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is BR900 dead?

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hershey4_apc
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is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/26/2015


For several weeks there have been *VERY* intermittent and random short clicks and chirps -- like once every few weeks.  Lately it got a little more frequent.  Once every other day or so.  Then a couple of times a day.     I never got to observe the front panel lights when it happened.   I shut it off -- I thought --  but still got a noise here and there.  Maybe I didn't really shut it off.  I can't easily see the front panel where it is located.

I assumed a new battery was in order even though my original RPC32 lasted 5 years.   The current one was only 3 years old.  So I bought a new battery.   Just went to install it and not good news....  The green online light will not come on.   The devices were running on the battery with the 30-second chirp and amber light.

I reinstalled the old battery and found the same thing.    That was real peculiar.  Makes me think I am doing something wrong.

Sometimes there would be a bunch of clicking on and off but still no green light.

Dead?     Did I just waste $63 on new RPC32 battery and $21 for shipping?  

p.s. I tried the circuit breaker button in back. Doesn't seem to do anything. doesn't stay in or out.  It just seems there in the same position even after pressed.

Browsing newer UPS models and they all seem bigger physically.  I don't have much extra room. 


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hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/16/2016


Good news.   I am sitting here at my PC doing stuff and the lights in the house blinked and the UPS clicked and never missed a beat. 

Conclusion: LOW sensitivity was good enough.   Maybe not for always, but I'll hang in there with it.  I procastinated about getting a new UPS, and so far so good smile

See Answer In Context

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mitsmith_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/28/2015


Hi Wendy,

It sounds like you have done a lot of the troubleshooting steps. If I understand you correctly the unit can run on battery but will not transfer to online/utility power, correct? 

If so, I would double check the power coming out of the wall. Perhaps try another outlet. If it continues to not transfer over to utility power one last thing you can try is to lower the sensitivity of the back-ups. Change it to low. If it will still not transfer over I would think there is an issue internal to the UPS and it would need to be replaced. We do have a trade-ups program where you can get 15-20% discount on a new unit by trading in your old one. 

To change the sensitivity:

1. Plug the Back-UPS into the utility power source. The Back-UPS will be in a
Standby Mode (no indicators lit).
2. Press the front panel pushbutton fully inward for 10 seconds. All indicators
on the Back-UPS will flash to acknowledge going into Programming Mode.
3. The Back-UPS will then indicate its current Sensitivity Setting, as shown in
the following table.
4. To select the Low Sensitivity setting, press the pushbutton until the yellow
indicator is flashing.
5. To select the Medium Sensitivity setting, press the pushbutton until the
yellow and red indicators (second and third from the top) are flashing.
6. To select the High Sensitivity setting, press the pushbutton until yellow and
both red indicators (bottom three) are flashing.
7. To exit without changing the Sensitivity Setting, press the pushbutton until
the green indicator is flashing.
8. Once in Programming Mode, if the pushbutton is not pressed within 5
seconds, the Back-U

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/28/2015


Wow!!  Thank you.   We are making progress.   I think I set it to LOW.  I'm not exactly sure what I did.  Your instructions were not right next to me as I was doing it (too lazy to print them out!)  Did you not finish the instructions?  I was a little confused reading them.   Everything flashed and then I toggled through various colors until yellow.   I forget what I did next.   It was semi-intuitive.


In any case, the UPS is now green and ONLINE!   Woo hoo!  Yes, that was the problem before.  UPS only ran on battery.  Of course, I have no devices plugged in now.   Am I ready for that?

What does this mean?   What could have happened to upset the apple cart?   Could it happen again?

Should I retry with my old (maybe still functioning) battery? 

Any other stress tests I should consider?

I will probably let it sit on the kitchen counter and charge overnight as-is.

 

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/29/2015


The yellow color lamp indicates that you've chosen the LOW sensitivity setting for your UPS. On low sensitivity, the UPS is more tolerant of power interruptions, dips, sags, spikes and so on.

Something did happen to cut off the instructions given above. Luckily, the last part of the instructions is only waiting until all the lights on the UPS go out.

There are many possibilities as to what might have happened. If your BR900 is more than 3-5 years old, it was probably nearing time for a new battery anyway. If you want to be really sure, I'd recommend calling an electrician to check your line voltage, to make sure it isn't too high or low. You may also wish to ask your electrical utility to check the lines and equipment serving you. If you have another UPS, you could plug it into the same circuit as your BR900. Just don't connect one UPS to another. Something has changed, and maybe it's not a problem -- but if it is, you want to find out before something bad might happen.

You can try reconnecting your equipment to the UPS and observing it.

