Looking beyond the more obvious add-ons of a printer, scanner and modem, power protection products are relatively low-cost items which can often make the difference between one reseller's product bundle and another's. Durelle Fry looks at the relative merits of a number of power protection devices.
It's a dog-eat-dog market for resellers on the home and SOHO PC front. Of vital importance when trying to etch out a piece of this market is the ability to offer something which no one else has at a reasonable price. Service and support are options but so too are clever product bundles which set the user up with everything they are likely to need in one single purchase. The user will then have established a relationship with the reseller for the supply of all their PC and peripheral requirements and have hopefully eliminated the need for a customer to shop around for the best deal on related products.
Power filters provide the cheapest protection for non-critical products. These include printers, modems, scanners, photocopiers and fax machines. While still vulnerable to power disturbances, these products are usually not damaged as a result of total power failure.
Arlec offers two power protection products. The Slimline power board (PB61) features six outlets with surge protection and a total rating of 240 volt, 10 amp, 2400 watt. The board is overload protected (manually resettable), and is not sacrificial. It has a one metre mains cord, can be wall mounted, and a lamp indicates that surge protection is operating. The surge protector incorporated in the powerboard provides 75 joule energy absorption and a reaction time of less than 25 nanoseconds. Voltage is clamped at 710 volt and there are three metal oxide varistor devices connected across the three supply terminals. The RRP of the Slimline power board is $10.15 for four outlets and $15.20 for six outlets.
Arlec's Plug In Power Surge Protector also has a rating of 240 volt, 10 amp, 2400 watt. 75 joule energy absorption is provided and the reaction time is less than 25 nanoseconds. Voltage is clamped at 710 volts.
The product features three metal oxide varistors connected across the three supply terminals and is non-sacrificial. It also has a lamp that indicates surge protection is operating.
The RRP of the Plug In Surge Protector is $12.16.
The HPM Computer Protector (RRP from $80.55) and Teleguard (RRP from $63.59), are designed to circumvent sudden power surges causing damage to computers, modems, scanners, printers, telephones, fax machines, answer phones, stereos, TVs and video recorders. The products are sacrificial, absorbing electrical surges and clamping extra voltage before it reaches the equipment it is protecting. The surge boards plug into any power point and feature four or six power outlets with overload protection; two surge protected phone sockets; and a safety neon light which gives out a signal if the surge protection is no longer available. Other products from HPM include a Telesurge Adaptor (RRP $31.93); a Surge Alert twin adaptor or arresting adaptor, (RRP from $15.16); Computer surge lead and surge protection leads (RRP from $23.66); power protecting (RRP from $73.94), surge protector (RRP from $22.20), and brownout and blackout powerboards (RRP $114.47); and the Excel Surge arrester double powerpoint at $99.40 RRP. A feature of this powerpoint is that it emits a high pitched sound when the module needs replacing.
Kambrook has three products in this range. The Surge Guard Powerboard (KD4SG) at $24.95 RRP features four protected outlets; three metal oxide varistors to limit the damage of voltage spikes and surges; in-built safety shutters; an overload reset button; a one metre cord; and a 12-month guarantee. The Surge Guard at $13.15 RRP features a single outlet surge plug; a 10 amp lax load; 450 amp capability; three metal oxide varistors; a functioning indicator; a device response time of less than 25 nanoseconds; and a 12-month guarantee. The Outlet Surge Guard Powerboard has an RRP of $14.95 and features four outlets; a one metre cord; single varistor surge protection; an LED indicator to confirm that surge circuitry is intact; an automatic overload cutout; an overload reset button; 275 volt starting point for clipping of surge voltage; and a 12-month replacement warranty.
Upsonic Power offers its FS-2 or DSS-10 series of power filters with a five-year replacement warranty. With an RRP from $160, they provide a high level of power surge suppression, noise filtering and, depending on the model, an approved telephone line surge suppression system. Alternatively, an HSS series filter can be installed at the main switchboard to protect an entire circuit from $389 plus installation.
There are three general types of UPS systems - Standby, Line Interactive, and Double Conversion or "true online UPS".
