The Inner Workings of a UPS

UPS Protection

UPS stands for uninterruptible power supply. It is a specialised device that is designed to prevent sudden loss of power that might cause disruption or damage to the electrical system. Simply put, it acts as a backup battery system when there is a problem with the mains supply. Its main use is to ensure that critical systems running on electricity are able to stay active long enough to shut down safely when there is a disruption in the mains supply.

Your electrical supply can develop four major types of problems and a good UPS system will protect you against these problems. Here’s a list of these main problems:

  • Power Outage: This refers to short or long-term disruption of power. Power outage can be caused by a number of reasons but it could lead to severe data loss as well as major system downtime.
  • Over Voltage: This happens when supplied power is much greater than the rated or required power of the appliances. It can lead to overheating and severe damage. It is different from power surge as it happens over a sustained period of time and can lead to various problems.
  • Power Surge: This happens when there is a sudden increase in the flow of power that flows through the device. It can be caused by a lightning strike or other similar occurrences. The sudden increase in power is followed by a sudden drop that can cause severe damage to the equipment.
  • Under Voltage: This happens when the power flowing through your device is much less than the required power. It is also called a brown-out and it usually happens when the power grid develops a problem or there is a sudden surge in demand for power in other areas which can lead to active data loss.

UPS Parts

There are four primary components in a UPS and all these components work together to provide a steady flow of power when there is an emergency. A UPS is sold in many different configurations and these components might be arranged differently in various configurations. An off-line UPS is going to have a different layout as compared to an online double conversion UPS but the basic four components remain the same in all types. Here is a list of these 4 components:

  • Charger: As the name suggests, this component is used for charging the batteries to ensure power is available in case of a disruption. For battery charging, the incoming alternating current has to be converted into direct current and direct current is used to charge the batteries.
  • Battery: Batteries are where the power is stored and this is the power that is used when there is a disruption. The batteries in a UPS system are typically stored in long strings and these are connected in series to provide continuous power. One of the problems is that in case of a single battery failure, the entire string will fail and therefore, frequent battery testing is important. The charger makes sure that all the batteries are charged as much as possible.
  • Inverter: It is the second part of the double conversion process that happens in a UPS system. It is responsible for converting the stored battery power into usable electricity. The major difference among different UPS setups lies in the inverter. In case of an online UPS, the inverter is always active which means it does a seamless changeover to the battery power in case of a disruption. On the other hand, a bypass activates the inverter in case of an off-line UPS when there is a power disruption. An inverter also ensures consistent, modulated and stable power output.
  • Switch: The role of switch in a UPS set up is to activate the inverter and use the battery to provide power as soon as the mains power is disrupted in case of a line interactive and off-line UPS. In another type of UPS setup, which is online UPS, power is continuously flowing through the inverter. In this case, it acts as a bypass switch where it switches the supply to the mains power when the UPS fails.

All these four components work in tandem to ensure that your UPS continues to provide uninterrupted access to power in the event of a sudden disruption. You can find a good supplier of UPS batteries in the UK.