Monday, April 26, 2010

Product: APC 550VA Battery Back-Up System

As a business professional who works from my home office, it is never until the power goes off or I reach an area without the service I need that I realize how much I take the pioneered concept of technology for granted. Stripped of all basic services for eight days, following the chilled winter wrath of Mother Nature, I became keen on a little known black box called a UPS or uninterruptible power supply battery backup system. Simply these electrical devices provide you with “emergency power” for a specific period of time, based on the wattage load, when the main utility fails. Typically they are used, and only recommended for use with computers and other technological devices; perfect for a router/modem and main cordless phone -- devices that are not recommended for use with a gas generator, without surge protection. Inside the device a battery, similar in form of a scaled miniature car battery, stores generated power until that power is needed. The UPS automatically kicks itself into function when the main power generation stops and most will provide alerts when the stored power is nearly gone, to allow the proper shut down of any technological devices and the storage of any data you may be working on at the time.

The American Power Conversion (APC) device I purchased from Best Buy a month prior to the Ice Storm, having zero minutes of use until the Ice Storm of 2009. Due to having a coupon for the store, I was credited $30 from its price of $69.99 (USD) as they did not have the item in stock. Straight out of the box I was taken by surprise, of its weight; 13 pounds. In addition I purchased two back up batteries, directly from the American Power Conversion website with speedy shipping at a moderate “sale” price -- a suggestion received by the Best Buy Geek Squad team due to my work method.  Depending on the load of the four battery backup outlets, each battery is to produce up to 65 minutes of stored juice. An additional four outlets come only with surge protection with $75,000 (USD) for device protection. At a plus this device also has the means to protect a phone/fax/modem, yet the three year warranty only covers the replacement of parts and not the device itself.

Putting this product to the test for eight days, I was lucky to have a way that I could charge the additional purchased batteries close by; however replacing the batteries is very troublesome due to the weight of the product. The battery also takes many hours to fully charge however the bright LED light shows indication of a fully charged battery. With an added year of use, I feel that my recommendation for a UPS is high yet the APC device I would rate 2.5 out of 5 stars due to the reasons following -- with a function of 3.5 out of 5 stars.  While the device of a USP is great to own during a short outage, none provide power for an extended period with a full load (all plugs filled). This should be noted as not as a product problem but a general and overall USP device verity. The American Power Conversion (APC) device was purchased for a reasonable price yet additional batteries for replacement or back-up cost moderate to what I paid for the device itself. Due to the weight of the product, it requires some space however a 5 foot power cord keeps it close to the outlet which is a plus for organization buffs. The product comes with eight outlets (total) four only function for the battery-backup supply; this may be a pitfall for many who may need five and others that need a full eight. It needs to be remembered that the more plugged into the battery system the less emergency power will be generated, I recommend only plugging in the items needed as the time is greatly decreased with an increase in wattage. The surge protection has me feeling as the products are safe and protected; with the device protection guarantee on all eight outlets.  When in use, the device puts off a rather annoying and loud beep; this sound is quite disturbing. It emits a second, more frequent high pitch alarm when the supply of stored energy is nearly depleted; such alarm is great to know to store my work but even more of an annoyance. The most infuriating fact of this product is when the utility supply is cut off in the early morning hours when comfortably at rest; the American Power Conversion is a surefire way to be woke up and yield quite the expressiveness in choice four-letter words!

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