Adding UPS to light circuit

Page 1 of 5  
My house lighting is all LED total wattage with all on is less than 100 wat ts. What I want to do is to be able to connect my light circuits to the UPS during emergencies like this ice storm that is coming up. Not worried ab out heat or the fridge, I have gas heater backup and not enough in the frid ge to worry about. Are there approved ways of connecting in the UPS that do es not involve adding a transfer switch. I was thinking about doing this wi th outlets and plugs so I could unplug the light circuit and plug it into t he UPS.
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 11 Feb 2014 19:43:37 -0800 (PST), JIMMIE

That is an interesting question. What kind of UPS are you talking about? The ones for computers only last for around an hour.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 2/11/2014 9:51 PM, Metspitzer wrote:

Jimmie, if you're using the UPS to insert 120V into that lighting circuit you MUST have a transfer switch or some sort of lockout otherwise there is no way you can insure that you're not backfeeding the grid. Then, too, if you're back feeding the grid with that UPS, you can expect it to run for about 1 millisecond before total discharge <g>
If you study just how a manual transfer switch (Reliant, etc) works and interfaces with your circuit breaker panel, you can probably - if you're really handy and adventuresome - cobble up a one or two circuit transfer switch. Just remember you want to break a connection before making a connection.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:20:50 -0600, Unquestionably Confused

Don't you think he could make a cord and plug disconnect for one circuit at a time?
Oliver Sungsnatch
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 11:28:12 PM UTC-5, Metspitzer wrote:

00 watts. What I want to do is to be able to connect my light circuits to t he UPS during emergencies like this ice storm that is coming up. Not worr ied about heat or the fridge, I have gas heater backup and not enough in th e fridge to worry about. Are there approved ways of connecting in the UPS t hat does not involve adding a transfer switch. I was thinking about doing t his with outlets and plugs so I could unplug the light circuit and plug it into the UPS.





And have it comply with code? No.
He could use one of the panel lockout kits together with an inlet. That's the cheapest, simplest way to do it, IMO.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

all on is less than 100 watts. What I want to do is to be able to connect my light circuits to the UPS during emergencies like this ice storm that is coming up. Not worried about heat or the fridge, I have gas heater backup and not enough in the fridge to worry about. Are there approved ways of connecting in the UPS that does not involve adding a transfer switch. I was thinking about doing this with outlets and plugs so I could unplug the light circuit and plug it into the UPS.

I'm not there to see it, but I'd guess it is possible to run the circuit to a power socket, and run the lights to a plug. You could unplug the lights, and put them into he socket on the UPS.
Of course, you can always run electric cords, and use portable table or floor lamps.
I agree, don't like to be in the dark. I've got a couple fuel lamps (wick or propane mantle) for power cuts. Which power cuts are usually in winter when it's cold.
--
.
Christopher A. Young
Learn about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 7:50:08 AM UTC-5, Stormin Mormon wrote:

If by circuit to a power socket you mean running a circuit from the UPS to a receptacle in the house, yes he can do that provided it complies with all the pertinent sections of the NEC. But I would suspect his first problem is that he's talking about a typical UPS for use with say a PC. It's not rated to be hardwired into anything.

You can't take existing light circuits in the house and put a cord on the end of them..

So far, that or a panel lockout kit or transfer switch togther with an inlet are the only code compliant methods I see. And as we all seem to agree, given the limited duration of a typical UPS, probably not worth the trouble.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:20:50 -0600, Unquestionably Confused

BS - a UPS is, by definition, an Transfer Switch BUT, the lighting circuit MUST be connected through the UPS at all times. Runs on AC Line power when available, and SWWITCHES to battery when required.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:20:50 -0600, Unquestionably Confused

