Light In The Darkness: Should You Have An Uninterruptible Power Supply Installed In Your Home?

Blackouts and brownouts caused by lightning strikes, power outages or other interruptions are always unpleasant to deal with, but they can also be very expensive occurrences if they cause you to lose valuable data from a computer or other electronic device. There is, however, a way to protect you and your valuable data from these unpredictable outages, by having an uninterruptible power supply (commonly referred to as a UPS) installed in your home by electricians.

What are uninterruptible power supplies?

An uninterruptible power supply is pretty much exactly what it sounds like -- a reliable power supply that remains seperate from your home's main power board and cuts in instantly during power outages to ensure a continuous power supply to your home. Two types of UPS are generally used in residential properties:

  • Standby UPS: These are generally the cheapest of the two common UPS types and consist of a relatively simple, battery-powered electricity supply which remains in a low-power mode when not required. Once automatically activated by a power outage, they will supply continuous power to your home until the battery is spent, a matter of minutes or hours depending on the battery capacity of your chosen UPS.
  • Line interactive UPS: These devices function in the same way as standby UPSes but also possess line conditioners which help to keep the battery's power supply at a constant, even level. This prevents momentary power drops and also prevents power surges from damaging your valuable equipment. They are also prized in areas which suffer frequent brownouts as they supplement faultering mains power to keep power levels in your home constant.

Are UPSes better at providing emergency power than generators?

In truth, UPSes and generators both have their place, but when it comes to providing constant power to residential homes, UPSes are generally the way to go. They do not require a supply of flammable liquid fuel to function and do not create the neighbour-bothering din created by most diesel generators. Their automatic activation also means homeowners don't have to stumble around through darkened rooms and gardens to find and activate their generator.

The only real drawback a UPS has when compared to a generator is the amount of time they can function for, as most UPSes intended for residential use can provide power for one or two hours at most. While this is more than enough to see most power outages through, the power outages experienced in rural or isolated areas can take much longer to repair, making a generator capable of providing hours or days of power the more obvious choice.

How should I have a UPS installed in my home?

A UPS may resemble an ordinary high-capacity battery at first, but they are much more complicated devices (particularly line interactive models) that should not be handled without proper care. As such, UPSes should always be installed by professional, accredited electricians. These professionals will also be able to advise you on suitable UPS models based on your average power consumption, helping you save money by avoiding expensive, overpowered models.