Whether you call it a power cut or "load shedding" in India, the result of not having electricity is the same. The APC Back-UPS RS 1500VA is quite a beast, very different from the APC RS550 VA that we had reviewed earlier. It comes loaded with a number of useful features, expandable battery and targeted at SOHO users, who'd want uninterrupted power supply backup for multiple computers . Also useful for individuals who use more than one PC, or want power backup for very highly configured PCs, it is priced high but looks good.
The APC Back-UPS RS 1500VA is sleek, very much so. Thin and vertically oriented, it does not occupy much space for a UPS unit of its class. You can actually afford to think of keeping the unit and its supplementary battery in your room and not feel embarrassed. You cannot quite say the same for a UPS/inverter. Colored slightly off-white, the UPS itself, and its optional battery pack are not an eye-sore at all. The front is clean, with just indicators and a power button being present. The rear has four power backed-up sockets and one voltage-regulation only pass-through socket.
The form-factor is said to be "2U", in deference to the expectation that it could be used in server rooms.
This UPS on steroids has USB monitoring functionality and an optional battery pack that can be connected in for extra backup time. The battery pack can be hot-plugged, meaning plugged in or out while the UPS is on, which is a good thing. It could be thought of as a home UPS, or as power backup for a high-end computer. The bundled APC PowerChute software is a pleasure to use, with a number of details being reported by the UPS through the USB cable.
This UPS is rated at 1.5 kVA and rated to provide a maximum of 865 Watts. This is normal UPS behaviour, since the power factor also enters the equation, so do not be surprised. Significantly, this UPS does not provide a pure sine wave. But at least APC is being honest about it, and the target audience may not exactly be impacted by much. Even at the higher budget levels, Indian buyers may prefer lower price and a pretty good product, compared to a perfect product priced four times as much.
Notice how a pure sine wave is different from a stepped sine wave.
Package contents included cord management straps, USB monitoring cable for UPS, user manual, and a CD with software (APC PowerChute and some free trial software). For a detailed spec listing, click this review's "Specifications" tab, or visit APC's page.
To test backup times provided, we operated a rig that was deliberately fully loaded. The PC configuration consisted of an Intel Core i7-965 processor, Intel X58 motherboard, Kingston DDR3 triple-channel memory, Intel X25-M 80 GB SSD, Asus Blu-ray Writer, Zotac GeForce GTX480 graphics card, Tagan BZ-1300W PSU and Windows 7 Ultimate Edition. The APC units under test were the Back-UPS RS1500VA (BR1500-IN), and its Battery Pack (BR24BP) for extended runtime.
Results were observed over the course of four tests, which were run twice to obtain an average. For two of the results, we checked how long it could last when the PC operated at full blast (when components were stressed to the maximum that FurMark could manage), with and without the optional battery pack. Two other results were obtained when the same PC was left alone entirely, again with and without the battery pack. The graph below represents the numbers we saw, showing just how long the UPS managed to support the PC in each of the four conditions.
Backup times provided to a high-end PC.
The number of Watts consumed by the system connected to it, is as reported by APC software PowerChute. The variance of Watts consumed at full load was not more than 8 Watts. Note that the APC PowerChute software suggests not adding any further load after it has crossed 440W. The reason for this, is that more load will speed up draining out the charge left in the UPS batteries. APC has a "runtime chart" indicative of how long you can expect its UPS to continue powering devices at specified load levels, here.
The software kept wanting to "hibernate" the computer some minutes after the power-backup test was begun, but we suppressed the prompts and kept the UPS running all the way till it beeped its way through to zero. When recharge of both, the main UPS and the batteries was involved, it took a minimum of an overnight charging cycle to be restored to full power.
The backup time graph makes it clear that a person buying this UPS will gain more value from also buying the battery pack (priced around Rs. 5,000). Being positioned as high as it is, buyers who opt for the APC Back-UPS RS 1500VA will certainly be rewarded by the manageability, looks, and low maintenance.
However, those who are looking purely at muscle and longer UPS runtimes, might find better value-for-money from a custom-made inverter-battery combination.