About Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)
Why is Power Protection Necessary?
Desktop computers, network file servers, telephone systems and other critical business equipment play a vital role in the day to day operations of most businesses and the reliable functioning of those systems depend on a clean uninterrupted supply of power.
In many cases, an uninterruptible power supply can be justified with simple arithmetic. Several hours of professional work can be lost due to a momentary brownout. This can crash a computer before the work can be saved to disk. Consequently, an organization can suffer expensive setbacks in terms of time and disruption. But, with an uninterruptible power supply in place, a brownout can pass unnoticed. Spending as little as a hundred dollars on power protection can buy complete protection and peace of mind.
The need for power protection goes beyond the single-user desktops. The increasing use of local area networks makes offices even more susceptible to power problems, because most files on these networks are centralized on one high-speed file server. A brownout affecting a file server could disrupt fifty or sixty users. Since such systems often do not have an operating staff, power protection must also be automated.
Phone systems are increasingly computer based, making them equally vulnerable to power problems, and if computer downtime is painful, downtime on the phone system can be disastrous. With the upsurge in telemarketing, many businesses now conduct literally all their business over the phone.
Brownouts are momentary slumps in the AC power supply to a level under 100 volts. They are normally caused by the use of heavy machinery in the vicinity -- as motors and compressors are turned on they cause a momentary drain on the grid. Within an office setting, air conditioners and laser printers are often culprits.
Brownouts can affect a computer without being visible to the naked eye (in terms of its affects on the room lights). And even if they do not crash the computer, brownouts can cause stresses that can shorten the life of components. It's common for line monitors to detect as many as four potentially disruptive events a day.
Power surges, meanwhile, often follow brownouts as the power rebounds back to normal. High-voltage conditions, as opposed to momentary surges, are especially prevalent overseas, and must be guarded against.
Complete outages are most common in suburban areas where lines are hung on poles that are exposed to lightening. This is especially true along the Gulf Coast where the power grid is often exposed to severe tropical storms.