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Anyone else run their amps through a UPS?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by phishaholik, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. I have a lot of brown outs in my area and I don't trust surge protectors. I've been running my amps through Uninterrupted Power Supplies. For those that don't know, it is a battery that sends the power to whatever is plugged into it, and the outlet continuously recharges the battery. Therefore, the amp doesn't pull it's current directly from the outlet. Is there any reason I shouldn't do this? I'm running all tube MESA and Trace heads this way.

  2. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    If brownouts are that common, it sounds like a good idea.

    If power goes out during the gig, will you (on UPS) and the drummer keep playing? ;)

    FWIW, I plug my amp (and all our stage electronics) through a couple of GFCI pigtails, for shock protection.
  3. My guitarist wanted to do it for awhile because his line 6 pedals draw more power than all the others, and when we are playing shows where the stage power is run off a generator, his line 6 pedals would F**k out everytime he turned them on! and his didtortion is one of them, so he wanted to use a UPS to sort it out... but we solved the problem by hooking up a switch to the internal batteries that lets him use those instead of the power supplies on the pedals
  4. Gene Machine

    Gene Machine

    Mar 19, 2003
    I'm not sure about this and (disclaimer) i wouldn't trust it until verifying, but since your coming off a battery and an inverter, you may be able to electrically isolate yourself as well (no more shocks when you go to sing).

    this, and protecting your amp makes good sense, but a UPS is bloody heavy and won't last long if the power is out. You'l probably have a couple minutes if your running a big powerful rig, but it will be enough time to shut everything down properly without damage.

  5. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    Err.... don't think so, at least not with a garden-variety UPS. It's still an AC power source, and if a path to ground develops through a body (hot mic or similar), it's not going to change things.

    This is where the aforementioned GFCI comes in, for protection against electrocution. Wouldn't leave home without it.
  6. C-5KO


    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    There is the possibility of burning out the battery. This just happened to me two weeks ago.

    I had my computer and my preamp connected to a APC500, and somebody in the front of the apartment was using the toaster, and microwave. The circuit breaker in the apt blew, and my battery kept going, but because I had the pre AND the computer plugged into it, it burnt the battery. I'm guessing it was drawing too much power for what the backup could supply. Afterwards the APC stunk up my room with that burning metal smell. Terrible!
  7. That doesn't sound good. I've never had any brown outs while the amp was on. I'd rather lose the UPS than have my amps damaged. I'll just have to remember to turn the UPS off immediately if the power goes out when the amp is on. I don't really mind that they are heavy. I'm in the process of buying a Classic 400 anyways.

  8. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    You getting one of the NOS ones from MF? :D
  9. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    A UPS makes a lot more sense than a conditioner, as it has that built in anyway. It doesn't give an isolated ground, so it won't stop shocks. Be very sure that you use one large enough to do the job, though, The average bass amp draws five times the juice that the average computer does.

  10. Nope, I'm actually getting the tweed one with the 4x10 off the classifieds. 400 watts and matching tweed. MMMMMMMMMM, tasty. I just got a V-Type 220 and I still couldn't resist the Peavey. :)

    The fact that the amp draws so much more power than a typical computer is why I was kind of worried. I don't want to hurt my beauties by trying to protect them.

  11. A UPS is *not* a surge protector. Unless you buy a two-in-one kind it's rather useless.

    And AFAIK, the battery isn't in the loop until the power cuts out.

    Sounds kind of silly to not trust a surge protector (made for the job) and to trust the job of a surge protector to a UPS (NOT made for the job)....
  12. It depends, I know at least some, if not all, use a battery running a power inverter to supply the AC power full time. So its always running off the "battery" circuit.

    When you have actual AC power available, it's converted to DC just used to keep the battery charged. When AC power fails, the battery stops being charged, but continues driving the inverter as if nothing happened.

    I think they're all like that, actually, its too hard to get it to "switch" from the AC line power to the inverter when power fails or gets squirrely. Can't do that without some sort of spike getting to the amp during the switch. Its much easier and more reliable to run the amp off the inverted AC from the battery, and just use AC line power to keep the battery charged and ready for the next power outage.

