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May 2, 2023

UPS (uninterruptable power supply) Question and Answer

24VAC low voltage uninterruptable power supply

24VAC to 24VAC UPS

Custom design and manufacture of state-of-the-art battery chargers, UPS, and power supplies for OEMs in a hurry!

Q. What is an uninterruptable power supply?
A. An uninterruptable power supply (or UPS) is essentially a back-up battery for your computer or other electronics system in the event of a power failure (blackout) or other electrical line problems. In the occurrence of a blackout, for example, your computer would continue to draw power from the UPS thus allowing you to save your work and shutdown your system properly without data loss or interruption of service.

Q. What are the types of uninterruptable power supplies?
A. The common type is AC/AC, where the energy source is the AC line (120VAC or 240 VAC), and the output is the same voltage through an inverter. The more efficient type is AC/DC, where the UPS delivers the DC voltages needed by the system.

Q. How about some examples of AC/DC UPS ?
A. Custom UPS are often designed at PowerStream to deliver the DC voltages required by the system, thus eliminating inefficiencies in the power conversion, and simplifying the equipment. For example, a telecommunications unit designed to run on a -48V bus gets the -48V directly from the UPS. A mobile cart containing a computer, printer, and scanner gets +12, -12, +5, and +3.3 V directly from the UPS for the computer, printer, and scanner, and the monitor gets 120VAC from an inverter circuit also included in the UPS. Thus the battery energy is used more efficiently, giving longer service between charges.

Q. What is a brownout?
A. A brownout is more or less the opposite of a power surge, where voltage falls below normal levels.

Q: What provides the power when the mains supply fails?
A: A battery inside the UPS takes over and produces fresh alternating current via an inverter. Though these are usually lead-acid batteries, the acid is in the form of a gel and the batteries are sealed and require no maintenance.

Q. What is a power surge?
A. A power surge is a rise in voltage that goes above normal levels, potentially overloading any active equipment.

Q: How long can I expect the batteries to last?
A: Depends upon the specification of the batteries used. On larger equipment (above around 5kVA) you can often specify 10-year design life batteries. Unless you do so, the manufacturer will fit standard batteries. These should be renewed at around four years - by then even if they haven't failed the runtime will be deteriorating.

Battery life depends upon a number of issues, particularly temperature and the number of 'deep discharges' experienced. Battery life is halved for every 10 degrees (C) temperature increase above it's specified operating temperature (usually 25 degrees (C). UPS batteries are designed for maximum life in 'typical' use, which means long periods at continuous low charge and occasional minor discharges. So-called 'deep' discharges on a repeated basis will reduce the life of the battery.

Q: What is meant by 'On-line' and Off-line' UPS?
There are two basic types of UPS in modern use. The first, known as 'Off-line', passes through incoming mains power to the output sockets while the supply is good. It monitors the line constantly for a major voltage drop that signifies power failure. It then switches on it's inverter (the part that produces output alternating current from it's inverter) and supplies output power from the battery or batteries until the mains voltage has been restored and is stable for a period of time. There is by definition a momentary power loss during switchover, but typically of around five milliseconds, which is insignificant to most loads. According to how much you pay for your UPS, you may get some conditioning of the mains power that is passed through under normal conditions, and you may get a genuine sine-wave output as opposed to the square-wave or trapezoidal wave that you will find on the cheaper products.

The second type is known as an 'On-line' design because it's inverter is 'on-line' permanently. In this design, all the incoming power is always converted to direct current, which both tops up the batteries and feeds the inverter. The inverter is constantly producing fresh alternating current to supply the load. When the mains goes off, the batteries are still holding up the incoming DC supply to the inverter, so the load continues to be supplied with absolutely no break whatsoever. The inverter is a constant-duty inverter, so this costs a little more. In any reputable on-line UPS, there is also a fail-safe mechanism known as a 'Static Bypass' which on detecting failure in the inverter will throw the load on the mercy of the mains supply, rather than letting it drop altogether. This design inherently cleans the supply by virtue of reducing it to DC, then reconverting it to fresh AC.

What are DC UPS's?

A DC UPS has DC input and output. These are used in vehicles to keep auxiliary equipment running if there is a blackout or brownout from the vehicle's power bus. For example, it could keep a car alarm or lojack system alive if the car's battery is removed. Or it could keep a video system or computer from re-booting when the engine is started.

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