Power Woes…

It seems that on an increasing number of days technology is conspiring against me. When we purchased the Dell computer with Windows Vista, lambasted in an earlier post, I also purchased an APC UPS to provide clean power and backup power long enough to shut it down gracefuly. I have run APC UPS power supplies for a number of years without incident. I assumed that this new one would be the same way. I had noticed that it seemed to act a little peculiar during its self-test sometimes when I turned it on in the morning but I was preoccupied with the Vista problems. Then it didn’t hold the power during a couple of power outages. I asked for assistance from APC and after several email exchanges they issued an RMA and replaced it, presumably with a refurbished unit. OK. After a few months it started showing the same symptoms. Now it does a random self-test during the day and shuts down. Today we had actual power outages and it dropped the power on both of them. There is no indicator light warning of a depleted battery; it just doesn’t work.

I have an older, very large, “professional”, UPS at work, also APC, that I have been using for several months. It has all manner of LEDs on the front of it showing the load, battery charge, operating mode, etc. Everything was green on Tuesday. I was working away when without warning it shut off too. No one else in the office lost power, the lights didn’t flicker, it was the UPS. I replaced it with a surge protector.

I used to think APC was the best name in UPSs but I am not going to buy another one. My older son gave me an old unit that needs a battery. APC wants $70 for one and they don’t give the specifications to allow me to go buy one at the local battery house. I guess I’ll try another brand.

I could just put the computer on a surge protector but, and this is my third tale of woe, our power goes off fairly often at our house. It was off for about five hours today. The weather was sunny and calm. Evidently, a pole caught fire near one of their substations. The last couple of years, I am guessing our average yearly outage would be several days to a week. It occurred to me today that I could wire a battery operated clock to keep track of the total time the power is off during a year. I need one that keeps track of the date too so it can count days as well as hours.

So what is going on? Has APC value engineered themselves into worthlessness? Is it a poor circuit design? Cheap components? Poor quality control? If the batteries are dead, why doesn’t it tell me that?  Whatever, it is a shame.

And American Electric Power…our part of the power grid is very fragile. Maybe its that way across the whole country. I’m usually pretty optimistic but I wonder if we haven’t downsized, deregulated, and value engineered the whole country to the verge of collapse.

Sorry for the rants. Sometimes it just seems like technology is conspiring against me…

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