A UPS that can take the heat

Falcon's SSG withstands high temperatures and has effective management features

SSG Industrial Grade 1.5KVA UPS

Performance: A-

Functionality: A+

Ease of use: A

Value: B+

Price: $1,390

Reviewer's comments: Able to withstand heat that would kill normal batteries, the SSG 1.5kVA uninterruptible power source can protect servers and other important equipment even in an industrial setting.

Contact:

Falcon Electric

(800) 842-6940

www.falconups.com

Rugged unit: The SSG 1.5kVA UPS will operate under less-than-ideal conditions, but has some confusing features.

Uninterruptible power sources come in many forms, from stand-alone units to rackmounts and those designed to go into the back of a vehicle. Like the vehicle-mounted ones, the SSG 1.5kVA UPS from Falcon Electric is designed to withstand less-than-ideal conditions.

The SSG was able to supply power to two servers and a monitor ' about half the rated capacity for the unit ' for 11 minutes. That's about right, given the estimated power supply of eight minutes at full load.

The SSG is designed for an industrial environment where heat and humidity can mean doom for most battery backup systems. In one phase of our testing, we ran several tripped backups in a 110-degree Fahrenheit environment. The SSG performed exactly the same at that temperature ' achieved by creating a microenvironment and leaving the unit there for several hours ' as it did at 68 degrees, the lab's normal ambient temperature.

The one caveat is that the battery is only guaranteed for a year, but it is rated to work at 131 degrees for that long. That temperature is dangerous for humans, so we doubt many people will be spending much time with units under those conditions. Even the Iraqi desert is not that hot, although some factory floors, or ceilings, might approach such a temperature.

Should the battery need to be replaced, it is hot-swappable, a quick process likely to be appreciated by any human stuck in a 130-degree environment.

[IMGCAP(1)]Tolerance of high temperatures is certainly the whiz-bang factor of the SSG, but that's not the entire story. The SSG has one of the most impressive Web interfaces we've seen on a UPS. It even has Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol enabled, so connecting it to your network involves simply plugging in a cable.

When you go into the Web interface, you will see everything: the UPS' temperature in Celsius, current load on the batteries, remaining battery capacity, input frequency in Hertz and the next scheduled on or off times. You can also manage everything from the Web interface. And because it has two processors, the SSG is highly responsive to commands. The first processor performs system functions, the second responds to user commands. Neither processor is extremely fast, which would sap the battery. But given the fact that each is dedicated to a single set of functions, they work well, and all commands are executed quickly.

For example, each power plug can be assigned a different battery routine, depending on the device connected to it. When the main AC power goes out, the UPS can lose power immediately, run continuously until the battery expires, or run until the battery gets low and then cut the power, depending on the routine you've selected. This way, things such as monitors or printers ' peripherals that are not mission-critical ' won't pull power away from essential devices.

The Web interface for the SSG is good, but the front panel is a little strange. Artsy pictures ' a big swirl surrounding a weightlifter, a fuel pump, a battery icon, a power plug, a fan blade and something that looks like a flying bra ' represent different facets of the product. They are not easy to interpret: At one point, we had three lab technicians standing around arguing about what the symbols meant. This seems odd for a device destined for the factory floor. If you play with three front buttons, though, you can figure out how to show percentages for each important element, such as remaining battery charge, and leave the Picasso stuff for the museum.

The SSG is a bit more than a battery backup device. It also scrubs the power, which can lead to a longer life for sensitive equipment that craves clean power. All AC power is regenerated by the unit, so it looked like a pure sine wave on our oscilloscope.

The government price of $1,390 is reasonable considering the extra features and heat-resistant nature of the device. However, for that price, we would like to have seen more battery runtime. There are less-rugged devices that would provide power longer ' but they can't take heat the way the SSG can.

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