Pros: Price, 3-year warranty including battery, surge protection, software, plenty of jacks
With all the deals I saw recently on UPS devices, I went on a UPS-buying spree. I bought an APC BE500R for $30 to replace my APC BE325R UPS. I also bought the APC BE350R (could not resist for $20 after rebate). I wanted better protection than that of the BE325R to make sure that if the power goes off I will be able to safely save my work and turn my computer off and the BE500R seems to be very suitable.
What is APC BE500R?
The BE500R is an inexpensive UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that features 4 battery-powered and surge-protected DC jacks, 4 surge-protected DC jacks, phone and fax surge protection, USB connection to your computer and software. The UPS is rated at 500 VA / 300 Watts and features an alarm (beeps when power goes out) as well as a USB port with software to turn the computer automatically. The battery is supposed to last about 7 minutes for a medium-powered computer with an LCD monitor (the back panel of the box shows different running times for different typical computer configurations.
The UPS comes with a 3-year warranty (including battery) and automatically tests its battery once in a while. It also comes with $75,000 equipment protection warranty and claims to suppress RFI noise. The UPS is heavy and rather large, features sturdy construction.
Once I got the device, I installed the battery (you have to open the lid and connect one of the cables; the other one is connected already). The UPS is a blocky and made of black plastic. It is also heavy. There is a power button on top of the device, which powers it on if anything is connected to it. Once powered, the UPS has a green LED on. Lights of other colors indicate wiring faults and different operating modes of the device.
I disconnected the BE325R I had for about a year and connected my computer to the BR500R. My computer is based on Athlon XP2800+, includes Dell 19-inch LCD monitor, DSL modem and a wireless router. I have all of these devices as well as a couple of printers, another computer (DELL based on P4) and an alarm clock connected to the battery-backed jacks of the BE500R through a surge protector that I use as a splitter.
Since the alarm clock does not use much power and I generally only have one computer on at a time and only one LCD monitor, the power requirements should be limited by the power required by the computer and the LCD, plus about 15 Watts at most for standby power of other connected devices.
According to my calculations, my computer system draws less than 300 W and more likely close to 110-130 W. Fortunately, the included software helps you figure out how long your computer can stay on when the power goes out.
The PowerShute software, included with this model, shows you an estimate of how long your computer can stay on. Although it showed [Less than 3 Minutes] at first (even with fully-charged battery, once I tested the UPS by disconnecting it from the wall, it realized that it can last longer and started showing "8 minutes". Now, after several days of use, it shows [14 minutes], which makes more sense.
When I disconnected the UPS from the AC power while keeping the computer on, the software told me the power is lost and I should shut down. You can specify if you also want audible alerts and how long to keep the PC running until the software starts shutting it down.
Before, I was not looking for a solution that would let me save my work automatically or make absolutely sure I shut down properly. For me, the most important thing is that I have a chance to save the source code or letter I am working on before the power goes out. Now, I do not have to compromise and I can be sure I save my work and shut down my computer properly. And the APC BE500R is perfect for it.
In the days I had this device I had no problems. And I trust that APC would design a product that will not let me down when I need it.
I highly recommend this UPS if you need security of power protection on a tight budget. It will let you save your work and shut down before too late. And it is not expensive either.