Is the noise of my UPS (APC BE650R) normal?
November 15, 2006 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Is the noise of my uninterruptable power supply (APC BE650R) normal?

I bought a new uninterruptable power supply, model APC BE650R (ES series). It has a quiet but noticeable buzz and makes a faint "poink" sound every four seconds, as though the power is cycling and it's starting some task over again.

These sounds occurs almost all the time -- whether the UPS is on or off, charging or full.

I have two other UPSes, APC 500 ER and 350 VA, and both are silent compared to this new one.

I'm going to return the 650 ES to the store, but am trying to decide if I should get the same model again (because this one is defective) or downgrade to a less powerful UPS (because all UPSes of this model make noise).
posted by Yogurt to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
It's defective.
posted by kindall at 12:30 PM on November 15, 2006

Or maybe not. Could just be a loud UPS, sometimes they are.

I have a crapload of equipment that I care about, so I like to go to second-hand stores and buy old UPS's with dead batteries. I then replace the battery with one that's more powerful than the original, and Presto, I have a pretty nice UPS dirt cheap.

And this is why I feel I'm qualified to answer this question...I see a lot of weird UPS's.

And some are perfectly functional when noisy. Granted, the fact that it's noisy shows that the designer/engineer didn't do an A+ job on it, but if it's cheap and it works and it has the kind of capacity that you need, then that's all you really need to know.

Unless you really need it to be quiet. Then you do what you have to do.

If you really want to know if it's defective, load test it. Plug some lamps and a VCR and a microwave into it, and see how long they operate under load with the UPS unplugged. Do it a couple of times (allowing time for the unit to recharge, of course) to be sure of your results.

If you care enough, you can even do the math while you're at it, and work out how many Watts you're consuming versus time up without being plugged in, and then do the reverse math for your PC power supply and monitor. Done right, you can get numbers for actual (approximate) run time under load for your PC on the UPS.
posted by SlyBevel at 12:47 PM on November 15, 2006

We're assuming you did open it up, and connect the battery, right? Because APC units (and most others) are shipped with the internal batteries disconnected to maintain pre-charge in shipping. If you don't do that, the interior circuitry can be bumping around all over the place on fluctuating line voltages, and you have no low line or power outage protection. This is by far the most common problem on new APC units.
posted by paulsc at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2006

Yep, I did connect the battery, and I've tested the UPS with a lamp. The battery is holding a charge, although I haven't tested how much of one.

Right now, I'm leaning towards returning the UPS and trying again with the same model.
posted by Yogurt at 3:02 PM on November 15, 2006

Seconding Paulsc...

Even if the unit is a "disposable" one, meaning that when it's dead you're meant to toss it, it couldn't hurt for you to CAREFULLY open it up and make sure the battery contacts are in their proper places.

Again, CAREFULLY. If you don't know what it is, don't touch it, especially if it's canister-shaped. UPS capacitors are not strong enough for him but designed for a woman, they're designed to store large amounts of electricity and release it on command.

And if you're the release, then God help you. You probably won't die, but you also won't forget the experience. I remember a camera flash capacitor from when I was about 11 years old. I used it with the circuit board bare, and took a hell of a zap from it.

Though, that was at least partially from the mini tesla coil getup in there, which raised things from the cap's voltage of 50V to maybe 10,000V.

Anyway, don't be too scared to do it, just be scared enough to be really careful.
posted by SlyBevel at 3:10 PM on November 15, 2006

Aw, you beat me.

If the UPS seems to be in working order, and you really want that noise gone, then I wouldn't bother with another of the same model.

If this one is in spec and making the noise, then your best hope of getting no noise from the same model is a broken unit.

I'd buy the next APC up and be grateful that fate forced me to buy a slightly more powerful UPS. That's right, fate wants you to get a better UPS. Don't ignore that call.
posted by SlyBevel at 3:13 PM on November 15, 2006

Install the APC utilities on your machine and connect it up with a serial cable. You may have "dirty" power and the UPS is constantly switching over to handle the unconditioned power.
posted by cmfletcher at 3:18 PM on November 15, 2006

Good point, CMF, but this can still be designed around.

If Yogurt wants a quiet UPS, they're not hard to find, even when switching between conditioning the line and not.

He'll probably have to spend a few more dollars for it, but if it's less noise he wants, he can certainly get it.
posted by SlyBevel at 3:21 PM on November 15, 2006

Agreed, Sly. I've worked with a few hundred of them and they are outstanding units, but they are not whisper quiet.
posted by cmfletcher at 3:44 PM on November 15, 2006

Well, a point in favour of the dirty power angle is that the chirrup (or poink) goes away when I unplug the UPS. (The buzz stays.)

However, I have two other APC UPSes working in the house right now and they're quiet as mice, and presumably they're drawing the same power.
posted by Yogurt at 3:48 PM on November 15, 2006

Elaborating on my earlier terse reply: all the UPSs I've ever had have been very quiet. Certainly APC, the top-rated UPS brand, is not known for its products making bizarre noises. So yes, return it and get another. The same model should be fine; just ask the store to let you test it before you take it home to be 100% certain.

(If you test it at the store and it's fine, but the new one makes the same noises at home, you probably have a wiring fault of some sort in the outlet.)
posted by kindall at 4:50 PM on November 15, 2006

Thanks everyone. I'll try exchanging it this weekend.
posted by Yogurt at 5:24 PM on November 15, 2006

Well, the new BE650R makes the same sound as the old one, including the faint cycling sound. It seems this model is just louder than the less powerful AMC models I've owned before. Bummer.
posted by Yogurt at 1:59 PM on November 20, 2006

Weird. You might want to call their support and see what they think.
posted by kindall at 2:55 PM on November 20, 2006

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