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5 Times The Price, UPS Form Factor

My goal was to grab one of those half height server racks, just to try to consolidate most of this junk I have spread around the room. I have seriously 3 towers lined end to end, a Mandrake laptop, a Gentoo laptop, a Windows 10 2-in-1, a MacBook Pro, an Xbox One, a surveillance NVR, tablets, phones, a network switch, a mesh router with two Internet backhauls: a sat. Internet modem, an LTE phone connected via an LTE booster. And another mesh router on the other end of the house, Ethernet on the backhaul. It's honestly feeling a little bit crowded. (Where I live there are more trees than people. Finding Internet is like a quest. My use case is I'm a software developer looking for options to mimic the behavior of a cloud in my local environment, so that I can move it to the cloud later. Remote terminals are tricky to use, but a CI/CD, both locally (dev) and remotely (production) seems like the best route for me to go.)

 

I'd like to build a storage box with nothing but storage, probably using FreeNAS/TrueNAS Z-RAID; preferably with nothing but SSDs, but maybe hard drives for the storage and SSDs for the cache and logs. Tons of storage isn't nearly as important as speed, but I will need a lot of storage though. And I'd like to have at least one compute box, possibly with OpenStack, but with lots of cores. Obviously I would like the storage to be completely on the NAS for both, possibly using iSCSI targets for the boot partition, possibly using NFS for the actual filesystems. And if I want to spin up a VM on my laptop, I'd also like to store it in the NAS rather than using my precious laptop SSDs. And Ceph seems like the next way to go for object storage. But I need it to be highly available, but just for me, and especially not worry about intermittent power conditions, which are sometimes a problem living in a forest. As a power precondition, I will require a UPS of some sort.

 

I'd like to use a very low-power device like a Pi to monitor the UPS, possibly via USB or wireless LAN. When the power fails, I want a script to execute after a 1-minute or so timeout which will SSH into the compute boxes, request their shutdown, then SSH the storage array once the battery reaches about 50%, or a 3-minute timeout, whichever comes first, to shut it down as well. The primary router, switch, sat. modem, Pi charger (USB), LTE booster, phone charger need to stay powered, ultimately until the UPS battery dies. Once power is restored, assuming prior to the death of the UPS battery, the Pi should then request (maybe via an SMC or WOL). I have just the device in mind to use, but I could grab a Pi and drop a Linux/ARM on it all the same. I may even be able to make it run on the router, which is Linux based.

 

Those are sort of my life goals at this point. But my reason for writing is I'm shopping for a suitable UPS. There's all this variety. And the ideal form factor, rack mount, is RIDICULOUSLY priced higher than their desktop counterparts. What gives? Do I need pure sine wave? Or are regular imperfect waves just fine? (After all, whatever the power company has been distributing has been working so far, perfect or not.)

 

What's really going on here with the price? Price checking uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) here. Looking at APC @ NewEgg, but I don't aim to endorse any single brand or vendor over another. I like to have nice things though.

 

Desktop UPS

  • APC Back UPS Pro BX1500M, 1500 VA 900 watts, $164.99
  • APC Pure Sine Wave BR1500MS, 1500 VA 900 watts, $216.99

Rackmount UPS

  • APC Smart UPS SMT1500RMUS, 1500 VA 1000 watts, $950.99
  • APC Smart UPS Pure Sine Wave SMX1500RM2U, 1500 VA 1200 watts, $677.99
  • APC Smart UPS X SMX1500RM2UNC, 1440 VA 1200 watts, $1,119.99

I just don't understand what I'm paying for. $165.99 -> $950.99. $216.99 -> $677.99. $677.99 -> $1,199.99. I know there must be some excuse for this price gouging. I just don't get it. Is the desktop one just as good? And why are people leaving reviews about them catching on fire? Maybe I need to put it in it's own metal box to isolate fires as much as possible.

 

Other things aren't this different in price due to form factor. Does it require a special battery that makes it cost more? Are the sine waves more precise? Bigger capacitors? Or are they just price gouging? Because I can just put it somewhere else if I have to. It won't look as pretty, but I'm not paying for it to look pretty. It just has to work. And not catch on fire.

 

For some of you guys, the difference might seem obvious. But I really don't get it. Thanks!

