UPS from APC - planned obsolescence or actual degradation?


#1

So recently the UPS I bought in 2011 started beeping an alarm. Very annoying, waking me up in the middle of the night and stuff. So I hit the button and it shuts up. I re-install the UPS software again to see what the heck it wants. Apparently the battery is now 8 years old, and they recommend changing it every 3 years. So now it’s telling me to change it.

I went into the software and changed it do disable the alarm, so the UPS never beeps now. Over the last month that this has been happening, I’ve checked the monitoring software and run the test on the battery, and everything seems fine, it passes the test, and I haven’t had to use the battery at all, since electricity has been pretty reliable in the last month.

But now the software itself is throwing a little dialog box on the screen telling me I should change the battery. And this dialog box appears even in games, so I can’t play Diablo because the stupid dialog box is on the screen.

Anyway, do I really need to replace the dang battery in the UPS? It passes their own battery test. It seems like the only reason they keep pestering me is because of the age of the battery. I don’t want to spend money on this unless I absolutely have to. Anyone with experience in this area with any words of wisdom?


#2

Batteries have finite number of charge cycles though?


#3

Try unplugging it and see how long it will last on battery power while in use. I had a UPS for several years (I don’t use their software) and the power went out and it only lasted a minute or so, when it was new it would go 20+ minutes. I bet your battery is to the point it really does need to be replaced. 8 years is a long time for a battery.


#4

That’s a good idea. The software says the battery should last 23 minutes. I’ll try to test that tonight, see how long it lasts.


#5

Also uninstall their software. You probably don’t need it.

Diego


#6

Yeah, that’s what I concluded the first time. The only reason I re-installed it is to disable the actual physical alarm on the UPS that kept going off. I think now that this has been done, I’m safe to uninstall the software.

The one neat thing about the software at the beginning was just keeping track of how bad the electricity was in my house, even though the power didn’t necessarily go out much, back in 2011 especially, there were a lot of fluctuations in power that the UPS compensated for. (Which is the whole reason I needed the UPS in the first place).

But now that I re-installed the software, over the past 2 or 3 weeks, I haven’t seen any of that stuff. So maybe power in my house has improved since 8 years ago.


#7

You can probably get Win10 to do any ‘auto-shutdown on low battery’ you need, I wouldn’t use the APC S/W.

But 8 years is quite a long life for a battery, since they do degrade even if they are never discharged. The SLA batteries lose a little water at a time through venting while they are float charging, so 3-5 yrs is as much as I expect anymore.


#8

UPSs work until they don’t. And it’s a real PITA to find out they don’t work, because you only find that out when you need them to work.

You should do a live test: turn everything on, then yank the UPS’s plug out of the wall (or, in the UK, just flick the wall-switch). See how long your equipments lasts. If it’s seconds, then yeah, you’ll need a new battery.


#9

They all go through batteries, from the small consumer models to the super large banks of batteries we have in data centers. In fact, for the latter there are always batteries within drawers of them that need to be swapped. It’s a royal PITA at that level. They lose the ability to cycle a charge. What that means to you is that it really isn’t a UPS anymore for losing power. It’s just a big power rectifier (corrects slight under and over voltage conditions.) So as soon as you lose power entirely, your UPS will simply stop sending any voltage to your gear.

But to answer your question, yes you can find batteries and they -may- be as cheap as just getting a new UPS entirely. The one thing that’s happened over time to this market is the rapidly sinking cost of the units themselves to the point of being replace-when-broken as a whole.

We even do this for most of our small single rack UPS’s. We buy a cheap model and swap them out when they fail. It actually ends up saving money, as the units which are more easily fixed with replaceable batteries can be 3 to 4 times the cost of the cheap unit that gives us just enough run time to shut things down using scripts. If you do replace your battery, consider this and look around for a good deal. If you don’t find one, just replace the whole thing.


#10

Old UPS batteries also expand which is disconcerting as hell. I don’t think they actually blow up, but they sure look like they could. I preferred to stay away from them.


#11

I finally remembered to test it when I got home today. Yep, this is exactly what happened. The moment I unplugged it, everything turned off.

OTOH, that is exactly what I bought this UPS for, to act as a power rectifier, not as something that keeps the computer on when the power goes out. So technically, it’s still doing the job that I got it for. Hmmm.


#12

The battery run time can be nice occasionally when you have a short outage, but I hear ya. Anything to isolate electrical issues helps. But the beeping!


#13

You had a UPS battery last for EIGHT YEARS! Holy crap that’s incredible. Don’t think I’ve ever had one go longer than about 3.


#14

I’m coming late, but yeah, as you have learned by practical experience already, batteries have chemical stuff inside, and yes they degrade over time. Stupid chemical reactions!


#15

Never had that be a problem because…

Oh god, do I hate the sound. Haven’t had to deal with any of that except personal use for almost 15+ years but still, not a fond memory.

And yes, 8 years is a great run for a UPS battery.


#16

That is one great thing about the APC I have. The fact that I was able to install their software and disable the beeping. Hurray for APC! Thank you for letting me do that.


#17

Isn’t that like turning the beep on the fire alarm off? i.e. a bad idea? :)


#18

Yes but the downside is your computer turns off, as opposed to burning to death.


#19

8 years on a UPS battery is amazing. Standard life for SLA batteries is probably 3.

Anecdata here - The last 2 UPSes I bought in the last 2 years from APC both died within 1 year. One was only 6 months. The CyberPower ones I’ve bought have all been great. So just to get my two cents in, I won’t be buying APC anymore.


#20

We still have sites with APC but have been replacing a whole heck of a lot with Cyberpower. They are really hungry for increased market share and have had better features per dollar spent, so far.