Wednesday, October 14, 2020

UPS battery upgrade

Today's techblog I couldn't be bothered to write yet, which I guess I just was..

I was given a UPS with a dead battery recently, and figured that I would use it in my office where I don't currently have one.

It's an older unit, an ES 350..

Nothing special, just battery backup, with 3 battery backed outlets, and an extra 3 surge protected only outlets.

Oh, and it has phone line surge protection. pff, really useful these days. Well, I guess maybe it still is, for anyone using a *DSL connection. Too bad it didn't at least have ethernet surge protection passthrough, like the newer/bigger units:

Nor does it have any sort of management, via serial or USB, (or does it?) so that I can see how many minutes of battery are left, and/or setup my machine to shut itself down when there are only a few minutes of power left, using NUT:

but whatever. I got the thing for free..

I "fixed" another UPS recently for a client, (post for that one in progress) and was reminded how simple it is now to just replace the battery(s) in them, not like the bad old days where UPS' were not user replaceable for some dumb reason, requiring you to disassemble the entire thing and risk getting electrocuted or set on fire in the process (been there.. Done that). 

Usually I just hack them by adding a couple of leads with male spade terminals to alligator clips, eg one end has terminals to replace what the internal battery had/has,

and the other just a big gator clip,

(or I just hack off the original spade terminals, and splice some wire with the gator clip on the end to it), and then hook them up to some random car or golf cart battery I have kicking around.

But I'm running low on random car and golf cart batteries currently, since they are being used on other UPS units, and they go camping with me.

People laugh at me having 120v AC power and lighting available when I go camping.. Until they want to blow up their air mattress or charge their phone or camera in the middle of a field or halfway up a mountain..

Part of why I take batteries and inverters everywhere is because I take my CPAP machine everywhere with me, and if I was to buy the massively overpriced battery pack instead, it turns out to just be 2x 7.2Ah SLA batteries with a cigarette lighter attached to them, in a little bag with a shoulder strap, as I found out when I "repaired" one for a friend a couple of years ago, by replacing the dead batteries.

Or maybe they also stop laughing when I have power for the fridge, projector, lighting, music, and internet, for the entire time the whole city of Ottawa has no power, for at least 4 days, after a tornado busts up most of the powerlines, and causes the main power substation to completely meltdown..

So I spent my time drinking cold beer and watching movies and listening to music, while everyone around me for as far as I could see was sitting in the dark and silence.

(Well my Internet didn't last the entire time, because both the Rogers' cable headend ran out of backup power after a couple of days and died, and about an hour later, when I had just finished reconfiguring my home network to use my phone as the internet gateway, Freedom's tower ran out of power and went down..)

Anyway, so I avoided going to the place I reluctantly went to last weekend when I needed batteries, a place I swore I wouldn't buy things from ever again, after having gone to at least 3 different stores, and been sold no less than 5 different types of batteries (car, motorcycle, UPS) which were either DOA, or failed within a month or so, in a row.

They have logo that looks similar to this..

So since it was during the week and somewhere else in the world that sells batteries was open, I (eventually) found this other place hidden in a building just a couple of minutes away from home.

The Alexander Battery Corporation (as called on Google maps, and their site, but the sign on the door said something else I can't remember) seemed like, and turned out to be, way better (which wouldn't be hard) than Total Shit Battery.

I took the dead battery in with me, and asked for a direct replacement, but explained that I only wanted to know the price of the replacement first, and that I was interested in knowing what the best capacity I could get for that price was..

The guy looked at the battery and immediately knew its specs by eye (since it wasn't labelled with anything useful), looked up something on the computer, and said he had one left in stock.

He went and found it on the shelf in the back in a few seconds and came back with it, and it was identical to the one I was holding.

It turned out to be a 3.2Ah battery, and they wanted $36 for it, which is the price Amazon charges for it, it turns out.

So I said "now tell me the biggest capacity battery that you sell for around the same price" since the price was all I cared about, and wanted to get my money's worth, vs buying some silly little battery just because it fits in something, when space doesn't matter at all to me in this scenario.

For $40 and change, the guy worked out that I could get an 8.5Ah battery instead, so, close to triple the capacity, and it turned out to be only ever so slightly bigger than the original. (The next one was a 9 something Ah, and it was close to $50.)

He went and grabbed one, they had just come in, and he lugged a big heavy box of 10 or more of them onto the bench out the back and opened it up to grab one out for me. 

This battery is retardant.

When I got home and around to hooking it up, I saw that it _almost_ even fit, just being a little longer, albeit taller, and almost identical in width..

Well, I could just extend the leads (or not even bother, and just put the UPS on its side with the battery next to it) and it would work fine..

But, let's just make it "fit". So I grabbed the hacksaw, and hammer and chisel, and I "adjusted" the case, since it's just a plastic box at that point.

So after a few minutes on the bench, with hardly any effort required, since a hacksaw and chisel goes through plastic literally like a hot knife through butter..

Oops, not exactly straight..

I got close, but the wires were being a pain to route, so I just hacked out more room for the terminals, and to be able to reroute the wires..

Thanks again to my dental hygienist friend who gave me some of her old tools recently in return for hooking up to test a HYDRIM machine which needs 220v, which she'd bought, but didn't have an outlet for, and didn't want to get installed until she knew the machine worked..

Oh, and chisels are usually sharp. It's not the best idea to slip and jam them into your hand.

Lots of length on those wires now.

Lots of room in there for wires and terminals now.

Look, it almost fits!

So close.

So with the addition of some sticky tape, since there's nothing sticky tape can't fix, I have something that only sort of looks like a bomb, but is in reality a UPS that will provide over 3 times the run time than it was originally designed to.

I only needed the hacksaw. Didn't need to resort to the wood saw, or the jigsaw.

Looks totally legit!

And it only cost me $40, and I saved something out of the landfill.

This also upgraded it to the equivalent of a $140 UPS unit, based on the price of the one that uses the 8.5Ah battery, the ES 750:

Albeit without increasing the surge capacity obviously, just the run time, which is fine, because the load is small enough. Nor do I get 10 outlets instead of 6 of course, however I just plugged a $3.50 Ikea power strip into it to fix that.. 

My shitty phone is running so slow that it's can't even time the flash properly..

Oh, and the best part, is that the battery came almost fully charged. Not like the shitty ones I bought off the shelf from Total Shit Battery last weekend, which were completely and utterly dead when I hooked them up to that other UPS I was fixing, and they took about 12 hours to charge.

So who knows how long they had been sitting on the shelf, and it's not like they are an uncommon battery either, they are the normal, and probably most commonly used, 7.2Ah:

Which the majority of UPS units I've dealt with before use, and they were potentially, and probably, damaged by sitting there fully discharged for who knows how long, before I even bought them.

So I think I may finally have been ripped off and screwed over by Total Shit Battery for the last time.

Also, taking the dead battery with me was good, because I was able to just give it to them for disposal, one less piece of crap I have to deal with. I can probably even take my entire dead battery collection there to get rid of it.


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