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So you’ve decided to make the upgrade from mere surge protector to fully-protected uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Nice choice!

An uninterruptible power supply combines surge protection with a battery to keep your electronics running long enough during a blackout The Effects Power Outages Can Have On Your Computer The Effects Power Outages Can Have On Your Computer Do you unplug your computer during severe storms? If not, you may want to start. Read More for you to save your work and shut down. Plus, use of a UPS can reduce energy loss by 30-55 percent. UPS devices can also improve the quality of the power your devices receive.

However, there are many models on the market offering a range of features, some of which are quite pricey. In order to save money on your UPS purchase, figure out what you need and find a place to buy it at a discount.

Look for Discounts

save money

You should always shop around before making any big purchase. The advantage of buying from a computer store The Basic Parts Of A Computer & How To Upgrade Them [Technology Explained] The Basic Parts Of A Computer & How To Upgrade Them [Technology Explained] Read More as opposed to a general retailer is the quality of information and advice you get. Here are some of the best places to begin your quest for the lowest price.

  • Micro Center: This online and brick-and-mortar retailer offers a great selection of UPSs, many discounted as much as $5-$40 off the retail price. You can also use its Select 2 to Compare feature to scan the options that come with one model versus a similar or more expensive one. This could be especially helpful for people still on the fence about which features they need. Seeing how much more you’ll pay for additional options can make the decision easier.
  • Newegg: Discounts off the retail price are standard at this online store. Newegg also offers volume discounts to shoppers purchasing three or more units. If you have friends or co-workers who are also looking for a UPS, you could go in together to purchase them at a lower price.
  • CoastTec: In addition to buying new, you can also save money if you exchange your current UPS for a refurbished one. For half the cost of a new unit, you’ll receive a professionally reconditioned UPS with new batteries and a one-year warranty.

Know What You Want – and What You Want to Avoid

what to avoid

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As with any electronic device, all UPSs are not created equal. Here’s what you want in your UPS, and what you should steer clear of.

  • Power: Use this online load calculator to determine the total electrical consumption of all the equipment you plan on connecting to your UPS. Then look for a UPS with an output watt capacity 25 percent higher than the number you calculated.
  • Runtime: How long do you want or need your computer to run after a power outage? Whether you just need a few minutes to power down safely, or you want to be able to keep working longer, this is an important feature to consider before purchasing a UPS. Keep in mind that the number of devices you plug into your UPS will also affect runtime, with more devices resulting in a shorter runtime.
  • Space-Saving Form: The two most common UPS forms are tower and rack-mount. As the name implies, tower models stand up on a desk, shelf or floor space. These are the most common UPSs for desktop computing and home workstations. Rack-mount models are made to be installed on the wall in a rack. They are more commonly used with servers and networking.
  • Software: It may be useful to buy a UPS that includes power management software. This gives you the added protection of software that will manage and monitor your UPS without requiring any action on your part. Therefore, should the power go out while you’re not home, the UPS’s software will save any open work and shut your computer down safely.
  • Stay Away From: To save on future costs as well, avoid UPS models with batteries that must be changed by a professional technician. User-replaceable batteries mean you can make the switch by yourself, which will save time and money.

Don’t Buy Features You Don’t Need

features

Think about what you’ll use your UPS for. If you will be a light home user or even a small office user, you don’t need all the features 5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Buy The Right UPS 5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Buy The Right UPS Power is unpredictable. A car crashing into a pole or a small flaw in a transformer's equipment can cause a blackout or, in some cases, a surge strong enough to destroy most electronics in your... Read More that would be critical for a larger scale operation in a data center or server room.

Line-Interactive UPSs will give you batter backup, surge protection and brownout protection, meaning your computer will continue to operate at a safe voltage level during fluctuations in electricity supply. Some line-interactive models will also provide overvoltage protection, shielding your devices from damage, and pure sine wave output, which supplies ideal power levels How Much Power Does Your PC Need? How Much Power Does Your PC Need? Computers need power. They turn it into heat, noise, and light -- like magic. But how much power does your PC need, exactly? Let's find out where all that power goes... Read More for equipment that is especially sensitive.

CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Intelligent LCD Series UPS 1000VA 600W AVR Mini-Tower -New Design and More Features CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Intelligent LCD Series UPS 1000VA 600W AVR Mini-Tower -New Design and More Features 1000VA/600 Watts UPS system - Protects PCs, workstations, and home entertainment systems. Prevents data loss and protects electronic equipment from harmful power problems. Buy Now At Amazon $92.47

On-Line UPSs provide a more extensive set of features in addition to the basic functions, including overvoltage protection, pure sine wave output and online operation, which gives you instantaneous transfer time to battery power.

Standby UPSs are the most basic and inexpensive model. They stay in standby mode until an outage occurs, then provide battery power to your computer so you can save your work and shut down.