A UPS is recommended by vendors on equipment which can not only be damaged as a result of power disturbances, but also from a total or partial loss of power. UPS systems are usually installed on file servers, with an option of installing a smaller unit onto critical workstations for battery back-up and protection. A low-cost product of interest to resellers with bundling in mind is Upsonic's UPS which fits neatly into a 5.25in disk drive bay so that the UPS and computer system can be fully integrated into one case for $300 including tax.
A line interactive UPS is always interacting with the incoming power, constantly sampling and watching for variations and taking the required action to prevent any variation from passing through the UPS. Crucial to a line interactive UPS is the AVR module (Automatic Voltage Regulation). If mains power drops, the UPS will automatically increase the output voltage via the AVR module back to 240 volts, without using the battery power. The battery is only used if the incoming voltage drops below 176 volts. Line interactive UPS systems also offer noise filtering, surge suppression and spike suppression. RRPs for these systems begin at less than $300.
A Double Conversion UPS system has been described as the world optimum UPS system. In simple terms, it is a self-contained power station which totally regenerates the mains power. Instead of filtering the incoming mains power, the double conversion UPS systems continually operate on the inverter, changing the incoming AC voltage to DC, then inverting from DC back to AC, hence the term, "double conversion". If a standby or line interactive UPS fails, so does the load connected to it. The double conversion UPS has an inbuilt "static bypass" line which, in the event of a UPS failure, would connect the load directly to mains power and sound a fault alert alarm rather than causing the file server or PC to shut down. Double Conversion UPS systems are in excess of $1000.
Crisis management on the network
A relatively new focus of UPS manufacturers is network protection. Products in this range have been designed to automatically shut down systems throughout the network and allow network managers to be warned of potential and existing problems and provide them with the ability to control workstations even in remote locations. There is very little differentiation between the software packages included with the products (often, it seems, only the name) and for resellers with clients operating in a networking environment, there is a good range of products offering both control and protection.
Exide Electronics (BTR Power) will be featuring a large centralised power system for large networks at Comdex in Las Vegas this month. The Powerware range is a large three-phase system from 50-500kVA, which is basically designed to supply very large networks, computer rooms, data facilities etc. Prices vary considerably because battery selections also vary considerably.
The products are usually sold as an "Engineered" product, that is, BTR Power will quote supply, delivery, installation and commissioning.
The system from Exide comprises Powerware Hot Sync and PowerVision 2.0 for networks. Powerware Hot Sync combines parallel-for-redundancy and parallel-for-capacity capabilities into one solution. Up to eight UPS modules can work in synchronisation without additional wiring. Using PowerVision 2.0, network managers can view and analyse data from up to 256 UPS devices at one time, all from a single workstation or PC. This software-only, plug-and-play solution uses a spotlight colour scheme to instantly convey the status of the various devices. If a problem arises, network managers are immediately notified through alpha-numeric paging or e-mail. Via the ProGraph feature of PowerVision 2.0, the product can provide trend analysis information to IT managers, alerting them of potential power outages or other power management problems.
Upsonic Power has teamed up with Systems Enhancement Corporation (SEC), manufacturers of software connectivity products SmartMon and PowerMon.
SmartMon and PowerMon software comes with the latest revisions, with local technical support and upgrades available over the Net. The RRP of each software product is $50.
Every Upsonic Power UPS system can be interfaced to monitor the mains power and perform a fully automatic operating system save and shut down in the event of a total power failure, after a user defined time period has elapsed. Full network monitoring and automatic shutdown is available for the entire network for all types of operating systems.
Messages can be broadcast across the net-work, and the network manager can be notified of a power problem via a pager or e-mail. Upsonic Power and SEC will design a total power protection solution to suit individual needs.
Just launched by Upsonic is VitalCare and VitalCare+Plus. VitalCare is a free extended warranty upgrade for all Upsonic Power portable UPS systems.
The system can be returned to base anytime during the two year warranty period to be cleaned, have switching tolerances adjusted, the battery charger recalibrated, and the entire unit fully tested. VitalCare+Plus can be purchased as an additional warranty service (from $39) and if the UPS becomes faulty, it will be replaced with the same or equivalent model.
