Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) review

Beat the blackout blues with these battery backup units.
 
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02.Results

 The following models scored the best results in our test 

What to buy
Brand Price
Under 700VA
Eaton Powerware 3105 UPS $129
Upsonic PROffice 650VA UPS $99
Power Shield Defender PSD650 $146
MGE Ellipse 600 $143
700VA and above
MGE Ellipse Max 850 $272
Powertech MP 5206 $319
Opti ES 1000C $366
 

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Full results for all models are shown in the table belowResults table

Results table

Table notes

1 Price paid in December 2008.
2 Performance (60% hardware) based on the battery performance of the UPS unrestricted by power management software.
3 Ease of use (40% software) based on a combination of

  • Software (70%)
  • Hardware (30%).

4 Total annual energy cost Based on the usage scenario of 24hr/day, annually, calculated at 17c kWh. Value is rounded to the nearest 10c.
5 Specifications: Weight (kg) weight of UPS system complete; Dimensions (HxDxW) cm the size of the UPS, height by depth by width, in centimetres; Wall mountable if the system has provision for being mounted on a wall; UPS type the different UPS types; Capacity (VA) the energy capacity of the UPS system in Volt Amperes; Claimed battery runtime (mins) manufacturer’s claimed battery runtime; Charge time (mins) manufacturer’s estimated charging time.
6 Features: Status indicators LED lights and audible indicators status lights and/or alarms that alert the user to problems with the UPS; Total outlets/ connections standard 3-pin, IEC C13/C14, Other — the number and types of connections on the UPS; Software the power management software used and whether supplied or available for download; OS supported which computer operating systems are supported by the software; Warranty (yrs) length of warranty, in years; Connected equipment warranty ($) if insurance if offered for equipment connected to the UPS and if so, the value in dollars.

Footnotes:
[A] Calculated under average test load (PC with Intel Core Duo E6420 2.13GHz; 1GB RAM; 320GB SATA II HDD; Inno3D 8600GT 256MB VRAM graphics card; Windows XP Home with SP2; BenQ FP92W 19inch widescreen LCD monitor ; USB external hard drive; running a DVD movie.)
[B] Calculated without battery backup required by the system.
[C] With optional wall mount kit.
[D] Discontinued Feb 2009, but models may still be available.
[E] Includes data recovery.
[F] Warranty includes battery.
[G] 2 years + 3 years pro-rata.

ns Not stated.

How we tested

To calculate the performance and annual energy usage of the units, we set up a system to simulate that of a typical home user. The active power consumption of this system was 151 Watts:

  • Intel Core Duo E6420 running at 2.13GHz; 1GB RAM; 320GB SATA II Hard drive; Inno3D 8600GT graphics card with 256MB VRAM; Windows XP Home.
    BenQ FP92W 19inch widescreen LCD monitor.
  • We also connected an external 500GB hard drive, and had a DVD movie playing in the background.
  • After charging each UPS fully we booted into Windows and cut off mains power to time how long the UPS would run. This was done without being limited by power management software, thus providing the maximum battery time under the test load. We then recharged the unit fully and ran the same test with the power management software working.

We also tested the UPS systems to see if they could sustain operation with reduced voltage (simulating a brownout). Each UPS system was connected (with battery capacity full) and then stepped through varying voltages over a set period of time. All UPS units we tested passed this test.

We also assessed both the hardware and software for ease of setup and use, including cabling, manuals and documentation, software accessibility, setup wizard (if available), help and support files, software reports and notifi cations, and configurability.

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