Confusion Resolved: UPS vs Battery Backup Differences

Updated on Sep 29, 2021 by

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and battery backup are often called, or even treated as the same thing. However, UPS refers to a more advanced version of a battery backup. In other words, all the uninterruptible power supplies are battery backups but have higher protection rates. Still confused? Read this article to find the differences between these two kinds of devices, which may help you to make a wise decision between them.

What Is a Battery Backup?

In order to minimize the harmful effects of power-related issues, the battery backup is applied to be plugged into devices, like computers. Once a surge or an outage occurs, the battery backup will kick on almost instantaneously to power the machines for a short period of time. If one is using the computer while encountering an outage, the battery backup will allow the files to be saved and the computer to be shut down properly until the electricity comes back in a steady manner. The battery backup solution provides a nice choice to protect your investment in computers and other devices. The amount of time your device(s) will stay on depends on the battery size and how much power is being drained during the power outage.

What Is an Uninterruptible Power Supply?

A "true" UPS has a more sophisticated technology in how it works with power than the previous normal battery backup. "True" indicates the real UPS, rather than some battery backup products that are labeled term "UPS" by some manufacturers even if they don't possess a switching system.

The UPS feeds power to the devices plugged into the UPS from the battery. The power source charges the battery in standby situations and when necessary the battery feeds power to the electronics. Instead of standing by and waiting for a power situation to occur, a true UPS is always delivering filtered power from a "reservoir" of clean power. Therefore, the switching time is really short or even can be neglected sometimes during the low power of blackout conditions. The constant, reliable, and filtered power source to your electronics will be realized.

Possessing more advanced functions, UPS can protect against power surges, drops in line voltage, brownouts, blackouts, and other power supply issues. UPS, like the previous battery backups, will keep your device(s) up and running depending on the size battery you have and how much power those devices are requiring.

UPS Working Scenario

UPS vs Battery Backup, What Are Their Similarities and Differences?

Many people may experience various power anomalies like power surges and power sags in daily operations. What are the influences these sudden power loss problems will bring to the users?

  • Harm the internal parts of the computers or the servers.

  • Corrupt the operating system, resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

  • The unsaved data of your PC may hinder the process of your work or even lead to reworking.

  • The broken devices in your data center may increase labor costs.

Both UPS and battery backup offer nearly instant protection to the devices, minimizing the above-mentioned loss to the maximum extent. However, the two still have some diversities in functions and types.

First of all, the major difference lies in the process of filtering power. Brownouts, flickering power, and power surges won't always trigger a battery backup. But a UPS will filter that power, which allows a consistent, filtered power supply to the important devices that need to continue running and processing data. They filter the voltage to your device to reduce or eliminate damage to the devices during power issues.

Secondly, the mains power is AC whereas the batteries store and charge at DC. The UPS converts AC to DC for charging. But batteries discharge as DC too whereas you need AC for your appliances. So UPS converts DC to AC again when power fails.

What's more, backup batteries range from small single cells to retain clock time and date in computers, up to large battery room facilities that power UPS for large data centers. UPS can be normally classified into offline UPS, line-interactive UPS, and online UPS according to the topology designs. Comparison of UPS Topologies: Line-interactive vs Online vs Offline will explain their differences clearly.

Battery Backup vs UPS, How to Make a Proper Choice Between Them?

A battery backup is suggested for PCs and other computers with relatively low investment, which is normally applied for residential homes or small-sized offices. The costs on battery backups are much lower obviously. Spending hundreds of dollars on a UPS that costs almost the same with computers isn't worth a shot.

A UPS is typically recommended for more important and mission-critical devices in some sensitive installations, such as in a corporate server, instead of computers or laptops. The UPS system is critical to the business or data center operations. Despite the price of UPS is higher, investing in a UPS will provide more protection for outages, brownouts, and other electrical issues, which will allow for less maintenance, repair, or replacement costs for higher ticket devices eventually. Adopting the UPS system, even with double to triple the price of a battery backup system, will give you the level of protection you pay for.

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to the selection between the two, combining with your personal requirements and the actual situations won't make mistakes. For servers and computers with important data saved on them, the UPS solution is regarded as the best option for a battery backup. However, if you have a low-cost computer, and you aren't running a business off of it, the battery backup solution is totally sufficient for you.

Additional Information on UPS System

Without the protection of UPS systems, problems like electricity outages, surges, and brownouts can cause data loss as well as physical damage to your devices, thus shortening their lifespan. The potential damage is unpredictable in some fields that rely on a stable power system.

Power Problem in Data Center

Economically speaking, billions of dollars are lost due to downtime caused by power disruptions that could have been prevented by a UPS every year. The statistic below uncovers of the lost money from Fortune 1000 companies:

  • The average annual cost of unplanned downtime: $1.25-$2.5 billion

  • The average hourly cost of infrastructure failure: $100,000

  • The average hourly cost of critical application failure: $500,000-$1 million

In conclusion, the system crash that caused power outages will bring about some inevitable severe losses. Therefore, adopting the UPS solution is of great significance, especially in some fields that the data holds the key to the entire system. FS's new-launched UPS relevant products may provide optimal solutions for your data center.

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