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Some CyberPower UPSes may pose a fire hazard

smcleod

Some interesting comments from people that have experienced the same thing on reddit: https://reddit.com/r/homelab/comments/voy9kl/cyberpower_cp15...

One guy got a video of his burning up on his Ring doorbell as he rushed it outside: https://i.imgur.com/EzalwYC.mp4

Tear down: https://youtu.be/9gqBzLNMFe4

I have contacted CyberPower for more information.

hrgiger

Guy in the imgur said that happened after overload error and this happened after he replaced battery, giving just the benefit of the doubt that overload might have damaged the unit already. Also if anyone planning to open, I would reach out supplier rather than breaking any possible warranty. But also home safety no joke, so there is that. I got 2 x 1300, I really liked , its been half year, only the having possibility of battery leak scared the .hit out of me because new units has new iron burn smell. It goes away after few weeks.

eeiaeaa

I have one of these. I have had it for years, and even swapped out the battery pack once. I have had no other issues with it.

After I read the Reddit post and watched the tear-down video, I disconnected and opened it up and found that not only did it have the yellow glue, but patches of it had turned brown and had what looked like drops on it in places.

Now I am looking for a replacement, but from the comments here it sounds like other manufacturers have the same issue.

nwah1

Also have one. Also replaced the battery. The other thing I don't like about it is that the battery is lead-acid, which is extremely toxic and extremely heavy. But when I looked into that, I could not find any manufacturer that offered a consumer grade lithium-ion product.

ploxiln

Food for thought: lead-acid batteries are the most recycled things on earth, at around 99%. Probably because they tend to be large, so they have a high volume to surface ratio, and are relatively simple and easy to recycle compared to more modern battery types, and many automotive related companies are required to have recycling programs for them, and they've been around for many decades ...

nwah1

Fair enough. But if it is in an electrical device with shoddy glue that is likely to catch fire or explode, then it would be nice to not be given a lethal dose of lead in addition to my place burning down.

windowsrookie

Lead-acid is the better battery for something that is going to sit fully charged for long periods of time.

jotm

Laptops have proven Li-Ion works well enough, too

nwah1

Asbestos is still unbeatable for fire protection.

rootusrootus

I'm giving some thought to brewing up my own UPS. Mostly for capacity, which is tough to get in a residential unit at any price, and quickly becomes expensive if you try. Technologically, it is not particularly difficult. You buy a halfway decent inverter/charger from a reputable manufacturer, and however much LiFePO4 capacity you want. I would not choose lithium ion; LFPs are considerably less likely to combust.

voxadam

A few years ago ESR started on an open source/hardware UPS project called Upside.[0][1] I can't vouch for the design as I haven't looked at it in a long time.

[0] http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=7839

[1] https://gitlab.com/esr/upside

revanx_

How do you achieve the X <= 10 ms switching capacity? You need this if you actually want your equipment to survive the power outage.

Also, I'm extremely sensitive to humm noise output by inverters so I can only tolerate UPSs that have that "Green mode" option which (I guess?) powers directly from AC when under quality power but still provides protection.

Tempest1981

Please post a parts list if you do!

justsomehnguy

> which is extremely toxic

Lithium is toxic too and never gets recycled.

> and extremely heavy

Yea, it's like you move your UPS every day?

nwah1

Toxicity is a relative concept. Lead's toxicity is measured in parts per billion. Lithium is many orders of magnitude safer.

partiallypro

I isn't lithium potentially much more dangerous, especially if the containment is breached?

suifbwish

The idea of a UPS catching the server room or worse yet your house on fire is absolutely terrifying.

MR4D

I woke up one night to that horrible burning motherboard smell. Ran into the office and noticed it was the UPS. Somewhat freaked out (would have never expected that to go on me in this manner). I unplugged it ran downstairs and put it in the middle of the driveway. After watching it for about 10 minutes I went back to bed. Disposed of it two days later (after taking the battery out to eliminate a runaway effect.

Pr0ject217

Wow...

MR4D

Yeah. If you’ve ever smelled burning electronics, you know that smell. In some ways, that’s a good thing as I knew where to go first. Of course, being the ups instead of the computer was weird to experience at 3 am. Hard to get your head to think through that when you aren’t fully awake, but starting to panic.

smcleod

I just got what I think is very poor response from CyberPower who tried to discredit the people posting the videos:

"Thank you for contacting CyberPower Technical Support.

We are aware of the video and we totally understand and appreciate that you brought it to our attention to confirm this.

The person who posted the video offered no evidences to support his claims in the video as he only used assumptions.

There were no presentation of test results or industry data provided to prove his claim. CyberPower products are UL listed for safety and the rubber glue we use is also UL listed. Finally, CyberPower has thoroughly tested the rubber glue we use, and our results are aligned with industry information meaning there is no danger of the UPS catching any unfortunate events or shorting out as a result of the glue. The results debunk the claims being made in the video.

I hope I have shed a light about this concern. Rest assured that all our products are safe.

Regards, Technical Support CyberPower Systems Inc."

jtokoph

Don't you just pay UL for the badge and listing?

natvert

Same here

smcleod

My response:

"Hello,

That is not at all an assuring response.

