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When The Lights Go Out

APC UPS for Home and Office Forum

Schneider Electric support forum for our APC offers including Home Office UPS, Surge Protectors, UTS, software and services and associated products designed to share knowledge, installation, and configuration.

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magnets_apc
Cadet
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6
201

When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 3/14/2007


I think APC needs to add a solar line. One of the big problems using solar energy is the lack of an easy way to plug in the solar panel's output to drive A/C devices. APC already drives A/C devices with smooth power from a battery.

As backup at fixed locations, solar is perfect. When the power goes out, APC devices are usually good for far less than 1/2 hour. Really, what good is that? I'm still going to not be working until the electric company gets involved.

It is not a simple case to roll your own solar solution. If APC sold a solar solution there would be a surge of buyers initially and every time there is a power outtage.

A simplistic look at a solution from an end-user point of view is as follows. I plug the APC UPS device into an A/C outlet on the wall. Alternately, I want to be able to plug an APC UPS device into a "DC outlet" from a solar panel.

Since there is no such thing today and since it is complicated to make that happen - that is where I see APC entering the picture.

Even better would be getting into the finance business. A $30 to $40 a month solution would be very acceptable. Today, a programmer can easily lose an 8-hour paycheck because the power goes out and we take a break to go fishing and - there goes the rest of the day. I would rather go fishing on my own schedule.

Message was edited by: magnets


Accepted Solutions
mshonka_apc
Crewman
Crewman
0 Likes
0
201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 10/16/2010


Thanks UPSGuy for your thoughtful reply. You raise some good points and this helps to clarify the opportunity. I also appreciate mfitzsimmons for highlighting the "full circle". I have been in the solar industry since 1983 and have given considerable thought to this type of system. This is an important product to develop – NOW.

This application is more of a "pure play" for solar that is leveraging state-of-the-art manufacturing efficiencies of UPS products. Think small solar electric systems satisfying the need of 1 - 2 kW usage per day. The specific application calls for 300 Watts x 5 hours of run time = 1.5 kW per day, which confirms your thinking.

The system will require two 200 Watt modules (depending on locality) and a battery charger capable of interfacing with the APC equipment. There are many places where a generator is not a solution. In this application, power for third world schools, generators and/or their fuel get "re-appropriated" or are simply not available.

APC and Xantex are global companies, therefore, this product's market size is much larger than casual observation... small autonomous systems (off-grid) are needed to power control signals for trains and roads, telecommunication repeaters, signage and remote lighting, small cabins (including the lights, microwaves, refrigerators, fans, radios, TVs, ...) even third world schools - in short - there are a multitude of applications and new ones yet to be developed because never before has this been possible.

The consumer market for an off-the-shelf small system would be incredible. The typical solar electric system today requires too much engineering and installation skill for the consumer market.
The APC UPS devices are 85% to the objective - all that is required is a "solar interface" for the charger and module(s).

Again - any feedback or contacts for product managers (or anyone that can listen) would be appreciated.

Michael Shonka 402-689-0463
Solar Heat & Electric - Omaha, NE
mshonka@qwest.net

See Answer In Context

6 Replies 6
BillP
Administrator Administrator
Administrator
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201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This reply was originally posted by Matt on APC forums on 10/15/2010


This thread is quite ironic. Check into the history and formation of American Power Conversion.

http://www.apc.com/corporate/history.cfm

BillP
Administrator Administrator
Administrator
0 Likes
0
201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This reply was originally posted by Secret on APC forums on 10/17/2007


In the early 1980's, during the huge push for Solar Technology, APC opened it's doors and started out as a manufacturer for Solar Power. As the 1980's came to an end, so did the huge push for this technology. APC began to change it's course and began to focus on the then infant UPS Technology.

I can definitely see APC opening up those old schematics and beginning work to incorporate Solar Power technology into todays UPS technology. As fuel prices continue to rise and as consumer's focus is drawn more towards a "Greener" world, it would likely be a winning combination.

If it does happen however, I would expect to see it in the smaller product lines first, as this is more cost effective and encompasses a wider consumer base for feedback.

KVAr_apc
Captain
Captain
0 Likes
0
201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 10/24/2007


magnets wrote:
I think APC needs to add a solar line. One of the big problems using solar energy is the lack of an easy way to plug in the solar panel's output to drive A/C devices. APC already drives A/C devices with smooth power from a battery.

As backup at fixed locations, solar is perfect. When the power goes out, APC devices are usually good for far less than 1/2 hour. Really, what good is that? I'm still going to not be working until the electric company gets involved.

It is not a simple case to roll your own solar solution. If APC sold a solar solution there would be a surge of buyers initially and every time there is a power outtage.

A simplistic look at a solution from an end-user point of view is as follows. I plug the APC UPS device into an A/C outlet on the wall. Alternately, I want to be able to plug an APC UPS device into a "DC outlet" from a solar panel.