 

--David

Edited by David Ball
SME->SMC, my b
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Have you checked other specs?  There is more to it than just the raw output in watts.  For example, it's possible they are using higher quality components, as you alluded to.  It may also be that the rack units have much larger batteries.  Looking at the specs for two similar units from CyberPower, I see a similar price discrepancy but I believe this makes up some of the reason.

Solve your own audio issues  |  First Steps with RPi 3  |  Humidity & Condensation  |  Sleep & Hibernation  |  Overclocking RAM  |  Making Backups  |  Displays  |  4K / 8K / 16K / etc.  |  Do I need 80+ Platinum?

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Rack mount UPSes are so expensive because the typical consumer of a rack mount UPS, specifically businesses with a server rack, will pay the extra price, and they're much lower volume products than freestanding UPSes which also contributes to cost. Unlikely to be any functional difference.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

Desktop:

Intel Core i7-3820 | Corsair H100i | ASUS P9X79-LE | 16GB Patriot Viper 3 1866MHz DDR3 | MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G | 2TB WD Blue M.2 SATA SSD | 2TB Hitachi Deskstar HDD | 1TB WD Black HDD | Corsair CX750M Fractal Design Define R5 Windows 10 Pro / Linux Mint 20 Cinnamon

 

Laptop:

Dell XPS 15 9560 4K Touch | Intel Core i5-7300HQ | 12GB Generic (Crucial?) 2133MHz DDR4 | Nvidia GTX 1050 | 256GB Toshiba M.2 NVMe SSD | Windows 10

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Just now, BobVonBob said:

Rack mount UPSes are so expensive because the typical consumer of a rack mount UPS, specifically businesses with a server rack, will pay the extra price, and they're much lower volume products than freestanding UPSes which also contributes to cost. Unlikely to be any functional difference.

I don't know either. We can guess all day.

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Some rack units also have add ons or the ability for monitoring and also things like add on battery banks, bypass switches etc.

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On 8/8/2020 at 1:50 PM, David Ball said:

I just don't understand what I'm paying for. $165.99 -> $950.99. $216.99 -> $677.99. $677.99 -> $1,199.99. I know there must be some excuse for this price gouging. I just don't get it. Is the desktop one just as good?

Different features.

 

For example, the pure sine, ability to hot swap batteries, ability to scale backup time by adding additional batteries, and some even have their own NIC so they can be monitored via an IP address by any PC on the network.

On 8/8/2020 at 1:50 PM, David Ball said:

And why are people leaving reviews about them catching on fire? Maybe I need to put it in it's own metal box to isolate fires as much as possible.

Because, like PSUs, people don't tend to leave positive reviews when the product works properly.  UPSs are a "set it and forget it" type of product.   95% of people that buy them don't leave a review, but 95% of people that have them fail WILL leave a review.

If you want a "simple" rackmount line-interactive UPS that has all of the features of a consumer grade UPS without all of the additional stuff you don't need, I suggest Cyberpower.  When I was an Avaya VOIP/PBX installer, I would use the Cyberpower rackmount every time.  Worked with the PBX and voice mail server, fit in a rack, didn't cost an arm and a leg.  

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On 8/8/2020 at 4:50 PM, David Ball said:

But I really don't get it. Thanks!

Large Corporations where the rack mount units would be used are like Governments. They will pay what ever they have to. Its just how it is. These UPS makers can and will charge what the market will bear. On the consumer side they know they cant get much money. But on the business/government side they know they can charge pretty much what ever they want. Also enterprise units will likely have features you may or may not use. Most UPS's connect to a computer via USB/serial. Business units you may be able to connect them in other ways like Ethernet. 

 

On 8/8/2020 at 4:50 PM, David Ball said:

APC Back UPS Pro BX1500M, 1500 VA 900 watts, $164.99

Pretty sure that's the UPS I have. ITs a great unit. Unlike my Cyberpower unit that died during warranty then died out of warranty. This guy has been a champ. I just had replace the battery but it was pretty painless, didn't even have to shut it down. Though the battery was like $70, still not too bad, probably had it 3 years. The software was much better than cyber power in a lot of ways. 

Just sitting here with my feet propped up, watching the world burn.......... 🔥🔥🔥🔥

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