Why You Should Invest in a UPS for the Home

Set up a UPS in your flat, townhouse, or apartment and you won't have to worry about load shedding.






Load shedding, load shedding, load shedding, it's all people talk about at the moment and I have already aired my feelings on this topic. Last night during load shedding and all wired up with my UPS running and everything almost as normal as could be, I thought about those living in a flat, townhouse, or apartment. If you live in a flat or apartment and even some townhouse developments, a generator/inverter isn't an option to consider.



A generator/inverter definitely isn't quiet, and you can't have it too close to windows or doors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. And for those of you who are not aware, a generator emits carbon monoxide. These fumes are odourless and colourless and therefore invisible and because of this victims are not even aware that they are being poisoned. It is essential that a generator or generator/inverter be placed outdoors well away from windows or doors.




Back to the original point. What option do people who live in townhouses, flats or apartments have when it comes to repeated load shedding?





What is a UPS?

A UPS is an uninterrupted power supply, a device that provides emergency power in the event of a power outage or load shedding. Using a battery that is charged via your electrical supply, the battery stores power that is released for consumption when the electricity goes off for any reason. The main purpose of a UPS until a few years ago was to supply power for a laptop or PC to allow for proper shutdown until electrical power is resumed. As opposed to a generator/inverter, a UPS is silent.



A UPS can be used as a safety device between your electrical supply (power outlet or plug point) and electronic devices to protect them against power surges and spikes, brownouts, and power fluctuations.







Most UPS models on the market only provide backup power for a short period of time, some as little as 15-minutes. However, regular load shedding in South Africa has brought about UPS systems that can power a few devices for up to 4-hours at a time. I invested in a UPS about 3-years ago and have weathered many load shedding events while still being able to run WiFi, satellite channels, TV and one or two lights. It might not be much but when it's dark and the power goes off the lights stay on, as does the WiFi and TV.





Back to those living in a townhouse, flat or apartment. Since a generator/inverter is out of the question, the next best thing would be to invest in a UPS. But when shopping for a UPS, make sure you select one that meets with your requirements. If you only want to be able to shutdown a laptop or PC to protect it from harm, a UPS with 5 to 10-minute back-up is ideal. It gives you just enough time to power down programs and exit safely.



Small and compact, you can purchase an entry-level UPS as a backup power supply for a laptop or PC to allow for proper shutdown. These range in price from about R1,500 upwards.





The larger the UPS - the larger the battery and the more devices you can power. I have the Ellies 720W/1200Va UPS that has been set up for the past 3 years without any hassles.




How to Select the Best UPS

With there being so many different brands, types, and models on the market, how do you know which is the best one? The simplest way is to choose one that meets your requirements (5-10 minutes or longer) and then check the reviews. People are very quick to post reviews based on performance and you will quickly be able to ascertain the pros and cons of a specific model. BTW... When I reviewed the model I'm now using, there were complaints about the alarm, but the only times the alarm activates is when too many devices are plugged in or as a warning that the battery backup is low on power.









Setting Up a UPS at Home

The UPS should be plugged into a dedicated plug outlet, one that will only be used by the UPS. Once plugged in, the UPS will start charging the battery and needs to remain plugged in so that it can switch to battery power when the electricity goes off.


Invest in a quality extension cable with a multi-plug adaptor fitting that will accommodate everything you want to have plugged in and powered when a power outage or load shedding occurs. This cable will only be used to power items that you want to stay on, and it is important that you count the Watts of each item to ensure you don't exceed the specified limit for the UPS. Keep in mind that the more items you plug in the less the duration of the battery backup will be.



Should anything else be plugged into the adaptor, the alarm will sound on the UPS and the device must be removed immediately and the UPS reset. I have had many occasions where my home helper plugged the vacuum cleaner in by mistake and the alarm going off!



Bottom Line

Having a UPS at home will ensure that your WiFi is always on and you can keep yourself entertained while the power is out. A UPS is not intended for appliances that consume a lot of power, so do not plug in anything that heats up, cools down or uses a compressor or motor to operate.






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