What is a UPS?


Many of us have been in the middle of entering data into a computer only to have the power blink off for a few seconds, deleting the information and causing us to spend more time re-entering it.  Some of us have even experienced having a server crash and lost critical computer data due to not shutting down properly during a power failure or power outage.   Have you ever thought of how you would react if one day you were to try to surf the web or use your phone and found out it doesn’t work due to a power outage in another state.  These events cause frustration, cost money, and can even cost lives.  UPS units help us avoid these problems.

A UPS is a redundant or backup power source that can be used in the event of primary power loss, usually from the utility company.  The letters UPS stand for uninterruptible power supply.  They vary widely from small units capable of running a single computer just long enough to shut it down safely, commonly used in residences and offices, to large power plants in telephone provider offices and government facilities, capable of keeping entire floors full of sensitive, critical electrical or electronic equipment running for a day or more.

The main function of a UPS unit is to keep the electrical equipment connected to it running for a period of time when the main power source fails.  One thing that all UPS units have in common is that they all rely on batteries to provide power when the main power source is lost.  Batteries are heavy so UPS units are heavy.  The longer you need the equipment to run, the more batteries the UPS will need.

In addition to being a back-up power source, some UPS units provide varying degrees of power conditioning to provide “clean power” to sensitive electronic equipment such as servers, switches, routers, etc.  Examples of power conditioning functions can include voltage regulation for constant voltage, surge protection to prevent power spikes, harmonics filtering to provide an improved sine wave, and more.

For more information on UPS units including how to size a UPS and installation considerations watch for future blog articles or send us your questions at our “Ask an Expert Electrician” page.  If you need electrical services in Atlanta, call us at 770-455-4556.

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