I wonder why the OP has not revisited his thread?
A UPS, by definition is an isolated supply. In other words, it is constantly charging it's battery and the load is always running from AC power which is created by inverting the DC. When the house current is disconnected, the load continues to operate without interruption (hence the "U" in UPS).
I seriously doubt the total power consumed by the OP's whole house LED lighting is less than 100 watts. There is a fair amount of power wasted and dissipated as heat in the typical power supplies used for LED lighting. However, he could have a very small house.
Regardless, if the OP were to simply isolate the circuits which power the LEDs and have nothing else on those circuits, he could easily connect those circuits to the UPS on a permanent basis. A good 1500 - 2000 W UPS would provide reasonable protection for the LED power supply components and a fairly decent run time during a blackout.
Obviously, the above requires a reasonable understanding of residential wiring, NEC and local codes in order to accomplish this in a safe manner.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:53:28 AM UTC-5, Lab Lover wrote:

00 watts. What I want to do is to be able to connect my light circuits to t he UPS during emergencies like this ice storm that is coming up. Not worr ied about heat or the fridge, I have gas heater backup and not enough in th e fridge to worry about. Are there approved ways of connecting in the UPS t hat does not involve adding a transfer switch. I was thinking about doing t his with outlets and plugs so I could unplug the light circuit and plug it into the UPS.





ntly

is

load

True, but it doesn't have to be used that way. He could have a typical UPS that you'd use for say a PC, leave it plugged in and only connect it manually to lights when the power goes out. If he does that by plugging in some floor lamps, that's cool. But it sounded like he wants to put plugs on the end of his existing light circuits in the house, which isn't kosher.

ghting

I doubt he intends to power every LED light when the power is out, just some of them.
There is a fair amount of power wasted and dissipated

AFAIK, all that is included in the rating of the LED light. If you get a 9W, which is about equal to a 100W incandescent, it just uses 9Watts, no?
However, he could

LEDs

rcuits

cent

iring,

Yes, I agree. But from what he's written, I think the intention is to use a basic UPS that he already has and I doubt it's designed for being hardwired in.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 12 Feb 2014 07:05:26 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Under your description, then it would not be functioning as a UPS, but instead as a manual backup power supply.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>
<<True, but it doesn't have to be used that way. He could have a typical UPS that you'd use for say a PC, leave it plugged in and only connect it manually to lights when the power goes out. If he does that by plugging in some floor lamps, that's cool. But it sounded like he wants to put plugs on the end of his existing light circuits in the house, which isn't kosher.>>
Oy vay, is it NOT kosher. He asked if there was a way to do with that would not use a transfer switch AND would be "inspectable." No way, Jose. I got a whole bunch of Philips' "Stumble Lights" from a wholesaler a few years back. They are 4 LED units with motion and ambient light detectors that run off a 9VDC wall wart. To make them work during a power failure I removed the wall warts and now they are all connected to a deep discharge, 80Ah wheelchair battery. Because they draw so little power on standby they can (and have) run for days when the main power has failed.
Fortunately, the long wire runs back to the main battery drop the voltage almost exactly enough to run at 9VDC. As you walk through the house, even in a total power failure, the Stumble lights sense motion and light up the way. They've saved a lot of banged up knees and worse. Installed their precursor (strings of LED lights) after I forgot I had left a big, black stereo speaker on the floor and broke my toe on it one night.
<<Yes, I agree. But from what he's written, I think the intention is to use a basic UPS that he already has and I doubt it's designed for being hardwired in.>>
Agreed. While we can't be exactly sure of his intentions, the parameters he set (using existing gear, no transfer switch and being code-compliant) seem impossible to fulfill. At least not without an UPS the size of which I have never seen and not even then because it would still need a transfer switch.
You could easily wire in 12VDC LED lights throughout the house on low voltag e wiring for far less than such a massive UPS would cost. They would be far more efficient because there would be no losses from taking a battery, creating 110VAC from it and then powering LEDs that transform that AC back into DC. As someone else pointed out, backfeeding the grid like that would not be a good idea nor would the UPS last very long. Jimmie has a good idea, it just has to be implemented in parallel with the existing lighting, not using the existing lighting.
--
Bobby G.



