Computers & Electronics

UPS backup power supply worth it?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 12th, 2017 6:54 pm
[OP]
Member
Dec 6, 2012
383 posts
97 upvotes
Regina

UPS backup power supply worth it?

Are UPS backup power supplies worth it? Do they really protect equipment better when compared to a surge protector?

I have expensive video equipment and a computer connected to a surge protector right now and was wondering if a UPS would be better.
112 replies
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2005
1090 posts
686 upvotes
Depends on your local power quality. If your area has above ground cable connected to your house and has frequent storm related blown out, a surge protector is generally enough to protect. If you need them running during a blown out. A UPS is obvious better.

General consensuses is that UPS can protect the electronic equipment better because there are more separation between the power and the equipment (For a surge, it is outlet -> fuse -> equipment, for UPS, it is outlet -> fuse -> Battery -> Equipment) but in reality, large majority of the lower cost (anything less than a few hundreds) UPS doesn't delivery power constantly from the battery anyway. Which means you are not going to get more protection.

If it is only protection you are after, unless you are willing to invest 1k+ into highend UPS, surge is about the same protection as UPS.
Newbie
Dec 15, 2015
84 posts
31 upvotes
RH, ON
A UPS's general purpose (at least the way I was explained) was they are a short term backup to essentially power down your device in an appropriate manner in case of a power failure. Or save your work and power down.

A surge protector is meant to protect against a power surge, ie when your power is getting restored, generally there is very large inrush of current and that's what causes your devices to pop. An aside, you should replace your surge protector every so often. They are only rated to work properly for a certain amount of time.
Deal Guru
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Mar 6, 2003
10391 posts
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Ottawa
the main reason to have a UPS is to protect against lost work. If your computer shuts down when you haven't saved your work yet. If you save your work often, it may mean only a few minutes but it could be an hours worth of work.
If you are in the middle of an operation and the computer is writing to the disk while power goes off, the file could be incomplete and unusable. Unlikely but still possible.

Basically with a UPS, your computer has software (either supplied by the UPS vendor or Windows itself) that will monitor its state (using a USB connection) and save the work for you or power down gracefully (hibernate mode). That way you will never lose your work.

For projectors, since they usually go into a "cool down" state where the fan stays on for a minute or two after you power down, a UPS would protect against the projector not being able cool down properly.

For other gear, it's basically overkill. Getting some kind of good surge protector is good enough.
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Sr. Member
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Dec 1, 2010
760 posts
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GTA
I lost a hard drive once to a power surge while it was in operation. Never came back. After that I've been an APC man ever since, regardless of where I live, in the city or in the sticks. I feel better knowing my computer won't shut-off in a power surge blip if I am in the middle of something, or it will automatically run the shutdown procedure if I am AFK. If you invest in an expensive PC, invest in an APC/UPC. No questions.
Sr. Member
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Mar 31, 2017
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it's the brown outs that kill your components. If you have a video card costing more than $200 then I would certainly get one. There are refurbed aps you can buy for under $60. Wont keep your system on more than 4 mins but enough to save your components.
[OP]
Member
Dec 6, 2012
383 posts
97 upvotes
Regina
I have an
i7 7700
RX 580 8GB

As well as expensive professional video equipment and VCRs.
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2006
3619 posts
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Toronto
waloshin wrote:
Jul 12th, 2017 8:54 pm
I have an
i7 7700
RX 580 8GB

As well as expensive professional video equipment and VCRs.
Yeah get UPS with surge protection.

It's not just so you can save work, but some equipment may not take it well to have power cut-off in outage.
I used to work in a lab that had very expensive equipment, one cost $300k and another older set at $500k. Shutting off power suddenly could burn a fuse or a filament. We had a giant UPS backup that's probably 4'x4' x 5' tall, just so in power outage it'll buy us 10-15 min to shut down everything in proper sequence.
Member
Dec 7, 2015
395 posts
75 upvotes
Ottawa, ON
If you check most UPS units - at least the residential ones - they tend to have low energy absorption compared to a good stand alone surge protector. It seems to me that you should get both. However, the ones I've looked at state that their surge protection warranty is void if you put a UPS and surge protector in series. I suspect that the latter restriction is due to the fact that they want to deflect responsibility to the other device and not cover the warranty themselves.
Deal Addict
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Oct 9, 2010
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Windsor
UPS is worth it; I had a pretty cheap UPS (APC RS700 I think), and it was obliterated during a lightning storm @ my parents' place; the only electronic device that survived in the entire home was the computer that was connected to this UPS, and it was running when the storm hit.

It could have been luck, but I like to be optimistic. My surge protecting power bar (which was spendier than my UPS), allowed all of my audio stuff to be destroyed, as did everything else that was supposed to be surge protecting.
Last edited by ChubChub on Jul 13th, 2017 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Deal Addict
Dec 12, 2009
2236 posts
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Toronto
Aside from letting your computer shut down gracefully. Some of he other advantages are keeping your modem and switches telephones live during a power outage.
I'm thinking of getting an additional UPS for my TV/Cable box. Any power flickers and the cable box reboots and goes through a lengthy boot sequence. That is not desirable if you are recording or watching a show.
Deal Addict
Sep 29, 2005
3830 posts
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Montreal
heyyahblah wrote:
Jul 12th, 2017 6:56 pm
I lost a hard drive once to a power surge while it was in operation. Never came back. After that I've been an APC man ever since, regardless of where I live, in the city or in the sticks. I feel better knowing my computer won't shut-off in a power surge blip if I am in the middle of something, or it will automatically run the shutdown procedure if I am AFK. If you invest in an expensive PC, invest in an APC/UPC. No questions.
I had a similar experience years ago. I didn't lose my hard drive. I lost my motherboard which, thankfully, was still under warrantee. For me, it wasn't a surge - it was a brown out.
Phils
Penalty Box
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Feb 9, 2003
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Langley
I have one just for my router. So I get an extra few hours of WiFi if the power goes out. I don't really care about my desktop.
Deal Addict
Mar 30, 2010
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Mississauga
willilumplump wrote:
Jul 12th, 2017 10:55 pm
If you check most UPS units - at least the residential ones - they tend to have low energy absorption compared to a good stand alone surge protector. It seems to me that you should get both. However, the ones I've looked at state that their surge protection warranty is void if you put a UPS and surge protector in series. I suspect that the latter restriction is due to the fact that they want to deflect responsibility to the other device and not cover the warranty themselves.
The reason is because UPS's have the potential to draw lots of power, continuously, to recharge their batteries, which can damage surge protectors that aren't strong enough to handle the load.

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