There is also the very distant possibility that the UPS is not working quite properly. I have a Back-UPS RS 1500 that wouldn't switch off of its battery after being turned off for a long while. As it warmed up, it would start to work correctly. None of my other APC UPS units were exhibiting the same behavior. Since I haven't felt like troubleshooting the problem in detail, I simply turned its sensitivity to low as well.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/29/2015


Thanks William.   In the meantime I was researching "low sensitivity" because I was unclear if the low setting might put equipment at risk.   Couldn't find a clear answer on that.   Tech support (mostly useless on this incident) eventually came back on that issue and said:

"Keeping the sensitivity to low doesn't mean that your UPS don't protect the equipment.  I would like to inform you that Medium sensitivity voltage range is between 88 to 139vac. If the incoming input voltage is below 88vac, UPS will go to on battery mode.  As you set the sensitivity to low, the UPS will accepts the incoming voltage between 78 to 142vac."

Sounds ok if its true.  As long as the UPS cleans it up on the way to my equipment, right?

I am also considering the possibility that I could now put it back to medium and observe.  Maybe something internal got wedged and is now un-wedged???  

I am also considering leaving it disconnected for a month to see if it helps my utility bill -- which is CONSIDERABLY and consistently higher than all my neighbors in my condo complex.   I also did some research on electric usage and UPS and that was quite interesting.  The answer is maybe.  🙂

The UPS Is about 8 years old.  I was on my 2nd battery.  Just purchased the 3rd (perhaps needlessly).

 

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/30/2015


Selecting the low sensitivity setting does place your equipment at slightly more risk than the medium and high settings would. Your BR900 UPS becomes less "choosy" about the quality of the incoming electricity when LOW sensitivity is selected. This allows greater deviation from what's normal, and some equipment can have issues with that. As an example, a lot of computer power supplies will shut off if the incoming voltage drops below 90 volts or so. If the UPS doesn't intervene until the incoming voltage drops to 78, you might lose the work you were doing at that time.

Apart from its surge protection and noise filtering circuits, your BR900 UPS actually sits largely idle unless the electrical supply goes way out of tolerance (a brownout) or goes off entirely (a blackout). If that happens, it switches to battery in a fraction of a second, fast enough that most equipment won't notice the "blip". Most of the time it's just passing what comes to it from the outlet and sending that on to your equipment, less noise filtering and surge protection. The battery charging circuit will also be operating to keep the battery maintained when things are normal.

(A true UPS runs anything attached to it from the battery at all times, using the electricity coming into it only to keep the battery charged. However, these are not common and they cost a lot more. Most people don't need that sophisticated of a system. Your BR900 does *not* do this.)

You certainly could try placing the unit back to its medium sensitivity range. If that makes it start acting up again, I'd definitely recommend talking to your electric utility company or a qualified electrician.

I don't think you'll find any great difference in your utility bill after disconnecting the UPS. Unless the quality of electricity coming to your apartment is pretty awful, the UPS will consume only a tiny amount of electricity (about 10-15 watts, and usually a lot less) to keep its battery charged.

Even though the new battery probably wasn't strictly necessary, you were right on schedule for a replacement. Between 3 and 5 years is as long as they usually last.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 12/31/2015


Thanks for explaining that low voltage part.  I understand now.

I forgot to mention another piece of the puzzle regarding my overall incoming electricity.   I have a small APC UPS in the "network room" (bedroom!) with the modem and router and a small drive.   I have NEVER heard that unit make a sound.   BN4001 (257W).  So perhaps that validates the incoming electricity is OK???   Or is it relative to the wattage demands on the UPS?

I do hear my hard-wired smoke alarms beep for a split second once in a great while (every 3-4 months or so).   I had been thinking that was a sign of inconsistent electricity, but then I thought maybe its some sort of programmed self-test.    Do smoke alarms do that?  They are all new units in a new construction duplex with new batteries. I suppose I could go look up the model number and find out.

I guess I just have to experiment and do some more trials to see if this UPS is ok.  

If I put it back to medium and leave it plugged in with no devices and its okay, is that a valid test that it can handle devices? 

Or should I first test it on low with devices?   My testing choices are:

  1. low with no devices
  2. low with devices
  3. medium with no devices
  4. medium with devices

I guess what I'm saying is, if I ideally want to achieve #4, is it useful data points testing 2 and 3 first? 

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/3/2016


What will make the most difference is "where" in your apartment's electrical system the other UPS happens to be located. It might be on a different circuit, or even a different "leg" of electrical power as it comes into the building where your apartment is located. That circuit might not be subject to a dip, sag or spike that is setting the BR900 off.

I can't speak to what is the normal behavior for your smoke alarms. There are so many different systems out there that anything is possible. I wouldn't want to give you the wrong information. So yes, you probably should ask your landlord or research the model number of the smoke alarms that you have.

You could plug the BR900 into the same outlet where your BN4001 is plugged in, just to see if the BR900 still has issues. For a test like this to be valid, you should have the BR900 turned on. See how it behaves with no load attached, and then try a load later to see if it makes a difference. A lamp in working order makes a good test load.

