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UPS vs. Surge Protector: How to Decide Which To Use

Computer and network equipment rely on reliable and clean power to function reliability and to prevent damage. Read this article to learn more on the types of harmful power events. To protect against electrical anomalies, surge suppressors (aka, surge protectors) and/or uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are used.

Differences Between a Surge Suppressor and a UPS

A surge suppressor is a device that looks like a power strip with multiple outlets. However, surge suppressors include circuitry to protect the electronics plugged into it from harmful power spikes. Power spikes are typically seen during lightning storms and can permanently damage sensitive electronics. When possible, at the very least, you should have surge suppressors in your home or office to safeguard your electronics,. Although similar looking, it should be noted that a power strip is not a surge suppressor. Power strips contain no circuitry to protect your electronics and is simply a fancy extension cord.

A UPS on the other hand contains elaborate circuitry to protect your electronic from not only power spikes, but other power disturbances as well. These larger devices contain a battery to directly provide electrical power to your devices. Most UPS' provide enough battery capacity to continue provide power to multiple devices for a few minutes in the event of a power loss. The idea is provide you the opportunity to shut down your electronics, particularly computers and servers, gracefully to avoid data loss. In addition to providing backup power, UPS protects you from power sages, power spikes, and other power events.

Which to Use

Typically, you only need to protect sensitive electronic equipment from power disturbances. Appliances such as microwaves, refrigerators, blenders, coffee makers, fans, and lamps generally are able to withstand typical power events. However, computers, servers, network equipment, monitors, printers, surveillance system, game consoles and similar are what you to make sure are protected. To decide on when to use a UPS and when to use a surge suppressor, you will need to identify what devices will suffer a data loss or system corruption if power is suddenly lost. For most people, it will be computers and servers. These you will want to safeguard using a UPS. For TVs, monitors, charging stations and similar, a surge suppressor would do.