460 and the new 580 are similar technologies, so power draws are comparable. The 580 is about twice as fast and draws about twice the power. It consequently runs a lot hotter.
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Message 73925 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 20:05:02 UTC - in response to Message 73922.

Okay, but the german magazin c't released a Haswell based system config with an idle power of ~11w without external gpu...
If you change the config from here, you should end up with max 20w at idle. Adding an optical drive with typical 15w, two 1TB hard drives with 7.5w each instead of the used SSD and your GTX580 with an idle power of ~30W from http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/geforce-gtx-580_5.html, you should see between 70 and 80w at idle state on the UPS.


What was the idle power consumption of your overclocked Q6600 with GTX460?
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Message 73930 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 21:04:51 UTC

Maximum Wattage for a home UPS is usually 60% of its VA rating. Google "convert UPS VA to Watts" for more info.

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Message 73933 - Posted: 1 Mar 2014 | 23:48:10 UTC - in response to Message 73925.

Okay, but the german magazin c't released a Haswell based system config with an idle power of ~11w without external gpu...
If you change the config from here, you should end up with max 20w at idle. Adding an optical drive with typical 15w, two 1TB hard drives with 7.5w each instead of the used SSD and your GTX580 with an idle power of ~30W from http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/geforce-gtx-580_5.html, you should see between 70 and 80w at idle state on the UPS.


What was the idle power consumption of your overclocked Q6600 with GTX460?


The disk drives are black "performance" drives, not green, so they're probably a few more watts.

Don't forget that the power supply has about a 25% overhead on top of what the computer is actually using. (If it's 80% efficient, that means it's using 25% more power than it's supply to the computer components.)

I think the q6600 was topping out around 350 watts, but that was with the 460 which uses less power but was including the two monitors (which are about 35 or 40 watts combined.)

We're getting WAY off topic here -- this is supposed to be a warning that many consumer UPSs won't work with a lot of new computer power supplies.

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Message 73992 - Posted: 3 Mar 2014 | 20:16:44 UTC

I just heard back from Cyberpower's tech support today, and they confirmed what I had learned on my own. The "simulated sine wave" UPS's are not compatible with active PFC power supplies, and the power supply (and potentially the computer components) can be damaged by the UPS.

As far as I can tell, most consumer grade UPSs (including all APC consumer UPSs) produce simulated sine waves, so we really need to be careful about purchasing UPSs.

Cyberpower, fortunately, does have a consumer line of true sine wave UPSs that aren't absurdly expensive.

Here's the email from Cyberpower. Note that everything they're saying matches what I had been able to determine independently about this problem.

Your computer uses a power supply that utilizes Active Power Factor Correction (Active PFC) to improve efficiency. Power supplies with active PFC may experience incompatibility problems with a UPS that does not provide pure sine wave power output when the power supply switches from AC power to UPS battery power. As a result, when a computer system using a power supply with active PFC is attached to a non-sine wave UPS, the system may shut down when it switches to battery power. Also, if the power supply continues to operate, it may produce a humming or high pitch noise while running on battery. This humming indicates the power supply is operating beyond specified tolerances and may damage the power supply.

For computer systems using power supplies with Active PFC, we recommend that you protect your equipment with a UPS that provides sine wave output. We make a full line of Pure Sine UPS models that meet most technical and pricing requirements.

You can view our Pure Sinewave models on our site via the following links for more information:
http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/products/ups-systems/pfc-sinewave-series.html
http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/products/ups-systems/smart-app-ups/pp-series.html
http://www.cyberpowersystems.com/products/ups-systems/smart-app-ups/paragon-series.html

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Message 73996 - Posted: 3 Mar 2014 | 21:24:14 UTC
Last modified: 3 Mar 2014 | 21:32:12 UTC

Just wanted to add to the discussion and point readers to X-bit labs as they do their PSU tests using an APC smart UPS that is stepped rather than a true sine wave. Some PSUs will work okay with it (even some with active PFC), and some will not. It is a nice place to start if you are looking to pick up a new PSU unit.