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 12 Feb 2014 23:38:16 -0500, "Robert Green"

I cannot for the life of me figure out where the fixation on a transfer switch is coming from. A UPS by it's very DESIGN has a transfer switch built in. Standby UPS even have a spec for "transfer time" - the time it takes to switch from line to inverter - and it is IMPOSSIBLE for the inverter to backfeed the line. Absolutely, 100% positively impossible. BUT the UPS MUST be installed permanently into the circuit in order to function - and this requires a UPS designed for hardwire installation. There are LOTS of them available - but not at your typical WallMart or consumer electronics store.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thursday, February 13, 2014 1:24:32 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Because that's one code compliant way to use an existing garden variety UPS like it sounds the OP has, ie the type that has a plug, cord, and receptacles, like you'd use with a PC. With a transfer switch or a panel lockout kit and inlet, you can hook a portable generator up with an extension cord and it's code compliant. You can do the same with the UPS he's using for his PC. How practical it all is, and is it worth it, those are different questions.
A UPS by it's very DESIGN has a

Which by all indications in *not* the type he has and wants to use. If he wants to buy one that will be hardwired in, then yes, I agree he could find one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

Here's a scenario where the impossible becomes lethal. The power goes out. Someone reading this decides to create a male to male power cord. He plugs one end into his UPS's powered outlet and the other end into the outlet nearest his table lamp. The table lamp lights up! Just what the OP wants. Other LED lamps in the house will also probably light up until the fridge or the furnace kicks on or the utility power comes back on. Not sure what happens then.
I agree with your observation, generally - no one is likely to connect the UPS to the grid in a way that will cause energization of the grid outside the home. But never underestimate the ingenuity of someone trying to accomplish a goal. It's very simple to do with two extension cords,.a wire cutter and some wire nuts. In normal UPS operation, I agree, backfeeding is not very likely, but it's not impossible.
The method I described would actually work pretty well if all circuits but the ones powering the LED lamps were turned off at the breaker panel along with the main breaker. But if that main breaker is ON then 110VAC is likely traveling outside the home.
--
Bobby G.



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 14 Feb 2014 11:34:41 -0500, "Robert Green"

The UPS would shut down almost immediately, as the grid load would present WAY to much of a load (unless it was a HUGE UPS - but yes, it is impossible to limit stupidity.
Also, if the UPS is plugged into the grid, as soon as the grid comes up from geing connected to the ups, the ups would shut down - shutting down the grid , turning the UPS back on, making the light flicker. So EXTREMELY u nlikely - even in the "idiot" scenario you managed to come up with ........

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

"Idiot?" "Managed?"
All he has to do is throw the main breaker and your objections are nullified. I guess you missed the part where I said that. <sigh> Unfortunately I think 10 minutes after reading this JIMMIE can use his UPS exactly as he requested in his opening message. I say that because while it should work, there are much better ways to accomplish his goal. But probably no easier ones. But I'm no electrician so I concede there may be a flaw in my solution. If so, please enlighten me.
If he follows the steps I suggested in the original message he will accomplish the goal he stated (other than being "approved" - but he certainly can remove the evidence quickly because no rewiring is involved at all:
1) He opens the main breaker so there's no backfeeding the grid in any way.
2) He shuts off all BUT the breakers going to low wattage LED lamp circuits.
3) He makes up a short male-to-male AC cord of sufficient size to carry the UPS output current and connects the UPS output to one of the "still live" outlets on the circuits he hasn't shut off. These outlets should only serve low wattage LED lamps. Is there a reason why the juice the UPS is pumping into the still active LED-only circuits won't reach all the outlets on those circuits? Using the panel breakers, he's created a mini-grid of only LED circuits powered by UPS and isolated from the main utility service. No transfer switch needed.
4) When the power is restored (he'll have to watch the neighbor's house to know) then all he has to do is unplug the UPS from the male-to-male cable, reset all the breakers to "ON" and throw the main breaker back on when the power is restored.
Seems pretty simple compared to the suggestions involving massive rewires or parallel low voltage systems. Is it what I would do? I might try it the next time the power fails. Hell, I might try it just as a "proof of concept" the next time I have to shut down the panel. I have an LV motion sensor light network to light the floor and LED battery flashlights for "work area" lighting so I am covered, but it would be good to know if it works.
Here's the part I think you missed the first time around.

