The 3 Types of UPS and Choosing the Right One for Your Business

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Gregory Austin, Negosentro | An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is essential for any business, especially for those situated in areas with frequent power interruptions or with inclement weather that might result in sudden power surges. Depending on its type and make, a high-quality UPS gives your devices (usually computers and sensitive electronic machines) enough juice to shut down safely in the event of a blackout, rather than get shut down outright – which could result not only in lost work but also damage to the electronic itself.

But how would a business owner know what kind or type of UPS to purchase for his or her specific needs? What types of UPS are there to choose from, and which one is best?

We’ll answer those questions and more to help you, the canny business owner, pick the right UPS that’s perfect for your office or place of business.

First, we’ll discuss the types of UPS there currently are. There are three main types:

  • The Standby (Offline) Type: This type of UPS is usually what comes to mind whenever UPS technology comes up in the conversation – or in the budget meeting. The most common and affordable of all three types, it’s also the most simple in terms of function. While it’s plugged in, it charges its battery continuously until it detects a power interruption. From there, it automatically switches to power backup mode, where any device plugged into it is supplied the charge it’s been storing in its battery until it’s drained. This mode switch takes about 20-100 milliseconds, which is generally within the tolerance threshold of most electronic appliances.
  • The Line-Interactive Type: This type of UPS is quite similar to the Standby type, with the same automatic ability to switch from charging mode to backup mode. However, it comes with a special transformer that allows it to protect against the damaging effects of power surges and fluctuations by ‘regulating’ the power flow throughout. This is perfect for businesses constantly exposed to brownouts and power sags, rather than outright blackouts. Slightly more expensive than the Standby type, the Line-Interactive also sports a significantly faster mode switchover time, giving that extra bit of protection to your electronics and appliances.
  • The Online Type: This type of UPS is the most powerful type and, as such, is the most expensive as well. Unlike the Standby and the Line-Interactive types, the Online UPS completely isolates the technology or appliances in its own power grid, making those electronics run solely off its battery system (which is continuously being charged at the same time by the building’s main power source). It is essentially acting as a filter to scrub and stabilize all energy output that could reach your devices, eliminating the risk of power interruptions and power fluctuation damage. And as online types are always on, regardless if there’s a power interruption, there is practically no switchover time.

Now that we know the three types of UPS out there, how do you find out which one is the right one for your business? Considering the following questions thoroughly should help.

  • Think carefully about which essential devices in your business need the extended power protection that a UPS unit provides. What kind of equipment do you have that needs to be kept running in the event of a power interruption, at least long enough for it to be shut down properly?  Whether it’s just a series of desktop computers, a cash register, or a freezer unit with valuable, easily-perishable supplies, find out what really needs that protection and consider the type it would need. A desktop computer could easily get by with a Standby type, while more sensitive equipment would most likely require a Line-Interactive Type.
  • How long does the equipment need to remain online in case of a power interruption? A desktop computer needs just enough time for all the work on it to be saved, and then shut down properly to avoid work loss and damage. A freezer unit loaded with expensive perishable goods or a company’s email server would most definitely need to run the duration of the power interruption, so they would require a heavy-duty online type.
  • How much power does your equipment need to function? It’s not just a simple matter of looking at your equipment’s power supply labels and adding the numbers you see there together. To have a better and more precise idea on just how much power is actually needed, you need to use a wattmeter for that. From there you can have a better number to base your UPS purchasing decisions with.

One last tip for purchasing UPS for your business: always go for trusted, well-reviewed brands, even if you have to spend a bit more. While there may be a wide and diverse range of UPS brands available, not all of them may have a warranty plan and some of the cheaper alternatives may actually cause more harm than good. Think of it as investing in the safety of your equipment and business – do you really want to go cheap on something like that?

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