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UPS System battery - increased capabilities?

by DaveJones / January 5, 2005 2:38 AM PST

I have 3 "older" UPS units that were originally bought and used for Pentium 1 computers and my home stereo system. Batteries for these units have finally "bit the dust" or at least don't seem to hold a charge. This seems to be a known "dated obsolecence" problem with most home user (lower end) UPS units. One unit is a Tripplite BP600 Pro (which at the time was enough to handle all my needs), another is an APC 600, and the third is a small APC 280. All three have the same problem-batteries just don't hold a charge. Specified replacement batteries just seem to cost more or equal to new 1000va units and/or are not readily available. Does anyone know if you could replace these "small batteries" with larger batteries say a small car, cycle, or tractor battery(maintenance free of course)to get a little longer life? Since the cost and availability of these batteries is much better, I think the overall investment would payout better. We are running Pentium 3-350, 733, and a new tower Pentium 4 3.0 ghz; 300 watt, 350 watt, and 600 watt power supplies-respectfully.
Any response would be appreciated.

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Not Really
by Yew / January 5, 2005 3:27 AM PST

If you were a skilled eletrical engineer, then such a thing might be possible, but for the average person, not a chance.

Most automotive batteries are very low voltage (car batteries tend to be ~12V DC) with very high amperage. You'd have to do some reasonably complex wiring to convert that to 120V AC, and also step down the amperage. Along the way, you'd lose some energy in the conversion process, since that's just how the physics work out. Then there's all sorts of potential fire hazards to be considered if any of your wiring is faulty.

In the end, even if you were able to pull it off, car batteries really don't hold as much power as you think. They send a low power, high force, charge to the spark plugs which ignights the gas and kick starts the alternator. I doubt a car battery would be as good as even a 250VA UPS.

What I'd do, is probably take out the batteries of the old UPS units and dispose of them properly. Then just make use of the surge protection features offered in almost every UPS, which should work without the battery. Use those for less important things, like your TV and stereo. Then get a new UPS for your computer. And if I might make one more suggestion, get one that has AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation). Power supplies are one of the most common parts of a computer to fail, in part because of the normal dips and surges in the power feed. AVR will smooth that into a nice steady sine wave which will extend the life of your power supply, and thus your computer. Such units often cost a bit more, but when you factor in the cost of a new power supply, even a cheap one, it usually amounts to more than what you paid for the AVR feature.

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Car batteries for UPS
by Doomed / January 21, 2005 5:24 AM PST
In reply to: Not Really

Actually I have done exactly this conversion.

My system consisted of two DEEP CYCLE marine batteries. The type of batteries used to power boat Trolling Motors. This type of battery is not designed to be use for short high amperage discharge like car starter battery. I hooked the two deep cycle battery together in parallel to provide 12 volt and maintain high amp hour rating and hook it up as a replacement for the puny 12 volt jell cell array in an old 500VA ups.

The converted UPS was used in my trailer a couple of years back. I tested it on my 486 80mhz computer with a 21 inch monitor. It ran my computer continuously for 12+ hr easily.

The Amp rating of the out put of the charging circuits on the UPS will fully recharge the discharged Deep cycle batteries in about a week. To shorten the recharge time I using a battery tender (Charger) that is sold at the same place they sell the deep cycle battery. With the Battery charger I can recharge the deep cycle batteries in about 8 to 12 hr.

If you ever need Extreme UPS or you are living in place where you can have power go out for days at a time in winter and still want to use your computer. This is one option to look in to.

Cost of component at the time
UPS = Mine was one that the battery had Died and got for Free $0
Deep Cycle Marine Battery = $80 each for a total of $160
10Amp Battery Charger = $30

Time to wire it together 3 to 4 hr.

So 3 to 4hr of my time and about $200 in cash

Note that this project is not for people that don?t know any thing about electrical system to attempt. You might fry whatever UPS component you have or electrocute your self (THE UPS PRODUCT 120AC which can KILL YOU)

Good Luck.