but

along

likely

While skilled electricians might never contemplate the solution I described, I've seen plenty of bootleg wiring that tells me anything is possible. This setup doesn't take rocket science to figure out. I suspect it would be very easy for anyone marginally familiar with electricity to conjur up. If the question's been posted here, I've found it often means *someone's* very likely already figured out a jury rigged answer. The hardest part for many would be cutting two extensions cords in half and wirenutting the male ends together to make a "transfer cord." (-:
Once he makes up the male-to-male power cord to go from the UPS outlet to a "still live" LED circuit outlet, all the outlets on those circuits will be energized from the UPS. I think it's actually relatively safe compared to some of the suggestions that have surfaced in this thread. And, with the cord already fabricated, he could switchover after a failure in about two minutes. Flip ten or fifteen breakers and plug the UPS into one of the few remaining ON circuit outlets via the transfer cable. No modification of the household wiring, no attaching plugs to Romex, no backfeeding outside the house.
It's high efficiency, too. Manual switches, no constantly on UPS - just one that's occasionally charged up to capacity and can wait offline to be connected. Might not even violate the NEC because nothing's permanently attached, but somehow, I doubt it! (-: Where are all our codemeisters?
--
Bobby G.



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Saturday, February 15, 2014 12:06:02 AM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:

The situation you described is exactly what a lot of people do with a generator. It's known as a suicide cord, for obvious reasons.

Not sure which ones you're referring to. The ones I saw were to either use a general purpose UPS with a transfer switch or lockout kit on the panel or to get a wired in UPS for the light circuits that's listed for that purpose. And to wire up 12V LEDs throughout the house, connected to a battery with a charger. None of those are unsafe if done properly.
As to which of those are practical, it sure sounded to me like he wanted to use a UPS he already has, not buy a new hard wired type, ie do something cheap and easy. So, I don't think the idea of buying a hardwired UPS rated for the purpose and permanently installing it is what he had in mind. Wiring up LEDs throughout the house doesn't sound too easy or practical to me either. Not compared to buying a few of those plug-in LED flashlights that sit in a charging cradle. You can use them as a flashlight and if the power goes out when they are in the cradle, they come on. Then you go get your LED lantern, or plug an LED floor lamp into your UPS.
And, with the

It doesn't violate the code when it's just sitting there. But it sure does when you plug it in. I don't see the backfeeding the grid with a UPS to be a great safety risk to linemen. He has a point there. The typical UPS you'd use for say a PC, isn't likely to backfeed the grid for long enough for something to happen to a lineman. The greater risks I see are:
1 - The suicide cord has energized male prongs when the other end is plugged into the UPS. Easy for anyone to unplug it and not realizing it's energized, make contact with it. Someone could trip over it for example, pulling the live end out.
2 - Someone leaves the main breaker closed and the grid power comes back on, feeding into the output of the still operating UPS. Maybe it just trips a breaker in the UPS. Maybe it just creams it. Maybe it blows up, IDK, but I doubt it's designed and rated with that happening in mind.
Doing a proper code compliant installation with an inlet, solves #1. Then you use a regular extension cord. And using a panel lockout kit or transfer switch solves #2.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<stuff snipped>

Didn't say it was necessarily safe, but it is cheap and effective. (-: But hacking up light circuits to make them "pluggable" doesn't seem to win many safety awards either.
<stuff snipped>

I agree, but we can't really be sure and the OP has not returned for any followup. Shades of the Halloween troll Fred and his electrified sink?

