With constant tech upgradations, UPS systems and inverters have become more sophisticated. The modern versions come with wonderful new features, such as charging time displays, child safety, being shock-proof, short circuit protection, lightweight designs, etc.
By Potshangbam July
In India, uninterrupted power is never guaranteed. A storm, a car crashing into an electric pole or a small defect in a transformer can cause a major power blackout. Besides the inconvenience such power cuts cause, India suffers from a chronic demand-supply gap too when it comes to electricity. Though the situation has improved to a considerable extent over the past few years, especially in urban areas, remote towns and villages still face long power cuts. This is a major hindrance to the growth and development of small businesses, apart from regularly disrupting normal daily life. Therefore, the installation of UPS systems and inverters is almost mandatory for power backup.
Key differences between a UPS and an inverter
Many prospective buyers are confused about the difference between UPS systems and inverters, as both provide backup power during outages. The basic functions of UPS systems and inverters are more or less the same. But there are a few differences between the two that need to be understood.
The main difference is in how quickly they respond during blackouts. UPS systems take 3-5 milliseconds to switch to battery power while inverters can take up to 100 milliseconds. Though the delays are minimal in both the cases, what you choose should depend on how fast the appliances need the backup energy. For example, a computer can lose its data even if it switches off for a few seconds.
UPS (uninterruptible power supply) systems instantly supply backup power without any interruption for an electronic device. An inverter, though, converts power from alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) and then stores it in the battery. When the electricity goes off, the power is converted back to AC, which is supplied to the gadgets.
There are three types of UPS systems—offline, online and line-interactive. There are three types of inverters too—square wave, quasi wave and sine wave. These inverters are named based on the type of the wave generated.
A UPS unit is relatively more expensive than an inverter. It features additional components with more functions. UPS systems are very critical for devices that demand uninterrupted power, such as monitoring systems in the healthcare industry. On the other hand, though inverters come with external energy storage, they are a more cost-effective option.
UPS systems are the ideal choice for computers, servers and workstations, which require instant backup power without any delays to avoid any disruption in critical tasks. They protect connected devices from switching-off suddenly. Inverters, on the other hand, are preferred for general house appliances like tubelights, fans, coolers and televisions, for which a longer switchover time (from mains to backup power) will cause no damage.
How to choose the right product
In order to address the growing needs of the Indian market, many brands have come up with attractive products and offers. But before getting swept away by all the marketing jargon, it is important for consumers to know some basic facts that will help to solve their problems. One of the most important factors to be considered before a purchase is made is the total power requirements at a home/office. Blindly installing power backup devices without calculating the exact requirements can lead to problems. Buyers must make a note of the important electrical appliances that need to be operated during power blackouts. They must also have an idea of the wattage of each appliance and the total number of hours for which backup power is needed. Typically, an inverter can handle only up to 3000VA.
Next, while buying an inverter, it is equally important to choose the right battery. The size/capacity of the battery should be compatible with the inverter. In fact, the battery is the heart of an inverter. The quality of the battery is very critical as unknown brands may give low or excessive voltage to inverters. This may lower the effectiveness and safety of the inverter. A UPS system generally comes with multiple outlets so that a number of devices can be connected to it. Ideally, buyers should first determine whether the number of outlets match the number of devices they wish the UPS system to supply power to during an outage, before making a purchase.
|Important factors to keep in mind while buying a UPS or inverter
The first two things that must be checked before buying an inverter or UPS are the load factor and the back-up time, i.e., how many lights, fans, etc, are to be used during a power outage and for how long. Another important factor to consider is the battery-inverter combination. There are two types of inverters—square wave, which are relatively cheaper, and sine wave, which are more expensive because of more advanced technology. The choice will depend on the budget and the application.
Common issues faced with UPS systems and inverters
|A few popular inverters and UPS systems available in the Indian market|
|Product: Cruze 3.5kVA inverter; Manufacturer: Luminous|
|The Luminous Cruze 3.5kVA inverter is powered by four batteries. It provides high quality and reliable power backup for offices and homes, and is safe for sensitive appliances with sine wave output. It can also power heavy loads like ACs, geysers, petrol pumps, photocopiers, etc.
The inverter’s key features include noiseless operation with the help of low harmonic distortion, an intuitive display that shows mains power availability and battery status, adaptive battery charging control system technology (ABCC) that ensures faster battery charging and enhances battery life by around 70 per cent, etc. Besides, it has comprehensive protection against short circuits, reverse polarity, battery over-charge, deep-discharge, etc. The dimensions of this product are 40cm x 38cm x 47cm. It comes with a one-year warranty.Contact: www.luminousindia.com
|Product: Exide 850VA home UPS system; Manufacturer: Exide|
|The product has various features that make it ideal for computers, Wi-Fi routers and other highly sensitive electronic devices. It has various features, such as a DSP (digital signal processor), high speed microprocessor for grid quality power, auto sense intelligent control technology, and a power factor controlled battery charger that reduces electricity consumption. The display of this UPS is available either as an LCD or LED option, and indicates the state of the battery’s voltage and charge, AC mains input voltage, the percentage of load, short circuit tripping, etc.
The product supports a single battery system, and has a warranty of
|Product: Amaron 900VA inverter; Manufacturer: Amaron|
|This inverter is powered by sine wave technology and supports appliances for a long period of time. It has a system alarm that sends a signal in case of an overload and automatically resets the inverter. Also, it is equipped with blown fuse alarm protection, short circuit protection and a low battery signal. In addition, the battery gets charged quickly and efficiently. The inverter also has a transformer that enhances longevity by reducing power consumption.
It has a capacity of 900VA and being a sine wave inverter, it offers an effective power backup for a wide range of appliances.
|Product: APC home UPS-cum-inverter—BI850SINE; Manufacturer: Schneider Electric|
|This inverter has been specially designed to tackle the issues related to the harsh Indian power conditions. It comes with some advanced features, including an 11 volt low cut setting, high temperature protection, an away switch on the front panel, load indicator, and a wide range, battery charge current selection switch. Besides, it has a UPS-inverter switch, which comes handy for converting the inverter into a UPS for a computer, whenever needed, and vice versa. This inverter is compatible with various electrical appliances and has a two-year warranty. It is ideal for home use.
|Product: Microtek UPS SEBz 1100; Manufacturer: Microtek|
|Microtek UPS SEBz 1100 is a popular series of extended backup external battery UPS systems. It is a microcontroller design based product that comes with many user friendly features. It has a voltage range selection switch and can be operated in a standard voltage range from 100V~300V as well as a narrow voltage range of 180V~260V.
The series is equipped with Intelli Pure sine wave technology which ensures noiseless, safe and efficient performance along with longer backup periods. It weighs 11.2kg and has dimensions of 451cm x 425cm x 214cm (L x W x H).