How Does An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Work?

A UPS can be defined as an electronic device designed to prevent abrupt power loss that could cause disruption or even damage an electrical system. It is mainly equipped with a backup battery system that helps provide an uninterrupted power supply even after a blackout or if there’s a problem with the mains supply. The UPS gives you enough power to ensure all critical systems stay active even after power loss, giving you time to shut them down safely if the disruption is prolonged.

According to Source UPS, a good UPS system can safeguard your electrical supply in several ways. These include:

1. A Power Surge:

This is the sudden spike in power flowing through your devices. Power surges are typically common when there’s a lightning strike. The sudden increase and drop in power can cause damage to your equipment. A power supply, however, protects your equipment against such.

2. Overvoltage:

This is when supplied power is higher/more than what is required. Overvoltage causes electrical appliances and devices to overheat and even damage them. Unlike a power surge, overvoltage may be sustained over a period causing a myriad of electrical problems.

3. Undervoltage:

This occurs when the power supplied is less than the required amount of voltage. Undervoltage may occur, especially if there’s a sudden demand for power with your line, or if the grid has a problem. Lack of current flow leads to appliance damage as well as active data loss.

4. Power Outage:

This is a complete (short or long term) disruption in the power supply. Although several factors may be to blame for the power outage, a power outage can result in system downtime, data loss, among other critical issues. A power outage can even cause data to be corrupted, making it even harder to recover.

Parts of a UPS

A UPS is made up of 4 main parts. These parts work in harmony to provide you with a stable power supply when needed (during an emergency). Assembly and arrangement of these parts, however, vary from one UPS version/manufacturer to another. An offline UPS is, however, a lot different from an online double-conversion UPS, though both serve the same purpose. These parts are:

1. The Charger:

As the name suggests, the charger ensures the batteries are fully charged as they wait to be activated. The charger converts the incoming alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) to charge the battery. This is the most common conversion in many UPS systems.

2. The Battery:

The battery is the core component required to store energy, which can be used once activated. These batteries are, however, only activated when the power supply is disrupted. A UPS system may have one or more batteries connected in series for continuous power. In the case of multiple batteries, frequent battery testing is required to ensure none of the batteries is faulty. The UPS is almost always plugged in to ensure the batteries are fully charged.

3. The Inverter:

The second stage in double conversion is converting the stored power (in the batteries) into usable electricity. The inverter is what separates an online UPS with an offline one. An online UPS has the inverter engaged continuously (active) to ensure changer over from AC to batteries is seamless. An offline UPS inverter, on the other hand, has to be activated via a switch when there’s a power disruption. Thanks to the inverter, the power output supplied is stable, modulated, and consistent.

4. The Switch:

The switch is common in both offline and online-interactive UPS. The switch is triggered when there’s a power disruption, which then activates the inverter causing the battery to come online instantly and seamlessly. The switch acts as a bypass that diverts current to a separate circuit.

The 4 parts discussed above work hand in hand to ensure there’s an uninterrupted power supply for your systems and appliances. These ensure your devices do not go off, especially when there’s a sudden disruption in power supply from the mains.