UPS BUYING GUIDE- Techspin stamina tests 3 great Cyberpower units
UPS Buying Guide- Quick Tips
Are you looking for battery backup? What kind of features are you looking for in a UPS? Please leave your thoughts in the comments. First let’s start this UPS Buying Guide with a Quick Tips section.
First, to ensure the battery’s maximum charge capacity, it’s recommended that you charge the battery for at least 8 hours, some manufacturers and higher capacity models may require a different amount.
Second, check the wiring fault light. If it’s on, you need to check your outlet to make sure it’s correctly wired and grounded. The surge protection features won’t work if it’s not properly wired and grounded, and you won’t be covered by any Connected Equipment Guarantee. Get a wiring technician to fix it.
Third, don’t connect power strips or extensions into either the battery plus surge or just surge protected UPS outlets, as it increases the risk of electrical fire. You also can’t use it for aquariums or on any transportation as condensation or vibration can cause a short.
Number four, don’t plug a laser printer, paper shredder, copier, space heater, vacuum cleaner, pump, compressor, or power hungry devices like hairdryers into the Battery and Surge Protected Outlets. We’d recommend getting a separate surge protector power strip if you’re safeguarding heavy demand devices.
Finally, to maximize battery runtime during a brownout or blackout, only battery backup your absolutely essential equipment.
TLDR; How to pick a UPS
TLDR- after testing and research on models and performance for price, pick a UPS with an LCD screen, 500 to 600 watts minimum, and USB connectivity. A two minute summary: for a network, at minimum get a 250 to 300 watt backup, with no LCD goes for 50 us and lasts an 1 hour 20 minutes. Around 500 watts with LCD for 100 us, 80 on sale, network stays up just under to 3 hours. These are Standby models, so a Line-interactive mini-tower CP1000AVRLCD 600 watt for 120 bucks should get you past the 3 and a half hour mark.
For a PC and monitor being minimally used at the 600 watt level, gets around 30 minutes for 120 USD, and 1000 watts lasts 49 minutes for 210usd, with Pure sine wave for AV equipment. Out of our options today, the best bang for buck will be the CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD, however the power brick form factor with 4 AC adapter spots is a deal, on sale for 80 bucks. If you’ve got high-end A/V equipment, grab a PFC Pure sine wave model, though I didn’t hear noise introduced with the 1000AVR, your results may vary.
For the best stamina per dollar, a 900 watt PC only UPS and 600 watt monitor and peripheral UPS combo for 270 dollars should last you just over an hour with minimal usage, of course gaming with the latest AAA titles, rendering and the age of the battery will factor into cutting that time.
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UPS Buying Guide- What’s a UPS?
A UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply kicks on if the power goes out, powering whatever is connected to the battery side. UPSes are rated by VA and watts- watts equals volts times amps, often referred to as VA or Volt-amps. Bigger wattage batteries give longer run times, and newer UPSes provide surge protection. You can keep your network online if it’s essential, keep a PS4 or Switch and TV on during a power failure, or have your main PC and monitor on battery backup so that you can save and power down safely.
There’s two areas we’re looking at, keeping your network up, and preventing computers or even game consoles from abruptly turning off. If you’re a PS4 owner, you know about that 2 to 3 minute wait while your console becomes operational again! Protection from data loss is important too, if your PC suddenly loses power you can get corrupted documents, or a badly timed windows update could leave you having to reinstall windows again. At minimum, it saves you time recreating lost work or fixing drive issues, even if your hard drive/SSD or hardware survives intact.
No matter where you live, you’ll get voltage surges, sags and brownouts depending on the demands of the power network around you, even in your own home, from turning on an old fridge or A/C unit, which can really put a spike in the voltage. They also help mitigate spikes from lightning strikes which is the Joule rating on surge protectors. And lightning’s common in Taipei from the tropical weather, having extra protection for our data is the main reason we bought one. Onto more of our UPS Buying Guide.
UPS Buying Guide- How do they work?
How does a UPS work? Installed between a properly wired and grounded socket and your devices, the UPS battery charges and remains topped off, and during a brownout or blackout, the battery kicks in, delivering power to all battery-side connected devices until the battery is exhausted.