EDIT:
This information for the APC website may also be useful.

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Message 74010 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 0:16:13 UTC

Thanks for the warning. I own two of the CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD UPS and they've always worked for me in power outages, but I didn't know about the simulated sine wave issue.

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Message 74016 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 4:29:12 UTC - in response to Message 73908.
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 4:49:04 UTC

That is odd about the APC's 1500 VA Back-UPS Pro ($170) as all of mine work fine with the AX 750/850/1200 and 1200i and also work fine with the 1300 G2 and 1500 Classified PSU from EVGA. Today in installed my 1st Cybperpower UPS unit and it is PFC Sinewave but will have to test after 24 hours of charging. I got the PR1500LCD model for 1050 Watts. $299

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Message 74024 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 13:35:54 UTC - in response to Message 73913.

Cyberpower also has a Windows 7 desktop gadget that shows various things, including watts. As far as I know, the consumer level APC UPSs do not provide that information. They can tell you the battery state, but not the power being used.

That's not true, APC PowerChute software shows the power being used and actual input voltage, even for consumer level UPSs - personally tested so far on APC Back UPS Pro and Back UPS RS & CS. I got my first APC UPS more than ten years ago and it had those features even then.

Also, I currently have an APC UPS with step-approximated sine-wave output (Back-UPS Pro 1500, BR1500GI) and it works fine with my Active PFC PSU (Seasonic X-650,SS-650KM) - the battery kicks in normally every time the power goes out or if there is electrical noise.

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Message 74030 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 14:19:26 UTC - in response to Message 74024.

Cyberpower also has a Windows 7 desktop gadget that shows various things, including watts. As far as I know, the consumer level APC UPSs do not provide that information. They can tell you the battery state, but not the power being used.

That's not true, APC PowerChute software shows the power being used and actual input voltage, even for consumer level UPSs - personally tested so far on APC Back UPS Pro and Back UPS RS & CS. I got my first APC UPS more than ten years ago and it had those features even then.


Unless it's changed, their consumer UPSs don't show the wattage actually being used. Only their higher end UPSs do. Certainly, none of the APC UPSs I've ever owned at home do. The ones at work (usually Smart-UPS) do. I'm not sure about Back-UPS Pro. They might. I've certainly never had a Back-UPS (not Pro) that provided that information. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but I've never seen one

Also, I currently have an APC UPS with step-approximated sine-wave output (Back-UPS Pro 1500, BR1500GI) and it works fine with my Active PFC PSU (Seasonic X-650,SS-650KM) - the battery kicks in normally every time the power goes out or if there is electrical noise.


How many watts is your computer drawing? That UPS probably can deliver about 900 or 1000 watts on the battery outlets, right?

What I found was that the problem did not occur until there was a significant load on the UPS. At low load (around 100 watts) there was no problem. However, around 225 watts (which is 50% of that UPS's 450 watts output capacity) the UPS couldn't handle the power load shifting coming from the computer and momentarily shut down.

If you have only one GPU in that computer, your maximum power is probably in the 400 watt range and you might not have a problem because you have a huge UPS. If you were drawing more power (not just light bulbs, but more active PFC loading) you might have the same problem. Or not. It really depends on exactly how the circuitry in both the UPS and power supply are built. The only thing I'm certain of is that at least some APC and Cyberpower UPSs with stepped sinewaves do exhibit this problem with at least some active PFC power supplies under some conditions. I suspect that if I changed that to "ALL UPS's with stepped sine waves" and "ALL active PFC power supplies" and "under HEAVY load conditions" it would still be true, but that's just speculation at this point.

However, based on what I've read, even if the equipment isn't shutting down I'd be worried about the combination of stepped sine waves and active PFC shortening the lifespan of either the UPS or the power supply. The reason the UPS shuts down is a symptom of the underlying problem, which is that there's two technologies in use which don't work with each other. At best, your computer's power supply is working much harder (and possibly using more power to do so) when dealing with an input power curve that has abrupt transitions and lots of harmonics. That's not a good thing.
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Message 74038 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 16:18:09 UTC - in response to Message 74030.