So, here's what I'd do:

Set the BR900 back to MEDIUM sensitivity. Plug it in to a known working outlet, and turn it on. See what it does. If it seems to be working, plug a load like a lamp into its battery backed outlets. See if it still works normally. If it does, take the BR900 back to the outlet where it was having trouble and plug it in. Repeat the tests. If it acts up, you may have found a wiring problem or some sort of excessive momentary load is taking place on that circuit or leg of power. To fix those, you'll have to talk to your landlord, electrical utility or possibly hire an electrician.

As long as your BR900 UPS isn't overloaded, the load attached to it shouldn't make any difference. What can make a difference are other loads on the same circuit. Some electrical devices use a lot of power and some only a little. Lamps, radios, computers and similar things are usually small to moderate loads. A big load like an air conditioner, clothes dryer, heater or toaster can demand enough from the electrical system to make the voltage drop when they start up or run. If the voltage drops low enough, the UPS will switch to its battery and sound the alarm because it "believes" that something is wrong, even if the "problem" lasts only for a split second. This may not affect other electrical circuits, which is why your BN4001 may never notice anything.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/3/2016


That's a great plan.  It makes sense.  I'll do that and report back.

Your post reminds me of a previous electrical problem in the office (PC room).  In the 2.5 years I've lived here, that circuit tripped 2-3 times for no apparent reason the first 6 months of being here.    It was brand new construction and a new panel.  Nothing special in that room.  normal pc stuff, overhead lights.  fan, shredder, not in use.  The central A/C was on -- different circuit.   It's not an apartment btw.  It's an attached house.  I own it.  There is only one electrical entry to my side.    It is  only 100 amp service tho.  That may have played into it.  Hard to say.  When it happened, I wrote down what was on, but can't find that piece of paper!!

Possibly unrelated, but of interest, shortly after I moved in, I had an electrician here doing some work -- adding fluorescent lights in the basement, fishing cable, replacing fixtures, etc.  He claimed the circuit panel was not to code because the breakers were not all the same manufacturer as the panel, which supposedly is required by that panel manufacturer, which makes it code.   I spoke to the builder's electrical contractor who installed everything here (who is also the town's electrical inspector!! WTF!)   He claimed the circuit breakers are acceptable and my electrician was wrong.   I did some research with the panel's manufacturer and it was not crystal clear that it was a definite requirement.   I let it go, but it has been in the back of my mind.   The office circuit breaker is the same as the panel manufacturer.  It is also a test circuit with an extra button on the breaker.    I have reset it during this troubleshooting just for the heck of it.  Made no difference.

The BR900 test in the bedroom should be interesting.

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/4/2016


I'd certainly like to hear what your findings are.

When your central air conditioning starts up, it pulls an enormous amount of electrical power. All motor driven devices do that to some degree when they start up. This could make the line voltage sag enough to trip your BR900, even though it's on a different circuit. After all, everything in your home's electrical system ultimately goes back to the same place to get the electricity it needs.

A lot of new homes are getting 200 amp electrical service these days, but hundred amp service is still likely to be quite sufficient for your home. (There are even a few places around that still have 60 amp electrical service. My own home is one of them.)

You mentioned that the circuit breaker serving your office area has a "test" button on it. That means it includes extra functionality: it has a ground fault circuit interrupter built in. GFCIs are usually used, and now mandated, for circuits serving a kitchen or bathroom area. They provide protection by cutting off the flow of electricity if what's going out of the circuit on the hot conductor doesn't closely match what's coming back on the neutral conductor. This could happen if you dropped a hair dryer in the sink or bathtub, or if you used a metal object to remove something stuck in your toaster. While you'd never want to put this to a test, the GFCI can save your life if any of these things actually happened by accident.

A circuit breaker that trips for no reason can indicate a serious problem, and should always be investigated. However, in this case, the circuit breaker's tripping might be explained by the additional functionality it has. Lightning storms, even those that are miles away, can introduce significant currents into electrical wiring. This can trip a GFCI, since it "knows" only that there is an imbalance between what's going out and coming back. It doesn't know the difference between a real electrical fault and an electrical storm (or other large electrical pulse) inducing a large current on the line.

I have one GFCI outlet installed in my basement that stands a good chance of tripping during a lightning storm. Something about that one circuit is just particularly "receptive" to lightning activity. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just that the length and layout of the wiring leading to that one outlet have incidentally "tuned" it much like a radio antenna would be tuned by adjusting its length.

I agree with your electrician about the breakers coming from a different manufacturer than the box they're installed in being less than a great idea. I don't know if this constitutes an electrical code violation or not, as I don't have a current copy of the National Electrical Code. It is, however, indicative of sloppy work on the part of whoever wired your building originally. Mixing circuit breaker and box brands up is not something I'd do, and I'm not a professional!

