Uninterruptible Power Supply

April 12th, 2006 | Power Supplies
APC SUA750 750VA Smart UPS
APC SUA750 750VA Smart UPS

An Uninterruptible power supply, usually known as a UPS, maintains a steady power supply to equipment that is sensitive to being shut down unexpectedly. The uninterruptible power supply comes between the main power supply and the main power input for equipment. An uninterruptible power supply counters the effects of temporary power outages and other power related anomalies. Uninterruptible power supply units are used where unexpected shutdown of equipment is either not desirable, or possibly fatal, like in hospitals or airports.

An uninterruptible power supply for computer equipment typically provides a few features. An uninterruptible power supply will allow the computer or computers to keep running for a period of time after the main power fails. For example if you are using a computer at home, it might provide you with 5 minutes or so of power for you to save anything you are doing and shut down the computer in the normal manner.

An uninterruptible power supply will also provide some degree of protection of momentary or temporary power drops or brownouts. Without an uninterruptible power supply, this might cause your computer to shut down and then power back on again as soon as the power evens out again. The uninterruptible power supply will keep the power at steady levels, letting the battery kick in for a moment and protect you from the loss of data that would usually occur.

Another thing an uninterruptible power supply will do is provide protection against power spikes. Usually occurring when there is a lightning strike, a power spike can destroy computer equipment with momentary high voltages. This not only results in the loss of data at the time of the strike, but also possible damage to your hardware, necessitating expensive repairs.

When shopping for an uninterruptible power supply there are a few main things on offer with most commercial units. Firstly, they will have a certain rating in VA. How long the UPS will provide power will depend on this and how much power your system draws. Typically a UPS from 500VA to 1000VA will provide enough power to run the computer for 10 minutes or more after power fails, giving enough time to save and shut down. If you want to keep running the computer for longer you will have to invest in an uninterruptible power supply with more VA, but this will cost much more, and basically the cost has a lot to do with the batteries that keep things going through the power outage.

Surge protection comes as part and parcel of a UPS, usually all of the power outlets will run through the surge protection. Check to make sure. Some equipment like printers don’t need a backup power supply and the uninterruptible power supply will have some sockets that bypass the battery backup but still provide surge protection.

Cyberpower Rackmount 1500VA UPS
Cyberpower Rackmount 1500VA UPS

Other things to look for are indicators that tell you when the battery has kicked in or when the uninterruptible power supply has been damaged. Sometimes after a heavy power surge the equipment can no longer protect your computer from power disruptions but will still let power pass through to keep your computer going.

A UPS should usually have some kind of interface with the computer, which allows it to be programmed and allows its behavior to be monitored. You may also be able to set up what actions should take place in the event of a power outage, like shutting itself down or such things.

An uninterruptible power supply is very necessary in the current environment. For very simple computers that don’t do too much you might be able to get away without an uninterruptible power supply, but if you use it for business or for keeping critical information an uninterruptible power supply might allow your computer to pass through the next storm without any problems. And also the peace of mind knowing all your valuable data is that much safer.

Leave a Reply