UPSes usually offer half their sockets as battery and surge protected, the other half being just surge protected. USB connectivity can tell your computer the remaining battery time, and trigger a shutdown through software.
There’s two types of UPS- standby, and line interactive, both can switch over in the case of power failure in a few milliseconds. Standby units during surge, sag or brownout conditions, they switch fully over to battery draw. Line-interactive models have AVR or automatic voltage regulation, that cleans incoming current without switching over to battery, so they last longer due to less wear on the battery. We recommend Line-interactive units.
As AC wall power reverses smoothly 60 times per second, UPSes must produce a smooth sine wave to mimic this from the DC powered battery. If the AC sine wave is rough, some computer power supplies will whine or even be damaged by the rough current. Importantly, if you’re working with A/V equipment, you want Pure Sine Wave over simulated sine wave, as power irregularities often introduce noise to sensitive audio gear.
Factoring into operational cost, you’ll pay a tiny bit more in electricity monthly for the backup protection, and usually 3 to 6 years down the road, need to replace batteries as they lose charge, which your UPS will beep or light an LED to tell you it’s time.
UPS Buying Guide- CyberPower models
We have three models we’re testing for our UPS Buying Guide. First is the Cyberpower EC850LCD, a standby type with simulated sine wave and surge protection. This model prices at just under 100 us dollars, on sale sometimes for 80 bucks on Amazon, and 110 Canadian. In Taiwan there’s the 650VA for 1600nt, in the UK nothing yet in this form factor and capacity at this time. Key features are the 850 VA, 510 watt capacity, LCD screen, 12 surge protected outlets, 6 of those are battery backup, along with USB connectivity, and auto-shutdown software.
A circuit breaker reset button, 100 thousand connected equipment guarantee when connected properly, and the LCD displays current/load level, battery level, output voltage, overload, normal mode, runtime, input voltage, battery in use, and silent mode, with a typical transfer time of 4 milliseconds.
CyberPower’s Ecologic series has an interesting function, when your PC is off or sleeping, it can cut power to three surge-protect only outlets on this model to save power. Useful for turning off PC speakers… something I always forget to do. This is also user configurable in software if you don’t need this functionality, working with PowerPanel Personal, a free download, we’ll get into this later.
The CyberPower EC850LCD has a surge rating of 526 joules, joules is the amount of energy that a surge protector can absorb. Battery recharge time is 8 hours from total discharge, battery life is quoted from 3 to 6 years. The CyberPower EC850LCD has a three year product warranty, and audible alarms for Battery Mode, Low Battery, and Overload conditions. It says the battery is replaceable by qualified technician.
This socket layout allows for 4 larger AC adapters to be plugged in without interfering with other sockets, really good planning there. It comes with a USB cable to connect to PC, and the LCD is blue backlit with white segments, readable left to right and above nicely. One thing you might notice is that Taiwan’s voltage is actually 110 volts at 60 hertz. 99% of electronics have input tolerance at the 120 volt mark, so 10 volts below isn’t an issue. The UPS delivers 120 volts when running, no problems to equipment in Taiwan, everything working fine.
Next up is the Cyberpower CP1000AVRLCD, a Line Interactive unit with Simulated Sine wave and surge protection and part of CyberPower’s Intelligent LCD lineup, it prices at 120 USD, 191 Canadian and 3200nt in Taiwan, I saw it for sale at 2700, which is a great deal if you live here.
This unit is 1000 VA, 600 watt capacity, with a sharp, clear black LCD screen, it’s the brightest of the three LCD screens we’re looking at, with white segments and white LED power button. With 9 surge protected outlets, 5 of those battery backup, and has coax and gigabit network RJ-45 protection in and out, with USB and serial port connectivity.
With 350,000 dollar connected equipment guarantee, the LCD shows all the previous items like input/output voltage, current/load/battery levels, runtime, overload and silent, again with a typical transfer time of 4 milliseconds.
Additional features of the intelligent LCD is displaying input and output Hertz, output kilowatts, volt-amps and amps, along with kilowatts and volt-amps percentages. There’s a slight bit of light bleed from the segments which barely catches other elements in the LCD display. Powerpanel personal is the software that interfaces with this model.
This CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD has a surge rating of 1080 joules, double the previous model. Battery recharge time is typically 8 hours from empty, battery life isn’t listed but should also range around 3 to 6 years. The website lists a three year product warranty, though that varies by region, in Taiwan we get two years. There’s audible alarms for Battery Mode, Low Battery, Overload and Fault conditions, and there’s a user-replaceable battery for a list price of 40 bucks when eventually you need to replace it.
This socket layout is packed together so if you want to use AC adapters you can grab a UL listed 3 prong AC power extension cord 10 pack for about 17 bucks off Amazon.
It comes with a USB cable to connect to PC, and the LCD has much better legibility due to the contrast of white segments showing on pure black, and for visibility, it’s readable left to right and above very well. This is the unit we grabbed ourselves initially, and have been using for about 6 months, and there was a tiny issue with the white power LED flickering but CyberPower swapped us a new unit, no question asked.
Our biggest unit today is the Cyberpower CP1500PFCLCD, a Line Interactive unit with Pure Sine wave and surge protection is part of CyberPower’s PFC Sine-wave line for high-end audio/visual equipment. It prices at around 210 USD, 299 Canadian and 4500nt in Taiwan.
This unit is 1500 VA, 1000 watt capacity, with a color segment LCD screen over black and white LED power button. With 12 surge protected outlets, 6 of those battery backup, one outlet on each side spaced away for AC adapters. It has gigabit network RJ-45 protection in and out, with USB and serial port connectivity.
One upgrade is the remote management SNMP expansion port, Simple Network Management Protocol is a way for different devices running different software on a network all to communicate. CyberPower’s RMCARD205 allows remote management through tons of protocols. SNMP is the entering office and server tech side of things, so real-time monitoring and event notification starts around $230 dollars for an expansion card, I see an ARM chip in the photo so it’s basically a micro-computer.
Also coming with a $500,000 equipment guarantee, the color LCD Panel tilts 4 notches, up to 22° degrees for easy viewing, with almost the same screen info as the AVR1000, dropping input hertz and output Amps, but adding event number, to tell you if there’s any important issues, with the typical 4 millisecond power transfer time. Software is handled by the upgraded PowerPanel Business package.
Another cool addition is you can charge your phones or tablets from battery power, connecting with USB Type A or C, they are shared 3.1 amp charge ports. This CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD has a surge rating of 1445 joules, up from the previous model. There’s audible alarms for Battery Mode, Low Battery, Overload and Fault conditions, and battery recharge time is listed at 8 hours from empty, with a three year product warranty in the USA. With user-replaceable batteries, this unit takes two, for a list price of 100 bucks for that eventuality.
It comes with a USB cable to connect to PC, and the LCD is a touch dimmer but has no light bleed and great legibility due to the adjustable screen angle. It’s very readable from left to right and above, too. The notches as you adjust the screen are a bit rough, built more for function, but the mechanism doesn’t seem flimsy. That being said, there’s a big warning on top not to use the front LCD as a handle to lift up the UPS.
UPS Buying Guide- Network testing
First section in our UPS Buying Guide testing is for your network. To ensure continued network operation, you’ll need to consider your modem, Wi-fi router; any Ethernet switches/smart home hub or Voice over IP boxes if you need them on, and especially Network Attached Storage, those should get battery backup. How many large AC adapters do you need to plug in? If your setup is just a modem/router combo, or all devices are close together, you may decide extended parts of your network aren’t essential if you lose power.
For a UPS protected modem/router setup, that’ll keep your internal network online, maybe also keeping internet connected IF the closest hop is still getting power, if not at least you can still access network attached media in your home, as long as it’s battery-backed up.
Remembering that watts equals volts times amps, add up all the devices you need to plug in, and then using an online calculator, you can determine the total run time you can expect to get for a certain battery size. We have a Nokia Fiber modem at 12 volts 1.5 amps so that’s 18 watts, a D-Link DIR-882 gigabit router at 12 volts times 2.5 amps so up to 30 watts, and a D-Link DGS-108 gigabit switch with a 5 volt 1 amp draw, so 5 watts. A theoretical 53 watts max, but real draw is far less, and attaching an Ammeter we measured current draw at just 12.6 watts.
