If Shakespeare were alive today, he’d probably ask “To UPS or not to UPS, that is the question.” The UPS, or Uninterruptible Power Supply is basically a backup battery for your CPU, monitor, modem, router or whatever power-consuming device. In situations where the mains power goes off for whatever reason (lightning, short circuit, power outage, etc), the UPS will provide users with a few minutes of runtime (depending on the power rating of the UPS and the power draw of those devices), so that a proper shutdown can be performed to avoid loss of data or hardware damage.
Schneider Electric has just introduced the Back-UPS 625, an entry-level UPS meant for the consumer market. It has three multi-plug sockets and is rated at 625VA (obviously). The unit requires a first-time charge of around 16 hours and if drained, subsequent charging will take 6 hours to bring it up to full capacity. The maximum power output is 325 watts so this isn’t suitable for high-spec PCs which can consume far more than that.
So, to install it and put it to the test, we referred to the installation guide found in the box. First things first, plug in the yellow colour battery connector into the unit. It can be found at the bottom of the UPS. Next is to charge the unit for a good 16 hours for the first use. As there is no LED screen panel to indicate battery level or status of the UPS, the unit emits “beep” sounds and an LED light that changes colour instead.
You can choose the transfer voltage and sensitivity settings of the unit by following the instructions on the installation guide. Users of this device are recommended to read the installation guide with care before using it. For this particular unit, a “No-load shutdown” feature is present whereby if the unit is solely operating on battery power and it detects that the connected equipment(s) is using less than 15W of energy in the time limit of 15 minutes, the unit will automatically shut down to conserve energy.
To stop the no-load shutdown feature, you will have to program the voltage sensitivity. Following the instructions on paper, the power button is depressed for 10 seconds. The LED light will illuminate amber, indicating the unit is in Program mode. This is when you can depress the power button a few more times to select the program you want. The following is a table showing what each program does.
For this test, the unit was set to “Amber” with No-load shutdown “Enabled”. Voltage sensitivity setting is set to “high” with 4 beeps per second as indicator. To test it, we used a typical Network Attached Storage device (Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2) which is a dual-drive NAS. The power supply of that NAS is rated at 12V 3A which means it consumes a maximum of 36 watts of power. Upon powering off the AC power for the UPS, the unit started to beep every 4 seconds. Throughout the test, the NAS was kept busy with file transfers and working with the files in the NAS. Frankly, it gets quite annoying when the unit beeps every 4 seconds, you might also irk the people around you with the constant beeping. Though there were three outlets, we chose to use only one. The unit beeps a constant tone when its running low on battery and shutting down. Amazingly the UPS unit lasted for nearly four hours with the NAS being constantly busy. That is long enough for you to do your last minute transfers, complete your spreadsheets and work. You can plug in your laptop or PC to the UPS, but its not going to last you long enough if you are rendering videos or images.
For home purposes or SMEs, this UPS is doing quite a decent job to last for nearly four hours. It is recommended for you to only connect low power consumption devices to the UPS such as modems. It is not an obligation to have a UPS in every household or small offices, but precaution is better than cure for a small amount of money.