A Comprehensive Guide To UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supplies)

What Is a UPS Power Supply?

The main role of any Uninterruptable Power Supply is to become a secondary power source, effectively an instant-switch, on-demand battery backup for memory-based tech hardware and computers. PCs contain delicate yet valuable hardware components. These components are vulnerable or susceptible to damages that are caused by a sudden surge or loss of power. Quality UPS systems protect these parts (and the data they rely on) when there is a blackout, a mains surge, or other types of power events.

UPS units have become very popular as an add-on peripheral located in work and home PC setups, network and server environments, battery shops and in a host of other types of hardware-critical computing applications. When it comes to these scenarios, UPS provides computer users with added peace of mind along with extra safety levels for their data and their hardware.

What Is a UPS Battery?

UPS power supplies typically sit between the computer that is being powered and the mains wall socket, plugged into each through separate cables. Depending on the intended use environment and the overall power-capacity, the standard office or home UPS Battery Backup is usually a compact and relatively small “smart” unit. These units are usually built around high-drain rechargeable power cells.

Lead-Acid Batteries Or VRLA

These are usually low-maintenance batteries that are usually viewed as reliable, basic UPS power-supply workhouses that have a lifespan of around 5 years. The “VR” stands for Valve-Regulated, which refers to these batteries having an automatically-operated, built-in vent system that controls releasing the slow buildup of gas at specific points within the battery charge-drain cycle.

This is an essential function triggered by the internal pressure-sensors. Similar to most of the aspects linked to VRLA cell types, they perform optimally when the batteries are kept in a temperature-controlled, dry environment, like an average centrally-heated space in an office or home.

Li-ion UPS Batteries

In contrast, these batteries are far more lightweight, compact and usually feature several built-in power-management features. Some of these include advanced voltage and charge balancing. Many of the models also provide a much longer “expected lifespan” when compared to the lead-acid batteries, which means over a long enough time, they usually prove to be a more economical choice. Upfront, the UPS units that include Li-ion batteries are usually priced to match their much higher production fees, so the initial buy-in will typically cost less than the VRLA-based units.

VLA Batteries

The last option is known as the “wet/flooded cell” or VLA batteries. These options are not as widely available when it comes to buying them from off-the-shelf UPS systems or high street stores, since they are made for very specific environments and applications.

To begin with, the chemical makeup of these batteries makes them potentially dangerous unless they are stored in a completely separate saferoom. They also require frequent user maintenance when it comes to topping up the distilled water levels, along with consistent monitoring when it comes to their calibration and equalisation data.

What Do UPS Systems Do?

As mentioned in the first part of the guide, the primary function of UPS units is to offer a constant yet temporary source of “uninterruptible” power to computer setups or any other essential hardware array, when the mains blackout or other types of similar electrical disruptions.