A UPS battery hooked up to a TV while someone plays an Xbox game console.
Jason Fitzpatrick / How-To Geek

When most people think of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), they probably think about a cautious friend who has one to provide backup power to a desktop PC. But a UPS is useful for many more things than just protecting your computer.

What’s a UPS?

If you’re already familiar with UPS units, feel free to jump to the next section. But if you’re curious about UPS units and why we’re such big UPS advocates, let’s crash course the topic.

A UPS is, as the name Uninterruptible Power Supply implies, a device that provides continuous power to any attached devices in the event of a power outage (as well as during power sags, brownouts, and other power problems). It’s a bit more sophisticated under the hood, but it’s really just like a surge protector mated to a large battery.

You can size the UPS based on your needs, and we even have a handy guide to help you calculate how big of a UPS unit you need, as well as some recommended UPS models.

Beyond Your PC: Protect These Things with a UPS

Traditionally, people buy UPS units for their workstations. And they’re great for that. In the event of a power situation, your computer and monitors will stay on even if the lights go out.

That gives you plenty of time to save your work and gracefully shut down your computer instead of the whole thing just flipping off the second the power goes out. But they’re not just great for your PC, they’re great for anything that would benefit from a little power smoothing and stability in the face of a power event. Here are some of the things worth protecting with a UPS.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

People get a UPS for their PC because they’re worried (rightfully so!) about damage to their computer and data loss or corruption.

Given that the main function of a Network Attached Storage device is to serve as a repository for file backups and other data the NAS owner wants to preserve, it only makes sense to protect your NAS with a UPS unit, too.

Be sure to read the documentation for your NAS and set up a USB-cable tether to your UPS unit to ensure it can shut down gracefully in the event that the length of the power outage exceeds the runtime of the UPS. We have a section in this Synology NAS guide you can review if you have one of the many popular Synology models on the market. Otherwise, check the manufacturer’s website for additional documentation and guidance.

Modems and Wi-Fi Routers

Maybe your only computer is a laptop, and you don’t have a NAS for local file storage and fun self-hosted projects. In that case, you might be thinking there’s no reason to have a UPS. So here’s a reason to have a UPS that will resonate with you even if you’re not a data hoarder with a 12-disk array to protect: keeping the internet on when the power is unstable.

If you put a UPS on the same shelf you have your internet modem and Wi-Fi router parked, then the (virtual) lights will stay on even if the actual lights go out. And, if you happen to have a UPS on your computer, too, any internet-based activities won’t be disrupted. Over the years, I’ve worked or gamed right through a brownout because of such a setup.

Even in the worst-case scenario, a UPS for your modem and router can still help you stay online. If a power outage disrupts the internet, you can always use the router’s UPS to keep your smartphone charged so you can access the internet through your phone. Even a modest UPS has enough capacity to charge a smartphone multiple times over, so that’s certainly worth factoring into your plan to keep internet access during a blackout.

Security Cameras and Systems

A security system isn’t very useful if it’s offline or if repeated blackouts damage it. For security camera setups with cameras powered by batteries or over wire (such as Power over Ethernet or a wired run from a central location) that connect back to a base station or Network Video Recorder (NVR), a UPS will ensure they continue to run even when the power goes out.

Further, because an NVR is essentially a specialized computer with local data storage, keeping the power on helps protect the stored data from corruption.

The same goes for security systems. You might have a modern security system with wireless door and window tags, motion sensors, and so on, but all that information feeds back to a central hub somewhere. Putting that hub on a UPS ensures it stays on even if the power is out.

Game Consoles and TVs

Speaking of devices that are essentially sophisticated computers, let’s not forget about game consoles. The days of game consoles being relatively simplistic devices that just read data off a cartridge or disc are long gone. Modern consoles are sophisticated machines with operating systems, internal drives, and so on.

Maybe you’re not worried about your work laptop staying on during a power outage, but if you use your console for gaming, media streaming, and more, it’s worth protecting it. You might not get hours worth of gaming out of a UPS, but you’ll at least be able to keep your TV on during a power outage, get to the next save point, and shut down your console. And if you have a decent size UPS, like the CyberPower 1500VA model I have hooked up to the TV in the photo above, you’d be surprised at how long the run time is. If the power goes out the next time I’m playing, I’ll have between 30-45 minutes of game time to hope the power outage is temporary.

3D Printers, Laser Cutters, and Hobby Printers

If you’re a hobbyist who plays around 3D printing, laser cutting, large-format photo printers, or cutting machines like the Cricut, you’re all too familiar with the cost of materials and the frustration that comes from a botched print or run.

While a UPS won’t help you avoid mishaps like a clogged extruder on your 3D printer or a miscalculation in the scaling of the bitmap you fed into your laser cutter, it will ensure that large 3D print you’ve so carefully planned doesn’t end in a sad slump of molten filament because a power out disrupted your printer.

Anything a Power Event Makes Inconvenient

Our final category is fairly broad because there are so many possible entries. Obviously, there are big issues that you need a whole house generator or standby power system to avoid. Having a freezer full of expensive food thaw out is very inconvenient, but a UPS isn’t going to keep a fridge or freezer running.

But if you have anything in your home that is a giant pain to deal with after brownouts or extended blackouts, you might consider getting a UPS unit to ensure it has smooth and stable power.

What kind of things might fall into this category? Let’s say you have an advanced fish tank setup, and whenever power is cut to the system, you need to turn things on in a certain order and prime the system. Or maybe you discovered how annoying it is that your cable box can take up to an hour to restart and fully populate the on-screen guide after a power disruption event. Or perhaps you’ve

In short, ask yourself which things in your home are annoying to deal with after the power comes back on and consider plugging them into a UPS so brief power disruptions don’t send you running to flip switches, reset things, or otherwise deal with them.

The Best Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) of 2023

APC BR1500G Backup Battery
Best UPS Overall
APC BR1500G Backup Battery
APC UPS BE425M Battery Backup
Best Budget UPS
APC UPS BE425M Battery Backup
CyberPower CP800AVR UPS System
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CyberPower CP800AVR UPS System
Amazon Basics Standby UPS
Best Compact UPS
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CyberPower PR1500LCD UPS SystemCyberPower PR1500LCD UPS System
Best UPS for Gaming
CyberPower PR1500LCD UPS SystemCyberPower PR1500LCD UPS System
Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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