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Saving The World  - - One Computer At A Time!


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Do I Need A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)?

Uninterruptible Power Supply or sometimes called Battery power back-up, is a good idea for protecting electronic equipment. The article below explains types of units and what they do.   Click Here

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Feature Article


Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

What your computer expects to get from the power grid (in the United States) is 120-volt AC power oscillating at 60 Hertz. A computer can tolerate slight differences from this specification, but a significant deviation will cause the computer's internal power supply to fail. A UPS generally protects a computer against four different power problems:

  1. Voltage surges and spikes - Times when the voltage on the line is greater than it should be
  2. Voltage sags - Times when the voltage on the line is less than it should be
  3. Total power failure - Times when a line goes down or a fuse blows somewhere on the grid or in the building
  4. Frequency differences - Times when the power is oscillating at something other than 60 Hertz

There are two common systems in use today: standby UPS and continuous UPS.

A standby UPS runs the computer off of the normal utility power until it detects a problem. At that point, it very quickly (in five milliseconds or less) turns on a power inverter and runs the computer off of the UPS's battery. A power inverter simply turns the DC power delivered by the battery into 120-volt, 60-Hertz AC power.

In a continuous UPS, the computer is always running off of battery power and the battery is continuously being recharged. You could fairly easily build a continuous UPS yourself with a largish battery charger, a battery and a power inverter. The battery charger continuously produces DC power, which the inverter continuously turns back into 120-volt AC power. If the power fails, the battery provides power to the inverter. There is no switch-over time in a continuous UPS. This setup provides a very stable source of power.

Standby UPS systems are far more common for home or small-business use because they tend to cost about half as much as a continuous system. Continuous systems provide extremely clean, stable power, so they tend to be used in server rooms and mission critical applications.

While not limited to protecting any particular type of equipment, a UPS is typically used to protect computers, data centers, telecommunication equipment or other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption or data loss. UPS units range in size from units designed to protect a single computer without a video monitor (around 200 VA rating) to large units powering entire data centers, buildings, or even cities.

A unit designed for a single computer is nearly the cost of a good surge protector with added protection. Let's say you purchase an expensive television, which is electronic circuit boards much the same as a computer. Protecting it with a UPS could be a good idea. Supplying electronic equipment with good clean power will lengthen it's lifespan.



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