At first glance, it might seem like you only need a UPS for your computer or other electronic equipment if you’re dealing with frequent power outages. But there are some really compelling reasons to use one, even if your power seems stable.
What’s a UPS?
A quick crash course for the unfamiliar. An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) is like a surge protector on steroids. It includes not only surge suppression but also a battery.
The battery allows the UPS to provide power in the event of a power outage and even gracefully shut down an attached device (like your computer or media server) if you link the device and the UPS with a USB cable.
Depending on the size of the UPS unit, it can provide backup power for your devices for anywhere from a few minutes to upwards of an hour.
Why Use a UPS If the Power Seems Stable?
Reading the description of UPS unit above, you might think that it sounds like a great solution for somebody living somewhere with unstable power, rolling blackouts, and so on. And it is. In that kind of situation, it’s a must-have accessory to make using a PC and other sensitive electronics safe and enjoyable.
But if you think that maybe a UPS isn’t for you because the power at your home is very stable, not so fast. You’ll discover very quickly when you get a UPS unit and hook it up to your computer that your power probably isn’t as stable as you think.
Without a UPS unit, if you asked me, “Does your neighborhood have any power issues?” I would say no because true-blue power outages are infrequent here. An actual lights-out power outage only occurs here maybe once every 5-10 years.
But after I installed my first UPS years ago, I noticed something. A few times a month (and more frequently during summer heatwaves when AC demands really taxed the power grid), the UPS attached to my computer would click on for 5 seconds or so, despite no other indication there was anything wrong with the power.
No flickering lights, no actual loss of power, just the UPS clicking on, humming for 5-10 seconds while the computer and peripherals ran off the battery, and then another click as it switched back to wall power.
The reason the UPS clicks on is that there are issues with the power grid that are minute enough that I otherwise wouldn’t detect them. Voltage sags and other issues that aren’t great for my computer or other sensitive electronics are detected by the circuitry in the UPS but are not visible to me.
Yet, those issues can still wreak havoc on your gear even if you don’t notice them. With the cost of computer components as high as they are, I certainly don’t want to damage my PSU or GPU with dirty power.
And by parking a quality UPS unit between my PC setup and the power grid, I don’t have to worry about it. I have a UPS on my workstation, one for my home server in the basement, and another for all my network gear.
So when the power fluctuates, I don’t have to worry about annoyances like my router power cycling in the middle of a video conference or more significant issues like damage to sensitive devices.
Not sure where to start? You can grab one of our recommended UPS units, or if you want to dig in and learn more about how to size a UPS unit for your needs, you can start with our guide to selecting a battery backup for your computer.
However you go about it, we can’t recommend getting one enough. Compared to the cost of replacing expensive electronics and dealing with data loss, a UPS unit is a very reasonable expense and a worthwhile investment.