This has been a fascinating thread and an interesting point that I hadn't thought about with the advent of the newer more aggressive power supplies. Really, it shouldn't have been a surprise to me - I can remember talking with folks who provide technical supported to the Navy - even in the early '90s they were having problems providing enough clean 120V AC for all the commercial grade IT equipment that was rapidly replacing the purpose-built equipment that was fast being replaced. The purpose built stuff was on a mix of AC and DC and at different voltages other than common commercial wall power. And computer power supplies where causing huge issues with harmonics back then even.

So "true sine wave" UPS's from now on. I suspect since I have been mainly purchasing double conversion models the last several years I may be OK, but it's probably not a guarantee - I'll have to check. And I'm a big fan of CyberPower - great product for the money. Especially in the consumer models, a much better value than APC. APC has been coasting on their name for some time now :( Their higher end stuff is OK, but way overpriced in my opinion. Another brand that I think is underrated and surprisingly affordable is Liebert - they are a huge player in data center power systems, and I didn't realize they have several lines of really good smaller UPS's as well - and they are also pretty price competitive.

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Message 74040 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 16:24:19 UTC - in response to Message 74038.
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 16:34:28 UTC

Another brand that I think is underrated and surprisingly affordable is Liebert - they are a huge player in data center power systems, and I didn't realize they have several lines of really good smaller UPS's as well - and they are also pretty price competitive.


Liebert? I didn't know they made consumer UPSs. I'll have to look into that. Thanks.

EDIT: Looking at the data sheets on Liebert's website, both of their desktop UPS lines (PSP Stand-by UPS and PSA Line Interactive UPS) produce stepped sine wave outputs.
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Message 74046 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 16:45:48 UTC - in response to Message 74040.
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 16:57:10 UTC

EDIT: Looking at the data sheets on Liebert's website, both of their desktop UPS lines (PSP Stand-by UPS and PSA Line Interactive UPS) produce stepped sine wave outputs.


I thought one of their double conversion (online) series had true sine wave - I'll have to look more closely. Thanks!

EDIT: OK, they talk about it in a slightly different way:

Liebert GXT3 rated output power factor of 0.9 better matches up with switch- mode power supplies used in today’s IT equipment. A higher output power factor allows for a more efficient utilization of the UPS.


Granted that's a more higher end line - but I thought I saw something similar on their lower end online models as well.

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Message 74050 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 17:26:33 UTC - in response to Message 74030.

Unless it's changed, their consumer UPSs don't show the wattage actually being used. Only their higher end UPSs do. Certainly, none of the APC UPSs I've ever owned at home do. The ones at work (usually Smart-UPS) do. I'm not sure about Back-UPS Pro.

Well, perhaps we have a misunderstanding regarding the "wattage actually being used" so let's have screenshot of the APC PowerChute software:
http://upload.slike.com/slike/2014/03/1393951701-875-x-644px-APC.jpg
"Your battery backup is currently providing 553 watts of power"

Even open-source software like apcupsd can provide the wattage information on APC UPSs. My other UPS is monitored via apcusd, since you cannot monitor more than one UPS via PowerChute Personal Edition. Here is the screenshot of apcupsd software:
http://upload.slike.com/slike/2014/03/1393951989-409-x-405px-APCUPSD.jpg

Load percentage (LOADPCT) is 67%. Since that's a 540W unit, actual load is 362W. Total load of my system is then 553+362=915W, a lot of power - provided by two Seasonic X-Series ActivePFC PSUs running on two stepped sine-wave output, consumer-grade APC UPSs.


