Multiple uses for a UPS

A UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, is a common feature of many workplaces where equipment needs to continue functioning even in the event of a mains power supply failure.

Battery

But not all UPS systems necessarily serve exactly the same purpose – and the ideal unit for the job is likely to depend on the exact nature of the equipment that needs to remain switched on.

When it comes to installing a UPS, then, what are the different applications most commonly seen in workplaces, and how might they affect your choice of unit?

Computer equipment
Probably the most widely recognised use for a UPS is to keep computer equipment switched on in the event of a momentary power outage.


Computers are notoriously ‘twitchy’ when it comes to brief power surges or brownouts, and a good UPS will be able to help keep them running as normal if conditions on the mains grid are less than ideal for any reason.

In many cases, this is an issue not just of power availability, but of power quality too, and you may find units come equipped with attenuators to prevent power surges being passed through to the connected equipment, as well as batteries to provide a little extra juice if the mains supply drops.

Lighting
Lighting is all too easily overlooked in UPS installations, as many people take it for granted, or underestimate how dark their premises would be without overhead lighting.

But it can actually be one of the easiest mains systems to protect – you often know exactly how many lights will need to be powered, and it’s a number that is unlikely to change unless you undertake significant refurbishment work.

This can allow for very efficient UPS battery design on lighting circuits, based on the precise wattage of the attached bulbs and the knowledge that the amount of power drawn is likely to be very consistent, as opposed to peaking and troughing as devices are attached and removed.

Modems and routers
You may wish to equip your modem or router with its own UPS, to keep it isolated from the circuit supplying the rest of your equipment; even if the power supply to your workstations goes down, a functioning wireless modem can keep laptops and smartphones connected to the internet.

If your ‘router’ is actually a large office server connecting you to other locations nationwide or internationally, it’s likely to need a larger UPS if it is to remain functional for long without a mains supply – and even a short period of UPS juice could allow you to back up essential files to one of those remote locations.

Standalone networks
Finally, if any of your workstations contain data sensitive enough that it must never be placed on the public internet, then the option to back it up over a long-distance network connection might not be open to you.

In these circumstances, a UPS can keep the standalone network switched on for long enough to back up to removable media, or at least to ensure all the files are properly saved to the hard drive and the system shut down in the appropriate manner, to avoid any risk of data corruption.

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