Argggh!! APC Back up

Apc_500_2 So after a few years of faithful service, the APC 500 backup begins chirping like a chick for its mother hen. 

Given how unreliable the electrical system is here in the sticks (thank you LIPA), the backup is a huge lifesaver for the computer. Several times a week, the power levels drop — not a full black out, but a momentary loss that w/o the battery, the iMac would be toast.

Incidentally, this turns out to be one of the oddest — and most useful and appreciated — gifts I have ever received. 

Not only does the uninterruptible power supply, well, not get interrupted, but I don’t deal with all the nasty side effects of regular sudden power offs — lost data, glitchy OS, program problems. I highly recommend getting a UPS if you don’t use one.

A quick look up of the APC BP500US, and it turns out that the lead battery needs replacement. Okay, order a new one, ($25), it comes a few days later, charge it up overnight — and the APC is still chirping away.


Before I spend some more time on hold with the Philippines trying to reset this, does anyone any shortcuts?

There has to be a simple way to reset this damn thing . . .

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  1. Brian B. commented on Dec 16

    You know I think a new one costs only about $100…. just a thought… :).. anyhow, am I missing something but what happened to Sat’s link in review? and todays Link in preview? You see you are spending all your time on this APC thing, all in an effort to save $75… Now I know what to send you for Christmas at least… OK, check in later BR… Still love the blog!!!

  2. Estragon commented on Dec 16

    Does it supply output power when plugged in? When not plugged in?

    I assume you’ve already tried pushing in the input circuit breaker button.

    What lights are on or flashing?

    Does it chirp steadily, or only periodically?

  3. attobuoy commented on Dec 16

    From the instruction manual at$FILE/D7016B3e.pdf:

    “If the battery fails a self-test, the UPS emits short beeps for one minute and the replace battery LED illuminates. The UPS
    repeats the alarm every five hours. Perform the self-test procedure to confirm replace battery conditions. The alarm stops when the
    battery passes the self-test.”

    Done that already?

  4. alnval commented on Dec 16

    Small world. I literally just bought a new APC500. After almost 3 years My ‘replace battery’ LED began blinking along with the chirping – 8 blinks with 4 chirps about every 10 seconds.

    After about two weeks I bought a new battery but it didn’t solve the problem. Contacted APC by e-mail who dealt with me very courteously, told me that my unit was out of warranty but that I should try charging the new battery overnight with the unit off and without anything connected to the power plugs. Did that with no change in blinking/chirping. If anything blinking/chirping got worse. Finally solved the problem by buying the new APC500. Works fine.

    I now have one old (defective?) APC500 and two batteries one of which is only a month old.

    My advice? Save yourself the aggravation and pay the two dollars.

  5. Barry Ritholtz commented on Dec 16

    Linkfest comin’ — been pretty busy with other stuff — furniture delivery, my Bro’s 3rd kid was just born, and this damn storm won’t stop!

    Should be posted in a few hours . . .

  6. Chief Tomahawk commented on Dec 16

    Sorry to hear of your troubles, BR.

    But because of your affinity for retail sales news and the data provided by the National Retail Federation, I thought I’d mention what was put out by “SpendingPulse” today.

    U.S. apparel chains see slow holiday growth: report 40 minutes ago

    U.S. specialty apparel retailers have experienced slow sales growth over the first 20 days of the holiday shopping season, according to data released on Sunday by SpendingPulse.

    The figures, from the retail data service of MasterCard Advisors, offer an early glimpse of how consumer spending is holding up this season, as consumers grapple with the U.S. housing slump, rising food and fuel costs and tighter credit.

    SpendingPulse said that over the first 20 days of the holiday shopping season, sales at U.S. specialty apparel chains, which include Gap Inc (GPS.N), Aeropostale Inc (ARO.N) and Urban Outfitters Inc, (URBN.O) rose a modest 0.5 percent this year, compared with a 5.1 percent increase last year.

    Men’s clothing sales rose 4.5 percent, while women’s clothing sales fell 5.7 percent, SpendingPulse said.

    Consumer electronics sales rose 5.8 percent, SpendingPulse said.

    (Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by Steve Orlofsky)

  7. Joe commented on Dec 16

    Congrats on the new addition to the family! Love the blog, will look for the linkfest after the 1 o’clock football games.

  8. Seeker commented on Dec 16

    I have a bunch of Back-UPS units (at least 10). Lead-acid batteries only last a few years. You can get replacements from APC or BatteriesPlus — there may be a retail store near you.

    The battery is only part of the game. There’s also surge suppression circuitry that gets slowly eaten up by crappy power. If that’s what goes, a new battery won’t help.

    Because the stuff that I have plugged into these UPS units is REALLY IMPORTANT to me, I keep spare units and batteries “on the shelf”. Compared to the cost of downtime, they’re cheap. If you don’t want to pay for pristine, get a refurb unit from the APC Outlet. They work fine for me.

