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Old 01-10-2011, 05:07 AM   #1
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


I just finished pulling all the insulation out of my attic and, among other things, ran wire for soffit lights/plugs before blowing insulation back in. I plan to put in LED lights (hopefully when the price doesn't warrant a free tube of vaseline), keeping power consumption low. Is there a way to put an in-line UPS on the circuit feeding these lights? It seems ghetto and certainly against code to use an extension cord style 3 prong plug on the nmd wire into the back of a standard computer UPS.

All Google results are about an 'online' style UPS, which is also nice... But not what I'm looking for. Anyone have any suggestions for a hardwired single circuit battery backup solution?

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Old 01-10-2011, 06:28 AM   #2
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Yes there are, but they are very expensive solutions. People have made UPS systems that mirror what you would see in a data center, but those take up a large amount of space, because of the battery banks.

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Old 01-10-2011, 07:15 AM   #3
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Though I do have the room, I don't need something overly large due to the low wattage of the LED lights.

I had previously considered putting in a whole house short term battery backup, but decided a generator and a few UPS units would suit my situation better.

I have taken an old UPS unit apart and could easily hardwire it myself, I just figured there must be a light duty version of a whole house backup that would provide a more elegant solution.
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Old 01-10-2011, 07:44 AM   #4
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


If you're planning on having a backup generator why do you need a UPS for just lights as well?

You're in a tough spot because any Emergency Lighting system (which is what you're talking about I think) are designed for commercial and have VERY specific requirements about how quickly they turn on, amount of powered stored etc. As such these units are fairly expensive.

I would think your best bet would be to look for single fixture battery backup units. That will require knowing what type of lamp you want to use however.

http://www.bodine.com/

The long and short of it...
1. What type of lamps?
2. What is the application? (whole house? just one or two a room? Whole room? Timespan they'll be on etc.)
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Old 01-10-2011, 07:50 AM   #5
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


You wire the circuit like normal. Instead of running the line back to the panel you run it the UPS location. Then install an inlet. This will allow you to plug the UPS into the inlet and power the circuit.

here is an example of an inlet.

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Old 01-10-2011, 08:21 AM   #6
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


This would be pretty close to a widow maker sorta setup... say you fall while the lights are unplugged and touch that outlet.. BZZZZ. Not really comfortable telling someone to do anything like that.

Also what happens if there is a problem with that setup and an electrical fire starts... kill the breaker... oh snap the UPS system is still chuggin current into the fire!

If he is putting this is an attic then the cord he would plug into the UPS to the lights would be in direct violation of the NEC.

Now... if the UPS has a junction box built in and he can be hard wire the UPS to the lights using romex then that works just fine.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:25 AM   #7
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Quote:
Originally Posted by DownRiverGuy View Post
If you're planning on having a backup generator why do you need a UPS for just lights as well?

You're in a tough spot because any Emergency Lighting system (which is what you're talking about I think) are designed for commercial and have VERY specific requirements about how quickly they turn on, amount of powered stored etc. As such these units are fairly expensive.

I would think your best bet would be to look for single fixture battery backup units. That will require knowing what type of lamp you want to use however.

http://www.bodine.com/

The long and short of it...
1. What type of lamps?
2. What is the application? (whole house? just one or two a room? Whole room? Timespan they'll be on etc.)
I am currently leaning towards a portable generator setup ran into my panel through an interlock. I work shift work and can't see my wife wrestling the generator out and hooking it up, especially not in the winter. The exterior soffit lights will be on all the time for aesthetics/security and not just emergency, I would like them to stay on for peace of mind for my family in the event I'm not home during a power outage.

