Introduction: Make Your Computer UPS Last for Hours Instead of Minutes

For what would appear common sense to me, but perhaps not to all, I have all of my computers on UPS battery backups. After getting frustrated when the power flickered one day, I immediately went out and purchased a UPS. Well, shortly after, the power went out for longer than the battery could keep my computer afloat. I needed a better solution!

I wanted my UPS to be able to last for at least 60 minutes in a power outage. I needed more power! My solution: Car batteries.

Materials:
UPS that is rated at least double what you plan to draw (see step 8 to understand why).
Wire (12 awg or larger; two different colors)
Solder
Heat shrink tubing
Car battery with terminals on the top
Adapters to go from the car battery terminals to threaded rod.
Wing nuts the same size as this threaded rod
Wire crimp terminals that will fit over the threaded rod.
Plastic case for your car battery
Inline Fuse holder (radio shack)
30 amp fuse for holder (any auto store)

Tools:
Screwdrivers
Wire cutters
Wire strippers
Soldering iron
Scissors (optional)
heat gun or alternative
Drill
Drill bits

Step 1: Evaluate Your Needs

I was trying to power two computers (desktop and file server), and two flat panel monitors. My total power consumption was roughly 500 watts peak. (yikes!) Currently I was running on two 300 watt UPS's (NOTE: VA is not equal to WATTS. Find the WATT rating) with one computer and one monitor on each. Even though the two monitors were hooked up to the same computer, I needed to distribute my power load more evenly to get longer battery life out of my petty UPS's.

CAUTION:
I discovered the hard way after nearly starting a fire and destroying a UPS that you need one that is rated at at least twice the wattage you are consuming. They can't handle being run for longer than a few minutes at this rating, but the batteries die before it's a problem normally.

So I now knew I needed 500 watts, and I wanted 60 minutes of power.. that means:
P / V = I
500 watts / 120 volts = 4.16 ampere hours (at 120 volts)

UPS batteries are usually 12 volts, but some are wired with two batteries in series. Check yours out first to make sure you won't need two car batteries.

So, assuming 12 volts, that means that, after adjusting for the voltage differences, I need a battery with at least 41.6 ampere hours. (yeah, I know there's inefficiencies in the UPS, but lets keep math easy)

Step 2: Remove Battery From UPS

Unplug the UPS from the wall, and unplug all devices from it.
Remove any screws you fine, and open up the case.
If you are as lucky as I was, the battery will have terminals that you can slide off. If not, just cut the wires as close to the battery as you can.
Once you have removed the battery, you will find something like you see in the picture

NOTE: Pay attention to polarity on the battery, and which wire went to when polarity.

Step 3: Extend Wires on UPS

The wires that are in a UPS are typically not long enough to reach much past where the battery sits. We will need to extend them to reach our car battery.

Cut off the the wire terminals (if any) on the wires from the UPS.
Strip at least 3/8 of an inch of the wire on the UPS
Strip at least 3/8 of an inch of the wire we are extending with.
I used a metal crimp to help me get a great connection, but this is optional.
Solder the wires together. This solder joint needs to be able to handle high current. We will be drawing lots of power through here and if we have a voltage drop, the UPS won't last as long.
After making sure the joint is well soldered, place some heat shrink over it, and seal it up good.

Note: Use colors that make sense to you, and will allow you to remember the polarity

Step 4: Drill Hole for Wires

Next we need to make a place for the wires to leave the UPS and go to the car battery.
I drilled a hole. Use whatever size will fit both of your wires.
Add a strain relief so you can't pull on the joints you made, or on the PC board in the unit. I simply tied a knot in each of the wires.
Next pull the wires through the hole, and carefully put the unit back together.

Note: Remember the polarity!

Step 5: Prepare Inline Fuse Holder

Since this is high current, coming from an extremely high current source (car battery), we need a fuse. and you want it as close to the battery as possible.
First, strip the wire on the fuse holder.
Place heat shrink on the wire.
Take your crimp wire terminal that is sized for the thread on your battery posts, or adapter and crimp it to the wire. Then solder. Nothing is complete until it's soldered. Why solder? It conducts electricity better. The joint won't get hot, and you will have a less drastic voltage drop.
Next shrink the tubing.

