Author Topic: [RANT] Why are domestic Uninterruptible Power Supplies such utter crap?  (Read 3657 times)

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Offline nfmax

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I think your analysis of the use case matches the mindset of most low-end UPS manufacturers!

Some background:

I have just had FTTP Internet installed to my house. I can use this for, among other purposes, VOIP telephony in place of the existing PSTN copper service. However, in that case with no local power, the phone service would stop, meaning that for example I couldn't call up the power company. So I want to be able to keep the FTTP service up for an extended period. The RasPis I'm not so bothered about, provided they shut down smoothly. The existing FTTP collection of equipment takes 18W, with no PoE load other than the WiFi access point. Obviously, VOIP phones will add to this load, and I plan to add a couple of security cameras as well. But 35W would cover it comfortably.

The classic 'enough power to shut down a PC if the power fails while I'm using it' is covered by a different UPS, in another place. In fact, the Mac Mini is low enough power to keep going for quite a while, although the monitor isn't. Nevertheless, I have this set up to just shut down after a short delay, when the power fails.

The networking equipment is in a central wiring closet, which is quite small and has limited ventilation. It's not really feasible to increase the space or move it elsewhere. There isn't space for a rackmount UPS, unless it's only 8" deep!

Mobile phone coverage here is marginal, at best

Interestingly, BT, our phone company, will stop supplying new PSTN phone lines from 2025 on - they are trialling this now in nearby Salisbury. All (new) telephony service will be VOIP over either fibre or copper DSL, even if no Internet service is provided. From this date, if a PSTN line fails, it will be replaced with VOIP, not repaired.

There are going to be millions of customers who will suddenly discover that if their power fails, so does their phone. At least some will want a UPS...

 

Offline madires

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... if the telco's DSLAM/MSAN/BNG/OLT/CMTS is protected by a UPS too. Otherwise it won't help to have a UPS at home.
 

Offline nfmax

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True, but the same applies to the PSTN Exchange/Central Office
 

Offline james_s

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I would expect any service provider to have not only UPS's on their infrastructure but a backup generator. Certainly my internet has never gone out during a power outage, even the once in 10-15 years where a power outage lasts several days after a major storm I still had internet provided I could power the equipment at my end. I don't think it's unreasonable to have a UPS set up at home providing something approaching "mission critical" reliability, I have managed to achieve that. The UPS's will keep my router, ONT (fiber terminal), switch, security cameras and NVR, and my Plex server and the Raspberry Pi that runs my home automation going for over an hour on battery power. So far that has given me ample time to get out my generator and get that going, there has only been one incident so far when I happened to not be home and a freak autumn storm knocked the power out causing about 15 minutes where my security cameras weren't working. I also don't think it's unreasonable to expect a device to not burn your house down, regardless of whether it's consumer or enterprise grade.
 

Offline nightfire

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About quite exactly 20 years ago, in the demise of the then so called "new economy bubble" I worked at a internet company that also did some transmission stuff (read: fiber lines).

Usually back then, telco equipment was powered by 48V, and every repeater in a container in a field would have some small battery unit to cope for 4 hrs. In bigger Centers (usually built as a POP (Point of presence) you had bigger batteries, but in lots of cases no diesel backup generator due to a variety of reasons.
In germany you had those POP build in commercial buildings some years after the building had been built, so equipping with some diesel generator is/was in lots of cases no option.
Also maintenance and setup of the whole switching gear is expensive, and mostly a POP runs unattended.

 

Offline fordem

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I think your analysis of the use case matches the mindset of most low-end UPS manufacturers!

If that was in response to my post, then you would be incorrect - it's more a matter of stating what is obvious to someone who is in the business of supplying & maintaining UPSs - and for the record, I don't supply low-end UPSs - I do 6kVA and upwards, all the way out to 250kVA - and those generally don't come as anything other than double conversion.

