If you enjoy this review, please help keep Storm Gods on line.

American Power Conversion ES-350 Uninterruptible Power Supply

title stars
title stars
title stars
title stars


Uninterruptible power supplies are almost as exciting as photocopiers, and the buying decisions surrounding them are usually predicated upon the nearest box with a plug at one end and a battery inside. It’s easier to develop a consuming interest in zucchini.

There are a lot of very inexpensive UPS devices – at least, there are a lot of them that cost less than the APC ES-350, which is relatively pricey as these things go. This having been said, none of them represents a really huge pile of cash, and the extra few dollars required to leave the shop with a state of the art, utterly reliable UPS is arguably worth it.

The ES-350 is an uninterruptible power supply turned up to ten, with every conceivable feature. It won’t make tea, but there’s a place to plug in the kettle.

In its most elementary sense, a UPS consists of a battery charger, a battery and an inverter, this latter box of chips being a device to turn the DC power from a UPS battery into a sufficiently convincing simulation of AC power as to allow it to power computers, televisions and other technology. While a singularly convoluted way of doing absolutely nothing most of the time, if the power fails, the battery in a UPS will keep running whatever’s plugged into it with no detectable disturbance in the force.

One important consideration of all uninterruptible power supplies is that they’re far from efficient. The process of converting AC to DC, charging a battery and then converting DC back to simulated AC consumes some power. The ES-350 was somewhat more efficient in this respect than a few of the low-cost UPS systems we’ve tried. As an example, a desk lamp with a 60 watt light bulb plugged into the wall consumed 52 watts, as measured by a Kill A Watt power consumption meter. The same lamp plugged into the ES-350 caused the ES-350 to consume 63 watts.

It’s a good idea to choose a UPS to match the power requirements of the device you intend to plug into it, for this reason. A UPS that’s considerably more powerful than you actually require will be larger and more expensive than it needs to be – it will also consume more power just running itself.

Cheap ‘n nasty UPS systems with brand names you’ve never heard of are a lot less efficient as a rule, and blow away a lot more watts.

American Power Conversion has been making uninterruptible power supplies since way before they were trendy, and this most recent generation of their products is seriously well put together. It does what it says on the box – providing both uninterruptible power and bulletproof surge suppression. However, this UPS has a brain inside. Connect it to an Ethernet port and the software included with it will strike up a conversation with it.

The PowerChute application bundled with the ES-350 will let you log into the UPS and configure it. For example, you can silence most of its audible alarms through its user interface. This is something most users of these devices will unquestionably wish to do – if you’re suddenly plunged into darkness by a power failure, you probably won’t need the incessant beeping of your UPS to alert you that something’s amiss.

You can also fine tune the behavior of the ES-350 in software, configuring it for different external circumstances. It can be adjusted to allow for power supplied by a generator, for example, which tends to be a bit noisy and erratic.

Finally, the PowerChute software can be configured to shut down your computer in an orderly and safe manner if the power is off line for a sufficient period to get down to the end of the battery life of the ES-350. While this function is entirely optional, it can save you from having to recover from Windows fainting unexpectedly, something it usually proves to resent the next time it boots up.

The ES-350 will provide 50 watts of power from its internal battery for 24 minutes, 100 watts 100 watts for 10 minutes and 200 watts for two minutes. It’s one of a range of uninterruptible power supplies in the ES suite – you can buy larger versions of it to provide more power for longer periods. In our case, we only needed the UPS to run for about a minute, this being the time it takes our emergency generator to get up to speed and bring itself on line if the lights go out.

The ES-350 also includes a surge suppressor for a telephone line, which will go some way in defending your phone, FAX machine or other communications toys against lightening strikes.

Compact, easy to deploy and impressively reliable, the ES-350 is the perfect UPS. You can ignore it for most of its life without having it become the center of attention when you suddenly discover you need it. The first time it prevents several hours of your work from disappearing into an alternate universe, it’ll seem worth several times its purchase price.