After charging each UPS for 8 hours as covered in our quick tips at the start, we pulled the power and ran the two smaller UPSes until dead, powering the modem, router and switch. Our test with the CyberPower EC850LCD gives us a runtime of 2 hours 49 minutes, which was pretty amazing.
Next we waited for the CP1000AVRLCD to recharge for 8 hours from a concurrent PC test, and we saw 3 hours 51 minutes minutes of runtime.
UPS Buying Guide- PC Stamina tests
Next in our UPS Buying Guide we’ll cover the most common use case, a UPS setup for a slightly power hungry PC setup, the main idea is to be able to finish whatever we’re doing and shutdown properly. While most of our extra devices for our main editing workstation are plugged in to the surge protected side, in order to maximize runtime on the ups, we’re choosing only the main 32″ 1440p screen, i9-9900K PC with 2070 Super, and computer speakers, because hey, I might be working on audio at the time.
My 4K preview monitor and side 1080p monitors are both only on surge protection, to extend runtime. Having a USB connection to the computer lets us know how much runtime is left, and with installed software you can also schedule a safe shutdown when the battery reaches a certain percentage.
We also have that Seagate External 8TB backup drive we reviewed earlier this quarter, link up here if you wanna check that review. It’s always off, however it is plugged into battery backup, because having a hard drive lose power when doing data transfer is a sure way to get data corruption.
Whatever your setup, you should choose the essentials only; your PC, your main screen, and any essential connected drive, so that you can save your work or finish your stream or render before the backup is exhausted. This particular setup measured by Ammeter is pulling an average of 120 watts while running. So, after 8 hours minimum charge time, and waited 5 minutes until the computer was on idle and ran Netflix until the USB connection triggered auto-shutdown.
The CyberPower EC850LCD was up first, giving us a runtime of 17 minutes, 24 seconds before auto-shutdown occurred, the battery had the closest remaining time with just 1 minute left.
Next up our CP1000AVRLCD powered through to the 30 minute, 27 second mark before shutdown was initiated, roughly 5 minutes left on the battery.
Finally CyberPower’s CP1500PFCLCD went for the marathon mark with 49 minutes 1 second before auto-shutdown was triggered, this happened with about 9 minutes of power still available.
After a full 8 hour recharge, we tried a stamina test, running the PC only off the 1500VA, and the monitor and speakers off the 1000VA, and we reached a very impressive 1 hour, 17 minutes and 24 seconds before shutdown was triggered on the PC, with the 1500VA still at 10% reserve. Very impressive result.
UPS Buying Guide- Alternate selections
Considering the runtime we got and looking at CyberPower’s lineup, if you need only an hour for network backup, we might look at the CyberPower EC450G which is Standby type 450 VA, 260 watt model, at about half capacity rounding down, you should get around an hour and twenty minutes for uptime for about 45 us dollars.
However this is the entry level option without an LCD screen, and that screen proves to be pretty useful, even more so with that sale price of 80 bucks. If you want Line interactive for network backup, the AVRG750LCD (CP825AVRLCD) is a good picks for about the same original price at 105 bucks and 60 watts less at 450 watts, and should give you about 2 hours 10 minutes for a similar setup.
We got some pretty interesting results for this UPS Buying Guide- it used to be good to get 10 minutes of PC time on UPS backup, so with cost down and battery capacity up, I’m really amazed to see half an hour from the CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD, and 49 minutes from the CP1500PFCLCD. If you don’t need the Pure Sine Wave, at 155 USD on Amazon there’s the CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD, 1500 VA with 100 watts less, should give about 44 minutes for this setup. If you need Pure Sine Wave then the CyberPower CP1000PFCLCD starts around $140 dollars on Amazon.
From the 1500 VA mark, the price steeply increases, the next cheapest, larger rack-mount 2200VA 1320W model is 450 bucks, only 320 watts more for a 240 dollar increase. If you must have added runtime, consider using the 1500VA only for PC battery backup, and grab a 1000VA for 120 bucks to backup a monitor and connected hard drives, saving 330 bucks.