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/5/2016


Okay, the jury is in.  The BR900 is half-dead.  On Medium it will just click and blink, trying real hard to go online, but fail and then go to battery-only.   So, I can get LOW or move on.   I put a lamp in too.    

I guess I will reconnect it to my PC for now.  I've got the new battery and to return it would probably be high shipping.  I emailed the shipping question to Amazon.    $84 investment (63+21) would probably only yield $40-ish refund.  Ditto craigslist.   And then I still would have to buy a new UPS system.   argggggghhhhh...

BTW, the test button on the circuit breaker is not GFCI, it is AFCI.  Probably same principles you described apply to Arc Faults too.  Maybe also sensitive to tripping.   More reason I should have a UPS on my computer!!!

Thanks for your help getting here.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/5/2016


I love Amazon!   They are refunding my order including shipping.   I explained the situation and asked about return shipping costs and that is what they came up with.  It's an exception, so don't count on it if someone is reading this in the future and wants to try out batteries! smile   Maybe they have a policy that they cannot re-sell it as new once opened, so it's a win-win.    So now I will definitely go explore a new UPS system.

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/6/2016


I'm glad to hear that the seller of your battery refunded your money! Hopefully it was just something wrong with your BR900 and a new UPS will solve the problem. The APC BR1000G (also seen as the BN1080G) would be a good replacement for your BR900 and it has the added bonus of an informative status display. You can even turn the beeper off from the front panel if it bothers you. I recommend them to clients, have a few of them myself and so far I've had no complaints. They take two batteries, same as your BR900 did.

You might even be able to trade your old BR900 in to APC via their trade-UPS program. Someone affiliated with the company would have to chime in with information about that.

I don't know much of arc-fault circuit breakers, as I've never actually seen any in use. From what I've just read, they are said to protect against ground fault conditions as well. They can certainly nuisance trip.

If my posts have been helpful or I've answered your question, please feel free to mark the relevant posts as helpful and your question as answered. Thank you.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/7/2016


If I don't use the APC Upgrade program, what do you think about utilizing the existing BR900(low) for a LED/LCD TV and Tivo?    It's in another room with a normal circuit breaker that has never nuisance tripped.   When Tivo is forced to reboot it is a real PITA!     Hate to waste a good battery....   Some protection is better than no protection, right?

Also, while I was browsing APC models and reviews, I saw a comment that a Dell XPS 9000 needs a special kind of UPS-- pure sine wave.  I have a Dell XPS 8000.  I hope that does not fall into the same category.  Supposedly APC knows which PC's have that attribute.

UnexpectedBill_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/7/2016


You should be able to use the BR900 with an LCD/LED TV and a TiVo if you wish to do so, so long as the TV doesn't exceed the ratings of the UPS. Even if you have to leave it on "low" sensitivity, it should provide acceptable protection.

Computer power supplies oftentimes contain circuitry to perform what is known as power factor correction. Less expensive power supplies contain a passive power factor correction circuit. Better power supplies, and those sold to certain markets in the world where such may be required, have an active power factor correction circuit. It is this second type that can have problems with the more common "modified sine wave" UPS. Some active PFC circuits monitor the AC waveform while operating and can't handle a sudden change in waveform type, leading to a computer that shuts itself off suddenly when the power fails and the UPS kicks in.

If prior to your having trouble with it, your BR900 worked fine with your Dell XPS 8000 computer when the lights went out, there is nothing to worry about. You don't need to get a UPS with a true sine wave output. A lot of active PFC computer power supplies were designed to cope with AC waveform changes, but as always there are a few trouble makers.

APC has a few models that offer a true sine wave output if you find that such is necessary. There are the SMT and SMX Smart-UPS models. The SMX supports attachment of external battery boxes for extra runtime. The SMC Smart-UPS is a unit with scaled down capability (no network management slot, a more basic status display) yet still having a true sine wave output.

If someone from APC or Schneider Electric is still monitoring this thread, they may be able to chime in with information about what the power supply in your Dell XPS 8000 requires.

voidstar_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/8/2016


When the XPS 9000 came out, we got a lot of BackUPS compatibility complaints on this message board. So far I haven't seen any complaints here about the 8000, or any other computer model really. Something about that particular computer's power supply and it's popularity made it a highly visible issue.

hershey4_apc
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Re: is BR900 dead?

This was originally posted on APC forums on 1/16/2016


Good news.   I am sitting here at my PC doing stuff and the lights in the house blinked and the UPS clicked and never missed a beat. 

Conclusion: LOW sensitivity was good enough.   Maybe not for always, but I'll hang in there with it.  I procastinated about getting a new UPS, and so far so good smile