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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Power | External Power | Uninterruptible Power Supplies | Parts of the Uninterruptible Power Supply ]

Control and Monitoring Software and Hardware

One of the most useful "components" of newer UPS models is control and monitoring software, which gives you extended status information and control over the operation of the UPS unit. Until recently, you had to purchase a very expensive unit to get this capability. Now, even lower-end UPSes have some control and monitoring capabilities (though the hardware and software required may be an add-on option). More expensive units of course have more to control, and thus more complex software.

The hardware part of the equation normally takes the form of a special cable that runs from a special interface port on the back of the UPS to an interface port on the PC. Traditionally a serial port was used for this function, but some newer units can also interface using a PC's USB (universal serial bus) port, or even directly over a network.

Main screen shot of APC's PowerChute Plus UPS control software. Bar charts show at a glance the
state of the battery, the line power voltage and the load on the UPS. Other status information is displayed
to the left. This software can be used to monitor UPSes connected to other PCs on a network. More
expensive UPSes have software that provides even more capabilities.

Image American Power Conversion Corp.
Image used with permission.

The software used for controlling the UPS varies by manufacturer and model, but generally includes functions in the following general categories:

  • Status: The software will show various details about the UPS's current status, such as its load, the battery's state of charge, the UPS's environmental condition (temperature, humidity, etc.) and the electrical characteristics of its input and output power.
  • Logging: The software will keep track of various events that occur, such as self-tests, power interruptions and the like. This is useful for seeing how often and for how long the power was interrupted when away from the machine.
  • Diagnostics: The control program will let you perform various tests on the UPS, or let you set up a testing schedule.
  • PC Alarms: The software can be configured to send notifications to the PC to which it is connected, or to another PC on a network, when the UPS encounters a problem condition or switches to battery operation.
  • Automatic Shutdown: Probably one of the most important and useful features of this sort of software; see here for more details.

Tip: For a full list of PowerChute features, see this page on APC's web site.

Next: Uninterruptible Power Supply Functions and Features

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