APC has addressed the issue of running Active PFC PSUs on their line of consumer, stepped sine-wave output UPSs. Basically, their advice in such cases is to size the UPS according to the maximum rated output of the Active PFC power supply (due to potential power rushes), not according to the peak power consumption of the PC. I haven't experienced such power rushes with Seasonic PSUs, but I did in the past, with a cheaper Chieftech unit (GPS-500AB-A, also with Active PFC). That power-rush phenomenon with Chieftec PSUs is also described in this Xbit labs article:
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cases/display/chieftec-psu-roundup_3.html#sect0

Regarding the APC advice, you can find it in their FAQ knowledge base. Since a direct link can't be provided, I will copy-paste the most important part:

Resolution:
A computer’s power supply may also be subjected to a period of inrush, while the UPS is changing state (switching from utility power to battery power and back). Back-UPS and Smart-UPS SCs may experience up to an 8ms transfer time during this period. This is just long enough to remove power from the PFC power supply, resulting in a momentary inrush of the PFC. Once the UPS changes states from "Online" (passing utility power) to "Onbattery" (passing power from the UPS's internal battery), the momentary inrush from the attached equipment subjects the UPS to the On battery power supply’s maximum power draw, resulting in a potential Overload condition or dropped load.
An Energy Star 4.0 compliant power supply has to be more than 80% efficient. For example, if a attached power supply is delivering 600W output power, its ‘input’ power can be as high as 750W. .
This ‘input’ power should be the basis for sizing the UPS, so as not to Overload the UPS. This can be calculated by taking the PFC power supply’s rated output power and multiplying it by 1.25

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Message 74051 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 17:52:18 UTC - in response to Message 74050.

This ‘input’ power should be the basis for sizing the UPS, so as not to Overload the UPS. This can be calculated by taking the PFC power supply’s rated output power and multiplying it by 1.25


Thanks for quoting the relevant part (I was having trouble finding the relevant FAQs).

That's interesting. A lot of people buy power supplies larger than they need, either because they want headroom for future components, or potentially want to reuse the PS later on in a bigger machine, or just don't want to be driving the PS near its capacity.

In this situation, however, if it's the maximum PS power that's important as opposed to the actual power the computer is using, that certainly has serious implications regarding the choice of UPS.

I have what I consider a modestly sized power supply rated at 600 watts. Based on 80% efficiency, that's 720 watts. My current (and soon to be replaced) UPS is rated at 450 watts. That's more power than it ever has to normally supply, but is not adequate for the inrush current during the switchover according to APC's FAQ.

As the title states, "lesson learned".

(Regarding wattage readouts, what UPS model is that from? I don't think it's the software so much as certain of their UPSs don't have the circuitry to measure how much power they're supplying. On second thought, it's not really worth arguing about. It's clear some of their UPSs provide that information and some others don't or at least in the past didn't. I could show you a screen shot of Powerchute not showing that information, but I don't see the point. We both agree it's nice to have!)
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Message 74052 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 18:10:25 UTC
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 18:16:51 UTC

First of all, the problem is not only at UPS side, but at PSU side with active PFC also. Some very aggresive active PFCs are stupid.

Second, if you don't want to replace an old UPS with the new one, you can just disassemble your PSU and disconnect the active PFC PCB board.

Third, there is a switching time in an UPS when the power fails. When UPS do transition from power line (from power network) to the battery, there is no power at the UPS's output for the short time. But the PC have to eat the power all the time. So the power must be stored in capacitors in the PSU. If the capacity of capacitors in the PSU is not sufficient, there will be power fail during the switching time. Normal PSU must keep the power with full load at the own output during half-cycle of the AC line. I.e. if there are 50 Hz in power line, then the one cycle is 1/50 of the second, or 20 milliseconds, and half-cycle is 10 milliseconds.

So if the capacity of capacitors in the PSU is not sufficient, amount of energy stored in capacitors will be small, and at full load the energy not be enough during the switching time and PC will be fail. But at low load stored energy will be enough and PC will run normally. The bottom line is that to increase the power factor decreases capacitance of the input capacitors in the PSU.

To check this, you need to connect the PSU through the diode. If at full load there is no problem, then the power supply is good.

