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Personal Computers and Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Eric Gehler

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Most of us have come to rely heavily on our personal computers. We use them to store sensitive data, conduct online banking, purchase items and hundreds of other purposes. Oddly, most people don't consider how vulnerable their data and computers are to the electrical current. We tend to take their constancy for granted. That optimism can lead to devastating results.

In order for your computer to operate properly, your PC must have an electrical current. When the power source is available, your computer receives a continuous voltage flow. But, there are potential problems that can cause loss of data and even damage to your computer. Below, we'll describe how your computer's power supply works to maintain its functionality. You'll also learn about uninterruptible power supplies and how they can protect your data and your computer.

The Basics Of Voltage Flow To Your PC

In the U. S. , your computer needs power delivered to it at 60 hertz. There can be small deviations, but large differences in the flow of the current can cause problems (such as your PC's power supply failing). Because the voltage from the current can experience spikes (or drops) sporadically, the risk of a power supply failure is always present. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) prevents this from happening.

If the voltage spikes, drops, or fails completely, the UPS can identify the problem almost instantly and intervene on behalf of your computer's power supply. That prevents sizable deviations in the voltage (significantly above or below the normal 60 hertz) from causing damage to your computer.

Standby UPS Versus Continuous UPS

For home computers (and even those used in some small businesses), there are 2 primary types of uninterruptible power supplies: standby and continuous. Both types work in different manners and manage the flow of the electrical current differently. A standby UPS allows your PC to receive power directly from your utility company. If there's a problem (a spike, drop, or outage), it quickly intervenes between the connection and launches a power inverter to deliver a sustainable current from the UPS's internal battery. The power inverter changes the battery's DC power into AC power.

By contrast, a continuous UPS maintains a constant connection to your PC by supplying an unbroken current from its battery. While doing so, the UPS's battery is constantly recharged by the utility power. If the utility power becomes unavailable, the UPS continues to seamlessly supply a current to the computer. Like a standby UPS, the continuous UPS uses a power inverter to change DC power into AC.

Though standby UPS solutions are far more common than continuous UPS's (due to the lower cost), a continuous UPS offers a steadier current. That being said, a standby UPS is sufficient for most home and small business computers. A continuous UPS solution is better-suited for large applications such as powering data centers and server farms. The key to making the right investment in an uninterruptible power supply is to realistically estimate your current and future power needs.

Power Systems & Controls is the industry standard for Uninterruptible Power Supply and Frequency Converters


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