My APC Smart-UPS has not been used for many months but when plug it in the mains there is nothing at all, not even the LED lights come on, is it toast.

Well maybe not, most APC UPS's except the SMX and SMT series and many other brands will not switch on if there are no batteries in the box, this also applies to batteries that have a low voltage, it just will not recognize them and therefore does not know they are there. This means that if you have had a UPS sitting on the shelf for a long period it will not switch on, but change the batteries and you have a pretty good chance that everything will be fine.

You could take the batteries out and charge them on a separate charger and check the voltage with a meter, a 12v battery would read a voltage of at least 12 volts, if in good condition it will read over 13.5 volts, if after charging they are still less than 12v then they will never be able to work in the UPS and this alone would be a pretty good indication of what the problem is.

Replacing the batteries is normally very easy and cost effective over the price of a new UPS, when taking the battery out you may notice a slight swelling, this is indicative of overcharging, normally because the battery has not been changed when it should, the battery might indicate to the system that it needs charging because the voltage is too low, so the system charges which over time becomes overcharged, as the battery is past its best it has no capacity left to accept the charge so it vents and swells.

When putting in new batteries when you complete the circuit it will spark as you put the last terminal on, this is quite normal and nothing to be concerned about.

If you have the benefit of Powechute software to connect into the UPS or other means like a LCD screen of doing a UPS calibration this resets the batteries to the UPS, it is not something than should be done often and can be very damaging to the batteries, it in effect completely drains them down before charging again, similar to a power outage, not something you want too often as it will reduce battery life. Remember you have the UPS in place to look after the valuable equipment behind, if you need new batteries then change them before you really need them.

A good UPS may last many years even decades, typical battery life in a UPS is between 2 to 5 years, this can be effected by

To many power outages

Not enough ventilation where sited

Too much load ( asking too much of the UPS, keep the load les than 50% if you can)

We supply user replacement batteries for many systems, some of which are linked here

UPS replacement batteries

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