The person who has the video on YouTube discussing the poor design is an electrical engineer, he has no motive to discredit CyberPower and appeared to provide the video to help people avoid the problem.

I must say that your statement "all your products are safe" seems a somewhat hand-wavy response to what appears to be a potentially deadly design flaw that many people online have independently reported to have experienced, several with video footage.

Check the response on reddit, YouTube, ycombinator, and the engineering forum linked, accounts I have inspected and seem to be credible / legitimate people have said as such:

> "I had a CP1000PFCLCD model that did the same thing. It threw an overload error and the company said to replace the battery. Once I put the new battery in it started making odd noises and began to spew smoke. Thankfully I was home and caught it quickly. The unit was four years old."

> "Had one of these start a fire back in 2015 at my clients office. Burned the entire rack and caused 500k worth of damage to the building. They sent fire investigators from the insurance company and determined it was a faulty UPS."

<quotes from HN here>"

bbarnett

he has no motive to discredit CyberPower and

He does have one potential motive. Profit. From views.

I am not saying this is why he posted the video, merely that this motive does exist.

Tempest1981

Most likely a first tier technical support person (or AI bot) will read your email, and send it to the bit bucket.

But posting it here on HN might get it read by somebody higher up.

physhster

Yes, mine did just that last year. Popped during a power outage, they gave me a new one, no questions asked... So they probably know about this?

willis936

I had one pop on me during a power outage a few months ago. I was quite miffed. The only halfway decent looking UPSes have annoyingly loud fans on them. Still, the fans probably prevent the thermal issues.

partiallypro

When you say pop, what does that entail? Did it spark up and start a fire. Did it just smoke? I think that's an important distinction. Did it just stop working (as if lightning had ran in on it like you'd get on an unprotected device?) I don't care if the device fails at some point, I am much much more worried about it starting a fire.

physhster

Smoke, sparks and heat. Stopped providing power while on battery. If it had been left on battery, it would probably have caught fire.

smcleod

Did it cause a fire?

ratsmack

This is a problem with almost all modern UPS's. I had some of the old APC's that had the aluminum case with the high quality circuit boards with adjustment pots. These units were purchased in the mid to late 90's and were rock solid, I finally retired the last one about two years ago because it ran out of adjustment on the pots.

I've have numerous later model UPS's made by APC that have gone up in smoke when they were needed most or just up and die for no good reason. The units I have now are supposed to let me know when the batteries need to be changed, but that feature is a total failure.

In summary, all modern UPS's are junk.

watersb

Glue that breaks down over time, into something that can conduct electricity.

A forum member on that RedFlagDeals.com post says that they've seen the same epoxy compound on various electronic items from 1970s, 80s, 90s.

rasz

This is a problem of supply chain quality control. Someone decides to save $1 a liter on potting compound and buys cheapest bathroom grade acetoxy stuff, or worse uses random glue from cheapest supplier available.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RTV_silicone

https://www.farnell.com/datasheets/1974040.pdf

wakeupcall

Would be nice to know what other people recommend for UPSs with sine-wave output.

Small APC units are pretty crappy by my own experience as well, especially if you go below 700VA.

I've used several 1000VA back-ups, smart-ups, and while the build quality is generally ok, the trip time for triggering and voltage upregulation was next to useless (passing >500ms). Many back-ups units tend to trigger the differential. The batteries you get from APC itself are just plainly overpriced.

I generally prefer to have many smaller upses nowdays, so I went with a few back-ups rs 500 and two cyberpower (cp900epfclcd).

Upregulation of the rs500 is a joke that you cannot rely on. The output quality is "passable" at best. It's also a pretty basic plastic case, pretty much like the cyberpower. When powered off, it keeps on flipping the main input relay every 10 seconds until it's fully disconnected from the mains.

On the other hand I didn't own cyberpower units for 10+ years like I did for APC, so I cannot truly comment on that.

Can somebody recommend alternatives that truly perform their duty?

vanc_cefepime

I have similar Cyberpower UPS' and started doing research finding a good alternative. I thought since I got it from Costco I was getting a decently quality item but searching on Amazon and their sponsored ads made me realize I made a mistake buying it. I'm always leery when a product is "sponsored" on Amazon.

Looking through reddit and other forums, seems like APC Prosumer highend versions are okay (so not all APCs) and Eaton/TrippLite UPS'. Some say Tripp Lite isn't as good.

I just went to CDW and bought x2 Eaton 5SC model that is sine-wave. They are much more expensive, 1500VA was $420 vs the CyberPower I got for about $180. Eaton has cheaper versions but I dont see sine-wave as a feature so I assume it might be more simulated sine.

bradknowles

Back when I was the Testbed Manager for the Defense Systems Information Agency DISANet LAN, one of the things we were going to be doing was deploying over 50 servers in different data centers around the world, some of which would be in classified environments. We needed some reliable UPSes for some of those environments, because not all of the data centers had reliable power.

