Computer Power Protection with a UPS

Have you ever been browsing on your computer, working on technical or important data, saving those precious family pictures, or been watching a great movie when the power went off? Yes…so have I. Most of the times I’m just inconvenienced, but sometimes I loose valuable information, data, or CAD work. Is there a way to keep this from happening? Yes! I’ll tell you how.

A surge suppressor protects electronic equipment from power surges. Not brownouts. Not dirty power. Surprisingly enough, when the power goes off, there is usually a series of spikes and sags in power that we never see, or see only as flickers. Flickers are dirty power, sags, and spikes. This is not good for the equipment.

An uninterruptible power supply (ups) can smooth power spikes and sags (brownouts), condition the incoming power, and allow an orderly shutdown that protects your equipment and saves all data. Larger units provide enough uninterrupted backup power to run your equipment for some time. Most home UPS units provide power for 5 to 30 minutes. That’s long enough for an automatic or manual shut down.

The benefits of a UPS are that it can save you a lot of money and inconvenience. Your electronic equipment will be protected from most electrical problems. Your very important data and work will be preserved.

I managed a UPS system for three very large engraving machines. The system was large enough that the engraving machines could run for about 3 hours after the electrical power was interrupted. Even though some of the cylinders we engraved took 9 hours this was still long enough to finish engraving, or get power back. Redoing a complete cylinder could have cost thousands of dollars. Since all engraving machines were computer controlled I also had a UPS system for each computer–and a lot of other equipment.

The cost of a UPS can be anywhere from $30 on up to $150 or more for a home unit. Since a quality surge suppression device can cost from $20 on up to $100 or more it makes sense to seriously consider a UPS. A UPS replaces a surge suppressor. They are never used in combination.

Types of Uninterruptible Power Supplies For The Home.

A standby UPS provides back up power to your computer if the electricity fails by switching to battery power. With these units you should make sure that they also provide basic power conditioning features, such as suppression, when running off of line power. Most lower cost units will be standby UPS.

A line-interactive UPS is very similar in operation to the standby ups with the addition of a special kind of transformer that allows the unit to compensate for power spikes and sags without consuming excess battery power. This type of ups can be lower or higher cost.

An online UPS is similar in operation to the standby and line-interactive ups. However the batteries are always connected to the inverter. There are no power switches involved in an online ups. If electrical power fails, the inverter simply drops out that circuit and continues to run off of stored battery power. The rectifier and inverter of the online ups must be designed to run continuously thus the higher cost of these units.

Well–there you go. A lot of good reasons to think about using a UPS. Since I have 8 to 10 computers in operation in the home I still use some surge suppression devices. For my personal setup and my wife’s personal/sewing/embroidery machine computer I use a UPS. Since the cost of UPS devices has come down so much that’s all I’ll be buying in the future.

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