Bench Test: How Does the Orion Power Systems Office Pro Score?

The Online Pro featured mixed reviews, but what about the Office Pro?

(This is the Part 2 of this month’s Bench Test, which previously reviewed the Orion Power Systems Online Pro Series.)

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The Orion Power Systems Office Pro Series is a line interactive design with 1kVA, 1.4kVA and 2kVA models available. As previously mentioned this unit would be more typically used in IDF or desktop applications, although it performed admirably and a 2kVA capacity has a wide range of uses. The continuously running fan may be off-putting in an office environment, but to its credit, the fan is a two-speed model, running at a lower speed when in normal operation and kicking into high gear when main power is lost. This is not designed or intended to be as full-featured a product as the higher end models, and that’s not its intended use.

Construction
With a plastic chassis, this unit is very similar to pretty much all of the competition. While somewhat noisy, the fan clearly pressurizes the unit and ventilation is achieved through holes in the side panels. It’s nearly impossible to block the vents with this design and our unit ran very coolly under a variety of loads.

As you may have surmised, changing the battery in a UPS is a “hot button” feature for me. Why? Because it’s more cost effective and better for the environment than tossing the UPS and getting another one, although it’s often a wash on the cost-effective side. While not as easy as some units we’ve tested, this is pretty straightforward. You have to unscrew a screw at the bottom, pull off the front panel, disconnect the battery and change it. Admittedly, we prefer units in this class that do not require tools to change batteries.

Changing the battery did uncover one of very few issues we saw with this unit. When we removed the cover and took the battery out, there was a rattling noise. Moving the unit around gained us a screw that dropped out of the unit. We did not investigate further to see if this screw worked loose and fell out or was simply a “spare” provided by the factory, again in China. A metal plate fell out as well, but that was there to secure the battery, presumably, although it wasn’t attached to anything. Still, a screw rattling around in a UPS is never a good sign.

Features
There aren’t many features to speak of, short of the front panel display and the software. For the former, we found it difficult to read unless you looked at it straight on. Even a variety of young eyes brought in to provide second and third opinions agreed with that conclusion, particularly compared to the excellent readability of the Online Pro Series display. The voltage readout was dead on, however, and another interesting feature is that all of the rear panel outlets are UPS ― most of the units we have seen have some “surge only” outlets, and frankly we like this design better. Outlets are not spaced for larger “wall-wart” transformers, but this is a commercial product, not a consumer one, so we don’t see that as an issue. And, yes, the instructions are far better for this unit, although the translation could use a tune-up here and there.


Next: Is a 3rd-Party Central Station the Right Move for Your Alarm Company?


Software
Orion includes access to WinPower software for this unit, which “provides user-friendly interface to monitor and control your UPS.” While there’s no disk in the package, the Installation and Operation poster for the Office Pro UPS included a link to the software download page. You download the software and enter a serial number to use it – not the serial number of the UPS, but a serial number printed on the poster. It’s case sensitive — 24 characters, including the required dashes. And everyone who uses it has to enter that same number. Now we’re getting silly.

REPORT CARD

SPECS

  • Simple UPS system for edge/office locations where advanced features not needed

PROS

  • Simple, plug-and-play design
  • All outlets on UPS
  • Excellent ventilation
  • 37-month warranty with $50,000 load protection guarantee
  • Channel-friendly distribution

CONS

  • Noisy
  • Display hard to read
  • Poor software

VERDICT (Scale 1-5, 5 as the highest)
FEATURES: 3
CONSTRUCTION: 4
SETUP: 5
PERFORMANCE: 5
OVERALL: 4

Well, the folks who wrote the manual for the Online Pro apparently had a hand in this software as well. It was last updated in 2009, according to the download site, the “tool tips” (popup screens when you hover your pointer over a button) are in Chinese, and the help text is badly translated: “When Agent start it will run continuously, protect your equipment in every moment.” Still, it’s not likely that this software will be used by many and it is perfectly serviceable if needed.

Setup/Testing
Setup was simple and the UPS tested well. In our tests, we couldn’t see a difference between the online and line-interactive units ― they both worked flawlessly. There weren’t really any features to test, and the only anomaly we found was that the front panel remains lit even when the UPS is turned off (but plugged in). This is confusing, as a technician might look up at the UPS if it were in an IDF cabinet and assume that it was working.

Conclusions
These are both excellent products marred by poor quality control in the documentation department (and in the final assembly department, in the case of the Office Pro). We can’t get past how difficult it was to set up such a full-featured product like the Online Pro. And the decidedly simple Office Pro had horrible software and a screw loose. But if you know how to use them or have no interest in advanced features, these units will serve you well.

The shame is that Orion Power Systems is a company that takes pride in support and customer service. The manufacturer was a pleasure to deal with and I wanted to like these units. As it became clearer and clearer that no one there had ever bothered to read and correct the manual, it brings their commitment to service in question. To go to all that trouble to source and distribute a product and send it out the door with a poor manual is like serving a fine wine in a paper cup. It’s just not the same.

About the Author

Contact:

Bob Grossman has held positions in all areas of the security industry — giving him plenty of opportunity to learn from his mistakes! Bob has authored articles for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION and other publications and has spoken at numerous industry events both internationally and in the United States. Currently the founder and president of R. Grossman and Associates, a consulting firm, he divides his time between project-based work for large integrated systems and product consulting for a variety of cutting-edge manufacturers. For more information, visit www.tech-answers.com.

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