Quote
Some background:

I have just had FTTP Internet installed to my house. I can use this for, among other purposes, VOIP telephony in place of the existing PSTN copper service. However, in that case with no local power, the phone service would stop, meaning that for example I couldn't call up the power company. So I want to be able to keep the FTTP service up for an extended period. The RasPis I'm not so bothered about, provided they shut down smoothly. The existing FTTP collection of equipment takes 18W, with no PoE load other than the WiFi access point. Obviously, VOIP phones will add to this load, and I plan to add a couple of security cameras as well. But 35W would cover it comfortably.

I've had FTTP internet at home since 2017 - my ISP supplied an ONT (Optical Network Terminal) with it's own DC supply which includes a backup battery, the sole purpose of which is to keep the ONT and it's associated VoIP phone(s) & wireless access point working in the event of a power outage, I believe the estimated runtime on battery is in the region of seven hours, the longest I've seen it run without power, I believe, has been four hours - I should point out here that there no inverters to be concerned about, this thing runs on DC power, fed from a battery which is charged when there is utility power.

Perhaps you should check with your ISP to see the ONT they use can accept a similar DC supply, most of them can - that is the nature of telecom equipment.

For what it's worth - my network equipment is mounted in a standard 19" rack, powered by a 1400VA rackmount UPS, with SNMP card, configured to shutdown all connected loads after fifteen minutes on battery, which gives me enough time to walk out back and turn the key on the standby generator.  My desktop is powered by it's own 750VA UPS, again, with SNMP card, again configured to shutdown the connected loads.  These two UPSs, by the way, are eighteen (18) & fifteen (15) years old respectively, and apart from needing the occasional battery change have been phenomenally reliable, they may be installed in a home environment, but they are not 'bottom of the barrel' consumer grade.

As I've been saying, you get what you pay for, and if you need something better, then you can expect to have to pay for what you want, and that includes the operating cost.
 

Offline james_s

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My old ONT had a backup battery although it only powered the part of the ONT that handled the phone which was useless to me once I no longer had a landline. The new ONTs that Ziply (FIOS) is installing now don't have a battery by default although you can get a hokey battery box that takes a pile of D cells.

There's a significant range between true NEED as in mission critical, someone might die or be greatly inconvenienced by downtime and "need" as in really nice to have but not life or death critical. I "need" my internet to be reliable and ride out a power outage, giving me ample time to set up my little generator. If it does go down that is annoying but not a major catastrophe, thus a freebie (plus cost of a new battery) consumer UPS was a perfect fit for me, so far it has done exactly what I expected of it and my router uptime was over 300 days when I last rebooted it to change some settings. That was over the winter when I experienced 3 power outages of a few hours each and numerous brief glitches during storm season which would have been just enough to reboot everything which is annoying. It has given me perfect uninterrupted service while drawing only 2.5W standby, I can't see why I'd want to consider anything else. There are diminishing returns on additional operating expense.
 

Offline nfmax

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Which manufacturer and model is that?
 

Offline james_s

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The one on my router (and ONT, switch and security cameras) is a Tripp-Lite Internet750U, pretty typical inexpensive consumer UPS but it does the job. Only thing I don't like about it is you have to take it apart to change the battery.
 

Offline David Hess

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The FCC has regulations requiring backup power for various public systems, which has become more important with the advent of cellular communications, but I suspect the regulation do not actually require upkeep because I now see a lot of systems with battery backup and worn out batteries.

When I had landline phone service provided through AT&T U-Verse, they included a battery backed up power supply but no instructions for battery maintenance.
 

Offline james_s

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FIOS (Verizon sold to Frontier, sold to Ziply) used to provide a battery backup unit that used a 12V SLA batter, customer is responsible for maintaining it, the unit will start to beep periodically when it fails. Verizon would happily sell you a battery for around double the cost of purchasing one anywhere else but I don't know how many people actually replaced it. At some point they stopped offering the battery backup unit, probably because people would call support every time the thing started beeping. I removed the beeper from mine and plugged the whole thing into a UPS when the original battery failed. I have the UPS anyway because it keeps my router powered, otherwise a momentary power glitch results in several minutes delay while it all reboots.
 


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