    In that setup, I think you actually DO get surge protection, over/under voltage protection automatically. The surges/brownouts affect the rate the battery is being charged only. The inverter isn't affected by them, so the amp sees none of those fluctuations.

  13. I cam't help but think of the inefficiency here. We're going to convert AC to DC to store it in a battery, then synthesis AC from the DC to send it to the amp...then the amp rectifies the AC back to DC for the power supply rails...

    Geez, why not just use batteries to supply the amp's power supply rails, then build a charging circuit...
  14. No argument here... Not sure about consumer versions, but that's how the commercial ones I've been exposed to operate....

    Its a cost/weight thing mainly. No technical reason what you suggest wouldn't work. Every preamp/wireless unit with a wall wart for power does essentially what you suggest except they use capacitors to store a few seconds worth of juice instead of a battery that would store enough for a longer timeframe. Just most don't feel the need for UPS. And cost/weight of batteries needed is substantial.

  15. And when Phish gets his 400 tube amp...he could remove the heavy bulky power transformer, and run the amp off of batteries like the original tube amps did in the 1920's....

    Of course, he'd need to wheel in a few hundred pounds of batteries to supply the 675 volts for the B+.... :D minor details....
  16. brooklynbassguy

    brooklynbassguy Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    maplewood, nj, usa
    Interesting thread. I just got an APC R-1200 for use with my AI Focus. There's one particular club in nyc with funny electricity, and I've found my R-600 helped alot with my Clarus. AIs are very sensitive to brownouts, and such. The only drag is the APC is twice the weight of the Focus. How does the UPS weigh?
  17. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Not my area of expertise but no one has mentioned the quality of the AC that the ups puts out. How important is it to have 'proper' sine wave AC for bass rigs and how much do you have spend for a ups of both sufficient capacity and quality? Are switching power supplies more or less finicky in their AC requirements?
  18. Although I've never used a UPS for a bass amp, I am a bassist and used to work for a UPS company (Tripp Lite). There are a lot of issues involved here. Needless to say, there is more than one kind of UPS. The very expensive ones are the kind (considered a true UPS) where the outlets are always run off the inverted battery output, and the waveform may or may not be sine wave. I suspect different amps would react differently to this feature. The garden variety UPS is usually just a switchover type (typically very fast and unnoticable) that powers you from the AC mains (including the ground) until there's an outage, then goes to the battery for inversion, and usually this is not a sine wave output (too expensive). All UPSs have some form of surge suppression. Some models of these (the less expensive, switchover kind) include a line conditioner that corrects for out of spec mains voltage, by using a multi-tap transformer that switches very fast to give a closer to desired output voltage (not considered a constant voltage transformer). These types of line conditioners can be purchased as a separate item, and are not typically in the 1U Furman style design, as their innards take up more space than that. They're usually a chunky metal cube (roughly 7" on all sides, or whatever the current models look like), with four or more outlets, that would best be left on the floor, but they aren't as expensive as a UPS. I'd think these would be the ticket for everyday protection, beyond the use of a surge suppressor. I'd suspect YMMV!
  19. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I use a UPS with built in surge protection on my amp. I suspect my MPUlse drew too much current straight from the wall because I would frequently hear clicks while playing, almost like I was partially unplugging the bass. After plugging the amp into one of my spare computer UPS units the clicks stopped.
  20. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    A 'surge protector' is a MOV (metal oxide varistor) which as a component costs about fifty cents. A basic line filter is a capacitor, about five cents. The average $100 rack mount surge protector contains one of each; better models contain three of each. The bulk of the parts cost is for the case and outlets. It's quite rare when a UPS does not contain them.
    The advantage to a UPS is it keeps your amp from cycling on and off during a short term power outage. They don't have enough capacity nor a clean enough output to actually use with them as a power supply for more than a few seconds, at which point the lack of lights in the room should be a clue that the power is off and you can go turn your amp off. It's not a matter of using them as back-up power, it's a matter of getting the additional protection that they provide from the high transient voltage surges that often accompany black outs. As far as the quailty of the AC they supply and the protection they provide is concerned your amp is far less finicky about AC purity and transients than a computer.
    Fat Steve and tedious1 like this.