I'm bemused by APC pricing - I'm sure there's something significant I'm missing.

Background: I've got 3 low-power PCs and a couple of DSL routers... I live somewhere where power is prone to failing... sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours, several times a year. I want my UPS to keep these 5 devices running until power is restored... for a minimum of several hours... I estimate typical current draw at <100w.

I currently have an old "Technoware UPS EVO DSP" (bought 2nd hand several years ago). I think it is rated at 1200VA - it powers all my kit for a long time - it has never died during a power-outage. Unfortunately, it's become very noisy - I want to replace partly to get something quieter - and partly because I expect it will fail at some point.

My first thought was "APC" as a well-known brand... but then I discovered that there seem to be two APC product lines, with similar specifications, at radically different price points.

For example:

  • APC BX1600MI Back-UPS Desktop Uninterruptible Power Supply (900W/1600VA) @ £197.53
  • APC BX2200MI Back-UPS Desktop Uninterruptible Power Supply (1200W/2200VA) @ £256.37
  • APC SMT1000IC Smart-UPS Desktop Uninterruptible Power Supply (700W/1000VA) @ £611.53
  • APC SMT1500IC Smart-UPS Desktop Uninterruptible Power Supply (1000W/1500VA) @ £820.38

Source: https://www.broadbandbuyer.com/store/surge-protection-ups/uninterruptible-power-supply/?t=420

What am I missing? Why would anyone buy a SMT... UPS over a BX... UPS? Is there an important difference between a 'Smart-UPS' and a 'Back-UPS' that justifies more than triple the cost? Is the lifespan of a BX UPS dramatically shorter than an SMT UPS?

Is Smart-UPS vs Back-UPS about software to safely shutdown servers before the battery dies? Is the difference that the Back-UPS would not notify my servers that they need to shut-down... or am I barking up the wrong tree? Is it reasonable for me to expect that the 'VA' rating should be approximately proportional to the length of time a UPS would keep my kit running after mains electricity failed?

  • Isnt this like asking why buy a Rolls when a mini would do? They both do the same thing. Commented Feb 28 at 0:17
  • It's more like asking: If Rolls Royce offers two engine choices - one costing three times the other... what are the benefits of buying the more expensive one if all the relevant-looking stats are identical.
    – aSteve
    Commented Feb 28 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


The smart UPSs do much more. They have a cat5 port, support cloud monitoring, provide more outlets, provide reports, have a green mode, support plug in cards for more options, etc etc. They are meant for servers. Which, frankly means that they can charge more.

Whereas the other one has only one outlet and is as simple as it can be.

  • As far as I can tell, the BX1600MI has 6 outlets (not only 1) and, while it doesn't have an Ethernet interface, it does have a USB port - so it still connects to a computer... and that would have network connectivity. I see proprietary dependencies on 'cards' and 'cloud-services' as being a disadvantage. I do find it strange that the premium models don't seem to offer better performance (longer battery power) or promise better durability etc. Differentiation in terms of non-core features seem a very weak justification for a huge price difference.
    – aSteve
    Commented Feb 28 at 22:59

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