Power Protection for the home lab

My new HomeLab Datacenter UPS

UPS beside of my Mustang for comparison

One of the things I’ve been up to lately is getting my home lab (or my home datacenter as my co-workers like to call it) operational for doing some Zerto testing. During that process, I found that I had nowhere near the UPS capacity that I really needed.

So with a bit of luck and proper timing, I was able to pick up a used APC Symmetra LX UPS. It’s pretty big but is stupid powerful. Here is a pic beside of my Cobra for comparison.

It was in use at a small datacenter that was being dismantled, so I was able to get it at an amazing price. However, I was told that it would, probably, need some new batteries.

Fast forward a month, and I have had two of the 4 battery modules fail on me. But the other two are still running fine. My plans are to replace the 12v 9Ah batteries inside of the modules as budget allows, but even with only two modules I’m still getting over 30 minutes of runtime.


Lab power protection


Did I mention that this is a 16kVA model? Yes, it is WAY overkill.

In fact, I wanted to see what 16kVA really is capable of…. so I turned everything in my lab on after I had the UPS properly wired up… the result was a 20% load on the UPS.

To say I have some spare capacity is an understatement 🙂 So much so, that I might actually pull a couple of the power modules out of it and bring it down to 8kVA.

Wiring it up

For most, just thinking about wiring this thing up would have been a nightmare. Luckily I know enough about wiring at electricity to have no fear.

It also helps that my home lab is in the garage, right in front of my home fuse panel. All that was left to do was make a trip to Menards for some wire. The recommended breaker for this UPS in its 16kVA configuration is 100Amp, most homes have a 200Amp Main breaker for comparison. However, knowing that the load I would have on it was nowhere near what the UPS is capable of I was able to use a 60Amp breaker that was already in my panel (it was still installed for an old hot tub that the previous owner had).

60Amps * 240v = 14.4kVA  or about 14,000 watts.

My lab has never spiked above 4000 watts so we will be more than good!

Power distribution

At this point my UPS was up and running, batteries were charging, life was good! but my lab was currently all powered off of a couple of 120v circuits, and all my PDU’s were 120v.

Luckily, I have a pretty awesome ebay connection about an hour from my house. Check him out, he has pretty awesome prices, with the added bonus that I can just drive over and pickup what I need. So, anyhow, he had 240v power strips… I paid $10bucks for one… you can’t beat that! (I’ll have to get a picture of it when I get home)

The only other thing I bought was a distribution module for the UPS, its basically a piece of metal with breakers and plugs on it so that you don’t have to hardwire your outputs. They are pretty cheap on ebay, I paid $25.00 shipped.

APC power distribution module

So after getting the power module, I have an L14-30 and two L5-20 receptacles. The PDU plugs right into the L14-30, and I had a PDU t hat was L5-20 (120v) which I keep in use for things like Ubiquiti power supplies, my laptop, monitor etc. But everything else is 240v now with the help of some C13 to C14 cables.

The plan is coming together

When I wrote my Power 101 for the IT Guy article, I knew converting my lab over to 240v was the end goal in terms of power, but finding a cost-effective UPS was pretty hard. Initially, I really wanted a Liebert Nfinity but could just never find one at “lab” prices, so when this APC was available for a price that my wife wouldn’t kill me over… it was a no brainer. I no longer have to worry about if a circuit is over loaded… or if a cord is getting hot… or anything else electrical in the lab… it’s just plug and play!

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