On the other side of the fuse holder, strip the wire, place the heat shrink on, strip the hot wire you've recently added to the UPS and solder together. Once completed shrink the tubing.

Step 6: Prepare the Remaining Wire

Next, using the same strategy as connecting to the inline fuse holder, connect the Crimp terminal to the end of your ground wire, Solder, and heat shrink.

Remember: Put the heat shrink tubing on before you put the end on.

When you done you should have something like:

Step 7: Attach to Battery, and Test

Next, attach your battery terminals to the battery, and then your wires to the terminals.
Insert a fuse in the fuse holder.
And turn on your UPS.
It will take a long time to charge the battery, but it will also last for a long time in a power outage. Under this setup mine lasted for around 1.5 hours.

Be sure to put the battery in a plastic case with a lid, as, if something were to go wrong on the battery you would want to contain the acid as much as possible. Also, this will prevent you from dropping something and shorting out the battery.

Step 8: A Word of Caution

I learned this the hard way.. it cost me a UPS, and nearly a fire.

The transformer in these UPS's are cheap. They are not designed to be run at 100% capacity for extended periods of time (such as what you will be capable of using this size battery) When I ran my UPS's at 300 watts for more than 30 minutes, the transformer melted through the case. When I pulled out my infrared thermometer it read nearly 400 degrees F!!

I had to redesign my system. I chose two UPS's that were rated at 600 watts each, but used 24 volts (2 twelve volt batteries in series). Under my new setup, I have over four hours of backup capacity as I have two car batteries.

Comments

author
CharchitR (author)2017-06-16

Sir! I want my UPS to work as a surge protection only as i have installed a 220AH battery in my house paired with a 700VA inverter i have a small HTPC with me but battery of my UPS died now i don't want the battery of UPS to charge when power goes off as then it will be charging by my inverter which then will increase the load
Help!

author
Harold IanT (author)2017-06-05

In Connection to this. I have this 12V/20A Power Supply Distribution Box for CCTV System with UPS feature. It Says use 12V Lead Acid Battery. but no specific value.
My question is? is it OK to use Lead Acid Car Battery just like in your post?
My battery is Panasonic NS40L 34b19L 12 V 32AH



http://www.ebay.ph/itm/122149335600?_trksid=p20603...

$_57.JPG
author
plankieee (author)2017-03-17

I would suggest an additional step in the procedure due the wide variety of batteries and UPS- measure the open circuit voltage to the cables/wires to the batteries (with batteries disconnected). Lead Acid (flooded) batteries (auto/marine) charged for a prolonged period (weeks/months) with a voltage above 13.2 for a 12 volt battery/system (26.4 volts for two 12 Volt batteries in series) typically at the will shorten the life of the flooded lead acid batteries and can cause out gassing. .

I have a discontinued Cyberpower UPS 950 Watt (8 minutes) (it does not have a LED display it is about ten years old), OpenCircuit voltage is 27.6 volts with two qty OEM gel 12 Volt 24?Hr batteries. Two newer Cyberpower UPS models with LED displays have a 28 Volt open circuit voltage. The charging circuitry for the batteries seem to be trickle chargers for all three UPS --- they NEVER turn off. This is not good for a flooded lead acid battery. (a) never turning off, and b) the voltage being above 26.4 volts (or 13.2 volts for each 12 Volt battery) This will shorten the life of a lead acid battery. Gel Batteries require a slightly higher float voltage. Auto (lead acid batteries) should be using float charger, the charging can turn off as needed.

Basically, three or cells in negative battery (connected in series) has a history of low water level - almost with out a doubt caused by the difference in voltage difference required between lead acid and gel batteries.

If one has this type of UPS (designed for gel batteries, trickle charging above 26.4 volts and one puts two lead acid auto in series) and desires a long trouble free long life of the auto/marine batteries. The UPS battery trickle charging circuit needs to be disabled, if float charger, the voltage of charging needs to be adjusted, if not adjustable, disabled. Then a float charger designed and installed, if the charging circuit of the UPS was disabled, if one desires a long-life trouble free design.