There are some good reasons to wire in LED emergency lights. I did it after I broke my toe because I didn't want to turn the lights on and wake my wife up when I had to check on a sick dog one night. I left a big, black heavy subwoofer out where I could kick it accidentally. That learned me good.

I can understand Jimmie's desire to power the existing low wattage LEDs through a UPS that he already (apparently) owns. It's only natural to want to use the equipment you have on hand to meet a very occasional need. But I agree with you that there are other, better and safer ways to achieve that goal. I took the time to wire up battery powered motion detector LED lights from Philips:
http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20061112005026/en/Philips-Debuts-Stumble-Light-Application-Hotel-Guests
For some reason, they don't seem to be sold anymore so I am glad I bought two cases of both types (built in motion detector v. remote head containing the motion detector). Easy to install and conceal, very reliable and they use photocells to avoid unnecessary daytime activation. They come on when it's dark and there's motion whether the utility power is present or not. I would recommend such lighting to anyone, particularly if they have frequent overnight guests who might not know their way around.
Never had a power failure long enough to drain the 80AH wheelchair battery that powers all of them (they consume very little current when in use and even less on standby. That battery, by the way, has one bad cell that prevents it from properly powering a scooter but it runs the LED lighting A-OK. There's a 500ma trickle charger attached that keeps the battery charged.
There's nothing I like more than squeezing the last bit of utility out of something like an expensive ($120) AGM battery. The battery for my B&D electric lawnmower powered those lights for almost 5 years after it dropped too low in voltage to run the mower. Unfortunately after 5 years almost all the AGM batteries I've dealt with lose their mojo. The battery currently in use probably will need replacing soon just because of its age.

I assumed as much. (-:

If the power failure was caused by a truck snagging the line from the transformer, there might be a hazard to anyone touching the downed wires but I agree, it's remote. I also have to assume that lineman are not so dumb they go around touching conductors with their bare hands after a massive power failure.

Agreed. Clare was right. It's not really an issue with the consumer grade UPSs but it could be with the very high powered units that some have mentioned.

Good point. Makes you appreciate how the electrical plug design is actually quite good at reducing events like that. If I were to do anything like I suggested, and I don't think I would, I would certainly have a checklist that tried to insure the UPS wasn't activated until the plug was firmly in the target socket. Sort of like making sure the hose is connected to the hose bib *before* you turn the water on.

Agreed, too. If you don't operate from a checklist any number of bad things can happen. I mentioned in an earlier post it was anyone's guess what might happen if the power came back on with the UPS in the circuit and not isolated by turning off the main breaker. Clearly shutting off the main breaker is a critical step. But it is in almost any situation where you're energizing your home wiring through means other than the utility supply. That's why transfer switches "automate" that function - to insure you can't energize the house from an alternate source without disconnecting from the mains.

No doubt there's the right way to do this, but I wanted to demonstrate a "proof of concept" that as your suicide cord comment notes is something even a tyro could figure out and no doubt already has. They wouldn't call it a suicide cord if no one ended up dead from it.
As for using a PC-sized UPS, I don't think it would power the lights for very long nor would the constant beep reminder that the UPS is providing power be very pleasant.
For those considering swapping out batteries in those PC-sized UPSs, there's a little demon called "duty cycle" that could be waiting for you. Many of these units are designed to run as only as long as the original battery takes to discharge. Keeping them going for longer with battery swaps can have unpleasant consequences. DAMHIKT. (-:
--
Bobby G.





Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 15 Feb 2014 19:23:52 -0500, "Robert Green"

Very true of the cheap consumer standby units - while "online" UPS units are designed to run at full load 24/7/365 - they have fans for cooling. Yet some of the cheapies WILL run for hours without trouble - and most would at half load. The better ones have an "alarm silence" button that shuts off the "beep".
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.