We advise you to read carefully all the features we are going to provide since it is not easy to understand immediately if a UPS is suitable for our computer or not.READ ALSO: Update the PC: Parts to be replaced or added to the computer
What is a UPS or UPS
A UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) is a device capable of accumulating a fair amount of electricity (using internal batteries) and of using this accumulation at the very moment when the electric current goes. With a UPS placed between the power outlet and the PC power supply input, we can continue to use the latter for a few minutes even during a blackout, so as to save important open documents and shut down the operating system with the right procedure.
In addition to supplying auxiliary electric power, the UPS can stabilize the electric current received, in order to pass a very stable flow to the computer: if our line often undergoes voltage variations (not real blackouts but clearly visible power losses) or suffers an overload (for example due to lightning) the UPS can stabilize the current and protect the delicate electronic components of the computer from any power surge, thus lengthening the time useful for using a specific PC.
In addition to protecting the PC, many UPSs can also supply electricity to other external devices such as printers, modems, and scanners, so as to protect and use these devices (always for short periods of time) even with a blackout in progress.
Features of a UPS
The characteristics of a UPS can be very difficult to understand since many elements require electrotechnical and electronic bases. To simplify as much as possible we advise you to check when purchasing a UPS, that the following features are present:
- Power: indicates how much current the UPS can supply in the event of a blackout, and is measured in VA (ie VoltAmpere). This last unit of measurement is very different from the Watt parameter used on computer power supplies and could be confusing.
- PFC: we will have to check if the power supply of the computer in use supports the active or passive PFC so that we can adjust the capacity of the new UPS. The type of PFC can be retrieved from the label of the power supply unit or by reading the user’s manual of the same, so as to be able to correctly perform the following calculation.
- Autonomy: depending on the power and the battery, the autonomy of a UPS can vary from 2-3 minutes up to 10 minutes and more. Obviously we can’t stay on the computer for hours or days, but we will always have the right amount of energy to be able to turn off the computer without causing damage to the active documents.
Depending on the type of PFC in use, the power factor to be used to convert the watts of the power supply into the VA to be used to choose a UPS also changes.
- Active PFC: 0.9
- PFC Passive: 0.6
Once the type of PFC in use has been identified, we can calculate the UPS capacity required by our computer by dividing the PC power supply Watts by the numerical value seen above; below we can find some good examples:
- 500 Watts divided by 0.9 = 555.55 VA
- 500 Watts divided by 0.6 = 833.33 VA
- 700 Watts divided by 0.9 = 777.77 VA
- 700 Watt divided by 0.6 = 1166.6 VA
In short words: if we have a PC with a 500 Watt power supply and an active PFC, we will have to purchase a UPS of at least 600 VA, whereas if we have a computer with a 500 Watt power supply and passive PFC we will have to buy a UPS of at least 900 VA.
We pay particular attention to using PFC UPS active in case of active PFC power supply: otherwise, you risk seriously damaging the power supply and the motherboard! With a passive PFC power supply, we can use any UPS, the important thing is that the required VA capacity is respected.
After seeing the UPS features and what to check to be able to choose the right model, here we will show you some of the models that you can buy online at Amazon, so you can save. Remember that in some cases the sockets behind the UPS are special and we will have to use adapters to connect them (which we will show you at the end of the chapter).
Here below we can find some Generic UPS, suitable for both home and office use:
- Tecnoware ERA PLUS 750 VA (€ 42)
- Tecnoware Era Plus UPS Continuity Unit, 1100 VA (56 €)
- Trust Oxxtron Continuity Group 1000 VA (€ 69)
- APC Back-UPS BX – BX700UI – 700VA (85 €)
- VulTech UPS1500VA-PRO (€ 105) (I have this)
- APC Back-UPS BX – BX950UI – 950VA (€ 109)
- APC Back-UPS BX – BX1400UI – 1400VA (154 €)
If we look for UPS with active PFC, below we can see the recommended models.
- APC BX1400U-FR uninterruptible power supply (UPS) 1400 VA (107 €)
- APC Back-UPS BX – BX950U-GR Power 950VA (€ 113)
- APC Back-UPS BX – BX1400U-GR -1400VA (€ 168)
If instead, we are looking for Smaller and more compact UPS, from the shape similar to large electric slippers, we can take a look at the following models.
- V7 UPS1DT750-1E 750 VA UPS (€ 65)
- APC Back-UPS ES 325 – Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) 325VA (€ 69)
- Atlantis OnePower 700, UPS OffLine 700VA (€ 70)
- Legrand UPS BTicino 310082 UPS, 800 VA (€ 93)
To conclude, we remind you that on many UPSs we will find a special socket, called IEC, not compatible with the normal power supply plugs; in this case, we can purchase an IEC-specific adapter or cable, such as those available below:
- Startech.Com Standard 1.8m Power Cable – C14 to C13 (€ 5)
- Lindy 30331 IEC plug power cable, 2 m (6 €)
- Mach Power UPS Cable, IEC Plug, Schuko Socket (€ 8)
- InLine IEC C14 Adapter (€ 11)
To learn more about voltage surges and the protection of the electricity grid, I invite you to read the guide below.
Use a UPS
Even if it is not essential, an UPS management program is important to configure some options, to turn off the PC in case the light is missing for several minutes, saving the work or to keep the PC turned on with maximum energy savings. An excellent program to manage the UPS is APC PowerChute Personal Edition, in Italian and free. In an APC UPS it should be included in the cd inside the box even if it is better to download it from the internet to get the latest updated version. Installation is quick and easy by following the wizard and accepting the default settings. PowerChute remains in the background, visible in the taskbar, and controls the UPS and power outages. The interface allows you to configure the options for power supply via the UPS and to see a history of how much power has been consumed.
When the light goes away, a notification appears on the screen so as to give the user time to save the work and turn off the PC in the correct way, before the battery runs out. Battery life depends on the wattage of the UPS and, as you can imagine, the more expensive it is, the more energy it can deliver. If the light goes away while you are away from the computer, you can put the machine into sleep mode after a certain specified period of time. In this way, when the light returns at home or in the office, you can resume work where you have remained.
Another interesting feature of the Powerchute management program is energy management settings. If this function is activated, the other electronic objects connected to the UPS can be put into a low power state or switched off when not in use. For example, therefore, you can use the battery only to keep the PC on, but not even printers, speakers or monitors. Also consider the Windows energy-saving settings that recognize the connected UPS and allow you to set a special energy plan if the PC is powered by battery, as in laptops. To protect the computer against power outages and power surges, a UPS is essential and, if you have the possibility, it is a recommended purchase for all those who use a desktop PC. As I think it’s obvious, if you use a portable PC you won’t need any UPS since there is a computer battery to act as a backup power system.
READ ALSO: Can you break your computer when the light goes out or with power surges?