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The eco-friendlier APC Back-UPS ES-750
Live a little greener and pocket some green yourself to the tune of an average of $40 a year.
By Robert Jensen

Money is tight right now and in times like these we try and make do with what we have and keep things working as long as possible. Its also nice to save a little money here and there when we can. So how does a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) fit into this picture? Speaking in general terms a UPS can save electronics attached to it from electrical surges or lightning strikes that could fry its circuitry forcing you to go out shopping for a replacement. Conversely, it can keep your gear running smoothly during dips in power (brown out) and during a complete blackout even keep your computer running long enough to save your work and do a proper shutdown.

Another benefit of a UPS is the steady power it provides to your electronics. Computer monitors especially need a steady supply of electricity to perform at their peak. If you have a UPS between them and the harsh outside world they are protected from the daily peaks and dips of power that happen every time your refrigerator or air conditioner turn on and off and this can translate into a longer operating life for your expensive gear.

Finally, computers themselves need a steady flow of power or they will shut down, reset, or do other nasty things that could mean a loss of important data or even damage to some peripherals like hard drives especially if power is lost during a write to the disk.

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The APC ES-750 is a UPS about the size of a large loaf of bread with 10 power outlets arranged along the top, five to a side.  On the power cord end are surge protected connectors for your data lines - Cable In and Cable Out, Circuit Breaker, Data Port, Wall Outlet, DSL/Modem/Network/FAX and finally a Building Wiring Fault Indicator light.

APC connectors

Included in the box are a hook and loop (ie Velcro) cable tie, USB to Ethernet cable, phone cable, standard video cable, and a CD with APC's PowerChute Personal Edition software. 

The heart of the BE750G is its maintenance-free, leak proof, Lead-Acid battery. Its pretty tough but I'd still treat it with care. You'll need to install the battery before you can do anything. Since you're dealing with enough voltage here to give you a nasty shock I recommend that you read the instructions before you start putting things together.

Initial charge for the battery is 16 hours so while you're waiting you can install the software and read the rest of the instructions.

A few other precautions; keep this away from moisture, direct sunlight, heat, etc. Don't try to connect two of these together thinking you'll get a longer run time, you won't. APC warns that this is a definite no no. Plug the unit directly into the wall socket, don't use an extension cord, power strip, surge protector, or one of those wall socket adapters that convert two power outlets into four or six outlets. Just plug the ES 750 right into a single wall outlet and you're good to go.

What makes it 'Green'
APC uses a high efficiency, smart charger which by itself can save an average of $12 a year. Combine that with APC's SmartShedding Technology (which stops power leeching gadgets from eating up electricity) and you can save an average of $40 a year. If the costs of electricity increase, so does your savings. Basically the unit pays for itself in a little over two years. On top of that you get some peace of mind that your computer will be protected and in the case of a total loss of power you can finish your work and do a safe shutdown. If you happen to be in the middle of a brainstorm of writing the UPS can keep you going for up to 70 minutes, depending on your setup.

There were also changes made to its design to use less copper, plus the unit is more compact (less plastics used and less energy to ship it) and according to APC is up to five times more efficient than competitive products.

Some of you might be thinking that lead acid batteries are bad for the environment. That's true of any battery.  I'll tell you why I strongly prefer lead acid batteries over other types, my lead acid batteries have stayed in service some 4 to 10 times longer than other types of rechargeable batteries. Longer useful life means less batteries end up in a landfill over the years.  As with any battery type make sure you dispose of them properly and don't toss them in the trash. You can order replacement batteries directly from APC.


Putting it all together
Actual installation is simple, just flip the unit over on its back, slide open the battery cover, slip on the power connector, close things back up and you're done with the hard part. Plug in your hardware, install the PowerChute software (not essential but you should give it a try) and you're ready to go.

PowerChute features
Operating System Shutdown -Prevents possible data corruption by performing unattended operating system shutdown in the event of an extended power outage.
Status at a glance - Quickly assess power status
Self-test checks battery health - Ensures the system is ready when you need it

Once installed PowerChute will show up in Leopard's System Preferences under the 'Other' section. The interface is simple, just a choice between 'Preserve battery power. . .' or 'Keep my computer on as long as possible. . .', each with a slider to adjust the time variable and a drop down list of Port Names, you'll probably use the 'USB' setting.

TIP: To uninstall the Powerchute software on a Mac DO NOT move it to the trash like with other apps, it won't uninstall that way.  You'll need to insert the original install disc and run the script 'uninstall_pcpe.command'.   

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