n a modern electrically connected world, power is vital to maintain system integrity continuous uptime. Grid power, while reliable, does occasionally suffer from external circumstances that create outages. These outages can cost end users time and money when they happen. Therefore, having an uninterrupted power supply for vital systems or even home systems can help reduce or prevent problems caused by outages or electrical system surges, spikes and other issues from grid power.
An uninterrupted power supply, known as a UPS, is a form of battery backup power that engages when service from the grid is interrupted for whatever reason. At its core, the UPS is designed to continue to deliver power to the computer, server or devices attached to it. This is different from an emergency backup system, as the UPS does not interrupt the power supply and does not require a backup generator or other form of mechanical power generation that requires a few seconds to activate.
There are two types of UPS: continuous and stand by. Continuous UPS has power from the grid flowing through and recharging the battery constantly. When the grid power is shut off or disabled, the power will still flow from the charged battery unit. In a Standby UPS when the grid service has been disabled, the battery will kick in and will begin providing power from itself. Neither continuous nor standby requires action from the user and will return to grid power as soon as the unit detects that the service has returned.
One of the more important aspects of a UPS is the line protection that it normally provides. Various conditions inside a building or on the service line can exist that lead to surges or sags. Surges are momentary increases of power and sags are momentary decreases in power. Constant surges or sags is called dirty power and can damage systems. A UPS provides protection from occasional situations such as dirty power or line surges and sags caused by weather and other circumstances. Some UPS also offer lightning protection. When lightning strikes a line it can cause an overload condition that is subsequently transferred down the line. Most UPS can protect against this condition.
Of the features to consider when searching for a UPS, it is best to find one that offers a wide range of options. A UPS that has a good range of voltage +/- 60hz offers good protection for a variety of conditions. Furthermore, options that include hot swappable battery packs can help reduce problems due to battery failure and replacement. Being able to change the battery while the unit is in operation, (hence hot in hot swappable), can further reduce potential downtime. Other features to consider is the number of devices and units that can be attached to a single UPS and the overall combined power draw in minutes that the UPS can deliver to all devices or units. Finally, a variety of inputs and outputs for external, non-power ports should be included. Some UPS have Ethernet and phone connections to allow for protection from surges on them as well. A dependable UPS from a well-established company, such as Toshiba (check out Toshiba.ca/Professional/Industrial/UPS for more info), is a good investment to protect vital systems and equipment from situations that result from situations occurring on grid power service.