In so doing, note - chassis ground(S) are connected to battery ground.

author
abdo421997 (author)2017-02-16

I made it!!!
I also put in two cooling fans (one sucks in and the other blows out air)
I ran it for hours (although only a 120 watt laptop)
It was as cold as in idle
Before it heated up alot even when used for 10 minutes
I am using a seperate charger (20AH) to charge my 100AH flooded battery (I know this is not ideal but I change one each year already so it doesn't matter, the cheaper the better )
And it is working like a charm

20170216_224940.jpg
author
RamK4 (author)abdo4219972017-02-23

how long can you run your pc now? how many hours?

author
AbdoS22 (author)RamK42017-03-06

It's a 90 watt laptop
I run it till the electricity comes back again
4 hours
Didn't try more because didn't have a power outage more than 4 hours

author
brantgoose (author)2016-04-02

Would like to see with li-ion batteries how to make the battery with inverter just turn on when the power goes out.

author
EpbentenH (author)brantgoose2017-02-09

DO NOT use lithium ion battery's the CANNOT handle the load and stress that a ups would put on them. your better of with lead acid the last a lot longer when left to sit

author
Tranzfusion (author)2014-04-04

I've got an old UPS - just a 750va which contained a 12V 7a/h battery.

I live in a rural town in Cambodia, so obtaining a replacement battery is impossible.

I bought a small motorcycle battery which is 12V 5 a/h and sealed.

Are these safe to use in the current UPS?

Power only goes off a few seconds at a time - and the ups will only power low voltage devices (eg. router) - so actual current draw will be low.

As its a smaller battery (5 a/h vs original 7/ah) - i shouldn't have any issues of the invertor overheating?

Only thing i'm not sure off is the charging - will the current UPS know when the motorcycle battery is fully charged?

And of course i'll need to keep the ups inside but in a more open area?

author
MikeB574 (author)Tranzfusion2017-01-28

It depends. Motorcycles uses AGM batteries. They are different from what shown on the pictures above. See if your battery has AGM on it. Do not use it if has it. There is something special in terms of charging AGM, my motorcycle battery is charged with special charger. UPS charging circuit is to maintain classic way for sealed led batteries.

author
EpbentenH (author)MikeB5742017-02-09

depends if you have a decent ups

power shield have ups's that use AGM batteries entirely because they last longer

but your best of not using them because of overcharge caused by the ups not being able to sense the charge of the battery (only really happens in cheap models)

author

a late response, but you can use a very simple and cheap "UPS" for Router, modem, swtich, cctv, alarm, led light. etc. and last much longer without the lost in conversion DC to 120v AC(router adapter) to 12v DC (router adapter) again,

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/12V-15A-180W-DC-po...

or another special for router-modem with a 18650 lithium battery inside (interchangable) in a wallwart format :

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/5V2A-AC-to-DC-Mini...

this units supply 12v direct.

have a nice day!

author
yourdreamz (author)Tranzfusion2014-04-10

Hi Trazfusion,

It is ok to use a higher AH battery in place of rated battery for UPS, but lower AH battery should not be used with it as the Charge Current in UPS is set according to the rated battery and that could overheat and damage the lower AH battery.

author
zardiw (author)yourdreamz2014-08-16

Why in the world would anybody use a LOWER AH battery?.....lmao.........z

author
tperraut (author)zardiw2016-01-12

Because he/she lives in Cambodia and explained that's the only batteries he/she can get or can be affordable. Basically lots of motorcycles, scooters... in Asia, so getting standard batteries for them is easy.
In this case, the UPS will not last as long. Also that's a mismatch of batteries, so not good for the life of the battery. But as long as you pay close attention to the battery, top off the water (using distilled water only) as needed, it will "work".

author
whisto (author)2016-12-12

Could someone help me to understand if the following need could be possible?

I need 100 watt device to last for 7 hours.

Can it be made with ups and batteries or any other way??

Thanks in advance

author
fridelain (author)2016-08-04

FIRST unplug devices, then the UPS.

