July 31, 2011

Random Part of the Month XI - EPW9

Like other Random Parts of the Month, here is another stupid part from APC.... a $1200 switch... the EPO InfraStruXure Box.

The EPW9 is an emergency power off push button that turns off the UPS in the event of a problem.   APC explains...

APC’s Emergency Power Off (EPO) System consists of one or more wall-mounted, push-button EPO
boxes. Each EPO box provides a single point of equipment shutdown for up to eight APC InfraStruXure
devices and one third-party device (such as an upstream breaker), using Normally Open (NO) contact
closure connections. You can cascade an EPO box with other EPO boxes to support multiple points of
equipment shutdown.

While EPO is good and required thing...Why you would pay $1200, when this mushroom plunger switch does the same thing is beyond me.  But thats why APC makes billions of dollars and I still eat ramen noodles.

July 29, 2011

G3 versus G4

I really hate APC Part Numbers... probably because my job requires me to listen to people reading their part numbers out over the phone.  If I get 1 digit of the typical 12 alphanumeric part number wrong, it can be entirely different unit....

So, I have simple 3-6 digit part numbers located on every picture.  The APC SURTD5000RMXLT3U-1TF3 is simply 593g4k.

On the APC SmartUPS Online RT Series, I added "G3" at the end of the normal part number to originally designate it as the 3rd generation.  While I later learned this was incorrect, the G3 designation stuck.    So when APC tweaked the series,  I just changed the G3 to G4.

So what was the tweek?....   The only noticeable change is that they replaced the serial RS232 com type port with a Cat5 type RS232 type port.

Also, there are some minor changes such as thermal profile and different certifications, but all in all they are functionally the same.

But for me, its a big difference (sometimes over $250) because the

  • The G3 is older (before 2009)
  • The G4 is newer and comes with rails ($30), the AP9619 card ($159)

July 28, 2011

Financing Options

I sometimes joke to people that we offer Net negative 10 days... meaning your payment is past due before we ship it.

But, as businesses are struggling to grow and upgrade in this new normal economy, we have been getting many more requests for financing and terms.

To be honest, I swore never to get back into offering "Terms."  When we were mostly electricians and electrical contractors, this proved disastrous.  The one advantage of a online retail business is we get paid first.

But, we have been very successful recently and haven't got stuck with any bad debts, so maybe we will consider opening up the terms and financing arms...

The first rule of Terms Club is you dont talk about Terms Club.  The second rule of Terms Club is you DO NOT talk about Terms Club

But I am violating the Rules, because I want people to know that we will consider it.  Here are the real rules

  1. We will give Net n,  where n is 30days minus your D&B Paydex score.  If D&B says you pay in 30 days, you get 30days.  If you pay in 35 days, its net 25, etc.
  2. We need the email address and phone number for the AP person that writes the checks.  They must answer calls and respond to messages timely.
  3. Net means payment must be received by that date.  1 day over and you will NEVER get terms again.
  4. There is NO warranty on units until they have been paid.

July 26, 2011

Efficiency in UPSes - Part 2

Continuing from last post on Efficiency...

Besides Power Factory Efficiency, the other type of Efficiency is Topology Efficiency.

This type of Efficiency is more related to energy savings, but honestly more gimmicky as manufacturers tout their green credentials.

Simply put, Topology Efficiency is the amount of energy used to operate the UPS.  Lets recall Topology... Its is the method of providing backup power.  Online Topology, is simply that its allways online.. allways giving you clean power.  Line Interactive Topology uses a 'switch' to turn on the UPS power if something in the line goes bad.  Obviously, Online - since its always on - will use more energy than a line interactive that just turns on when needed.

So line interactive UPSes are more efficient than online types can ever be.   Within the Line Interactive model mix, there are a few super efficient models.  The APC 5th generation units, (like the 200v) dont switch over to the energy intensive UPS power, unless its really necessary.  Some sort of magic corrects alot of the minor power problems without energizing those line interactive transformers.  Older units, didnt really care, and just switched over - saying to hell with a few watts.

And thats the problem... this super efficient line interactive UPS like the 5th gen APC save so little power, thats its kind of stupid.  The idea that saving of 5 kWh ($1) a month when your server room is set at 60 degrees and you are running 10,000 watts of servers is pointless.  Its like ordering a Diet Coke with a Bacon Double Big Mac, Fries, Milkshake and a bucket of lard.

Bottomline, the Topology of the UPS dictates its efficiency by determining how often the unit runs.

