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Hands-On Review APC Back-UPS 550

Huge APC Failure. I am not a happy camper.

I have used APC universal power supplies for years to protect my delicate electronics including computers and rigs. The APC Back-UPS 550 sells at a good price point and it has always been reliable until…

Just the other day the main circuit breaker in my ham shack began to trip at the oddest times: 3 a.m, 6 p.m. etc. It didn’t seem to matter whether or not equipment was turned on. I first suspected the breaker itself…it felt a bit loose in the panel. Fixed that. Next day another failure. And another. And another. I then wondered if I had finally crept up on the 20A circuit breaker maximum.

I began studiously using my trusty Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor to calculate the total load on the circuit. After a lot of time and effort the results were in — I was nowhere near the capacity of the breaker.

I then looked around the shack to find something else to blame. I had a thought about one particular AC outlet that I jacked with long ago. Opened it up to check on the wire nuts. All was good. Scratching my head further, I began wondering about each and every device on the circuit. Nothing came to mind until…

The breaker tripped again, but I was in the shack this time. When the APC cutover, the clicking sound it made just didn’t seem right to me. I removed the APC from operation and quickly noted its battery was going south quickly. I plugged the effected gear into another higher capacity UPS, a CyberPower 1500, which was nearby.

After removing the APC from operation, the circuit breaker never tripped again. I Googled my problem and ended up on the APC site where several other users posted about having the same problem. I found the responses from APC tech support personnel to be curious. APC denied that the 550 could be responsible for the circuit breaker tripping — it blamed users’ electrical environment, blah, blah, blah.

While you can order a replacement battery for these at a really good price, I wasn’t ready to blame the battery. It was two years old, but

  • The Replace Battery light never came on
  • APC tech support dismissed the idea of a bad battery being the breaker culprit

Yes, I could spend $15 and replace the battery, but APC has left a bad taste in my mouth. Right or wrong I suspected faulty circuitry. However not fully troubleshooting the problem nagged me so I did replace the battery. APC tech support was indeed wrong. The battery was the culprit.

I think I’ll buy CyberPower UPS products from now on.

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