by Josh Shaman

APC Back-UPS Pro 500 Lithium Ion Review

The APC Back-UPS Pro 500 (BG500) is a UPS system designed for SMBs and home networks that provides 300W/500VA of battery backup for up to four outlets, and is unique in the market with APC's Lithium Ion battery implementation. At 300W, the device could potentially backup a workstation, but beyond that, APC envisions many end-customers utilizing the BG500 to support networking equipment which is easily within its range. The BG500 delivers battery backup power that APC quotes from 44 minutes at 25W to 6.5 minutes at 180W, which enables networking and other computing equipment to maintain continuous operation even during lengthier power outages. Of course, as a UPS it also provides protection from surges and spikes.

The APC BG500 has a wide-range of functions that make it easier to use while also delivering efficiency. The UPS has alarms that notify users of changing power conditions, and it automatically self-tests to ensure users will know when to replace the battery. And as the BG500 has a hot-swappable battery, performing that level of maintenance will be simple. The BG500 can also provide cost-savings with power outlets that shut-down peripherals when the primary component is not in use. Using the management utility, users can also access information about how much money has been saved on electricity using the local utility rate. Rounding out the efficiency features, the BG500 utilizes "Smart Outlets" which users can set as just surge protected or both surge and battery protected.

Obviously with Lithium Ion batteries (Li-ion), there is going to be a cost delta as the technology is more expensive than traditional lead acid batteries. However, with Li-ion also comes an expanded expectation of the battery life at 8 years versus just 3-5. That helps to drive down overall TCO and maximize ROI, especially when you couple in not having to redeploy due to a battery reaching end-of-life. On top of that, Li-ion batteries are light-weight and easy to recycle.

The APC BG500 carries a 3 year warranty with a lifetime $150,000 equipment protection policy and has a street price of $299.99.

APC BG500 Pro Specifications

  • Rating (VA/Watts): 500/300
  • Output
    • Output Voltage / Freq. (utility): 120V, 50/60Hz auto sensing
    • Output Voltage / Freq. (battery): 120V, 50/60Hz auto sensing
    • 4 total outlets: 2 battery backup & surge / 2 battery optional & surge
    • Waveform Type: Quasi Sine
  • Input
    • Input Voltage / Frequency: 120V 50/60Hz auto sensing
    • Input Connection: 5 foot power cord
  • Surge Protection
    • AC Power Surge Protection: All outlets
    • Data Line Surge Protection: Telephone (RJ-11)
  • Physical
    • Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.13" x11.42" x7.52" (54mm x 390mm x 191mm)
    • Weight: 4.84 lbs (2.2kg)
  • Battery Type Maintenance-free, Lithium Ion with 12 hour recharge time
  • Alarms: Visual (LED) and audible alarms
  • Certification/Approvals: FCC Class B, cTUVus, USB-IF
  •  Runtime
    • 25 W 51 minutes
    • 40W 34 minutes
    • 180W 6.7 minutes

Design and Build

The APC BG500 is just a little bit larger in size than a wireless router or iPad. With its slick black exterior and its ability to lie-flat, be wall-mounted or utilize the included stabilizer bracket to stand upright, the APC BG500 will blend well in any workstation environment, or in an equipment closet. The front of the unit has a silver plastic plate, and to the left of that are LED indicators. The sides of the UPS are high-gloss plastic with APC branding.

Turning the unit around reveals the connectivity. Starting from the top, the first two outlets are the standard backup outlets. Moving down, we see the two Smart Outlets that users can set to surge protect or to both surge and battery protect. APC has also separated the outlets to ensure that even larger transformer block plugs can be inserted without blocking other receptacles. In between the two Smart Outlets, users can plug in a phone to back it up.

The bottom of the back panel features the network management interface. This feature is pretty unique as most 300W UPS don't offer this functionality. Users can access the management console using the USB input if the UPS is directly next to a workstation, or they can plug into the Ethernet port to manage the UPS from the Internet. The bottom also features a resettable circuit breaker so that the device won't overload and draw more power than the unit is rated for.

There are also two pinhole buttons for Network Reset and Building Wiring Fault (which tells users if the building's wiring is properly setup). Rounding out design features, users can remove one or both of the Smart Outlets in order to achieve even greater run time for the remaining outlets. 

Usage and Runtime

The APC BG500's backup runtime depends entirely on the equipment load accessing its provided 300W/500VA. APC includes a reference of typical applications and operation times. For modems and routers at roughly 25W, the unit provides continuous power for 44 minutes. To backup a VoIP system (modem, router and VoIP phone) at roughly 40W, the device provides backup for 29 minutes. The last reference APC lists is a home office with a mid-range computer, 20" LCD monitor and VoIP phone at around 180W for 6 and a half minutes.

For our needs, with the APC BG500 integrated in our StorageReview test lab providing power protection for our Synology DiskStation DS1812+ and NETGEAR ProSafe Plus JGS524E 24-Port Ethernet Switch, the BG500 provides a solid buffer to prevent minor outages from disrupting daily operations. In our configuration, the power load is 106.8W for a projected battery life of 12 minutes.

Management Software

Users can manage their APC BG500 using the included Ethernet cable. The web interface is accessible once users have run the Device IP Config Wizard to note the device's IP address. In the management utility, users can remotely control the Smart Outlets (on, off, reboot), even if the UPS is powered down. Users can also receive email notifications when there are critical, warning or informational events.

The utility's main purpose aside from remotely powering on and off the device is to provide data logs. These logs revolve around event, data and energy usage, including indicating the amount of energy savings a user has achieved.

Conclusion

The APC Back-UPS Pro 500 provides 300W/500VA of battery backup for up to four outlets and is designed for small businesses and home networks. The BG500's battery backup is quoted at 51 minutes at 25W, 34 minutes at 40W and 6.7 minutes at 180W. Application configurations for the APC could be on the lower power end using just a modem and router, or they could range up to backing up a workstation with a monitor and phone attached. In our case, the BG500 provides backup for 106.8W which the management client indicates should provide us with 12 minutes of backup time. That is more than enough to ride out blips from surges and spikes as well as most minor outages.

There are a few aspects that really differentiate the BG500 from the competition. Most noticeably is its Lithium Ion battery which is rated at up to eight years of total life. That figure is a major selling point as more traditional lead acid batteries tend to yield 3-5 years. So while the battery and thus the UPS are more expensive, the life is also greater for savings on replacement batteries. Additionally, many UPS devices in this range don't offer management options, but with the BG500 users can use the Ethernet port to utilize that functionality. The battery and management features add a lot of value by lowering the amount of required maintenance and increasing the level of control the user has over protection. Tacking on yet another value-packed feature is the ability to reconfigure on the fly with two Smart Outlets that can be set as just surge protected or both surge and battery protected. These features help to justify to unit's higher price-point.

Pros

  • 8 year average battery life with Lithium Ion
  • Integrated network management in compact build
  • Software-switchable power backup ports

Cons

  • Price delta due to Li-ion battery implementation

Bottom Line

The APC Back-UPS Pro 500 has an output capacity of 300W and utilizes a lithium ion battery to drive a longer battery life at around 8 years, while providing up to 51 minutes of backup runtime in the event of power loss or failure.

APC Back-UPS Pro 500 at Amazon.com

Discuss This Review