The Electric Grid Is Not Your Friend
The electric grid supplies energy to people’s houses and that’s all it’s supposed to do. But what it is also supposed to do, in reality, is provide that power consistently, day in and day out, morning and night, regardless of what season it is. But as anyone who has every experienced a brownout or blackout or even a momentary glitch in the grid knows — you can’t really count 100% on the electric grid. Sure doesn’t help when a State government makes it their policy to tell you to conserve energy or put programs in place that controls your thermostat or the compressor of a central AC unit.
But bad as all that is, it’s not the worst of it. Electronics are a big part of our lives and that means TVs and computers rise up to the top all out of proportion to other devices that are found in a home using electricity. And not having a consistent power supply from the grid you can always count on causes some real issues that a lot of folks just ignore: for example, all the new high end big TVs don’t actually turn off when the remote is switched “off” but remain on standby. That means that electricity is still flowing. So if a glitch occurs or the power goes off and then goes back on, you get surges that can “fry” the TVs electronics or, at the least, cause significant enough damage over time to render them inoperable. Folks with home theater setups are well aquatinted with this, but the majority of people with those TVs aren’t. Want another example — we saw for ourselves how a planned power outage (that we weren’t told about until after it was over) killed the central AC unit, then when the power came back on it fried the control circuit board. You can bet that after having to wait a month during a heat wave on getting a new board installed (because until then the whole system was dead) that a surge protector was installed even though none ever are.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
But we are talking about TVs and computers and having the power go off while working on a desktop means, besides the chance of it being fried, that you lose that word doc or get a drive corrupted, etc. And while a surge protector helps against the frying part, it doesn’t do a thing about the sudden loss of power.
That’s why there are UPS — uninterruptible power supplies. These battery-driven devices do 3 things for the devices plugged into them: they protect against surges; they continue to provide power to the device(s) plugged into them when a momentary glitch occurs; they provide full running power for a limited time so that a computer can be shut down safely or a TV can be unplugged (works as well on an audio receiver too, btw). So as an example we’ll use the CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic Battery Backup & Surge Protector UPS System.
Surge Vs. Protected Outlets
There are two things you have to figure out about the UPS you’re getting: the first being how many surge versus protected outlets you need, followed by how much wattage the protected outlets must cover (the more watts covered, the less time the protected outlets can provide power to the devices plugged into them). So the EC850LCD has 6surge outlets (which taken their power directly from the wall outlet that the APC is plugged into), and 6 protected outlets that can provide power (the CyberPower being rated at 50VA/510W).
Plug It In
Obviously the more devices plugged into protective outlets the less power time will be had. In this case, a big screen TV and a satellite DVR receiver are plugged in for protection. This was good, because 2 glitches and an outage later (caused by a circuit breaker being tripped from intenst summer heat one day) didn’t kill the power to either — and in the case of the satellite receiver, this meant it didn’t have to reboot and spend 20 minutes resetting itself and downloading the TV schedule guide. It just kept going and once the breaker was reset it was like nothing had happened. Of course with a runtime of 7.9 minutes/2.3 minutes full, you got to move fairly quickly — but that’s certainly enough time to shut down a computer or, as is the case here, run outside to the circuit breaker box and flip the circuit breaker in question back to its working position.
The CyberPower EC850LCD Ecologic Battery Backup & Surge Protector UPS System retails for under $125.00, and includes an LCD screen for on the spot information (but no there isn’t any Internet connection so that’s that). Further details can be had by going to the website at https://www.cyberpowersystems.com