Do NOT run the UPS unearthed. Make sure the socket you are plugging the UPS on is properly earthed.

author
richfiddler11 (author)2016-06-17

Nice instructable, but in the statement "P / V = I 500 watts / 120 volts = 4.16 ampere hours (at 120 volts)" you're actually solving for Amps, *not* amp-hours. The two are *extremely* different -- Ampere is the unit of electrical current flow and Amp-hours is a measure of battery capacity. This may seem like a picky detail to some, but getting your units wrong can mean the difference between something working well vs having it catch on fire/blow up.

author
Djhans73 (author)2016-03-08

I have an APC 650 VA 410W Max UPS the battery is a 12V 12Ah. The output of the charger is 12 V 11Ah. I also have an EverStart power sport battery ES-T16L and there are no indications of the output except it is 12 volt. I want to use this battery for the UPS. The battery is sold by Walmart and made by Johnson Controls Battery Group, INC. , Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Do you think this is feasible?

author
anand ranjith kannan (author)2015-11-26

can i use lithium ferrous phosphate batteries??? if i add a good charging and discharging circuit with it.....does is replaces lead acids.......?

author

do not charge that kind of battery using the UPS circuit. So no, do not do that. Instead, buy a proper charger for your batteries, and use a power inverter (anyone powerful enough will do). What you will miss is a way to switch to battery power as soon as the power is out. You could have a cheap UPS for that, they now come with USB cable, and you can configure your operating system to shutdown when the UPS tells the battery is low.
So
1) power goes out
2) UPS automatically keep the PC running
3) within a few minutes, the UPS battery is low, so it tells the PC (through its USB connection) to shutdown.
4) PC Shuts down properly. (so the files are not corrupted...)
5) you go to your battery bank, connect the inverter and turn it on
6) you power what matters for you according to the batteries size/capacity and inverter size/capacity. It might be your fridge and your freezer ($ in food in them) more than your PC. Assume it's PC you need
7) plug the PC to the extension cord that is connected to the inverter.
8) enjoy
9) monitor when the battery will be low. The inverter might turn itself off without warning and you might corrupt some files on the PC if the power goes off.
10) low power, shutdown the PC properly. Turn it off.
11) recharge the batteries and go to step 5, or the power is back on and you just recharge the batteries

on a regular basis (every month is good), take care / check your batteries

Keep in mind that you can likely do without a full PC. If you have a laptop around, it will do much better on batteries, and has its own that will last a few hours already. With no mess... Also if you need internet access, you likely need to power more equipment (cable modem or DLS modem, maybe wifi router), and hope your internet service still works during the outage. (use your cell phone if/while it works for internet access as needed).

Then again, a cell phone and a small battery pack is likely a more efficient way to conduct business when you have no power. They are portable and made to run on batteries :-)

Make sure to not spend more $ than it's really worth to you.

Another great option (to keep PC, fridge, freezer and a few low power lights and USB battery chargers going) is a good set of battery jump cables, a car with gas in its tank, and the inverter I mentioned above. Park the car outside of the home (NEVER run inside a garage, even with the garage door fully opened), connect the jumper cables to the inverter at one end and to the car battery (+) and engine mount (-) . Idle the car. Turn off AC/ventilation, lights, radio... Make sure you lock it and have the keys to get in later on. Enjoy power for many hours, without the need to buy a generator...

author

Thank you so much..!......i dont have much load given on a daily basis.....anyway thanx for that last tip......

author
zardiw (author)2014-08-16

They make little 'maintenance' chargers that will keep a battery topped off and also will charge them when they go below max. They are totally automatic and can be left hooked up to the battery.

This will solve any problem about the UPS charger getting overworked on charging a larger battery.

Also, I would use Deep Cycle batteries.

z

author
tperraut (author)zardiw2016-01-12

The UPS charging circuit is still on. It will take some electronic skills outside of many reading this article (given the batteries questions, this is not derogatory) to ensure that the UPS will not charge the batteries, and only the battery charger will do it.
At some point, this just becomes "not the right tool for the job"

author
jari777 made it! (author)2015-10-30

hello i have hantol hu2000 can i convert with big cars battery but i don't no one or two battery i need?

fc29945548f573b991a150130e071fd78a3338f416c857602536186a9914b50d.jpg92aea54fbd84ac8b3ea2853152e3c534f76e7bdc7959dc777196b7177cb01f48.jpg
author
tperraut (author)jari7772016-01-12

How long does it last today? And can you do without more time from a traditional UPS?

author
Ozilary (author)2015-11-10

Hi, I have a 2000va ups but the batteries only last a few minustes when there is power outage, can I use 2 12volt, 100AH and will the ups b able to charge the batteries full and how long can it possibly last?

author
tperraut (author)Ozilary2016-01-12

what's your load? and can you connect less things on the UPS? For instance, your printer should not be connected to it (to the battery powered plugs on it, but connect all to the other plugs on the UPS that will protect from power surges). Same for your powered speakers if you have some (and so forth).
See my comments above: car batteries are not the right batteries for that. also could you save the work you really need to a USB stick and use a cheap < $300 laptop maybe during an outage? Compared to batteries + UPS + batteries Charger + cables... it all adds up.

author
tperraut (author)2016-01-12

A few comments many years after you made this:

- kudos on using fuses.

