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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Uninterruptible Power Supply Guide

CyberPower Line Interactive UPS image
CyberPower Line Interactive UPS
A few weeks ago I went searching to replace my current UPS (uninterruptible power supply) and found out a lot of interesting info that I'd like to pass on.

First of all, what is a UPS? It's a battery backup that keeps your computer and computer-based gear running long enough during a power outage so that you can properly shut it down and not lose any data. In the summer when blackouts happen frequently thanks to the demands on the power grid, just a quick power interruption can easily ruin a session if you don't have time to back it up and shut it down properly, and a UPS supplies this. Not all UPSs are built equally though, so here are a few things to know.

1. A power conditioner is not a UPS. A power conditioner doesn't contain a battery and therefore won't supply power during a blackout. All a conditioner does is help filter out some power grid's nasty artifacts, provide some additional AC sockets, and usually give you some surge protection as well.

2. There are 3 types of uninterruptible power supplies: Standby, Online and Line Interactive.
  • A Standby UPS switches in only when there's a power outage, which sounds good on the surface, but the time lag still might cause your computer to shut down, which defeats the whole point of owning a UPS. The other thing is that most Standby UPS's don't handle brownouts (power voltage sag) very well, so they switch on and off, making you and your gear crazy in the process.
  • An Online UPS is the best and most expensive in that the power is constantly fed out of the battery and converted to AC so that there's no time lag in the event of a blackout, and it's also immune to brownouts. Sounds great but very expensive on the order of thousands of dollars.
  • Maybe the best solution is what's known as a Line Interactive UPS that uses a special transformer that constantly adjusts to the varying voltage during a brownout or power surge, and also has a faster switching time to the battery during a power outage. The best part, it's only a bit more expensive than a Standby UPS at around $100. Here's a great unit by CyberPower worth considering.
3. With a UPS, the bigger the battery, the longer it can supply power during a blackout, but for the most part we're talking minutes rather than hours. The larger the battery, the more it costs as well.

We all use computers in our studios, so a UPS should be considered an essential accessory. Buy the right one and you'll never have to worry when the power goes out.

If you want to get deeper into Uninterruptible power supplies, check out this article.


Scott Waschlerner said...

Hello! Thank you for such useful article! Now I know more about UPS and it will easier to choose it. I need to buy UPS because there are a lot of voltage spikes in our area and because of it my PC can turn down and I lose all work I have done. I was thinking about APC ups. I have read a lot of positive comments about it and have found site where I can buy it (http://electrical-components.com/apc) what do you think about this brand?

Patricio Pantheleon said...

hi! it seems like your the man who knows the workarounds of a UPS. I was wondering if you could recommend quality uninterruptible power supply in the philippines. Thanks!

Connie said...

Great guide on uninterruptible power supply! It helps when trying to make a decision about which type and size to get. I appreciate it!


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