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What is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS)?

by Nyal Mellor April 08, 2013

A UPS is a device that provides battery power to connected electronics in the event of a power outage. There are three different types of UPS systems: standby, line interactive and online 'dual conversion'. Pros:
  • UPS systems are the only solution that can protect your projector or hard drive equipped electronics in the event of a power outage.
  • Line interactive UPSs provide voltage regulation and online dual conversion UPSs go one step further by providing substantial input to output isolation.
Cons:
  • Ongoing costs due to battery wear and tear.
  • Most UPSs are designed for computers, not audiovisual systems, and may actually increase powerline noise. Specifications provided on datasheets are often into loads representing 50% of less of capacity.
  • Inability to supply peak current requirements for dynamic loads such as amplifiers.
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In a standby UPS, a <em>battery charger </em>converts AC to DC to keep the  <em>battery</em> full for when it is required. The battery is not in the AC circuit. When the line voltage goes below a certain predefined level the  <em>inverter</em> switches on and is connected via the <em>transfer switch</em> to the AC  line. The inverter converts DC to AC.

The main advantages of a standby UPS are efficiency and low cost. The only things that are consuming power are the line voltage monitoring circuitry and the battery charger. Battery life is longer than for other designs since it is generally out of the circuit. They cannot protect from under or overvoltage conditions and offer no input to output noise reduction or surge isolation.

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Nyal Mellor
Nyal Mellor

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