Here you will find some useful information on UPS / Battery Backups. Many times we hear, "I have a battery backup, I have that covered". The reality is, there is a science behind which product you purchase and could be critical as to what you purchased.
There is a lot of information below, but we have gone and done some of the hard work already. We have listed our recommended battery backup choices for a reason. We also recommend reviewing the UPS Selector as well. Picking a Sine Wave UPS should be your first choice.
You can also view our picks from Here, on our products page.
You should never plug a printer into a UPS, as they cannot handle the power surge requirement and can cause the UPS to trip. That same rule applies to plugging the printer into the surge only side of a UPS.
An all-in-one printer can spike from 650 to 900 watts. That is why we recommend the APC LE1200 for protecting printers.
What is a UPS System?
A UPS, at its most basic, is a battery backup power system that supplies power long enough for equipment to properly shut down when utility power fails. It helps prevent loss of data and minimizes the stress a hard shutdown causes on your electronic equipment.
The UPS is also a surge protector that protects connected devices from power problems, like surges or abnormal voltages, which can damage, reduce lifespan, or affect performance of electronic equipment and devices.
Why do I need a UPS System?
In case of a blackout, the UPS switches immediately over to battery power to provide a continuous power source for the length of the battery. Battery life can vary by system and depends on how much power you use. The battery backup gives you time to power down sensitive equipment, servers, or even video game consoles without loss of data or progress. Different UPS systems also provide certain levels of protection for other power problems that arise.
What types of UPS Systems are there?
UPS systems have three different topologies, or categories, based on what type of power protection you need. The three topologies are
What types of power problems do I have?
Many people are aware of only one type of power problem: a blackout. This is when the power goes out and stays out for a few seconds up to a few days. But many more common power problems exist.
Let’s explore possible power problems you might experience, some of which you may never have heard of or may be experiencing and not be aware of:
- Surge – A brief, but intense, spike in electricity commonly caused by lightning. Surges can damage and destroy electronics, and the intense “spike in electricity” or spike in voltage and current harms circuit boards and components.
- Blackout – A power outage lasting anywhere from seconds to days. These are most commonly caused by severe weather, utility power shortages, accidents, and power grid failures.
- Brownout – An intentional or unintentional drop in voltage for an extended period of time. In emergency conditions, power companies may lower the voltage of your electricity to reduce strained resources and avoid a total blackout.
- Voltage Sags – A sag is also a type of under voltage, but, unlike a brownout, it’s sudden and brief.
- Over Voltage – Occurs when incoming voltage is higher than normal and lasts longer than a surge but not high enough to be classified as a surge or spike.
- Frequency Noise – Also known as line noise, frequency noise can disrupt or degrade the performance of a circuit by injecting abnormalities into the system.
- Frequency Variation – Not a common problem when power supplies are stable, but it can occur when using generators and power frequency fluctuates more than desired.
- Harmonic Distortion – A departure from the ideal electrical signal on a given power source.
How Big Does My UPS Need to Be?
To make your UPS run properly, your UPS must be large enough to support all of the equipment plugged into it. You will need to find the UPS capacity. Capacity is how much power a UPS system can provide (measured in Watts). The higher the capacity, the more electronic equipment and devices it can support. To find the UPS capacity, you will need to calculate the load. The Load is the combined amount of power each of the devices use.
To identify the load, make an equipment list, including the total watts each piece of equipment requires to run properly. Include all the devices the UPS will need to support. If a piece of equipment has a redundant power supply, only count the wattage of ONE power supply.
If you are unsure how many watts your equipment requires, consult the manufacturer or power supply specifications in the user manual.
Here is an example of an equipment list to verify the load:
Once you have calculated your load, count the number of power cords you want to connect to the UPS. Your UPS system will need to have enough outlets to cover the number of power cords.
How much time do I want electricity once the power goes out?
You have already decided your UPS’ topology and what size it needs to be. Now, you need to think about what you would like to do with the battery power when a power problem occurs. Would you like to focus on shutting down all of your connected devices safely? Do you want to keep your DVR and TV running during the power problem? Do you want to finish the section of the video game you are on or just save where you are at?
You must now determine runtime. Runtime is the number of minutes a UPS system can support the attached devices with electricity during a blackout. The minimum runtime is the time you need to complete proper equipment shutdown.
When shopping for runtime, you will be looking at the length of time the batteries in the UPS can support equipment through power outages when utility power is unavailable. Keep in mind the number of watts supported affects runtime: the smaller the wattage load connected, the longer the batteries will last. The larger the wattage load, the shorter the runtime will be.
To determine runtime, we want to look for a range. Begin with the number of minutes it will take to perform complete device shutdown and then build an acceptable range of runtimes. The broader the range, the more UPS system choices you will have.
Do I need sine wave output from my UPS?
Utility power supplies electricity in the form of sine wave alternating current. When the UPS is in normal mode, it passes the same electrical sine wave to your connected devices. If the UPS switches to operate in battery mode, it either produces sine wave or simulated sine wave electricity to power your electronics.
Here is an illustration of a sine wave and a simulated sine wave.
You will notice the simulated sine wave output has a power gap at each cycle. Sometimes this power gap may cause stress in the power supply in sensitive electronics, harming them.
You will need a UPS with sine wave technology if you want to plug-in the following:
- Apple iMac Computers
- Computers and Equipment that are Energy Star® or 80 PLUS® efficient systems using Active PFC power supplies.
Electronic equipment with Active PFC power supplies may shut down unexpectedly when using a UPS with simulated sine wave output, resulting in data loss or equipment damage. UPS systems that deliver sine wave output prevent unexpected shutdowns and damaging electronic stress.
Next, we will breifly cover plug types. What kind of input power do I have?
Depending on your location and building type, you may have either single-phase or three-phase power. If you’re not completely sure, ask a licensed electrician. Here’s the difference:
Single-phase power alternates between positive and negative voltage; in the United States, the rate is 60 cycles per second. That means the wave has zero voltage every time it moves from positive to negative and back. Most household and office power are single-phase and work with the following receptacle (outlet) types:
Three-phase power eliminates these moments of zero voltage by offsetting three simultaneous waves. When one wave reaches zero voltage, the other two are at positive and negative points in the cycle. Three-phase power is common in commercial and industrial environments. Most offices have single-phase power at the desktop level.
How much power does my equipment need?
The amount of power consumed by each device should be listed in volts and amperes (VA) or in watts (W) in the user manual or on the equipment itself. Add up the total consumption for your equipment and write it down. Your power source—utility power from a service panel, local power from a generator, or backup power from a UPS—should be higher than that.
Note: Many devices use automatic switching power supplies that can be used with voltages from 120 to 240. If your power source is 120V (typical for North America), base your calculations on that figure. If it’s 200V/230V (typical for Europe and Asia), use the higher number. For input amperage, use the figure listed on the device or in its user manual.
One PDU connected to one UPS can provide conditioned power to a smaller network. Larger and more complex installations may need multiple PDUs and a large-capacity.