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How to pick a UPS for your home office

Protecting your home IT equipment and entertainment devices with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is always recommended and particularly with the active storm season predicted. In virtually all cases, blackouts last for less than one hour. So, how do you pick the right UPS for your requirements.

The four things you need to consider are:

  • Sizing
  • Runtime
  • Management and Energy Efficiency
  • Surge Protection

Online tools can assist with the sizing and runtime while the third one rests upon the ease of UPS setup and the management software provided by the manufacturer.

Sizing: In order to determine how how large the UPS needs to be you need to consider what devices you want to connect to it. You can use the online tool at the manufacturers website or calculate it manually.

The power rating for the devices that you want to protect is normally marked on a sticker on the device. If not, consult the users manual. Then, add up the power draw (in Watts) to determine what size UPS you require.

Bear in mind that the equipment can be power factor corrected (PFC) so there may be a disparity between the real power – measured in Watts – and the apparent power measured in Volt Amps (VA). Most UPS’s are marked with both ratings and the more expensive the unit the closer the two figures are.

Runtime: You should allow enough runtime to keep your equipment running through the shorter outages but depending on the frequency and duration of local power outages you may want to consider runtime. Note that a UPS can also maintain power during periods of low voltage or high voltage which can be just as damaging to equipment as a complete loss of power.

Management and Energy Efficiency
Some of the more advanced UPS’s allows non-critical devices to be connected to a separate output circuit so they may be turned off to ensure that the maximum run time is available for the critical devices. The management software supplied with the UPS will enable control of this switching. If it appears the blackout will exceed the available runtime f the UPS, this management software allows the UPS to signal the connected devices to shut down gracefully so that work and data are not lost.

Surge protection
May people are not aware that surges come not only through the power supply but also through the backdoor through Ethernet cable, coaxial cable or phone line. Ensure that you select a UPS that provides for data line surge protection and matches how your Internet connects to your computer and/or networking device. Also consider the surge protection provided on the mains input. In more rural areas it may be worthwhile adding an external surge protector as a sacrifice to protect the UPS.

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