At home and at the office we have expensive electronics. The value of the data and productivity offered by those electronics is substantially greater than the equipment price. So why do we often find these electronics protected by the cheapest surge bar or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)? The answer is usually that no one has explained the difference between various power management solutions to small business managers, IT professionals and home owners.
Current power supply technologies have changed requirements for Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). Most computers with Gold/Platinum rated power supplies, Apple desktops or hardware with Energy Star certification require a power sine wave that looks like the utility power. Unfortunately, many UPS batteries put out simulated sine waves aren’t good enough, and may not be recognized by the device as a power source. In this case, your device will run just fine when not on battery, but as soon as it switches to battery, the device may just power off instead. Essentially, what you have is a really expensive surge bar with a useless battery attached to it.
Pure Sine Wave or Power Factor Correction (PFC): The solution is to look for UPS devices with Pure Sine Wave or PFC technology. These devices put out a sine wave more similar to the utility power and should run most devices either on or off battery, giving you the run time protection you need to prevent data loss and component damage. See attached illustration.
Line Conditioning: We also suggest looking for a Line-Interactive or online topology UPS as these clean and filter the utility power, correcting more issues, extending your system life and preventing many other causes of data loss or corruption. If you are buying a UPS which only prevents surges such as your building being struck by lightning, wait and buy it with your lottery winnings, as that may be more likely. Getting a UPS that does line conditioning protects your devices and data from the dozens of small power events that happen every day.
Network Gear: Many small businesses and homes have their servers on a proper UPS, but their network devices are on a surge bar. We have seen as much as a 60% reduction in LAN/WAN issues by putting the network switch, firewall and ISP modem on a Line-Interactive or online UPS to clean up the power. With many of us now running devices through PoE power-like wireless access points, telephones and surveillance cameras, it could be even more important to have a little up-time on the network in case of a blackout.
Topology: Refer to the attached illustration. Most homes and small-medium business UPS devices fall into one of these categories for topology.
Beware the Marketing: For example, Brand A may have an online UPS that they suggest you use for a business server, but Brand B has a UPS for 25% cheaper that they suggest for a business server. Once you dig into the specs of each, you discover that Brand B is pitching you a Line-Interactive UPS: you are getting an inferior topology. You will usually find that Brand B’s online UPS is around the same price as Brand A. Apple to apple.
We suggest Online UPS for anything you care about: Yes, it will be more expensive, but an online UPS protects your hardware investment, reduces data corruption, data loss, and keeps your systems healthy. Line-interactive can be OK for less sensitive hardware like network gear and noncritical computers. Look for Pure Sine Wave or PFC technology.
“Cleaning up the power to your electronics can be one of the best ways to improve lifetime, performance and user satisfaction.”
Enterprise Solutions: When someone is trying to sell you a cheap UPS topology, they may say that online UPS devices are an Enterprise Solution. It’s true: enterprises use very large online UPS devices for their massive server rooms. But the price scales with the size; you can also use a small online UPS for your small server room or your desk for a small business price. Small businesses have valuable data and business continuity needs as well, we should take care of it as best as possible.
Cleaning up the power to your electronics can be one of the best ways to improve lifetime, performance and user satisfaction.
We hope this has helped you better understand what you are getting with your UPS device. Please feel free to contact a Group Millenium Micro affiliated reseller if you would like to know more about UPS technology.