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2davidc8's avatar

What features should I look for in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply)?

Asked by 2davidc8 (7794points) November 10th, 2011

I’m thinking of getting a UPS for my PC computer, as we seem to be getting very annoying 1— to 2-second power outages about once a month. What features should I look for? (And, yes, I already have a surge suppressor.)

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12 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

If that’s all you need the UPS for: to handle tiny ‘burps’ in the power supply, then you can get by with the cheapest, most generic UPS that you can find. Seriously. You need ‘next to nothing’ if that’s your concern.

Most people who choose a UPS have to concern themselves with critical functioning for a number of computers (and associated monitors and printers and other critical peripherals) for a longer time period. Say, a store needs to keep its machines up for a day or more, or a hospital needs to keep computers and life-support equipment running for even longer. Their needs are more capacity driven than yours are.

Truly, you can get by with next to nothing. All you want to do is keep the machine powered through the tiny interruption (you probably don’t even need to maintain monitor function during such a brief outage) until you can get back to work in a couple of seconds with no loss of data.

Actually, if I were you I’d have switched to a laptop long ago (which is my home computer now, anyway) for just that reason.

filmfann's avatar

@CWOTUS has it right. For small outages with small demand, you won’t need much. Normally, you would figure out your demand (amp hours), and multiply that by outage duration you want to be protected from.
In this case, tiny is fine, as long as it works.

Brian1946's avatar

I recommend getting a reliable UPS, because a faulty one can be just as bad as a power failure.

jerv's avatar

I would also switch to a laptop.

If you are still set on going UPS, then there is only one brand I trust; APC. They make a small one than isn’t much bigger than a surge strip that would do great for what you need.

I would avoid going cheap/generic, especially if the power where you are is that “dirty”. Bad electricity can kill PC components, and cheap power supplies cannot clean up the crap that is coming down your lines.

Brian1946's avatar


Does the battery inside a laptop function like a UPS?

Ron_C's avatar

@Brian1946 the battery takes over when AC power is lost. Most laptops will run for at least 6 hours on idle. A UPS is a similar system. It uses lead acid cells to power an “inverter” which approximates 60 cycle power. The trick with a UPS is to switch over within 1 cycle so that the computer never sees the transition. A typical 500 VA UPS will power a desktop and one or two low current peripherals for about an hour or less.

jrpowell's avatar

I have a APC ES 550. We have bad power here and it does what it says it will. If the power drops out a alarm goes off and I have about 10 minutes to shut things down before the battery dies.

Oh, and it also has a USB connection. Without installing anything I get this in system preferences.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would agree with @jerv – I use an APC at work. One day our building’s neutral line went out. My APC went POP!, but I continued to work normally, wondering what the sound was. Other people had cheap/generic – theirs caught fire!

jerv's avatar

@Brian1946 For all practical purposes, yes. I have had the power go out a few times, sometimes when I am on my laptop, sometimes on the desktop, and not even noticed until I went out to the kitchen :D

2davidc8's avatar

Thank you @CWOTUS @filmfann @Brian1946 @Ron_C @johnpowell @RocketGuy @jerv for your replies. I now know what to get.

CWOTUS's avatar

A laptop or notebook computer?

2davidc8's avatar

neither at this time

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