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APC adds monitoring, efficiency features to UPS line

An IT pro says the ability to do more remote monitoring is key to APC's SmartUPS line, although concern persists about availability with the products' energy-efficiency features.

APC's latest SmartUPS line claims better energy efficiency and monitoring for a data center's backup power.

At least one user said that the products, announced this week, could minimize the need for hands-on monitoring. David Shaw, executive director of data center solutions at Sisters of Mercy Health System in St. Louis, said the LCD readouts and remote monitoring of UPS systems will help data centers get away from having a staff member walk the raised floors to record readouts, a task that is time-consuming, he said.

Sisters of Mercy is building a new data center in Washington, Mo., and will be able to monitor all 18 of its IT rooms from a central location in St. Louis.

"One person can monitor the whole enterprise so they can then see the status of any part of the system," he said. "Still, you can only take in so much through the automated system. If there seems to be a problem that they can't diagnose remotely down to a granular level, they can dispatch a local engineer to look at it."

The SmartUPS models from APC, now owned by Schneider Electric, can also bypass unused components within the device to make it up to 97% energy efficient, according to the company. Shaw said he was initially concerned that the feature could affect availability. Working in the healthcare industry means avoiding downtime at all costs.

"I was concerned, but I'm an electronics engineer by profession, and having read the specs on the devices, I'm pretty confident that the design and testing will ensure that we won't expose ourselves," he said. "I don't expect [APC] to cut corners just to get a bigger share of the market."

Ray Munkelwitz, a product line manager at APC, said the feature bypasses what's called the automatic voltage regulation (AVR) transformers. Those transformers regulate the voltage of power coming in from the utility, which may be necessary during unstable power periods such as brownouts. But normally the power coming to the data center is within an acceptable voltage range, and those AVR transformers can be bypassed. In addition, Munkelwitz said the transformers can be turned back on automatically within 6 milliseconds in case they're needed.

The new SmartUPS models from APC, designed mostly for server closets and network rooms, are available in models from 750 volts-ampere (VA) to 1,500 VA)and join a line with products up to 3,000 VA.

The 750 VA to 1,500 VA models start at about $300 and can range up to about $1,000 each.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at

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