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Gadget of the Week

Gadget of the Week: Vertiv Liebert itON UPS

The Vertiv itON inverter is a compact remedy for protecting equipment from load-shedding, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



What is it?

The Vertiv Liebert itON is an economical UPS – for Uninterruptible Power Supply – that promises “full-featured power protection” for home or small office computers and electronic equipment.  It is classified as a line-interactive UPS, meaning it automatically redirects the battery’s current path from charging mode to supplying current when power is lost. In other words, it lies quietly charging when the power supply is working and, when power is cut, it switches over to becoming the power supply. Noisily.

It is designed to protect equipment, rather than keep it going for lengthy periods. It gives enough time, for example, to save work on a computer and shut it down normally.

How much is it?

Retail pricing starts at around R1200 for a 1000va unit, going up to R2000 for the 2000va unit. However, prices vary significantly from outlet to outlet (no pun intended), so shop around.

Why should you care?

Eskom has gone back on all past assurances, and made load-shedding a constant threat to continuity of small businesses and efficient functioning of homes. Major power generation units keep tripping, supposedly due to “unforeseen breakdowns”. Of course, these were foreseen for the past 20 years, as various Eskom managements used backup equipment to shore up shaky infrastructure, without replenishing it, so that they could preserve their bonuses. We will live with that legacy for years to come, and have to prepare our working and living environment for constant outages.

Efficient Group economist Francois Stofberg estimates that load-shedding cost the South African economy R8.5-billion, or 0.3% of GDP, in 2019. You don’t have to contribute to that loss.

What are the biggest Negatives?

  • It has no physical metering or monitoring interface on the device itself, aside from an LED light. That makes it a rather stupid device at a time when smart machines are the norm.
  • The LED light flashes in various sequences to indicate low battery, overloads, faults, and the like. Good luck figuring it out.
  • Managing the device from a computer requires software to be loaded from a CD, supplied with the device. Who still uses CDs? It may be a new model, but the thinking behind its usage is from decades ago.
  • Depending on model, it provides only about 4 to 7 minutes of power. There are few better incentives for switching from a desktop to a laptop computer.

What are the biggest Positives?

  • It has no less than four outlets for plugs that protect anything from computers and servers to printers and switchboards, from power blackouts, fluctuations and surges.
  • There is zero “transfer time”, meaning that if power fails, critical loads are switched over seamlessly.
  • If you can get past the CD installation, power to multiple devices can be controlled via independently programmable sockets.
  • It is easily serviceable, with replaceable, hot-swappable batteries.
  • After full discharge, battery recharge time is 4 to 6 hours to 90% capacity.
  • The battery run time gives one a chance to back up current work, and shut down systems safely.
  • It is one of the most economical solutions in its class.
  • It is heavy, but compact, and can lurk under a desk.

* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

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