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What is a UPS?

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or uninterruptible power source is a type of continual power system that provides automated backup electric power to a load when the input power source or mains power fails. A UPS differs from a traditional auxiliary/emergency power system or standby generator in that it will provide near-instantaneous protection from input power interruptions by switching to energy stored in battery packs, supercapacitors or flywheels. The on-battery run-times of most UPSs are relatively short (only a few minutes) but sufficient to “buy time” for initiating a standby power source or properly shutting down the protected equipment. Almost all UPSs also contain integrated surge protection to shield the output appliances from voltage spikes.

A UPS is typically used to protect hardware such as computers, data centers, telecommunication equipment or other electrical equipment where an unexpected power disruption could cause injuries, fatalities, serious business disruption or data loss. UPS units range in size from ones designed to protect a single computer without a video monitor (around 200 volt-ampere rating) to large units powering entire data centers or buildings.

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