System Upgrade - APC UPS Problem
July 29, 2008

All computer systems should be connected to a UPS - an Uninterruptible Power Supply ... basically, a battery - just to keep short power interruptions from resetting the system and loosing all your current work.

That said, this page details my experience with 2 APC UPS units, their lack of useful documentation, a very bad experience with customer service, and finally a very good experience and a possible solution for a specific problem.

Blinking Green Light

At work, we use APC 350 ES ups units.

It was fairly common to come in and find the green light on the APC UPS unit blinking and the noise maker (alarm) on. No problem, just turn the alarm off.

Guess what ... the only way to turn off the alarm is to turn off the UPS ... which of course means turning off the computer that the UPS is supposed to protect. This kind of defeats the purpose of buying the UPS in the first place.

Solution - get another UPS.

After about a month, the second APC UPS did the same thing.

Well, two out of two with the same problem means that it is time to read the manual. Of course, that was of no help.

When I unplugged the UPS, the continuous tone got higher.

The Call to Customer Support

Well, I had tried the manual ... time to call customer service ... which was also a complete waste of time.

Simple question

First he wanted - Name, telephone number, physical address, email address

I said - No, I don't give out my email address

His response - I can't answer that question without an email address

We argued about this for over a minute - he was being a real jerk

I asked to talk to a supervisor - he said he needed the email address first

I gave a fake address -

Then he wanted the model and serial numbers off the UPS unit. I gave him - APC-UPS 350 ES. Not good enough. There was a barcode with microsmall writing on it. Understand, to get this information the screaming alarm that was driving me nuts was right next to my face. I finally gave up and had a co-worker read the numbers - they were too small for me to read in that condition without a magnifying glass.

Then he wanted the brands and model numbers of all the items plugged into the UPS. I asked to speak to a supervisor. He said that he needed this information first. This is when I started to get angry. He started criticizing my attitude. But he didn't have that horrendous alarm in his ear. He obviously did not know how to silence the alarm ... and it was driving me crazy. I asked many times to talk with someone else ... and all he did was refuse.

At any rate, with that hideous noise going off in my ear and the ridiculous stalling of the (almost) human on the other end of the line, I finally lost it. I was no longer able to think clearly and had to hang up on him.

My suggestion to APC - require your telephone help to try and carry on a conversation for 10 minutes with that alarm on. Maybe then they will understand how it drives people nuts.

Conclusion - this company should be black balled for incomplete documentation and extremely poor customer service.


I should point out that neither of these units was brand new, so it is completely plausible that the batteries were past their primes. My problem is that neither the available documentation nor the human user support was able to say what the problem was.

There is no way to know if the product

There is no way to silence this hideous alarm without turning off the computer that the UPS is supposed to protect.

That's right, the only way to silence the alarm is to turn off the computer that the UPS is protecting. This kind of defeats the purpose of buying the UPS in the first place.

Email Support

After I had cooled down a bit, I went back to the APC web site and provided the following feedback. I received the following response the next day (after I had written this page). (The following is edited to remove basic advertising, to fix some typos, and the like.) The circuit breaker was not the issue, and I had already checked that.

The rest of the email is a test procedure that requires unplugging the UPS and everything plugged into it and a couple of links to get additional help. (I had already tried their on-line forums and knowledge base.)

Based on the fact that the computer system did NOT loose power, and the fact that a previous UPS continued to sound the alarm for several DAYS before I gave up and turned it off, the most reasonable scenario is a power surge.

So, since this is a recurring problem - How do we silence this thing without turning off the computer?

Email Support - Part 2

After receiving the above email response and adding that section to this page, I responded as follows. This is their response Well, that is exactly what I was looking for ... a way to turn off the alarm without turning off the computer. Unfortunately, the UPS is connected to the computer with an RS232 cable and most computers no longer have that type of interface. However, since RS232-to-USB adapters are available, I will get one to try this fix. I suspect that the software may even tell me why the light is blinking.

Old Conclusion

This is the Conclusion that was present when I responded to the first email. It is significantly less severe than the original. I have left it because if it was not posted on-line and referenced in my follow-up email I might not have gotten the second email (the one with a solution) and because it expresses my frustration at not finding a solution when I posted the page.

If your APC UPS has a blinking green light and a horrible scream ... simply because there is no way to turn off the alarm without turning off the computer ... find a trash can for it and replace it with a competitor's product.

Even if their product is the best on the market ... it just isn't worth dealing with this type of problem.

(I use this brand at work and at home - I am thinking that it is time to find another brand.)


I have had to rewrite this conclusion each time I received an email response.

I think their web page and customer support still need a lot of work, But I am willing to pull back from boycotting their products for a lack of support.

Thanks to a single person at APC who was willing to find a suitable answer, I will be able to continue using their UPS. However, there should still be a button to silence the alarm ... this should definitely not require software.

If I had found the information provided in the second email on their web site, I would have not bothered writing any of this. At this point, I still do not know where to find information explaining the blinking light or how to silence the alarm on the APC web site (simple searches did not find it), so leaving this page up may still be helpful to anyone with the same problem.

I have left in some comments about having no way to turn off the alarm because at the time I wrote those I did not have an answer and because if they are removed the way things unfolded can not be understood.

If I never wrote this page, I still would not have a useful answer.

Author: Robert Clemenzi -
URL: http:// / user / clemenzi / technical / Upgrades / APC_UPS.html