    If you have a lot of low voltage conditions instead of interruptions, consider paying up for a SmartUPS instead of a Back-UPS. Back-UPS are good, inexpensive products. Part of what allows them to be inexpensive is that the switching circuitry is “all or nothing”. If the input voltage and amperage is OK, then the unit runs on line power. If the input voltage is out of envelope for either input voltage or amperage, the unit switches to battery power for 100% of the output draw. SmartUPS has more circuitry, so it costs more. SmartUPS uses the same batteries as Back-UPS, but uses them more efficiently. When you have a “low input” condition, SmartUPS uses the battery to make up the difference. That means that in crappy power conditions, your battery keeps you up and running longer. And it reduces the chemical wear on the battery, helping it to last longer too.

    You’re relatively close to APC (compared to me in Michigan). That might be part of a fun day trip for you.

    Also keep the power draw of the equipment that you plug into the UPS, and where it is plugged. A BK500, BR500 or LS500 is good for about 300 watts of output — half off the battery and half surge protected only. If you want to run more of a draw under crappy power conditions, get bigger. An LS700 ups the output capacity from 150 watts to 210. A BR1200 gets you almost 400. Buy what you need, and keep a spare handy. Nothing will drive you quite as crazy as a chirp that you can’t shut up!

  9. Doug commented on Dec 16

    Barry, all you really need is a voltage regulator. APC sells them for about $40-$60. That will take care of the uneven power levels. The back-up power is only useful if (a) you’re there to shut down the machine when there’s a power interruption (only the VERY expensive units do it automatically) or (b) want to work through a blackout. Also, if you don’t have a lightening rod / arrest device on your home electric circuit, it’s advisable and relatively inexpensive. I lost a computer before learning that lesson.

  10. Owner Earnings commented on Dec 16

    I have a rule that any time intensive problems under $100 get solved by buying a replacement. This fits the rule.

  11. jeeprbug commented on Dec 16

    Not sure if this will fix it, but you might want to try something they call a runtime calibration to reset the microprocessor.

    1)Remove your serial cable connection from the ups
    2)Remove all the computer / monitor plugs from the ups.
    3)Connect up a 100 watt lamp to a battery backup plug on the ups
    4)Disconnect the ups from the wall outlet and wait until the lamp goes out.
    5)Then disconnect the lamp, plug the ups back into the wall outlet.
    6)Wait a few minutes and plug in the computer and power it up.

    There is more info here:

  12. Norman commented on Dec 16

    RE: APC BP500US

    Thanks to everyone who took the time to help the rest of us. Now, this is what blogging should be about.

  13. mla commented on Dec 16

    I had this happen a couple years ago. I bought replacement batteries but they didn’t help.

    Turned out I was being stupid. I had plugged in too many devices and it was constantly draining the battery.

    I unplugged one device and it was solved.

    So if you’ve changed your configuration of devices at all, you might give that a try first.

  14. wunsacon commented on Dec 16

    Barry, I second Doug’s point about the APC voltage regulator. From what I recall, brownouts are more likely to cause damage than true blackouts, because the latter are much less frequent (and possibly other reasons that make a brownout more dangerous). So, I only use a 1200w regulator at this point (purchased for less than $100). I’ve owned the same one for at least 10 years. There’s no battery to replace.

    When I owned desktops, I placed everything on the regulator except for devices containing hard drives, to extend the reserve in the event of an outage. (With the monitors off, I relied on the automatic “standby” timer — set at about 20 minutes — to shut down the CPU in case the power didn’t come back after 20 minutes.) Later, once my UPS started beeping the way yours does now and since I no longer owned desktops, I tossed it. I figure: my regulator protects the laptop power conversion circuitry from dirty power, while the laptop itself protects my data from a true power outage.

    Of course, make up your own mind… :-)

  15. Eric Davis commented on Dec 17

    Sounds like you may have installed the new battery incorrectly. I’d pull it back out, maybe even clean the connections(both sides;battery and battery receptacle) with an abrasive pad or Pencil eraser. see if it didn’t sit properly.

    I’d make sure you read the directions when you install it. Many people, like myself skip the direction reading part of installing most equipment, and then forget something stupid.

    Some one mentioned that Apc units chirp differently depending on the problem. Which is true, depending on the unit. I would verify that the problem is the bad battery.

    I would look up specifics on your unit, but that would be one step closer to sending you a bill.

    You also should have an APC maintenance facility in your area, an option is to take it to them and have them give it a quick diagnosis. they fix it and charge you $25 bucks, or they call the company and get you a replacement replacement battery, charge you $25 bucks and you are on your way…

    at one point throw it out the window, buy a new one.

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