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Have you ever wondered how a computer stays on after its primary power source fails? Have you ever stopped wondering because the explanation is so confusing? 

You’re not alone, many people find choosing a UPS system difficult. Selecting a UPS system is difficult because of their technical differences. But finding high-performance uninterrupted power sources isn’t as mystical as you think. 

You can gain a clear understanding of UPS systems by uncovering the advantages and disadvantages of each. It also helps to have a remedial understanding of their configuration. 

Read on to learn about the different types of UPS systems so you can make the right decision for your power needs.

What Is a UPS System?

A UPS system stands for an uninterrupted power source. These power sources provide emergency power to devices whose primary power source fails. UPS systems differ from backup generators because they provide power immediately. 

A Common Misconception 

In the data center industry, there’s a misconception that there are only two types of UPS systems. These two types of UPS systems are standby UPS systems and online UPS systems.

Online and standby systems are by no means the only two UPS systems.  

Different UPS System Types 

There are several UPS implementation designs. Each of these designs has its method for performance. The five most common models are: 

  • Delta Conversion On-Line 
  • Double Conversion Online 
  • Standby-Ferro
  • Line Interactive
  • Standby On-Line Hybrid 

The following is a brief description of how each of these UPS systems provides uninterrupted power to electrical devices. 

Standby UPS

Most personal computers use a standby UPS system. Standby systems use a solid line path that switches to the battery/inverter in case of power failure.

When power fails on a standby UPS, the transfer switch diverts the power load to the battery/inverter (dashed path). Since the inverter only switches on if the power fails, it’s said to be on “standby.”

Line Interactive UPS 

Small business, departmental, and web servers use Line Interactive UPS systems. Line Interactive UPS systems have their inverter connected to the UPS output.

During times of standard power, the inverter operates backward, storing energy in case the primary power source fails.  

If the main power fails, the transfer switch flips, and the stored energy flows to the UPS output. Because the inverter remains on at all times, Line Interactive systems offer more filtering and decrease the switching transients within the system. 

Line Interactive systems usually come equipped with a tap-changing transformer. The tap-changing transformer regulates the voltage. It regulates the voltage by adjusting transformer taps as the input voltage fluctuates. 

During low voltage conditions, voltage regulation is essential to the UPS system function. Without voltage regulation, the UPS acts as a battery. The more often the UPS acts as a battery, the more likely premature the chances of battery failure.

One of the Line Interactive’s signature features is its high reliability. Line Interactive system inverters are designed so that if they fail, power can still flow from the AC input to the UPS output.

The power flow from the AC input to the UPS output prevents single-point failure and creates two independent power paths. The Line Interactive system’s reliability is what makes it attractive to small businesses. 

Standby-Ferro UPS 

Standby-Ferro UPS systems are known for their reliability and line filtering qualities. But the design has low efficiency and has some instability issues when it’s paired with certain types of generators. Because of its problems, the Standby-Ferro UPS isn’t as popular anymore. 

The Standby-Ferro’s primary path is from the AC input, through the transfer switch and transformer, and finally through the output.  Like other UPS systems, if the power fails, the transfer switch opens, and the inverter receives the energy output.  

Standby On-Line Hybrid 

Standby On-Line Hybrid UPS systems use a DC to DC converter that switches on when the system detects an AC power failure. 

Like the Standby-Ferro system, Standby Online systems have a small battery charger. 

Double Conversion On-Line UPS 

Double Conversion On-Line UPS systems have the same general topography as the Standby systems. The only difference is DCOL systems use the inverter as its primary power path instead of the AC main. 

Double Conversion On-Line UPS systems provide pristine electrical output. But because their electrical output is spot-on, the Double Conversion Online wears on power components. Its worn parts drastically reduce the Double Conversion’s reliability. 

In addition to its strain on components, the Double Conversion On-Line’s input power drain disrupts building power wiring and can harm nearby generators. 

Delta Conversion On-Line UPS 

The Delta Conversion On-Line UPS was designed to eliminate the reliability flaws of the Double Conversion On-Line UPS. Much like the Double Conversion, The Delta Conversion uses the inverter to supply the load voltage. 

But Delta Converersion UPSs have an additional converter (the Delta Converter), and the delta converter provides power to the inverter output. If the system has AC failure, the Delta acts like the Double Conversion On-Line UPS and causes many of the same problems. 

If the power remains steady, Delta Conversion On-Line UPS systems operate with much more efficiency than Double Conversion On-Line UPS systems. 

The Different Types of UPS systems 

The types of UPS systems you use often dictate the reliability and performance of a particular system. But it also matters what systems UPS systems back up. Some UPS systems work better with personal computers, and some work better for servers. 

Implementation and manufacturing quality also influence reliability and performance. Because manufacturing quality and implementation affect performance, you must consider both when choosing a UPS system. 

Lithium-Ion Batteries and UPS Systems 

Many people wonder whether they can use lithium-ion batteries in tandem with UPS systems.

Lithium batteries and medical facilities, for example, are a common pairing. Because lithium-ion batteries’ energy properties and medical facilities have high electric needs, using lithium-ion batteries for UPS systems makes sense.

The most important aspect of using lithium-ion batteries with UPS systems is their compatibility. You must check to see that the lithium-ion battery’s chemistry, size, voltage range, and connector types match those of your UPS system. 

Make a Confident Decision Today 

Different electrical devices require different types of UPS systems. When making your decision, understand there is no single ideal UPS system.

Different applications work better with specific UPS system configurations.  If you understand which UPS system works best with your device, you can make your UPS decision with confidence. 

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