Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I wonder what's wrong with this APC BE500U-CN Back-UPS ES 500?

I saw Cinnamon claiming that the UPS is empty (0%), which made me assume there was some bug in Linux. It even hibernated the PC even though AC power wasn't interrupted, which is definitely a bug. Then I double-checked via apcupsd in Linux, and then in Windows, with PowerChute Personal Edition 3.0.2 and CPUID HWMonitor 1.20.0. The UPS was definitely claiming it was empty. However, PowerChute said it was operating normally and charging.

HWMonitor provides the most interesting information. It constantly updates the battery voltage and levels, and keeps minimum and maximum values..The voltage was fluctuating from below 12 to above 13. That does not seem like proper charging. When I took the battery out, it was around 12.6. My first thought was that there was a bad capacitor causing excessive ripple and giving bad readings. This led me to open up the UPS:

I saw high ripple at the leftmost capacitor, near the red wiring fault light and the heat sinks. After replacing that 220µF 50V capacitor, ripple went down from 5V to 3V. I'm not sure that this helped though. When it started charging, HWMonitor reported voltage steadily rising toward 13.50V. It stayed stable for a while. Then it fluctuated going down to 11.54V even. Now, the voltage is stable again, around 13.26V, and percentage is rising.

The stability makes me think the fluctuations were the firmware interrupting charging and doing some discharge tests. Surely 11.54V is too low though. Maybe the battery is bad and the firmware isn't smart enough to report that. I saw it quickly go below 12V with a car headlight, so it probably is worn out.

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