UPS or Surge Protector? What should I look for?

Hi All,

I am in search of guidance in buying a UPS and/or surge protector for my computer and would like to get recommendations and what i should look for. This computer is a gaming pc that will be used for making virtual machines, video rendering as well as for streaming.

Initially I figured that having a UPS/surge protector would not be beneficial for me but I realize that my area occasionally had black and brownouts (and the wiring in my home is a bit shoddy) plus this gaming pc (in the process of being purchase) is not protected (warranty wise) for electrical surges.

If this question has been asked before, please close this topic and redirect me to the appropriate place.

A UPS will usually offer surge protection, under voltage protection as well as a battery backup should the power fail completely. This would give you enough time to cleanly shut down your VMs and the host operating system.

So if your budget can stretch to a UPS and these things are important to you, then that’s what you should buy.

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A quality UPS will save you time and money in the long run. It’s believed that bad power is the source of “hidden” corruptions that cause short term and long term problems. As one simplified example, imagine you were writing to a spinning media disk when the power dips… and the RPM of the disk slips… that could cause that write to end up somewhere it wasn’t supposed to, and it might be many days or weeks before you access the unintended target and find the problem.

There are at least three kinds of UPSes ( Uninterruptible power supply - Wikipedia ):

  • There are ones that stay “off” the power line until they sense a problem, and then try to quickly jump in and address the problem.
  • There are ones that are “line interactive” (I think one brand uses that phrasing.) They are always “on” the power line, but don’t use the battery unless insufficient power is arriving.
  • There are fully online UPSes. They are always generating their own sine wave from the battery, and the incoming power is used to replenish the battery.

The last type is probably technically the best, as they are also usually the most expensive. There is one potential problem however. Generating a “proper” sine wave is technically challenging, and so they frequently “fudge” it. (Some cheaper ones even use a square wave.) This fudged signal has been known to physically break (aka “fry”) devices that were only designed for a proper sine wave.

Another issue to be aware of, is that a UPS uses a battery, which is a “consumable.” It will wear out over time, and need to be replaced. (Or else the whole UPS will need to be replaced, which of course replaces the battery.) These batteries are frequently proprietary, which makes them more expensive to replace than if they were generic.

I have had good experiences with CyberPower and APC. I have yet to replace a battery in my CyberPower units, as they’re all under 5 years old. I have successfully replaced the batteries in a couple of older APC units, at a cost that is barely cheaper than replacing the entire unit.

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thank you for the information.

I am currently looking at APC (CyberPower is unoffical in my country) and at the product filters, there are things like power capactity VA/kVA and Watts. To my understanding, I should choose one based on the amount of watts in total that i used. Is this correct ?

Pretty much. It basically boils down to total(V x A) x growth_factor, and I’ve seen that last term range anywhere from 1.15 to 1.6.

some people swear by the ‘pure sine wave’ products but I say having any kind of UPS is far better than none. In my area I get from 10 to 20 ‘hiccups’ per month and even the lightest of UPS saves from the potential damage of instant reboots not to mention any power spikes or slopes when the power is coming back at the end of the hit.

A lot of the APC units will give an estimated battery run time at full load, so that should be good enough for you to determine the size you need. Do you really need 30 minutes, or will 5 be sufficient?
The other thing to remember is to connect the USB cable to the computer and install the UPS software so your system can shutdown when the battery kicks on for x minutes, or has x minutes of power remaining. So many people skip this last step and just let the systems run until the battery drains.

Unless you have something like a “kilowatt” measurement device, you probably don’t know exactly how much power your system is using. (By system, I mean the PC, the monitor, and any devices connected to them that you would need to have powered to properly shut down… like a USB hub or whatever.) You probably don’t need your printer on UPS, for example, but you can put it into the side of the UPS which provides filtering, but not power backup. Anyway, you can probably estimate how much it uses, the UPS websites will give you numbers (although I think they probably run high so you buy more.)

Within limits, it doesn’t matter the math. Let me explain. The battery is just power. The UPS circuitry will supply power as long as it can. The actual math is Watts = Volts x Amps. So if your UPS has enough charge for a 300W load for 10 minutes but you miscalculated and you’re using 400W, then (10x300) = 3000 / 400 = 7.5 minutes. So instead of 10 minutes you would get 7 and a half. So basically, buy enough capacity to power your estimated load long enough for you to be able to react to the power outage and shut you system down safely. Any more capacity than that, and it’s just a bonus. Here, the pricing is such that 1000 to 1500VA is pretty reasonable, but any more is probably considered “business class” and they really seem to charge more.

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This is probably one of the best explanation i have seen in ages.

Thank you

They cost more but always remand getting an UPS where you on bettry 24/7 most that go at like over $100 have thing’s like surge protection, brownout protection, and voltage reduction biite in.

I know it’s old video form the show Home Theater Geeks has out dated info but video is sill an super spose of starter information.

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