Since there is no such thing today and since it is complicated to make that happen - that is where I see APC entering the picture.

Even better would be getting into the finance business. A $30 to $40 a month solution would be very acceptable. Today, a programmer can easily lose an 8-hour paycheck because the power goes out and we take a break to go fishing and - there goes the rest of the day. I would rather go fishing on my own schedule.

Message was edited by: magnets
The purpose of UPSs usually isn't to let you keep working on battery for a long time, but to let you gracefully shut down or give you a ride-through until backup power is available. Such option is available with extended run-model and extra battery modules, but it is spendy.

Give the generator perhaps a minute after an outage to fire up and provide stable power. Power goes out, UPS provides power instantly. Generator starts up, then UPS transfers back to source power.

If the generator doesn't start up after 2 minutes due to trouble, then the additional ten minutes or so of runtime would allow the servers to gracefully shut down.

mshonka_apc
Crewman
Crewman
0 Likes
0
201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 10/14/2010


Another perspective... and a very important one for product development... solar electric systems require many complex parts, but the UPSs have most of them embedded in one box! The UPS contains a two-way inverter - AC charging the batteries from the grid and DC batteries powering AC equipment during power outages. The UPS contains batteries and a charge controller from the AC to the DC for batteries. The only part missing is matching the charge controller from solar electric DC to the DC batteries and adding solar electric modules as a power source. This is trivial.

Expand the thinking - Schneider Electric owns APC and Xantrex (leading solar inverter manufacturer) so linking a UPS unit to solar is simple. The entire solar industry would take a leap forward with a UPS adapted to solar input. There would be some tweeking to optimize the configuration, but the essentials are already in the manufacturing stream.

I have an immediate application for off-grid schools that need to run a computer. The daily charging cycle may require different batteries and a firmware upgrade to the electronics... but this is a very cost effective solution for solar electric in small usage applications.

I have been trying to reach someone in product development to work this idea through... any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
Michael Shonka 402-689-0463
Solar Heat & Electric - Omaha, NE
mshonka@qwest.net

upsguy_apc
Commander
Commander
0 Likes
0
201

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 10/15/2010


The main fault in the logic everyone is using is that the solar panels would power the UPS in the event that utility power fails. The largest portion of utility failures occur during poor weather conditions which at the same time would provide nearly no solar power to the UPS. You would end up with a very expensive solar array that would not provide you any power when you needed it the most.

Since you are talking about using solar panels to power a UPS I'm assuming you are talking about very small loads to the order of 1-5kw of load as anything larger would be a very large solar array and would not be a simple plug in user application. A generator of this size paired with an automatic transfer switch is very inexpensive compared to the cost of even a 2kw solar array.

Simply put there really would be a very small limited customer that would need a solution like this and a normal solar application would actually provide all the benefits a user could want without adding the complexity of trying to directly tie a UPS into the circuitry.

I would advise if your dead sent on solar to buy a normal solar power array which feeds your UPS circuit and have the UPS plugged into that source. So in the event your utility provider wasn't able to provide power and the solar source just so happened to be able to provide enough power for the UPS then you would be able to continue to work.

mshonka_apc
Crewman
Crewman
0 Likes
0
202

Re: When The Lights Go Out

This was originally posted on APC forums on 10/16/2010


Thanks UPSGuy for your thoughtful reply. You raise some good points and this helps to clarify the opportunity. I also appreciate mfitzsimmons for highlighting the "full circle". I have been in the solar industry since 1983 and have given considerable thought to this type of system. This is an important product to develop – NOW.

This application is more of a "pure play" for solar that is leveraging state-of-the-art manufacturing efficiencies of UPS products. Think small solar electric systems satisfying the need of 1 - 2 kW usage per day. The specific application calls for 300 Watts x 5 hours of run time = 1.5 kW per day, which confirms your thinking.

The system will require two 200 Watt modules (depending on locality) and a battery charger capable of interfacing with the APC equipment. There are many places where a generator is not a solution. In this application, power for third world schools, generators and/or their fuel get "re-appropriated" or are simply not available.

APC and Xantex are global companies, therefore, this product's market size is much larger than casual observation... small autonomous systems (off-grid) are needed to power control signals for trains and roads, telecommunication repeaters, signage and remote lighting, small cabins (including the lights, microwaves, refrigerators, fans, radios, TVs, ...) even third world schools - in short - there are a multitude of applications and new ones yet to be developed because never before has this been possible.

The consumer market for an off-the-shelf small system would be incredible. The typical solar electric system today requires too much engineering and installation skill for the consumer market.
The APC UPS devices are 85% to the objective - all that is required is a "solar interface" for the charger and module(s).

Again - any feedback or contacts for product managers (or anyone that can listen) would be appreciated.

Michael Shonka 402-689-0463
Solar Heat & Electric - Omaha, NE
mshonka@qwest.net