Choosing the Right UPS
Protecting sensitive equipment from power surges or failure can be a big decision. What equipment will fit your needs?
How much will it cost? Well, choosing the right UPS for your needs may not be as daunting of a task as you may think. We have gone
ahead and provided the following guide, to be used as a general reference when trying to choose the correct power protection equipment.
The first thing you should consider is the kind of protection you are looking for. Are you looking to protect your equipment from surges
and spikes? Or do you need a more sophisticated shield of protection from occurrences such as brownouts and blackouts?
Surge suppressors are the most common protection from surges and spikes. Sensitive electronic devices such as printers and faxes are the
typical usage for a surge suppressor. The qualities to look for in a quality surge suppressor are:
1. Surge rating of at least 700 Joules
2. A let-through voltage of no more than 400V. The lower the better.
3. Lightning protection feature
4. Quick response time (less than 10ns)
5. If necessary, get a surge suppressor that offers modem protection
6. Indicators such as LED lights to show protection status
7. Insurance guarantees by manufactures on any items damaged as a result of their failed surge suppressor.
As for protection against brownouts and blackouts, you will want to consider an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
This is a more common solution to those that need a constant source of power to their equipments should the power go out.
The two main types of UPS systems are Standby and Line Interactive:
1. Standby: Provides surge-protected power to your equipment. However, in the event of a power irregularity or failure, the Standby
UPS will switch to battery backup.
2. Line Interactive: Enhanced power protection with Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR). The AVR allows the UPS to handle a more
diverse range of power irregularities without necessarily having to go to battery mode. The system will then go to battery backup
in the event of a power outage.
Things to consider when purchasing a UPS system are:
Capacity: Typically measured in Volt Amps (VA), this is the maximum power that the unit can handle.
Make sure that the unit can handle all the equipment that it will be protecting. Add up all the power requirements of protected
equipment and make sure that the UPS has a protection capacity that is equal to or greater. If your equipment is measured in Amps,
just multiply it by the number of volts it requires (usually 110 or 120V in the U.S.) and that will give you the VA rating.
We recommend using a UPS that has a protection rating that is greater than the total power needed for the protected equipment,
by at least 25%. For most multiple computer setups, units that offer a power protection capacity of 500 - 1000VA tend to suffice.
However, this should not be a substitute to calculating your equipment's "true" power requirements.
Runtime: This is the manufacturer's measure of how long their UPS unit can continue to provide power to the protected equipment
during complete power failure. You will usually see this rating called Typical Runtime at Full or Half Load. Runtime at Full
load means the amount of time the UPS will continue to supply power when it is having to provide full power (i.e. power supply for
1000VA with a 1000VA UPS). Runtime at Half load is the same but when the UPS is only protecting equipment requiring half its
protection rating (i.e. power supply for 500VA with a 1000VA UPS). If you require a greater runtime, you should consider a UPS
that can accept additional batteries to be installed.
Insurance: Consider a UPS that is backed by an insurance guarantee that protects your equipment from surge and lightning damage.
There are several factors to consider when choosing the right UPS for your needs. However, the above factors are a good place to start.
Other features tend to be "extras", such as RJ45 protection, retractable cords, software shutdown, etc. These features tend to add to
the price of the UPS unit and may not be necessary for most users. However, take a look at these added features, as some of them may
appeal to your needs.
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