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What Is an Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS?

A power outage can be anything from an inconvenience to an existential threat - and wherever your application falls on that scale, an uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, can help. A UPS provides an always on power source that will help keep your most important data and sensitive electronics safe in blackouts, brownouts, or other power fluctuation events.

The basic idea of a UPS is that when a system loses electrical grid power, the UPS kicks in immediately with battery backup power and ensures the system does not suffer a catastrophic power failure. This gives system administrators precious time to restore power with a dedicated generator or take the system through an orderly shutdown protocol to prevent data loss and safety hazards. In home applications, it can also provide emergency power to essential devices like computers, chargers, modems, and WiFi routers in a blackout.

You will commonly find large rackmount UPS systems at workstations in data centers, hospitals, telecom facilities, and other big institutions with mission critical systems. Free standing models are also popular for small businesses and home networking, especially for the increasing numbers of people who work from home full time. A surge protector power strip with a built in UPS is a great choice for home office power protection.

Choosing a UPS for Your System

There are a lot of factors that determine the right choice of UPS for your system, but these are some of the most essential:

  • Maximum Load: This output rating, measured either in volt amperes or in watts, tells you the maximum device power load that the UPS inverter can supply.
  • On Line vs. Line Interactive: An on line UPS uses a technology called double conversion to convert incoming AC power to a specific voltage, while a line interactive UPS uses transformers to regulate input voltage up or down as necessary.
  • Battery Runtime: Most UPS devices list both a half load and full load runtime, representing their battery life in different scenarios based on how much power the unit is supplying.
  • Form Factor: Some UPS devices use a rackmount form factor that makes them easy to install in standard network equipment racks. Others use a freestanding design or are built into power strips for surge protection and battery backup all in one.
  • Display: Most UPS devices include an LCD display so you can easily check the device status, battery power level, and other key indicators.
  • Additional Protection: Some types of UPS include protection for other types of connections, such as coaxial and ethernet connections.
Micro Centers selection of UPS devices includes the industrys most trusted brands like APC and CyberPower Systems. Shop our entire power systems selection here and find the best price on the perfect uninterruptible power supply for your application.


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