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UPS-What Is It, and How Do You Choose the Right One?

Sep 23, 2015

UPSWe are currently in monsoon season, and it is important that we have a plan in order for “just in case scenarios”, such as power outages and black outs due to storms.

This month we are focusing on your UPS. No, we’re not referring to your United Parcel Service account. A UPS is an uninterruptible power supply. A UPS is a sort of large battery that allows a computer to keep running for at least a short time when the primary power source is lost. It can also protect your computer from power surges. Most UPSs have a very short runtime—that of just a few minutes—but those few minutes are, in most circumstances (if your UPS is sized correctly) sufficient enough to start a backup power source or properly shut down the protected equipment.

First, let’s look at what types of UPS’ there are. How to Geek breaks each type down in the following descriptions:

A Standby UPS unit charges its battery and then waits for the mains power to drop off. When that happens, the Standby UPS mechanically switches to the battery backup. This switch over takes about 20-100 milliseconds which is generally well within the tolerance threshold of most electronics.

A Line-Interactive UPS unit has a similar design to a Standby UPS unit but includes a special transformer. If you live in area that has frequent brownouts or line-voltage issues (e.g. the lights frequently dim but you don’t actually lose power) it’s definitely worth the small increase in cost to purchase a Line-Interactive UPS.

An Online UPS unit is the most expensive type of UPS unit as it requires significant extra circuitry. The Online UPS unit completely isolates the devices attached to it from the wall power. Instead of jumping into action at the first sign of power out or voltage regulation issues like the Standby and Line-Interactive units, the Online UPS unit continuously filters the wall power through the battery system. Because the attached electronics run completely off the battery bank (which is being perpetually topped off by the external power supply) there is never a single millisecond of power interruption when there is power loss or voltage regulation issues.

But how do you know which is right for you? It really depends on 1.) How much you’re willing to pay, and 2.) How big is your system?

At the bare minimum you need enough juice in your UPS unit to give your computer system adequate time to shut down properly. That’s the absolute acceptable minimum. If your UPS unit doesn’t have enough juice to provide for the system from the moment the power cuts out until the moment it has successfully shut down, you’re risking damage to the machine and data loss.

Are you still confused on how to properly shop for a UPS for your system? Me too. But luckily, the guys here at MTI can figure out exactly what you need, and can quote you out the same day you call! Give us a call today, and let MTI prepare you and your system for monsoon season!

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