Picking the Correct UPS device

Buying an UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is a pretty sensible thing to do, it protects your computer from the rises and falls in the power output of your home, and in case of a full fledged blackout you have on average some 20-30 minutes of run time for your computer, just enough to finish up your work - save files or video games, bookmark internet pages, pause a download, and safely turn of the computer. Once you decide to go out and buy an UPS you are immediately faced with a series of questions that you can’t seem to find an answer to: how do you pick the right one for your specific configuration, which brands have a good track record, how long until you need to buy some UPS replacement batteries, and so on. Here are some things you should consider when choosing an UPS.

Calculating wattage

You will need to find out what kind of wattage your computer has, so you know what kind of UPS to get. Most computers will run at a relatively low wattage, but you will want to be precise, and there are basically two ways you can go about this:
Measure your wattage – you can buy a watt hour-meter, plug it in an outlet, plug your computer into it, and simply read out the results.

Look at the back of the computer and sum up all the ratings given by the manufacturer – look for the “input” ratings, you will find V (Volts), A (Amperes), W (Watts) and VA (Volt-Amperes), you need the numerical values of the VA or W (if there is no VA, you can get the VA by multiplying the lower value for V with the value for A), write down these values for the computer and monitor. You can take the value for W and multiply it by 0.6 to get the corresponding VA value, so you should convert the values of any components that only have the W listed to VA and sum them up to get your total VA.

Go online to get a rough estimate – some sites offer UPS sizing calculators, where you can input your computer configuration and get a rough estimate of how many watts your UPS needs to have. These will give you a general idea of what you are looking for, but they are not very precise.

Once you have the result you will know the kind of wattage you need, going a little over this number (lets say 50% more) might be a good idea, just to be on the safe side. If you want to plug in two computers into the UPS then simply calculate their combined wattage.

Popular Brands

APC is probably the most popular brand out there, they have a proven track record amongst professional and private users and will have something to offer to both the big time companies and the regular folk. They have high quality models with integrated battery monitoring systems with displays that will show you a clear reading of the various parameters like voltage and resistance. APC has readily available UPS replacement batteries that are easy to install and  will last for quite a while. Some other brands include Liebert, CyberPower and Trip Lite.

Replacing the batteries

The batteries in UPS devices sold for the home computer are Sealed Lead Acid Batteries, they should be kept in a well ventilated, dry room with the temperature kept at or below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If properly maintained they will last some 3 to 5 years before needing a replacement, and replacement batteries can be stored for about a year, maybe more if they are charged from time to time.

These are some of the things to keep in mind when searching for a UPS, make sure you know the wattage that you need (or the VA value) and don’t forget that a UPS is only there to keep the computer going long enough for you to save your work and shut it down safely (about 20-30 minutes) so when the power goes out don’t take too long.

Author bio:
This article is a part of the research that Alex is doing for HTBS related to replacement batteries and  UPS electronic devices.

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