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A Light in the Dark
With aging power grids and the growing unpredictability of weather, more and more often the power to your PC is full of surges and undervoltages, and it sometimes gets cut off entirely. A surge protector can help protect your equipment, but you are still subject to sudden shut downs that cut you off in mid-thought, and could in themselves damage your equipment. Not only is your PC worth protecting, your work is valuable, and so is enjoying your recreational time. If you are using your PC regularly for business or play, it is probably worth protecting not just it, but what you do on it.
The APC Back-UPS RS 1300 LCD is near the high end of the home or small office PC Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) market. UPSs start at about $50, but these are rated at 350 Volt-Amperes only able to supply 200 Watts of power, and for only a couple of minutes. The RS 1300 ($190 at newegg.com) has 1300 VA and claims the ability to supply as many as 780 Watts. If you want to know more about choosing an Uninterruptible Power Supply, follow the link.
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Installation is simple, but must be done very carefully. Sliding a panel on the bottom out of the way allows you to access the big, heavy, and potentially dangerous batteries that must be connected (see the fifth picture). Though it is a simple black to black and red to red procedure, heed the instructions; take off your jewelry and use insulated tools. The blue spark that leapt with joy as I connected the red wire made me very glad to have some insulated needle-nose pliers between me and the battery; and my dry head of hair and rubber soled footwear didn’t hurt.
Despite trying to carefully fold the wires in and insert the battery a couple of times, I was not able to get the battery compartment cover to click all the way shut. Given the weight of the unit and that it isn’t the sort of thing you move around very much, this is not a big problem. The cover slides into place and will stay there under the RS 1300’s bulk just fine.
The rest of the installation is better: connect your components and power, connect the data port to and install the software on your PC, and turn on the unit. Note that you shouldn’t run from the battery after installation until it has had 16 hours to charge up fully.
The sixth picture is a screen from the APC PowerChute software that links you to common tasks. The easy to use and slick-looking software allows you to monitor and control the Back-UPS from your desktop with your mouse, as opposed to under your desktop with two buttons one can hold down or push multiple times. That, and even more importantly, the ability to shut down your computer autonomously if you left it on while trying to get your laundry off the line in mid-storm, are the benefits of connecting the UPS to your PC and running the software.
The Back-UPS will initiate shutdown when five minutes of power are left as shown in the seventh picture, provided, of course, that it works as expected. Find out in the next article which contains results of tests carried out with the following configuration.
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APC Back-UPS RS 1300 LCD
- Midrange Gaming PC (details of the PC are here)
- 20" Widescreen Samsung SyncMaster 205BW
- RCA Cable Modem
- D-Link DI-524 WiFi Router
- vTech VoIP Base Unit
- Canon Pixma MP610 All-in-One
- 9 Volt Stereo Speakers
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