We looked at several brands, and one of them was APC. We bought them from the various vendors, instead of having them sent to us by their sales people, so that we would have a more representative idea of what it would be like to actually own a fleet of these things. One thing that impressed me about APC was that they seemed to be smaller but more ruggedly built than any of the others we were looking at. Unfortunately, when I plugged that unit in, it sounded like a chainsaw.

So, I called up the company, and explained who I was and what we were doing. Not much reaction from the tech support person I was talking to. Then I told them what the problem was. They told me to ship it back to them (on our dime), and they'd look at it. I tried to explain again who I was and what we were doing, but they stayed on script.

Then I got a bright idea and told them to wait while I held out the phone to let them hear what it sounded like. As I was bringing the phone back to my ear, what I heard was "... pping out by Federal Express, next day air". Lo and behold, the replacement did actually arrive at the office next day, with instructions to mail back the failed unit at our leisure and all expenses paid by APC. And the replacement was quiet. We bought 50 of them -- one for each server. So far as I know, they never failed.

I've continued to be a loyal APC customer ever since 1993, and the one and only problem I've ever had with any of them over the decades has been that the batteries sometimes need to be replaced. But spares of those types are kept in stock by every Batteries Plus or Microcenter store that I've seen here in the US. Less than five minutes to replace them.

I do go for the SmartUPS line, over the BackUPS. And I buy units that I can guarantee will give me extended run times on 15amp circuits.

Worth every penny.

wakeupcall

I did use several smartups ones at 1500VA, and the metal construction was full metal, passive cooling on the interior with ample empty space, nice battery connections. At work we have larger APC racks for server backup and so far we didn't really experience problems. But the larger enterprise sector seems to be quite different than the consumer sector.

As I wrote before, I'm not powering servers and I actually went the route to place a smaller ups close to each load individually to avoid single points of failure and also avoid complicating central cabling. Just because I'm going for smaller sizes it doesn't mean I'm trying to cheap-out, quite the contrary.

For the smaller power lineup, APC definitely is not better than cyberpower in my eyes. In fact, the back-ups rs line is almost twice as expensive as cyberpower and I'm not really satisfied at all. The cyberpower unit has actually sine wave output for the same cost, upregulation works even at very light loads, and it's also a much quieter unit compared to the APCs when idle (when driving load both units buzz loudly). When having several in the same location, this does make a difference.

Opened up, both have the same quality of construction. Which is probably adequate, I guess. But having a metal shield around the battery would have been sensible.

Throwawayaerlei

The APC higher end "Smart-UPS" models might still be good, I've used them for a couple of decades without these sorts of problems, current 750 kVA one bought in 2017, just had to replace the battery at its prompting only a month ago or so (that's normal).

I can also attest their consumer level including the "Back-UPS" models are subpar. Had one bought by a parent arc inside when I was trying to diagnose what was wrong with it.

selimnairb

Thanks so much for posting this. I have one of these in my office. I just turned it off and unplugged it. It will be going to the dump tomorrow.

sonofhans

Please consider — not to preach :) — please consider recycling it rather than just dumping it. Shit from that battery will leech into the water supply for years. Most municipalities have some way to recycle batteries. Cyberpower has a page about it, too — https://www.cyberpowerpc.com/company/recycling.aspx

willis936

Most municipalities that have transfer stations (dumps) have battery disposal there.

selimnairb

Oh yeah, by “take to the dump” I mean pay for a disposal sticker and put it in the e-waste shipping container with the other things to be recycled (which I am reasonably sure my town actually recycles).

nwah1

Not having a UPS device also has risks. If you have any brownouts or surges then your electronics could be fried.

dylan604

Most people assume surges are bad and use surge protectors. However, undervolts/dips/brownouts are just as much if not more damaging and people unawares don't realize that a surge only protector does nothing for them. At my house, the dips are much much more frequent and is why I have a UPS for my TV and other entertainment gear.

revanx_

true, surge protectors are actual snake oil. 99% of people get em thinking it will protect em from lightning strikes ...

csnover

A different less catastrophic problem with at least the CP1500PFCLCD is that if it detects a battery or charger fault, instead of continuing to run in bypass mode, it is designed to immediately cut all power to the load until it is power cycled. As far as I know, this behaviour is not documented anywhere, so you only get to find out when it is too late.

dylan604

The first place I ever saw a CyberPower was years ago on an Amazon sale. I was not familiar with that brand and much more aware of Tripplite and APC gear. I assumed it was some sort of cheap knock off available from Amazon only.

I have no idea about this company, but they were definiately part of the collateral damage of me being highly suspect of any thing on Amazon that is from a brand name I am not personally familiar. I don't know if that says more about me, Amazon, or CyberPower.

kube-system

I never see people posting about Eaton units, but I bought a couple that I found for cheap and I really like them.

revanx_

I had to place my unit (CP1300EPFCLCD) in an empty room for 2 weeks to let it out-gass, the smell of plastic was unbarable and was not suitable for living conditions. I found others complain on the web just as well.

After two weeks I measured the amount of VOC in the room for a couple of hours and there was still some presence but nothing to worry about.

Overall the unit works as intended ...