APC RBC Battery Module Teardown

I have a few UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) units to keep my electronics running through short blinks in household electricity, something more likely in a heat wave as neighborhood air conditioning units demand power from the grid. Historically I’ve preferred UPS made by APC as they’ve worked well for me, but over the past few years I’ve heard grumblings from unhappy APC users. The claim is that quality of their consumer line has gone down since their acquisition by Schneider Electric in a misguided effort to compete on price. I can confirm the price premium is less than it used to be, but it still exists. And as to the quality… all I can say is that my units are still working. I’ll post an update if any of the newer APC units fail.

I saw some of the complaints were of dead lead-acid batteries after some years, but I do not consider that a failure on APC’s part. Just like the lead-acid batteries in our cars, batteries are wear items expected to need replacement after some number of years. The guidelines for mission-critical UPS is to replace the battery modules after 2-3 years of active service, but that is being cautious. Batteries on long term standby (like those in a UPS) can last much longer. It’s just a matter of luck.

My luck ran out after five years, when my UPS started beeping at me with an error code. I bought the official replacement battery APCRBC123 (*) but I was curious: Superficially it appears to be two commodity 7Ah 12V modules connected together, are they actually that? Once the new module was installed and working, I took the old module outside to see if my suspicion was correct. The modules were held together by plastic sheets with adhesive backing, complete with convenient tabs where I could start peeling.

Once tape was removed (surprisingly cleanly) I could split the module apart and see it is indeed a pair of commodity form factor lead-acid batteries. Two of them, connected in series via a proprietary adapter in the middle.

So now I know: for the next replacement, it is possible to buy commodity batteries and rebuild the module myself. It wouldn’t have saved me much money this time: the APC module costs roughly in line with the average selling price of two 7Ah batteries. (*) Besides, who knows how long those zero review lowest-bidder batteries would last. But in a few years my new battery module will wear out and require another replacement. If there is a significant price premium on authentic APC replacement modules — or if they are no longer available at all — I have a fallback option.

(*) Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s