- the charger in the UPS will attempt to charge the battery as if it was a Gel cell lead acid battery. That's close but not the same as your flooded lead acid car battery. Basically it will not just take long to charge it, it can also damage and short its life.
- a car battery is not made to be discharged deeply. You would be better with some deep discharge battery (like 2x 6V Golf cart batteries). Some Marine battery would be better than car battery although not as good as deep cycle batteries. Both types are cheap in very big supermarkets / warehouses.

- you have some flooded battery (in a case, that's very good) inside your home. That's not ideal. You need to check the water level, especially with the UPS charger that will act as a float charger, but also possibly trying to overcharge, so evaporating the water faster. Box or not, you want to make sure the battery will not be moved to its side to keep the acid inside. A more expensive like a Optxxx yellow top AGM battery would not have the dangers of leaking acid, so overall safer inside a home.

- you might want to have some kind of 12V fan, possibly connected to the computer, and bowing some fresh air across the UPS electronics, as you already found out that customer-grade UPS are not made to run long time. Commercial UPS (to be used with servers...) are more expensive, but can run a long time. If you find some used one for free or super cheap, that can be worth it.

- batteries sizing. If say you want 50Amps for 1 hour, you cannot use a 50Amps hour battery, as it would be rated to do something more like 5 amps for 10 hours. The higher the amps you need, the lower the real capacity of the battery. You also do not want to over discharge a battery, so even with a deep cycle battery, plan on 80% discharge maximum. Your UPS might stop at the right voltage, or not. i.e. it might be set to stop sooner to not damage the battery it came up with. Check online for proper battery sizing, and real amps you can expect. Battery manufacturers sites have good info usually.

author
tperraut (author)2016-01-12

A few comments many years after you made this:

- kudos on using fuses.

- the charger in the UPS will attempt to charge the battery as if it was a Gel cell lead acid battery. That's close but not the same as your flooded lead acid car battery. Basically it will not just take long to charge it, it can also damage and short its life.
- a car battery is not made to be discharged deeply. You would be better with some deep discharge battery (like 2x 6V Golf cart batteries). Some Marine battery would be better than car battery although not as good as deep cycle batteries. Both types are cheap in very big supermarkets / warehouses.

- you have some flooded battery (in a case, that's very good) inside your home. That's not ideal. You need to check the water level, especially with the UPS charger that will act as a float charger, but also possibly trying to overcharge, so evaporating the water faster. Box or not, you want to make sure the battery will not be moved to its side to keep the acid inside. A more expensive like a Optxxx yellow top AGM battery would not have the dangers of leaking acid, so overall safer inside a home.

- you might want to have some kind of 12V fan, possibly connected to the computer, and bowing some fresh air across the UPS electronics, as you already found out that customer-grade UPS are not made to run long time. Commercial UPS (to be used with servers...) are more expensive, but can run a long time. If you find some used one for free or super cheap, that can be worth it.

- batteries sizing. If say you want 50Amps for 1 hour, you cannot use a 50Amps hour battery, as it would be rated to do something more like 5 amps for 10 hours. The higher the amps you need, the lower the real capacity of the battery. You also do not want to over discharge a battery, so even with a deep cycle battery, plan on 80% discharge maximum. Your UPS might stop at the right voltage, or not. i.e. it might be set to stop sooner to not damage the battery it came up with. Check online for proper battery sizing, and real amps you can expect. Battery manufacturers sites have good info usually.

author
zardiw (author)2014-08-16

All this talk about H2 buildup is BS. There's already H2 in the air.....and the minimal amount that is generated when this low power charging occurs isn't going to generate enough H2 to matter, unless you have this system in a small box or something.........

author
RedstoneM (author)zardiw2015-10-26

There is not much H2 in the air, even less than CO2 in the air.