In summary, picking up a 1500 and 1000VA Line-interactive simulated sine wave UPSes, you may be able to run a PC setup over an hour doing minimal tasks for just 270 dollars. Remember that gaming or rendering will seriously cut down that time. And, keep in mind all this testing is done with fresh units, after a year or two this time will decrease, so plan accordingly.
We’ll quickly touch on CyberPower’s software, Powerpanel Personal. First section, Home, you see status, summary and event logs. Section two, Energy reporting, where you can see consumption, and in the settings tab, set the country and update cost, and click Apply at the bottom. Third is Settings, where you can schedule, set Notifications, modify Runtime behavior, Voltage intervention, perform a Self-test, and Advanced for Sensitivity and Shutdown type. Finally, Info gives you hardware and firmware, and support links.
UPS Buying Guide- Summary
For a power brick Standby type UPS, the CyberPower EC850LCD Simulated Sine wave has 510 watt capacity for 100 bucks, sometimes as low as 80. Its LCD displays enough info, connects with USB, and it’s really well suited as a stamina network battery backup, keeping ours running for almost 3 hours.
Still our favorite of the bunch is the Line-interactive CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Simulated Sine wave UPS, the 600 watt mini-tower is plenty to finish whatever task you’re doing and shutdown safely. The bright white segment LCD looks great, has lots of info, with USB and serial connections, coax and Ethernet surge protection, and double the surge protection with a Joule rating of 1080. For 120 bucks and everything it offers, it’s definitely our top pick. If you decide you need battery backup and grab one of these through our affiliate links below, it does support us here with no extra cost to you.
A higher-end offering, the Line-interactive Pure sine wave CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD 1000 watt capacity ran our PC for 49 minutes before triggering the auto-shutdown, which was astounding. The color segment LCD was slightly dimmer than the 1000VA, but there was less light bleed, and we did like the angle adjustment.
The USB Type A and C shared 3.1 amp ports can charge tablets and does fast charge phones on battery, a very nice addition. With USB and serial connections, Ethernet protection and SNMP expansion support, it gives options, and at 210 USD it handles up to 1445 joules for surge protection. If you need something higher-end with longer run time, this may be your UPS.
As for things to be improved… the power brick type EC850LCD isn’t user serviceable for battery replacement, our only nitpick about the unit. Next, the CP1000AVRLCD’s white power LED did start flickering and went out on us after about 5 months, but CyberPower did fix that with a unit swap. Nothing else there, we’ve been very happy with the unit overall. As for the CP1500PFCLCD, the only thing we’d improve is the angled screen mechanism, which feels rough, though it stays where you adjust it. It’s a small thing as likely you’ll set and forget it, and the stamina was really impressive.
Even though I’m very happy with the product, as a tech reviewer doing research for this buying and product guide, I found the huge amount of UPS options on CyberPower’s website very confusing. The consumer focused lines of UPS alone are 8 Standby, 5 Ecologic, 28 PC Battery Backup, 7 AVR, 15 Intelligent LCD and 10 PFC Sine-wave models, for a total of 73 models, for the lower end from 5 to 10 dollar jumps. Needless to say, 73 options is too many.
Older products can be retired to a legacy products page, and lines should really be pared down. Keeping only non-LCD entry level models, and offering say 4 types of compact power-brick types, 4 types of slim mini-tower with and 4 without Pure Sine wave, 3 fatter industrial mini-towers, and 3 consumer rack-mounts comes to only 18 total products, plenty of choice for consumers. CyberPower, you could simplify further by offering Pure Sine wave versions on mid to higher watt models, and use USB charging ports as a selling point for mid to higher tier offerings.
Anyways, the products we tested we found to be high quality, so with a clearer offering for consumers I think CyberPower will continue to deliver backups that people can easily decide and depend on. Thanks to CyberPower for sending over the 850 and 1500 VA models for today’s episode. And give us a quick follow on social media, you can find us at techspinreview on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and you can be notified of new contests and as we hinted at last episode, we’re working on an overclocking Intel 10-series guide with MSI right now, so we should have access to new gear for review soon, stay tuned!
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