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I have an FSP EP1000 UPS.

The User's Manual says:

CAUTION: NEVER connect a laser printer or scanner to the UPS unit. This may cause the damage of the unit.

Why is this restriction?

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1  
Lots of good answers about laser printers. What about scanners? Older scanners used fluorescent bulbs that might have the similar voltage/current requirements as laser printers. But recent scanners use LEDs. –  David Poole Aug 29 '12 at 17:29

4 Answers 4

up vote 65 down vote accepted

Updated

Why you shouldn't connect a printer to a UPS

(Unless you accurately size the UPS for peak power requirements)

When turned on, Laser printers draw a high current to heat up their fuser roller. A typical UPS cannot cope with such a spike.

Descriptions of the problem by UPS manufacturers do not go into details.

The problem may be one or other of

  • The initial inrush current at start-up, This can be seven or more times the average operating current of the printer.
  • Initial power-on when the fuser is heated to the temperature needed to fuse toner. Subsequent re-heating of the fuser may be periodic or may occur when the printer switches from and idle state to full-power to satisfy a print request after a period of inactivity.

Fuser temperature is up to 200 °C (392 °F).


Printer Information

From HP specification for LaserJet 3200

Power consumption   135 watts

During Printing: At nominal line voltage.   
  Model A (120V): Maximum of 700 W, Average of 210 W 
  Model AB (240V): Maximum of 625 W, Average of 210 W

Inrush Current: (Duration: significantly < 1 second)    
  Model A  (120V): 23 A peak (20 deg C, from cold start) 
  Model AB (240V): 40 A peak (20 deg C, from cold start)

Note:

If we disregard power factors and other AC complications,

  • The (overall average?) power usage quoted at 135W at 120V would draw a little over 1 Amp.
  • The active average power usage quoted at 210W at 120V would draw just under 2 Amps.
  • The maximum active power usage quoted at 700W at 120V would draw well over 5 Amps.

The inrush current is an order of magnitude larger than average operating currents.

In conjunction with other equipment, the 700W max during printing could overload a small UPS.


UPS Information

For example Belkin say

A laser printer or scanner draws significantly more power when in use than when idle. This may overload the UPS.

APC say

APC recommends a [UPS] that is sized for the maximum power draw of the laser printer as defined by the manufacturer. This is typically a 1500va or larger UPS. Even small laser printers can have very high maximum power draws due to the nature of the technology.

Anecdotal reports say

Laser printer usage is sometimes reported as causing voltage sags in power circuits such that lights noticeably dim in the building for a brief moment.


Here is an example of power used vs time.

Brother 5250 current draw

From http://www.johndearmond.com/2008/08/04/laser-printers-and-inverters/

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Nice informative answer. And good to know, thanks! +1 to both question and answer. –  Indrek Aug 26 '12 at 20:26
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Curious, does this mean laser printers should only be directly plugged into a wall? (Meaning not a surge protector for example.) –  blunders Aug 26 '12 at 21:16
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@blunders - No, plugging the printer into a surge suppressor would be fine, the surge inrush current isn't an issue there. –  Fiasco Labs Aug 26 '12 at 21:21
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Why does the 240V model have ~2x higher inrush current than the 120V model? I'd expect the opposite behavior (equal inrush power). –  Dan Neely Aug 27 '12 at 12:44
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@DanNeely: I'm curious about that too, so I posted a question to electronics.se –  Justin ᚅᚔᚈᚄᚒᚔ Aug 27 '12 at 16:00

Laser printers use a lot of power. At peak loads, laser printers may draw more power than the UPS can provide. As for scanners... I dont believe modern scanners use a lot of power, perhaps some higher-end multi feed scanners do...

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I have a scanner that doesn't require any power supply at all apart from USB. (which is also not USB 3.0) –  Sarge Borsch Apr 14 at 18:08
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Im was not talking about simple desk scanners, but high volume enterprise scanners - ones that scan 100s of pages at a time –  Keltari Apr 14 at 18:22

Over and above the inrush issue (discussed above) there is also the consumption under load...

Unlike servers and desktops, printers are very rarely business critical, and users can usually do without them for the duration of a power-outage (maybe at a slight inconvenience).

On the other hand, UPS infrastructure is often spec-ed at the lowest that can be got away with, before adding extra hardware - so printers sucking out battery-reserves will limit the up-time of the rest of the network.

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You're forgetting that another key function of a UPS is to clean up 'dirty' power. An inexpensive UPS can be used to extend the life of much more expensive equipment by cleaning the power even if that UPS is unable to power the equipment during an outage. –  Freiheit Aug 27 '12 at 17:25

Take a Canon imageCLASS LBP6300DN for example. The spec sheet (linked) says a maximum power consumption of 1120W. Let's try to find an UPS for just the printer, no other load. So maybe we look for 1200W.

You might first think, no big deal, grab a 1500VA UPS, more than enough. But VA != watts, and it turns out that (for example) an APC Back-UPS 1500 has a max of 865 watts. They assumed a power factor of .57. Finding a "consumer" ups above 1500VA is hard. So instead (as APC recommends) you look at the SmartUPS line. The smallest one you could use is a SmartUPS 2200, which will set you back $1000, more or less. I can't find anything in its manuals saying not to connect a laser printer, so APC is probably OK with this.

You could go with a Cyberpower UPS, they're usually cheaper, appears you'd need a PP2200SW, which you could have for around $500. Indeed, cheaper, but still pretty expensive. The manual says you "should" not connect a laser printer (or vacuum cleaner, wonder who tried that?).

You can connect a laser printer to an UPS. You just need to buy a really big (and expensive) UPS.

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+1 For the different consulted specs. "Should not connect a vacuum cleaner" (I'd upvote just for this quote!) –  Alberto Aug 31 '12 at 19:46

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