Every homeowner shares a desire to maintain power availability in their home, especially in the era of hybrid work and virtual learning where one or more residents are likely to be reliant on steady power to do their jobs or attend class. This desire has taken on new urgency given the strain that local, regional, and national electric grids have faced from increased weather volatility and cyber events targeting energy infrastructures. While most folks believe the best tactic to ensure consistent power is to install a generator, there are additional shortcomings that solution does not fully address.
Generators have two key weaknesses that can give homeowners trouble both during outages and during regular operation. The first is the small yet crucial segment of time between a power outage and generator system startup, and the second is the quality of power flowing from running generators to the connected electrical equipment.
To address these issues, and help ensure a critical meeting, class, or virtual conference is not missed because of residential power issues, homeowners should look into adding an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on top of their generator system. Modern UPS topologies are designed to address generators’ two primary shortcomings, offering a variety of power continuity and conditioning features suitable for different environments. While UPS design will vary based on brand, customizations, and power environment demands, UPS devices come in three topologies, each working slightly differently to manage power input and protect connected devices:
- Offline/Standby/Backup: Offline UPS systems, also called Standby UPS systems and Battery Backup UPS systems, remain on standby until a power outage event, then transfer AC power from the power source to the connected device. When an input power failure happens, the built-in battery and the inverter, which converts the battery’s DC power to AC, are activated and connected to the output by the transfer switch. Standby UPS systems are generally the most affordable option, and protect from sags, surges, and failures, but they do generally have about a 6-8 millisecond break in power when transferring.
- Line Interactive: In this design, the battery-to-AC power inverter is always connected to the output of the UPS, but only redirects the battery’s DC current path to supply power during an outage. When the power supply is intact, the inverter provides battery charging. Often, this topology also incorporates power conditioning features to equalize sags, surges, voltage anomalies, but does not provide complete protection against other anomalies like noise and transients. This is a cost-effective solution with a smaller transfer time and more protective features than the battery backup.
- Online Double Conversion: Online double conversion UPSs constantly run through their internal batteries and can deliver power with virtually zero transfer time between the power supply and battery in the event of an outage. This design converts the incoming AC power into DC, then converts it back to AC full-time, feeding tightly regulated power to the connected electronics. The topology of online double conversion UPS systems lowers the risk of electrical load loss, and typically features a broad scope of power conditioning including voltage regulation, protection against noise, transients and harmonics, and more, making them especially suitable for manufacturing settings that cannot afford unplanned downtime
While there’s a spread of options for battery backup and line-interactive UPSs, there is tremendous value in double conversion online UPS technology for voltage regulation and power continuity. Though initial investment might be a bit daunting, these solutions produce clean, consistent power and maintain the power input to critical devices when the grid goes down. Knowing the grid is often unreliable, especially these days, the time to reassess your power plan and incorporate proper, intelligent UPS technology is now. Consult your local power management provider to find the UPS that’s right for you.
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