Is your PC at risk from mains power failure? With solar flares (yes, really) and extreme weather-related threats to electricity supplies in the news a lot these days, mains power reliability is not 100 percent guaranteed. If you have to share your electricity supply with heavy duty electrical machinery, power protection could also prevent unforeseen problems.
Belkin’s Regulator Pro Gold Series 525VA UPS is an affordable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) package that will provide power protection and peace of mind. It can also be connected to a PC via a serial cable. Using the supplied Bulldog Sentry software, a dynamic display and log of the mains power condition is kept and in the event of a power failure, the software can safely shut the host PC down, saving data and closing applications, before the back-up power runs out. Belkin also provides surge protection connectors for RJ11 phone lines and RJ45 10Base-T LAN cabling.
A typical UPS has a series of sealed, maintenance-free lead-acid batteries, similar to those found in cars. These provide mains specification electricity to an attached electrical device, like a PC, in the event of a mains power failure. The length of time it can keep this up depends on its power capacity rating (volt amperes or VA) and the drain of the attached device (watts). The unit tested is rated at 525VA and Belkin estimates it can keep an average PC system going for around half an hour after a mains failure. The batteries last for around 3 years and are user-replaceable without the need to switch the UPS off.
Technically, there are two basic types of UPS product – standby and online. The former monitors the mains power and switches its battery supply on when it senses a failure and the latter uses an inverter supplying protected power all the time. Online UPS models are relatively expensive and it’s no surprise that the Belkin unit we tested is of the cheaper standby type. There is a theoretical risk that in the few milliseconds that the UPS takes to switch from live mains supply to the battery supply a PC might crash.
In practice, there is no real risk with the Belkin unit, We tried switching off the mains power and it took over without any interruption to the attached PC. In addition to power supply back-up, the Belkin unit includes automatic voltage regulation (AVR), or line conditioning, to filter out mains electricity noise and power fluctuations. Eight power sockets are provided; four are back-up protected and all are surge protected even when the unit is switched off.
Interestingly, during the test period, the log indicated that back-up power was triggered for a few seconds on two occasions. Unprotected equipment in the same office was not obviously affected. Our test lab is based in an 18th century building with old-ish wiring and the power supply is less reliable than most. It seems that power fluctuations were sensed, triggering the back-up mode. It’s possible to alter the sensitivity of the back-up trigger if necessary.
Our only problem when testing the review unit was right at the beginning, when it indicated the batteries required replacing because its system clock was wrong. If you buy this product, double-check the clock settings, otherwise you will may the unit switches itself off after an hour or so.
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