July 25, 2011

GreenlightUPS is not a shipping service or underground research facility

While our friends in San Francisco get this alot, yesterday was our first day of having a customer come in with a bunch of presents looking to ship them UPS.

Also, yesterday, we got a delivery from UPS Freight, and the driver asked whether we are some subsidiary of UPS researching green technology.  (that was funny.... as our warehouse is in a kinda of dumpy location, not a place a multi-billion dollar company like UPS would setup shop creating nano-green technology)

To answer both, no... we dont ship packages to your Grandma and no we dont work for UPS's Green Energy Initiative.  (or maybe we do... and I just cant tell you yet.... )

Greenlight UPS's name was inspired by the display on APC Uninterruptible Power Supply units that lights ups Green when everything is ok.

July 22, 2011

Efficiency in UPSes - Part 1

Efficiency is a great buzzword today, but has several meanings in the UPS world.  None of the definitions reflect what most people think of when they buy fuel efficient car, or energy efficient light bulb.

Definition 1 - Power Factor Efficiency
As I have said before, UPSes are sized in Volt Amps (VA).  While the actual Wattage is usually a factor of that VA, depending on the UPS.
A 1000va UPSes can offer 900, 670, or even 500watts, depending on its Power Factor efficiency .  Larger and even more expensive units can have the same apparent low efficiency.  The $3500 SURTD5000XLT has a 70% Power Factor Efficiency, delivering 3500watts per 5000va unit.   The MGE 5kva unit is really efficient in Power Factor, as it delivers 4500watts per 5000va unit.  Whereas, the Symmetra PX UPS is 100% efficient, delivering 10kw per 10kva.

Bottomline, while this is the most important spec in UPSes, the lower power factor efficiency doesn't necessarily mean that a unit is wasting energy like our common sense of efficiency..

July 20, 2011

When a Watt is not a Watt

As mentioned before, UPSes are rated in VA or volt-amps, which is similar to Watts. But, power supplies, speakers, etc are also rated in Watts.

The problem is that these two Watt metrics dont correlate to each other.

Example 1:  Dell's Poweredge T710 advertises two 1100watt Power Supplies, but according to APC, uses only 694watts.

Example 2: Dell's m1000e Blade Server can hold six 2700watt Power supplies (16,200watts?), but uses only 4100watts.

Bottomline, like speakers, manufacturers use "Wattage" to imply the "mightiness" of a unit.  Your desktop that has a 500w neon, water cooled power supply, barely uses 150watts, but 500watts sounds cool.  Just know that  many times these are Marketing Specs and not electrical specs.

When sizing UPS units, a simple trick is to look at the equipment's plug.  The load cant be any more than 80% of the plug.  So a blade server with a C14 12amp outlet, cant be any larger than 1150 watts.

July 8, 2011

A 3000va Unit that outputs 3600watts

A customer today reminded me of a great spec on the Tripplite 3000 CRM UPS unit (tl314)

As I have mentioned before, usually a 3000va unit can only provide 2800watts, if its very efficient.  But since this Tripplite unit can be hardwired, the unit can actually output a full 3600watts.   How does that happen?

Well probably because the Tripplite engineers upped the specs on the components, so they can handle 4kva or 40amps of power.  While it is good practice to overspec in manufacturing, very few companies still do it.

Tripplite's commitment to better quality UPSes show on this unit...  And their effort means they have the largest 120volt UPS unit available.

July 6, 2011

U. P. Asked (You people asked)

You asked:
[Bob] once told me that the one I had [3rd Gen Smart UPS 315 ] was better than the newer ones [4th Gen SUA 3000 - 310b]. Is that still the case?

I responded
The 3rd generation units like yours were built in the US.  APC was small and performance driven product.  Costs of UPSes were minor in the IT world and they could afford to use the best labor and components.  Around the time the 4th generation units were released in 2004, cost consciousness in IT had arrived.  Outsourcing to the 3rd world, pricing pressures and many up starts forced APC to make cost concessions.  Therefore these units were lower quality.  Most people think after Schneider bought them in 07, did they go back to making better equipment.
Bottomline an unused 2003 SmartUPS like the one you have is a better product than today's 2011 SmartUPS.   But, after 10 or so years of use that older 3rd gen unit cant be as good as even a poor quality newer one.

July 4, 2011

New Racks in Stock

We are updating our Rack section of our website to reflex some new inventory.

We have some nice mid size telco racks and several 42U/48U Dell and APC racks.

Still no 25U units, though.. we are backordered 2 of those... :-(