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Message 74053 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 18:40:51 UTC - in response to Message 74051.
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 18:43:13 UTC

Regarding wattage readouts, what UPS model is that from?

PowerChute screenshot is for Back UPS Pro 1500 (BR1500GI).
Apcupsd screenshot is for Back UPS RS 800 (BR800I).

Eight years ago, I also used APC Back UPS CS 500 (CS series - leaning towards the low-end) and it also displayed actual power consumption through PowerChute. So it came as a surprise to me that some APC models don't support that (basic) feature.

Anyway an interesing topic, since more and more people are equipping their BOINC machines with UPSs, especially if the machine is unattended. It's more complex than it looks, choosing an UPS for such a power-hungry machine.

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Message 74058 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 20:57:52 UTC

UPS just delivered the new UPS to my door. (Yes, I've been waiting to be able to say that. I'm easily amused.)

It works as expected. The battery came about 1/3rd charged, but the UPS is working and is able to power the computer running at full tilt.

It's physically smaller than I expected, is actually kind of nifty looking, and the USB charging ports on the front save me from having to plug in a charger somewhere.

Unlike APC UPSs, this comes with the batteries connected, but it won't power on until it's connected to utility power for the first time.

Be warned that if you buy a UPS (any brand) from Amazon, you can not return it. Amazon doesn't accept returns on UPSs. If that's important to you, buy from someone else such as Newegg. On this particular item, at that exact moment in time, Amazon and Newegg were charging the exact same price. Also, depending on where you live, you may need to pay sales tax from one retailer but not the other.
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Message 74059 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 21:46:38 UTC - in response to Message 74052.

Third, there is a switching time in an UPS when the power fails. When UPS do transition from power line (from power network) to the battery, there is no power at the UPS's output for the short time.


Not if you pay a bit more and get an online or double conversion UPS. No switchover since you are always running off of batteries. You pay a bit in a loss of efficiency and a pay a bit more in cost for the unit but it provides rock steady power and I find it worth it. If I care enough about something to put it on a UPS, I generally want the power to really be uninterrupted.

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Message 74060 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 22:48:27 UTC - in response to Message 73913.
Last modified: 4 Mar 2014 | 23:16:18 UTC

That's great to know - i was thinking of buying one myself. Let us know how the new one works. Btw, does it show how much power is being used? like a kill-a-watt does?


The Windows sortware that comes with the Cyberpower shows the watts being used. Cyberpower also has a Windows 7 desktop gadget that shows various things, including watts. As far as I know, the consumer level APC UPSs do not provide that information. They can tell you the battery state, but not the power being used.

A lot of the larger UPSs such as the one I just bought also have a front panel display that can display the watts being used.


Something you may want to know about gadgets: Microsoft has apparently made one of the recent Windows 7 updates so that it will prevent any new gadget from being installed if it isn't one from Microsoft.

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Message 74061 - Posted: 4 Mar 2014 | 23:10:46 UTC - in response to Message 73918.

130W idle ???

This is an overclocked Q6600, isn't it? Also, what's the PSU on your computer? Some PSUs are better than others at handling UPSes (and everything else for that matter.) I have a Seasonic PSU in my machine, with a 750VA UPS.

Also note that 450VA != 450W: I think there's some weird AC/DC conversion factor or something.


It's known as power factor, and also occurs even when you don't convert the AC to DC. When the peaks of the voltage waveform occur at the same time as the peaks of the current waveform (as in resistors), then VA equals watts. But for motors, capacitors, and a numbers of other items, they don't occur at the same time, so VA then does not equal watts. For pure capacitors and for pure inductors, watts are zero even if VA is quite high, since both store power and then push it back into the power line, rather than turning it into heat, like resistors do. This gets somewhat more complicated if the waveforms are not pure sine waves.

For computers, VA is usually about 140% of the watts rating. You need to make sure that the watts rating of the UPS is at least as high as the watts ratings of the PSU plus the watts ratings of everything else you have running from that PSU, or you can expect the PSU to barely do anything useful.

