[PLUG] Battery backup issue

Dick Steffens dick at dicksteffens.com
Sun Sep 29 23:06:14 PDT 2013

I have an APC Back-UPS ES 550 UPS. I have a Gateway E-4500D plugged into 
it along with a Samsung SyncMaster 712n and a SyncMaster 205nw. Up until 
Saturday I also had my Sony Vaio and another SyncMaster 712 and a pair 
of external speakers plugged into it. We had a power outage Saturday 
evening while I was working on the machines. (Because of the 
"improvements" made in Ubuntu 12.04 I need to run the Sony on 10.04 in 
order to be able to use my foot pedal and audio transcription playback 
software, but that's a different story.)

Anyway, when the power went out the Gateway immediately died. The Sony 
and the three monitors remained running until I went through a 
controlled shut down of the Sony. I can't put my hands on the test 
results I got using my Kill A Watt, but I recall that the power 
consumption for all that hardware was way under the 330 watts / 550 VA 
the APC unit is rated for. But, thinking there may be something more 
subtle going on I decided to move the Sony, its monitor, and the 
speakers from the battery plus surge protection side of the APC to just 
the surge protection side, since I don't create stuff on that machine, 
just play back files I download. That left only the the Gateway machine 
and its two monitors on the APC.

This afternoon, while working again, there was a power blip. The Sony 
survived the blip, but the Gateway rebooted. Later on there was another 
power blip, but this time both machines survived it. In all three cases 
I didn't lose anything thanks to my auto save setting in LibreOffice. It 
was just annoying to have to reboot, start up Thunderbird again, and 
send passwords to five different e-mail accounts. (Another story. Sigh.)

While looking on Amazon at another APC unit (so I'd have one for each 
machine) I found a comment that warned about some computer power 
supplies needing pure sine wave. The BackUPS ES 550 delivers stepped 
approximation to a sine wave. I'm hoping the Gateway is old enough that 
it isn't that sensitive, but I don't find anything that tells me either way.

Any thoughts on why the Gateway should not survive a power failure while 
plugged into a UPS? The indicator light on the APC is green. Red is 
supposed to indicate the need for a new battery. This unit isn't all 
that old, either, but again, I would have to dig to find the receipt, so 
I can't say if I bought it in 2012 or 2011, or maybe even earlier this year.


Dick Steffens

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