Uninterruptible Power Supply , Surge Protectors, Surge Arrestors


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UPS - Uninterruptible Power Supply , Surge Protectors, Surge Arrestors

Uninterruptible Power Supply - consider it as insurance...

A Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) will supply critical power when you need it. Most UPS use maintenance free lead-acid batteries.

Need a back up power for anything from a  PC to an a rack of servers? A UPS will also safeguard your equipment from damaging power surges and spikes that travel along your utility and phone lines.

A UPS is made up of Transformers, power conversion circuit, an inverter and batteries. There is a power converter that is dual purpose, the transformer is also dual purpose. The only thing that is one way is the inverter (it converts the battery 24v dc to 110 or 220v AC). Commercial power is provided to the power converter that trickle charges the batteries. The power supply and transformer also provide protection from power spikes and the batteries provide the necessary additional power in brownout conditionings.

There are three main types of protection by a Uninterruptible Power Supply:

Power loss
Low supplied power - Brownout
Power Surge - Increase in supplied power

In normal conditions the Uninterruptible Power Supply will just set there trickle charging the batteries. (Trickle charge means that the batteries are supplied a small amount of current over a long period of time, this induces less wear and tear on the batteries than giving them a full charge all the time.)

When you lose power the UPS will supply power to your systems that are connected for a period of time, the time will depend on factors unique to your environment.

Such as:

  • How many computers (workstations or servers) you have connected to the UPS.
  • How many monitors you have plugged into the UPS.
  • How much power from the batteries the UPS can supply over a given period measured in Amps per Hour (ApH).

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Brownouts are when you commercial power has too much draw on the grid, say on a real hot summer day, everyone is running their air conditioning at max, this may cause a brownout, a reduction of the available amperage to your location. The UPS will pickup the loss and supply the correct amperage to the systems connected.

Power Surge, a power surge usually occurs when the power has been off and then comes back on. Because the power supplier can not control how much amperage is release down a power line the surge happens.

Think of a power surge as a flash flood. Once the head of the flood has passed the water levels off. The surge is the head of the power supply when the power company returns service. A Uninterruptible Power Supply will absorb this surge in the Transformer (Surge Arrestor), it will not pass it on to any systems connected.

A UPS is expensive, the reason it is expensive is the transformer (five to ten pounds of copper) and the batteries. The more ApH (Ampere Hours) supplied the more expensive the UPS, higher ApH means more batteries. All this copper and lead (in the batteries) also translates in to weight. The bigger the UPS the more it will weigh.

Power strips and Surge protectors.

Power strips normally (be careful of what you buy!) will not have surge protection built in to them. Most will have a label telling you how much power will cause the circuit breaker to trip. This really is not surge protection it is circuit protection to keep excessive power (amperage) draw from causing a fire.

Surge protection in a power strip will cost more than your normal run of the mill cheap power strip. Upwards of ten to twenty dollars and will have the surge protection factor either on the package or on the underside of the surge protector. They also serve as power strips. Most have a led (not the power off/on switch!) that will tell you if the surge protection circuit is functional or some may use a circuit breaker. When a power surge comes down the power line the surge protection in the device heats up and disconnects, it is fast enough to stop the surge from going to any devices connected to it. IT WILL NOT help with a brownout situation.

As with all products you get what you pay for, but I do believe your computer equipment is worth more than a $5 power strip made in some far off place of dubious materials and quality.

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A Uninterruptible Power Supply is fairly cheap insurance but only if you have one!

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