Mar 232011
 
Cyberpower Cyberformance

I’ve been using APC battery backup products for decades now.  Anytime I had ever looked at another brand they always fell short in two primary areas for me, reliability and features.   I can’t remember the last time I did some research on home office or personal UPS devices but it’s clear APC doesn’t own this market anymore.  Tripp Lite and what I’ll call the newcomer, CyberPower seem to be hitting the sweet spot better than APC for home users or small offices.  [Side note: When talking about enterprise and real server rooms/NOCs I’m still APC all the way.]

Beginning my perusal of a replacement for my APC  Back-UPS RS 1500 I was hoping to find something priced well, with good reviews, that had a nice LCD panel in the front for displaying information.  A good LCD panel and front panel interface is rather important for me because in my setup I have no machine to install the company’s power management software.  I primarily use these on NAS boxes, in my case in particular a ReadyNAS NV+ and then the other router, modem, switch, etc. devices that make up my primary network (nothing that one would be installing software on).  After looking at the product line-up from these companies it seemed only CyberPower offered the closest to what I was looking for.  APC really doesn’t have much with a good LCD interface in the 900VA to 1500VA range.  Their best bet would probably be the BR1500G.  I’ve read a lot of reviews from various sites and had some concerns with the circuit design, noise of fans, and even reliability.  From Tripp Lite the OMNI line maybe has a good LCD display but again there were many things in the reviews that scared me a bit, reliability being near the top.

Looking closer at the CyberPower line there were 2 units that seemed really good, the CP1500AVRLCD and the CP1500PFCLCD.  These had the most consistent positive reviews across the board and from those, reliability and support seemed above what users experience with APC and Tripp Lite.  These units seemed much more “up-to-date” to me.  I feel CyberPower cares more about this specific market than APC or Tripp Lite and focus on it with most of their resources.  I like when a company gets directly involved with their users via comments or forums that aren’t even a part of their own web domain.  I found this with CyberPower while reading a review from NewEgg.  The user left a negative review about the CP1500AVRLCD not working with the computer they had connected to it.  A representative from CyberPower responded to this:

Manufacturer Response:

Thank you for your comments. You are correct that systems using a power supply with Active PFC (including ENERGY STAR 5.0 systems) may experience issues with a non-sine wave UPS. As a result, CyberPower introduced the Adaptive Sinewave UPS line to address these issues. The CP1500PFCLCD w/Pure Sine Wave provides the most cost effective UPS solution for systems using power supplies with Active PFC.

To assist customers with purchasing decisions, CyberPower lists detailed specifications on our website (cyberpowersystems.com) where waveform types are listed. As our packaging evolves, we also review the information we place on the box. With Active PFC power supplies becoming more prevalent, we will be reviewing the best way to help customers select the right product for them and addressing it with future packaging as well as on-line information.

If you need additional assistance, please contact CyberPower Technical Support at 877-297-6937 or email priority1@CPSww.com.

In fact it was this response that even led me to looking at the CP1500PFCLCD as the AVR line was the only model showing up in my searches for  a LCD UPS.  These models look almost identical but have one big difference, the PFC model actually outputs a pure sine wave of power to the connected devices instead of the power direct from your circuit.  This is needed with newer and greener power supplies that use Active PFC technology.  I really can’t think of a reason to go with the AVR model since non active PFC power supplies will still work fine with the PFC model and be guaranteed cleaner power at that.  The one downside (if you change your perspective) is that with the UPS’s that output a pure sine wave they will jump to battery power when they detect the incoming voltage fall above or below specific ranges.  These ranges are much more sensitive than what it would take for a unit without this technology to fall back to its battery.  For example, I’ve had a laser printer on the same circuit as my UPS for years.  With the CP1500PFCLCD every time the printer warms up to print it draws a lot of power on the line and UPS alarms and goes to battery for a few seconds until the voltage returns.  With my older APC UPS’s that didn’t not have this technology, they never went to battery power during this warm up.  Usually this sensitivity is adjustable and with CyberPower you can do it right from the LCD interface, on a Tripp Lite model you need to slowly turn a potentiometer in the rear of the unit.  Of course the lower you set the sensitivity the less clean power you are guaranteeing to your connected devices.  I now have the CyberPower muting all alarms until I can upgrade my printer to one not so old and power hungry.  All alarms are muted unless a situation arises with only 5% of battery left, then it will audibly alert again.  This is also a nice feature not found from other companies, sometimes it is unusually difficult to simply mute UPS alarms.

The only real option I like to have available to me that CyberPower fell short on is the ability to add an extended battery pack to these units to increase uptime when the power is out.  Outside of that missing option these CyberPower units, with good reviews, a company that looks involved, great feature list, and one of the most modern designs, should really earn your consideration if you are in the market to replace an older UPS.  I know a lot of people that just know the APC name and search solely for a new APC UPS but I think better products are now out there and you could be impressed with the cyberformance.