The Inverter Guys

Power is unreliable here. I don’t mean that it drops once every couple of months unreliable, but that it drops daily – or multiple times daily – unreliable. Powerchute says that I’ve lost power 15 times in the past 8 days. Today alone, the power has been like a yo-yo; up and down seven times. And the weather has been nice. Let’s see what it does when it starts raining.

I had mentioned to the manager of the apartment one day that I needed to get a UPS. He told me that there is a phase transition when the generator kicks in (the apartment complex has a generator) and that a UPS can’t handle it. I need an inverter instead. Since “inverter” is the local term for “uninterruptable power supply”, he pretty much told me that a UPS can’t handle the phase change, so I need a UPS. He also offered to get me in touch with a power consultant who could help me. The consultant called a few hours later. He then recommended a fairly high end American Power Conversion (APC) SmartUps. What happened next was the polar opposite of the piano guys experience; and an experience in its own right.

A couple of hours after speaking with the consultant, an engineer from APC’s Bangalore office calls. He wants to verify my needs. No it is not a data center. No it is not a server; just a single workstation. No I don’t need a bazillion hours of runtime, I’ve got a generator available. I just need to bridge the time between the mains dropping and the generator kicking in. Oh and it should not choke on any polarity changes. They then recommend a version of the SmartUps with an extendable battery pack. A short while later, another APC rep calls, then another. Finally, the original consultant calls to again review my requirement. Then something amazing happens. One of the APC people calls to tell me that the original spec is overkill. The BR 1100 model will do the job just fine and costs 1/3 as much. It just lacks some fancy server/datacenter features that it appears I don’t need. The original consultant calls later, confirms the changed recommendation and gets my email addy to send me a quote.

That was on a Friday. The following Monday, two techies show up at the apartment to install it. They actually showed up “on-time”, which in India is +/- 2 hours, as opposed to “perhaps today, perhaps tomorrow”. They did just click through the powerchute install, taking all the defaults. Then I had to translate from German to English (German copy of XP + Powerchute using all the defaults = German install of Powerchute) for them as they walked me through it. And they did not even want to be tipped (i.e. no “installation fee”), as real professionals would have it. Oddly, the UPS cost 1/5 of what the piano cost. I’d have expected the piano guys to be this way more than the UPS guys.

BTW – As an unsolicited plug, APC gives great service in Bangalore. 😉

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