Liebert Australia, bearing the slogan "Committed to the Channel Market", has embarked on a new direction providing a total network solution for the SOHO market. Available in ratings of 350, 470 and 700VA, the Australian-made PowerSure Pro-Active UPS features battery saving features such as front-end AVR as standard and direct transfer buck boost.
Also featured is communications transient voltage surge suppression via the RJ45 connection, a weekly automatic battery test, and DB9 Comms orderly shutdown software with user alert messages and event logging.
User defined, PowerSure Pro-Active will, with correctly loaded software, shutdown the server and turn itself off during an extended power outage. When power is restored, it will turn itself back on.
The product has four output receptacles and will provide 15 minutes of battery support at typical loads.
Other features include a sealed internal environment; air-conditioned humidity control; back up filtered forced ventilation system; internal data cable management system; a choice of shelf mount or rack mount systems; a Compaq ready racking system; hot swappable UPS batteries and hot swappable UPS communications.
The RRP of the Liebert PowerSure Pro-Active UPS is $254 for the PSP350, $354 for the PSP470 and $472 for the PSP700. The product will be released at the end of November.
Sola Australia has just released the SOLA 520 and 520 Rackmount for network stations; UNIX servers; CAD/ CAM/CAE workstations; hubs/ routers/bridges/gateways; departmental servers; desktop servers; small business servers; modem racks; and ISDN access systems.
The 520 is a Windows 95 and 98 plug-and- play product which regulates the mains voltage and conserves battery power for use during an outage. Included with the product is CheckUPS II Suite power monitoring and shutdown software for most operating systems. There is also a choice of ratings, voltages and frequency to suit individual networks. Features include a BestDock communications slot for adding connectivity options, including communication via the Internet. Network Transient Voltage Surge Suppression protects network connections and user programmable voltage switch points allow the user to customise the power of advanced voltage regulation to specific applications. There is an enhanced recharge time; self-diagnostic routines; multiple Australian sockets; protection against spikes, surges, noise and lightning; smooth sine-wave output; and user replaceable and hot swappable batteries. PowerSteady voltage regulation provides maximum system availability without draining the battery.
The RRP of the Sola 520 is from $925.90 ($1071.80 for rackmount) for the 750VA model through to $2941.90 ($3495 for rackmount) for the 2250VA model.
New from APC are Smart-UPS 420 and 620 for departmental LAN, small office and home office server power management. Features include PowerChuteR Plus Power Management Software with SNMP agents; CellGuard intelligent battery management system; QuickSwap hot-swappable user-replaceable batteries and SmartBoost/SmartTrim for maximum online operation from 156-300 volts.
Included are three battery back-up/surge protection outlets and one surge only outlet for printers, faxes, scanners etc. Smart-UPS 420/460 offers 10 Base-T/100 Base Tx network protection and is accompanied by a two-year warranty.
The product ships with PowerChute Plus software, and supports Windows 95 and NT, Novell Netware, SCO and UNIX.
The RRP of Smart-UPS 420iNET is $700 and SU620iNET is $940.
Sola Australia is about to release the company's first UPS for the SOHO market. The new generation of the SOLA 300 UPS line, SOLA 305, has been designed to provide affordable power protection for PCs and individual workstations.
The new system offers modem TVSS protection and multiple Australian outlets to protect against blackouts, brownouts, noise, lightning, surges and spikes, and sags. Also available are optional software and shut down communication capabilities.
The RRP is expected by Sola to start at under $200. The range is available in 250VA, 425VA and 600VA. The units feature three uninterruptible power protection outlets and two surge suppression outlets, a compact design which can be wall or floor mounted, visual and audible warnings, cold start capability, and user replaceable batteries.
SOLA 305 is covered by a two-year limited warranty against factory or workmanship defects.
A list of Australian distributors is available from the reseller page on APC's Web site: www.apcc.com/australiaArlecTel (03) 9727 8777BTR Power (Exide products)Tel (02) 9878 5000HPM IndustriesTel (02) 9361 9999Liebert CorporationTel 1800 622 274MEC-KambrookTel (03) 9265 2222Sola AustraliaTel (03) 9706 5022Upsonic PowerTel 1800 634 307