If there is no product for what I am looking for I may consider running a small battery bank and running a few circuits around the house for lights/computers/phones/etc. The only downside is this limits flexibility for moving items around. Thank you for your help. I hope this post clears up some questions about my situation.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:29 AM   #8
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
You wire the circuit like normal. Instead of running the line back to the panel you run it the UPS location. Then install an inlet. This will allow you to plug the UPS into the inlet and power the circuit.
If I understand what you're saying correctly and the just is to back-feed the circuit like some have their gensets hooked up, I'm not comfortable with that with a young family. Thanks for the feedback though.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:33 AM   #9
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
You wire the circuit like normal. Instead of running the line back to the panel you run it the UPS location. Then install an inlet. This will allow you to plug the UPS into the inlet and power the circuit.

here is an example of an inlet.

Reading it over again, I believe I misunderstood the first time. No part of the system would be hot that shouldn't be hot, the exterior lights would have no direct connection to the panel, simply a single input like the one in the picture and an extension cord from the UPS to the inlet. While that works, I don't know that its much more polished then putting a 3-prong plug directly on the NMD wire and plugging it into the UPS.
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Old 01-10-2011, 08:37 AM   #10
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


Ok that makes more sense then.

That would be the way to go I think.

Get a nice size UPS and have that feed one 20A circuit and offshoot however many branches you need.

Careful on sizing it thou! Any continous load (3hr or more) must be rated at 125%!
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:18 AM   #11
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


If you're running a UPS for more than 3 hours, you have a monster UPS. Most provide less than 30 mins run-time. You could use a smaller unit, say 1000kVA, available for a couple hundred hard-earned bucks, but why have a UPS on exterior lights? They can safely drop until the emergency generator kicks in. UPSes are generally used only for loads that have to stay up during brief outages. (Brief outage = utility blips or the interval between a major outage and the generator coming on line.) Things like computer systems, high-end AV systems, etc.

Also, an online UPS is a unit in which the inverter is always running (i.e., the utility feeds a rectifier which runs a float charge on the batteries which feed the inverter which feeds the load.) These types are rather expensive and way over-rated for something like lighting. A smaller standby type unit would probably be okay, but make sure your LED lights can handle the stepped sine wave voltage the cheaper units put out...
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:59 AM   #12
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


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Originally Posted by slickwilliam View Post
If you're running a UPS for more than 3 hours, you have a monster UPS. Most provide less than 30 mins run-time. You could use a smaller unit, say 1000kVA, available for a couple hundred hard-earned bucks, but why have a UPS on exterior lights? They can safely drop until the emergency generator kicks in. UPSes are generally used only for loads that have to stay up during brief outages. (Brief outage = utility blips or the interval between a major outage and the generator coming on line.) Things like computer systems, high-end AV systems, etc.

Also, an online UPS is a unit in which the inverter is always running (i.e., the utility feeds a rectifier which runs a float charge on the batteries which feed the inverter which feeds the load.) These types are rather expensive and way over-rated for something like lighting. A smaller standby type unit would probably be okay, but make sure your LED lights can handle the stepped sine wave voltage the cheaper units put out...
I'm not worried about the safety of the lights when losing power, more the piece of mind of the wife being home without power while I'm not. Having it stay lit up till I could get home would provide a very high WAF. If I could find a 1000kVA unit for a could hundred bucks I'd be a very happy guy, haha. I believe you meant 1000VA. I do plan on using a large online UPS for my audio rack/home automation/etc. While I could hook the lights to that unit the online UPS (as you stated) is more then what's necessary for lights, and I thought there would be a more permanent solution out there.

As stated before, the generator is not likely to be always ready on an automatic transfer switch, which is why something 'non-critical' such as exterior lighting would be on a UPS. Also, good info for the Sine wave, I had read that and took note of it, but would have no doubt forgot when it came time to make a purchase. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:24 AM   #13
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Is there such a thing as an ' in-line' UPS system?


You can't put a plug on NM cable. That would not be code compliant.
The setup I described has no conenction to the grid. The inlet has no power on it. It receives power only from the UPS. If there was a problem with the UPS the cord could be plugged into any nearby receptacle.

Have you considered solar lighting. Charge during the day and run on battery at night. More batteries = more lights or longer run time. You could have some of both, solar and line voltage.

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Last edited by joed; 01-10-2011 at 10:26 AM.
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