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Message 74079 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 12:30:42 UTC

Not being an electrician it seems to me that the various UPS companies could make an add on box that adjusts the old waves to the new style if needed and save people alot of money AND make their old stuff still usable on todays hardware. Not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new ups to replace all the old ones they have, buying an intermediate box would alleviate that problem.

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Message 74103 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 18:32:29 UTC - in response to Message 74061.

You need to make sure that the watts rating of the UPS is at least as high as the watts ratings of the PSU


Not quite. The watts rating of the UPS needs to be as high as yours PC power drain at maximum load irrelative to the watts ratings of the PSU. But on the other side, the more watts rating of the UPS the longer the battery run-time.

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Message 74105 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 18:56:55 UTC - in response to Message 74103.

You need to make sure that the watts rating of the UPS is at least as high as the watts ratings of the PSU


Not quite. The watts rating of the UPS needs to be as high as yours PC power drain at maximum load irrelative to the watts ratings of the PSU. But on the other side, the more watts rating of the UPS the longer the battery run-time.


Not quite either. As noted above regarding the APC resolution for UPS connected to active PFC PSUs:


An Energy Star 4.0 compliant power supply has to be more than 80% efficient. For example, if a attached power supply is delivering 600W output power, its ‘input’ power can be as high as 750W. .
This ‘input’ power should be the basis for sizing the UPS, so as not to Overload the UPS. This can be calculated by taking the PFC power supply’s rated output power and multiplying it by 1.25


The important part of the APC response is the "input power" is the key, and it is necessarily higher than either the power draw of the equipment or the PSU output max. In other words, their example uses 750W input for an 80% efficient PSU that results in an output of 600W (which is typically what the PSU will be labled as). As such, one would want to get an UPS to match the 750W input power to avoid the problems that are being discussed in this thread. On the other hand, if it were an 85% efficient 600W PSU, the input power would be lower (about 706W), which would not need quite as powerful an UPS. Bottom line, buy an UPS that is significantly higher powered than the max output of your PSU to avoid (at least some) of this particular problem.


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Message 74110 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 20:07:37 UTC - in response to Message 74105.


The important part of the APC response is the "input power" is the key, and it is necessarily higher than either the power draw of the equipment or the PSU output max. In other words, their example uses 750W input for an 80% efficient PSU that results in an output of 600W (which is typically what the PSU will be labled as). As such, one would want to get an UPS to match the 750W input power to avoid the problems that are being discussed in this thread. On the other hand, if it were an 85% efficient 600W PSU, the input power would be lower (about 706W), which would not need quite as powerful an UPS. Bottom line, buy an UPS that is significantly higher powered than the max output of your PSU to avoid (at least some) of this particular problem.


It is true, but make it simple :-). Just measure the power consumed by the PC from power line. For example, the PSU may have a power of 500 watts, but the computer itself may consume 70 watts at maximum load. This 70 W is the "input power" that APS use in their example.

The power consumption may be easy metered by the watthourmeter.

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Message 74115 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 20:54:38 UTC - in response to Message 74110.

The power consumption may be easy metered by the watthourmeter.


Just to keep things accurate, it's Watts (power) you're interested in, not Watt-hours (energy).

Watt hours measure the storage capacity of a battery, or the total energy consumed over time. Watts is the measurement of power -- which is what the limiting constraint in the output inverter in the UPS that determines how large a load it can support.

Using the correct units is important. If you don't believe me, just ask the navigators for the Mars Climate Orbiter.
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Message 74116 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 21:33:43 UTC - in response to Message 74115.
Last modified: 5 Mar 2014 | 21:35:42 UTC

Michael Goetz, you are right, but I mean another thing. To measure power you need powermeter, of course. But if you do not have it then you should purchase it. And the powermeter in an UPS is not very accurate. But there are watthourmeter in almosl all houses which one measures energy and "produces" electricity bill. Sorry, my English is sad, but I try to explain. This watthourmeter produces a watt hours, and it has sufficient accuracy. So if you measure the watt hours and a time during which this watt hours was consumed, and then do some mathematical manipulations, you obtain watts that your PC consumes. Of course, to use this method you should turn off all electrical appliances in the house except the computer during the measurement.