CyberPower CP350SLG Standby UPS 350VA 255W Compact CyberPower CP350SLG Standby UPS 350VA 255W Compact 350VA/255 Watts UPS system - Protects PCs, peripherals and personal electronics. Prevents data loss and interruptions that can cause lost product configurations. Buy Now At Amazon $39.95

Identify Your Optimal Battery Size

UPS power

At the very least, you want to have enough battery life for the time it will take your computer to shut down safely. However, you need to factor in not just battery life for the operating system, but also for the monitor and any other equipment that will be plugged into the UPS.

If you’re into math, you can calculate the energy usage of all your equipment How Much Power Is Your PC Using? How Much Power Is Your PC Using? Computer power consumption can be estimated. Most of the components inside a PC have specific minimum and maximum power draw figures and, because quality control is so tight, it’s rare of a part to break... Read More yourself. The easier approach is to use manufacturer estimates of battery life based on the size of the battery. These estimates tend to be conservative, so if anything you’ll end up with a little more than what you need, which is a much better situation to be in than not having enough.

There are also online calculation tools that help you find the ideal UPS and battery size based on an estimate of extra power you may need for future devices, your optimal equipment runtime after a power fail and the voltage system you use based on your country. For example, you may only want the minimum time needed to shut down your computer Automatically Turn Off Your Computer With Shutdown Timer [Windows] Automatically Turn Off Your Computer With Shutdown Timer [Windows] Read More or you may want an hour or more to continue working after an outage.

It may take some time and research to find the best UPS for your needs at the best price, but putting in this effort will pay off with peace of mind. Now that most people work at home at least occasionally, protecting your equipment and your data with a UPS is more important than ever. Since severe weather events are likely to become more frequent, power outages and brownouts will also become more common. Protect yourself now to avoid a data disaster in the future.

Image credits: Negative Space, Marcin Czaja, Declan TM

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  1. Ryan
    April 10, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Great article, I purchased a UPS from https://vellicore.com about a year ago and saved us from a power outage that lasted about 8 hours.

  2. teodor
    July 24, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Afaik it's a bad idea to connect printers, especially Laser printers to the same ups you use for the pc. During printing laser printers suck up a lot of power,which can quickly overwhelm the ups,shorten its lifespan or damage it. Best advice is to power your laser printers on a separate outlet ,or if you have a larger photo-printer /plotter that you use proffesionally,buy a separate ups for it.

  3. Teacher
    January 15, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Mr. Howard Blair... is there something wrong with your thinking? Do you not understand the meaning of certain words? Let me help you...

    The article stated, "The two MOST COMMON ups forms...", it did not state ALL.

    There is nothing "Odd" about the CyberPower unit that does not "disagree" with the article. In fact, it would AGREE with the article when it comes to saving money - the unit advertised for $39.95.

    So, if you want to be heard you first have to make sense.

  4. Don Gateley
    December 2, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Once you find one with adequate power output and if it has a removable 12V battery you can almost always remove the battery and connect it to a car battery for extended power and you can recharge it with your car if need be. I keep two, one connected to the car and one connected to the UPS for ping-ponging. I don't think it probably a good idea to connect anything but a fully charged car battery. A battery tester with a load is always a good idea.

    You can keep going this way as long as you have gas in your car so I make sure my tank is never much more than 1/4 down.

  5. Bben
    December 2, 2015 at 11:54 am

    When you do have a power failure, you don't know if it will last 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days. Think about what you will do in the event of a full power failure. Typically, you stop what you are doing, save your work and shut down normally. This is what the UPS software does for you if you don't override it. You do not want to continue playing that power hungry game. You do not want to continue updating that spreadsheet, You do not want to keep uploading cat pictures to Facebook. If you feel you absolutely must, use your cell phone to post a quick Twitter to tell people you are down for a power outage. You do not need multiple monitors. You do not need your printer. Each extra gadget plugged into your UPS cuts down on the time it can function before it dies also.

    The only things that should be plugged into your UPS are your computer (AKA CPU, AKA that box that everything plugs into) A single monitor ( plug other monitors into a separate supply and not the UPS) And, depending on your personal need MAYBE the modem and router. The fewer things you have plugged in the longer you can take to shut down. If you have a server or NAS, you may need extra USP capacity (or a second UPS just for them)

    Once your computer is shut down, You can use the remaining battery power to run an emergency light or charge your cell phone. Be sure to use a low power LED and not an old fashioned incandescent bulb. Depending on the left over power you could easily get several hours of low level light during a big power failure. The quicker you shut down the computer, the more battery life will be remaining for your light and phone.

    Be sure to test your UPS - those batteries don't last forever and when you need a UPS it's too late to test it.

  6. Howard Blair
    December 1, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    "The two most common UPS forms are tower and rack-mount."
    Funny, the CyberPower unit you link to (link to Amazon!) is neither of these; it's a "fat powerstrip" form, mean to lie on a desk with outlets across the top. Odd that an item in your article disagrees with the article itself. :p

  7. Lucy Holley
    December 1, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    thank you for this post. it's good works. good luck!