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Car Batteries for UPS
by DaveJones / January 21, 2005 11:09 PM PST
In reply to: Car batteries for UPS

Thanks for the response. What you have done is almost exactly what I want to do with the UPS systems that I already have. The batteries that are "made to fit" average 12 volt 7-12 amp/hr. They just don't offer enough reserve or output power for the newer computers. Using a small car or deep cycle battery, I believe would do the trick as long as I don't exceed the maximum total power output of each of these UPS systems. Your response is the only experienced one so far with the idea and answers I was hoping to hear. Most individuals would not even try this even though this is almost exactly what the "larger UPS systems" have (larger batteries), realizing of course that larger batteries takes longer to recharge. As far as the AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation) is concerned, it shouldn't really care. Two of the three units I have are AVR units. Thanks again for your time and experiences.

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Yes you can as was indicated above...
by Edward ODaniel / January 22, 2005 12:46 AM PST
In reply to: Car Batteries for UPS

and the existing UPS circuitry will handle voltage regulation and recharging--the bigger battery just won't fit inside the box.

Just don't get "carried away". Most 600VA UPS come with a pair of 12 volt 12Amp hour batteries in parallel to increase amp hours. The Amp Hour rating tells you how much amperage is available when discharged evenly over a 20 hour period. The amp hour rating is cumulative, so in order to know how many constant amps the battery will output for 20 hours, you have to divide the amp hour rating by 20. Example: If a battery has an amp hour rating of 75, dividing by 20 = 3.75. Such a battery can carry a 3.75 amp load for 20 hours before dropping to 10.5 volts. (10.5 volts is the fully discharged level, at which point the battery needs to be recharged.) A battery with an amp hour rating of 55 will carry a 2.75 amp load for 20 hours before dropping to 10.5 volts.

A single marine battery should provide adequate runtime for UPS purposes. Multiple batteries will create a need for additional fuses in the system because batteries have been known to internally short-circuit (due to electrode separator failure) causing a problem similar to where batteries of unequal voltage are connected in parallel: the good batteries will overpower the failed (lower voltage) battery, causing relatively large currents within the batteries' connecting wires.

Golf cart batteries are also good candidates.

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Info on Batterie I used
by Doomed / January 25, 2005 6:13 AM PST

The Batteries I used had about 250Ah rating with the 2 batteries together the unit rate for 500Ah rating with can deliver to a continues 500 watt draw for about 12 hr. I don?t remember how many watts a 21inch monitor and the computer draw but I believe it is a lot less then 500 watt.

And you are right about the batteries not fitting in the old UPS case Happy . I just left the batteries sitting beside the UPS box. The UPS had cable coming out to hook into the Batteries. And I stuffed the 10amp battery charger into UPS in the space that UPS Dead battery used to occupy.

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"dated Obsolesence"
by holtnr / January 6, 2005 2:06 AM PST

I realize that dis'ing Big Business is a commonly accepted practice in America today, but...

Lead Acid batteries are a well understood and proven technology. They can deliver a trickle, or a torrent of power (starting a car can draw >100 amps). Even if you bought the high end UPS's with Large banks of Car Batteries (Large Computer Facilities sometimes have a Battery Room off to one side), you would still find that they degrade witn time. Usually they come with a 1 year shelf life, and a 2 year operational life expectancy. Not that they die after 2 years, they will still continue to hold some charge for years thereafter, but Manufacturers of UPS products guarantee a level of performance (X KVA's for Y minutes), and after 2 years the batteries are typically degraded enough that they won't meet that guarantee, hence they s/b replaced every 2 years. There's nothing magic about the two year mark, if you didn't replace them all that would happen is that the hold time of the UPS would gradually shorten over time.

This is not a conspiracy by the Captains of Industry, they, and the whole world would worship at the feet of anyone who solved "The Battery Problem".

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