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Message 74117 - Posted: 5 Mar 2014 | 21:47:27 UTC - in response to Message 74116.

Michael Goetz, you are right, but I mean another thing. To measure power you need powermeter, of course. But if you do not have it then you should purchase it. And the powermeter in an UPS is not very accurate. But there are watthourmeter in almosl all houses which one measures energy and "produces" electricity bill. Sorry, my English is sad, but I try to explain. This watthourmeter produces a watt hours, and it has sufficient accuracy. So if you measure the watt hours and a time during which this watt hours was consumed, and then do some mathematical manipulations, you obtain watts that your PC consumes. Of course, to use this method you should turn off all electrical appliances in the house except the computer during the measurement.


Understood.

However, here in the U.S.A., that would surely result in my untimely death as I try to explain to my wife why I must shut off everything in the house so I can see how much power my computer is using! :)

Or, even worse, if she ever finds out how much power it's using!
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Message 74124 - Posted: 6 Mar 2014 | 0:48:12 UTC - in response to Message 74079.

Not being an electrician it seems to me that the various UPS companies could make an add on box that adjusts the old waves to the new style if needed and save people alot of money AND make their old stuff still usable on todays hardware.


Unfortunately it's not that easy. The inverter in the UPS (that converts the DC to AC) has to be upgraded. You can't take a stepped sine wave and make it more accurate after the fact. Or if you could, it wouldn't be cost effective - let's just leave it at that :)

It's really hard to put back that which isn't there. Another analogy that might help - it would be like trying to reconstruct a lossless wave file from an MP3... That's not a 100% one for comparison and I'm sure I made someone's head explode but it's more than sufficient for our general purposes.

Not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new ups to replace all the old ones they have, buying an intermediate box would alleviate that problem.


In this case, unfortunately, if you upgrade to a newer power supply you are just going to have to more than likely upgrade to a new UPS as well. The good thing is, as Michael points out, the CyberPower UPS's are a great value so the sting isn't as bad as it could be.

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Message 74133 - Posted: 6 Mar 2014 | 12:55:58 UTC - in response to Message 74124.

Not being an electrician it seems to me that the various UPS companies could make an add on box that adjusts the old waves to the new style if needed and save people alot of money AND make their old stuff still usable on todays hardware.


Unfortunately it's not that easy. The inverter in the UPS (that converts the DC to AC) has to be upgraded. You can't take a stepped sine wave and make it more accurate after the fact. Or if you could, it wouldn't be cost effective - let's just leave it at that :)

It's really hard to put back that which isn't there. Another analogy that might help - it would be like trying to reconstruct a lossless wave file from an MP3... That's not a 100% one for comparison and I'm sure I made someone's head explode but it's more than sufficient for our general purposes.

Not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new ups to replace all the old ones they have, buying an intermediate box would alleviate that problem.


In this case, unfortunately, if you upgrade to a newer power supply you are just going to have to more than likely upgrade to a new UPS as well. The good thing is, as Michael points out, the CyberPower UPS's are a great value so the sting isn't as bad as it could be.


Now THAT makes enough sense to me that I now understand. Thanks!

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Message 74152 - Posted: 6 Mar 2014 | 23:18:02 UTC - in response to Message 73933.

Okay, but the german magazin c't released a Haswell based system config with an idle power of ~11w without external gpu...
If you change the config from here, you should end up with max 20w at idle. Adding an optical drive with typical 15w, two 1TB hard drives with 7.5w each instead of the used SSD and your GTX580 with an idle power of ~30W from http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/graphics/display/geforce-gtx-580_5.html, you should see between 70 and 80w at idle state on the UPS.


