We take an exclusive look at a good-value UPS for small businesses from APC
Businesses that can't afford to lose IT operations need to protect their critical systems from power problems. APC's Smart-UPS 1500 can look after multiple servers and associated networking equipment in a small business environment, and at just over $1000 for a near kilowatt UPS it looks good value.
A line-interactive model, it provides better protection than low-cost offline versions, but it isn't as sophisticated or as expensive as an online UPS. The UPS 1500 has a faster switching time than an offline UPS and is suited to places where power failures are rare but voltage fluctuations frequent.
The 1500 has eight IEC 320 outlets, and with a 1500VA/980W output rating it claims to provide full power for 24 minutes at half load and seven minutes at full load. It provides full battery protection on all output sockets and these can be arranged in two groups.
The Control group comprises the first row of four outlets, and these can be set to get their power first when the UPS is switched on. Delays can be set so that, in the event of a power failure, the Control group has priority and will be the last to be turned off when battery capacity drops below a set percentage.
The LCD panel provides plenty of status information and the control keys beneath can be used to flick through details on the current load, battery capacity and voltages. It also uses the load and battery status figures to provide an estimated battery runtime.
For monitoring and alerting facilities, you connect the UPS to a protected system via its serial or USB port and load the bundled PowerChute software. This uses an agent to provide local and remote web access to the system and tools for forcing a shutdown when battery power is running out.
The PowerChute homepage opens with a basic readout on current status, along with the estimated battery runtime. You don't get historical power status graphs, but there are plenty of alerting features. You have a choice of 40 events grouped into critical, warning and informational categories, and for each one you can set the internal buzzer to sound, fire off an email, run a command on the system with the agent, or initiate a system shutdown sequence.
Shutdown can be activated when battery power reaches a certain threshold, and will close down the OS safely before switching off the system.
We tested the UPS by connecting an HP ProLiant DL385 G7 rack server. This drew 103W in idle, and with mains power removed the UPS was able to run it for an impressive 2hrs 20mins. When the battery charge level reached 4%, the agent kicked in and gracefully powered down the server.
From our experience, it isn't worth leaving critical systems unprotected for the sake of saving a few quid. The Smart-UPS 1500 offers a decent battery runtime for the price, and the bundled PowerChute software provides good alerting and safe system shutdown services.