UPS Buying Guide

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What is a UPS?

Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS is an electrical appliance that makes sure power supply to your computer, servers, peripherals, or any other video/audio device is not interrupted.A UPS provides output powerusing its internal battery.

When there is a steady flow of electricity, the UPS takes in electrical power to charge its in-built battery.So when the power goes out, the UPS continues to provide backup power to the electrical appliances connected to it, using its internal battery.

Why do you need a UPS?

A UPS is extremely important as a backup source of power in places that are known for sudden power outages or unusual voltage fluctuations.In case of a computer, the most important function of a UPS is to power a computer so long as the unsaved data can be saved and the system could be shut down properly.It not only protects data from being lost, but it also prevents downtime and damage to the equipment.

Therefore, most computer manufacturers and high-end network equipment manufacturers strongly recommend backing up the appliances using a UPS.Also, a UPS can be used to power a cordless phone in case of power outage.Although, this feature may look insignificant to many, it can be of huge benefit at times.

A UPS can be used to filter out electromagnetic line noise thereby enhancing the quality of audio/video equipment.

Certain UPS systems act as power conditioners.They are designed to correct brownouts,meaning low voltages, and power surges or over voltage.This is especially useful in places where there are frequent blackouts, and in the event of lightning strikes.

The Plasma and LCD televisions available in the market today are sensitive to voltage variations.Their delicate electronic parts are at a risk of burnout when exposed to sudden voltage variations.In such case, it is advisable to use a UPS that can act as a voltage regulator to your LCD TV.

What should you look for when buying a UPS?

 When you are out to buy a UPS, you will need to consider the following things:

The first and foremost thing you need to understand before selecting a UPS is what is the output load that you are looking to support?How many appliances do you want the UPS to back up?Based on that you need to choose a UPS that has output load capacity 25% higher than the total.The total load can be calculated using a Load Calculator.

You need to check how long does it take for the UPS to recharge, after its power is fully drained out. Certain models like the iBallNirantar UPS get recharged within 3 hours. If you’re living in an area with frequent power cuts, you would want this speed to be as high as possible.

BackupRuntime is the time that your equipment will be supported by the backup battery power. You may want to choose a UPS with higher backup runtime for greater productivity.However, adding additional batteries to the UPS will increase the backup runtime.

You will need to check the voltage of the equipment you wish to support with the UPS.In India, 230V voltage is used to power servers and other equipment.You will have to make sure the voltage of UPS input plug is equivalent to the input power source.

For more advanced functionalities, some brands of UPS offer you with an LCD screen.With the help of LCD screen, you can access the extensive function of the UPS without having to use a computer.Important information such as battery capacity and input voltage can be displayed on the LCD screen.Some UPS’s are designed with multiple LCDs to show such information, but the precision level is compromised in this case.

You will also need to be clear about how you plan to install the UPS before buying one.You will find that UPS systems are available in a number of sizes and formats.Two of the most common ones are rack-mount and tower.

Tower models are placed upright on the floor or on a desk.They are mostly used for desktop computers or networking applications, and are ideal for homes.Rack-mount UPS units are installed on regular 19″ rack enclosures.They are basically used in data centers and server rooms.

There are six major types of UPS systems available in the market, Standby UPS, Line Interactive UPS, Standby Online Hybrid, Standby-Ferro UPS, Double Conversion On-Line UPS, and Delta Conversion On-Line UPS.Each has its own characteristic when it comes to data protection, battery backup, noise filtration, surge protection, voltage regulation.Based on your preference, select the type of UPS that meets your needs.

One other factor worth considering is the number of outlets or receptacles the UPS unit has.Choose one that has more number of outlets than you actually need in order to plan for future growth. Many of the rack-mount UPS models require a Power Distribution Unit to hold additional equipment plugs.

Most UPS systems are designed to generate pure sine wave power that is approximate to the one received from electrical utility. This approximation works for most equipment.Although, there are certain computers having active PFC power supplies that are highly sensitive and the approximate pure sine wave power may cause heating and malfunctioning.The On-Line UPS Systems provide pure sine wave power, not the appromixated sine wave, thereby ensuring enhanced compatibility when dealing with sensitive equipment.

Additionally, it would be better to look for models marked with “AVR” meaning automatic voltage regulation, for a steady stream of voltage to your equipment, and “Active PFC.”Active PFC models use battery more productively than non-Active-PFC UPS systems.

What are the different types of UPS?

The different types of UPS are:

Standby UPS is used as a power backup in smaller workstationsat home or for small businesses.Standby UPS spurs into action the moment the power switches off.

Standby On-Line Hybrid is the term used for UPS’s below 10kVA.They are generally known-as “on-line.”When there is a power outage, a DC-to-DC converter is activated from the battery, same as the standby UPS.The DC combiner is equipped with capacitors which result in no transfer time during AC power outage.Sometimes an additional transfer switch is added to the design for bypass in case of overload or malfunction.

The Standby-Ferro UPS consists of a specialized saturating transformer with numerous power connections.The UPS takes power from the AC input, runs it through the transformer, and through the output. In case of power outage, the inverter gets activated by a transfer switch to supply output load.The UPS remains in a standby mode when there is steady flow of current, as is the case with other standby UPS’s. In addition to that, the Ferro transformersare designed to provide some amount of voltage regulation and control over the output waveform. Ferro UPSes are also equipped with noise filtering features. The only drawback is, Ferro UPSessometimes run the risk of overheating and voltage deregulation when coupled with other generators.

A Double Conversion On-Line UPS is similar to a Standby UPS, with the only difference being,Double Conversion On-Line UPS takes it main power supply from an inverter as opposed to the AC mains. It is designed to be above 10kVA.

Delta Conversion Online UPS is an advanced technology in the field of UPS.It is the only type of UPS that is patented and therefore, you may not find many suppliers selling this design. It is equipped with a delta inverter that allows bidirectional power flow.The delta conversion online UPS’s are available in the 5 kVA to 1 MVA range.

Line Interactive UPS are most commonly used in web, departmental servers, and small setups.It is widely available in computer supplies store.On power failure, it switches to battery backup within milliseconds.

What are the reliable and available brands of UPS?

Several brands offer UPS systems in India, such as:

Glossary of Terms:

Runtime is time for which the UPS will provide backup battery power when primary source of power fails.

To remove heat which gets generated in a UPS during its operation.Cooling can be done through convection, radiation, using forced air and so on.

Average Battery Voltage is the average voltage of all series cells present in a battery string.Average Battery Voltage can be obtained by summing up the string voltage and dividing it by the total number of batteries in the string.

Propershutdown of the operation such that there is no data loss or damage to the equipment.

A regulator is a component of the UPS which regulates the output voltage.A regulator typically stabilizes the voltage to a specified value.

A Safety Ground is a conductive path to the ground designed to prevent people from electrical shocks in case of accidents.

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