author
bubba007 (author)2008-11-05

Play it safe:
Remember charging a car battery indoors can release harmful (toxic) gas fumes. Be careful where you put the batteries

author
RedstoneM (author)bubba0072015-10-26

Use VRLA batteries then.

author
rhemus (author)bubba0072015-08-15

Hydrogen gas is not toxic. But it does displace oxygen and it is highly flammable. This is the gas that is released from chemical reaction of charging a lead acid battery. As long as you have decent ventilation around a lead acid battery this shouldn't be a problem.

author
ReCreate (author)bubba0072009-03-02

it releases hydrogen and oxygen,which is what is already in the air,Along with CO2 of course

author
ben.mcfadden (author)ReCreate2009-03-02

True, but if the hydrogen builds up, as is possible, it could be an explosive danger.

author
ReCreate (author)ben.mcfadden2009-03-03

i don't think it will produce enough hydrogen to ...cause an explosion

author
ben.mcfadden (author)ReCreate2009-03-03

Theoretically, you're absolutely right. But I'm not going to take the blame if something goes wrong. :-)

author
ReCreate (author)ben.mcfadden2009-03-03

go ahead,sue me if you die of an explosion...did i say that?

author
ReCreate (author)ReCreate2009-03-03

just as long as you don't have lead acid battery bank of ten batteries or so,then the bet is off!

author
scook (author)ReCreate2009-09-18

Haha, I'm pretty sure they have about 25 Lead Acid batteries for power in the television series "The Colony" .

author
ReCreate (author)scook2009-09-18

if it is outdoors, Then the problem is solved...

author
Spokehedz (author)ben.mcfadden2009-08-29

Hydrogen is lighter than 'Air' so it will float up and out of the way of the hot things.

Oxygen is only explosive in high concentrations, which is to say it has to be very pure to do so. Chances are, it is not going to have the correct mix for it to be combustible at any level that you could create with just 2 batteries.

Combined with the fact that it only produces these gases when it is charging and not discharging....... You should be pretty safe. Just don't keep it all contained in a super enclosed space and you should be fine.

author
JacobM23 (author)2015-08-30

Ben, I understand that you have wired two 12V batteries in series to produce 24V, and then drawing the 24V from two UPSs which each have approximately evenly distributed loads. I have two concerns.

First, this still lacks redundancy in the sense that both batteries are in series with each other, so the entire power system fails if either battery fails. Cost permitting, would I be correct in saying a 4 battery setup would be superior? Two parallel sets of two batteries in series would provide this redundancy, as well as provide double the power reservoir capacity under normal operating conditions, correct?

Second, I am concerned about overloading the UPSs with double the expected power draw. If one of them were to fail, could the other take on the full power draw depending on which specific component failed? Or, instead would the failed UPS and all devices connected always power down and effectively not play an active role in the circuit? In the former situation, this could cause a fire as forewarned in the original instructable. In the latter, perhaps this could be a safe solution to keep under the same roof as my family. I appreciate your input, thank you.

author
dejvv (author)2015-08-12

Hi, I have 2x deep cycle marine batteries 12v 90ah, will this ups be able to charge them? please click on the link for the datasheet

http://www.powerwalker.com/datasheet/Line-Interactive/PowerWalker%20VI%201000%20LCD.pdf

author
AllenP5 (author)2015-08-11

author
ErnnieS (author)2014-12-25

i think you should buy the 600 watts Ups for the comfort on handling it.. it is easy right? rather than buying two UPs

maintenance free battery is much better...

author
questlima. (author)2014-12-08

hi there a gr8 tut i am going to have lots of fun building one btw i wanted to know if it is possible to connect two computer ups and make it act like one ups, i know it can be done with an inverter, but not sure with the ups, if it is possible then can you do a tut on how to wire two PC ups thank you

author
ladyscrubber (author)2013-03-11

Great plan only I use gel cell batteries so have no issues with adding water or any other thing. Maintenance free only way to go. Do you have any issues with over charge on the battery? My UPS doesn't like any battery voltage above 13 volts but yet puts out 13.5 to charge the battery. My battery levels off at 13.4 volts and the UPS when turned on goes into fault mode and blinks red light and beeps. Once I lower the voltage at the battery down to 13 volts or less then all is good. Any ideas??

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