What was the idle power consumption of your overclocked Q6600 with GTX460?


The disk drives are black "performance" drives, not green, so they're probably a few more watts.

Don't forget that the power supply has about a 25% overhead on top of what the computer is actually using. (If it's 80% efficient, that means it's using 25% more power than it's supply to the computer components.)

I think the q6600 was topping out around 350 watts, but that was with the 460 which uses less power but was including the two monitors (which are about 35 or 40 watts combined.)

We're getting WAY off topic here -- this is supposed to be a warning that many consumer UPSs won't work with a lot of new computer power supplies.


I'm going to break my own rule here because I think some will find this information useful. If this needs to be discussed, however, I'll be moving these posts to their own thread. I want this thread to stay on the UPS topic, not the "why does the computer use so much power while doing nothing?" topic.

The new UPS has an LCD display panel, and because of that I happened to notice that when the computer shuts off the two monitors the power drops a LOT.

The monitors themselves use a bit of power. One of them is an LCD display with a fluorescent back light so it draws more than the newer LED-lit panel. Combined, they draw maybe 35 watts.

What I found, however, was a much larger drop when the screens shut off. Apparently, even when not crunching, the GTX 580 is using a lot of power just displaying normal Windows stuff on the screen.

With the CPU idle, the total power on the UPS display dropped from 198 watts to 108 watts (90 watts less). With the CPU running the AVX2 LLR on all cores, the power dropped from 306 to 189 watts (107 watts less).

The GTX 580 itself was using somewhere between 55 and 72 watts just to drive the two video screens. What's interesting is that the power dropped more when the computer was crunching than when it was idle. (It's not obvious why, but there's several possible explanations.)

After the PSP challenge I'll probably experiment with some of the motherboard's power saving features. And in the future, I think I'll pay a little more attention to power saving components. There's nothing like a power meter to make you aware of all the electricity you're wasting!
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Message 74157 - Posted: 7 Mar 2014 | 0:30:10 UTC

Power factor correction has nothing to do with the environment as much as with the utilities meter.

Whether the power is resistive of reactive, it still has to be produced at the power plant. If customers were billed just for the resistive power, then the utilities company would run a loss.

The domestic meter can only measure resistive power, which is not much of a problem with few and predictive reactive loads, like home appliances. However, commercial and industrial meters, where reactive loads are significant and varied, also have a power factor meter, which is then used in conjunction with the regular meter to figure out the total power used.

Now, home appliances usually have a passive power factor correction capacitors attached to the motors. Home computers have varying load and they may consume resistive or reactive power depending on what is run on it. Yet, a home computer uses just too little reactive power to make a dent for the monthly utilities bill.

Businesses have plenty of computers, many the same as those found at homes. Data-centers have commercial computers galore. In both cases, their use of reactive power will be significant. Short of requiring all such utilities customers to have a power factor meter, the computers themselves could present purely resistive loads. Since the load varies a lot, between resistive and reactive, inductive and capacitive, it requires a more sophisticated solution to correct its power factor than slapping a capacitor to its power supply as to a motor.

That's when active or passive PFC comes in. Unfortunately, the early active designs present this problem with non-sinusoidal voltage due to poor engineering.

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Message 75791 - Posted: 22 Apr 2014 | 17:15:40 UTC - in response to Message 74157.

That's when active or passive PFC comes in. Unfortunately, the early active designs present this problem with non-sinusoidal voltage due to poor engineering.


In the mid '90s PC's started taking over for purpose built components on a lot of our Naval ships. Especially on large ships like carriers, the shift in load from various voltages and frequencies that the purpose built equipment used to 120V 60 Hz required by the commercial off the shelf (COTS) replacements combined with poor/cheap power supplies in computers was playing havoc with the ships power systems. I'm sure the power systems have been upgraded by now, but it's just another example of how what, on the surface, appears to be a benign change (or even a "money saving" change like going COTS) can make a huge impact in the right environment.

I love these kinds of discussions - I always learn something new. Good stuff!

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