February 27, 2010

When you don't need a step down transformer

We often forget, but most computer things work on high voltage.

A potential customer called looking for a 208volt system for some equipment, but also wanted some 120volt outlets for computers, cameras, and external hard drives.

Yet instead of selling him a 300$ step down transformer, I reminded him to check his equipment again.  Turns out nearly everything can handle high voltage.  This is because most electrical equipment immediately steps down the voltage internally at the plug.   Plus, most equipment needs to handle international power demands, which vary dramatically.

So, other than maybe your lava lamp and disco ball.... your server room can probably do without the step down transformers.

February 26, 2010

When a 3000 is not a 3000

One of the most common requests is for us to put a 20amp plug on a 3000va 120volt UPS.
By doing so, you essentially make the 3000 ups become a 2200 ups.

First, understand that 3000, 2200, 1400, 5000, etc are VA ratings for the ups.  VA is volt-amperes. Its the electrical capacity of the UPS.   It has nothing to do with runtime, size, etc.  VA is volts times amps.

So when your 3000va ups is using a 20amp plug, its limited to 'pulling' 20amps or 20 x 120 = 2400 volt amps.

Considering a 3000va UPS uses the same batteries and frame as the 2200va system, you might as well buy the 2200.  3000va systems are usually $100-150 more than the 2200v version.

If you are concerned about load ratios of the UPS, it is true that the 3000va is obviously built to handle the larger electrical demand.   In those cases, using a 3000va on a 20amp circuit does ensure a better load ratio than a 2200va system.  I dont think its worth the extra money though.

Final note. this only is applicable to 120volt systems

February 19, 2010

Lifetime of UPS Units

I had customer inquire about replacing a APC SmartUPS 3000.  He said it was too old to be relied on anymore.  When I pressed him further, he assumed that new models would be more efficient, and perform better, and offer better features.  A 10 year old piece of IT equipment is just too outdated, he thought.

What a sad commentary on our consumerist society, that we now expect things to become worthless after a few years.

Here are the facts:

  • The technology used in that 10 year old UPS is still being used today on new models
  • The UPS is more like an electrical piece of equipment than a computer part.  Do you change your electrical panel or outlets ever two years?
  • The main reason good quality parts become worthless is NOT because they fail, but because technology companies need to sell you new items and hence must innovate.  (My top of line pioneer Laserdisc player from 1990 still works great). I think I am on my 4th DVD player in last 10years because I bought the cheap models.
  • These days, everyone is price sensitive.  Back in 1998 when this 3000va UPS was made... I doubt APC even considered price.  It was made in America and it sold for over $1600.   Today's UPS'es must be price competitive.. hence they are made in Asia with cheaper quality parts.

Bottomline, that customer agreed to keep his unit and hence I lost a sale.     So in honor of quality old parts, I I watched the Criterion Collection's silver transfer of Alien in CAV format.

February 16, 2010

IBM UPS units - switch from APC to Powerware

IBM for years has re-branded APC model UPS units with slightly different specs and features.

However recently they changed from APC to Eaton Powerware.  While a quick scan of the web cant find the reason or exact date, I bet it had to do with quality.

APC, now owned by Schnieder Electric (the guys that make SqaureD stuff, et al) was always regarded as the best UPS for under 5000va.  However, since IBM has focused more on large server arrays, the more robust Powerware units (which they have always been good at) is a better fit.

So beware that IBM UPSes sold here and elsewhere could very different depending on the year.

Our favorite IBM Ups (in the APC era is here)

February 14, 2010

75 minutes saved him 75%

A customer called looking for an affordable alternative to APC's suggested  SURTD5000RMXLP3U.
This variation of the SmartUPS RT series features 2 quirks... The first is the input power uses a 4 wire L1430P port.  The second is its ability to create 120volt for normal 5-20R outlets.

It does this because a L1430P port separates the ground and neutral into the UPS, which allows the UPS to make various combination of powers to output both 208/240 and 120volt

He needed this configuration because his old ups was connected to a L1430R outlet and he had both a PDU that connected to the UPS to his servers and an alarm box running 120volt.

After some discussions and playing in the lab, our solution was a SmartUPS 5000va (585)

We solved the first problem by making a special plug and play dongle for the input power.   We then suggested a new PDU that used the native ports on the UPS.  We solved the second problem by using the UPS that includes 400va of 120volt power.

Total cost was $1067 versus the $4100 for the APC recommended solution

Thats what we do here.

February 4, 2010

Whats in a name

Whenever I talk to professional marketers, they always hound us on our business name.  Our main company, Wesworth Electric, Inc, is a mouthful and frequently misspelled as Westworth.

GreenlightUPS with our banner header of a lady holding a light bulb, makes people think we sell light bulbs.  Our other company, 2ndGrid, gets jeers from sounding like some anarcho-syndicate website.  Our ebay name Chefash, could be Che 'fash an Italian slang term or Chef Ash, as in some chef named Ashley.  And 415 UPS, gets overwhelmed by San Franciscans looking to drop off UPS packages.

For the record,
Wesworth was created by the brief partnership between Wesley Shreve and Charles Butterworth
GreenlightUPS was inspired by the green led light on a UPS unit, indicating everything is fine
2ndGrid was conceived by the idea of a back up grid, or a second electrical grid
Chefash has been Robert Durham moniker for along time, inspired by my job as a Chef years ago and my choldhood hero, Bruce Campbell.. aka Ash.
415UPS referred to the San Francisco Area code (415) where we sell UPS units locally.