4 Factors in Selecting a Home Office UPS

I work in a home office, in a town where power outages are not at all unusual. Just the other day a healthy thunderstorm rolled through in the early evening and, sure enough, the lights flickered a few times. Once it was long enough to knock out the router that supplies my Internet and Wi-Fi connections. I knew immediately because I subscribe to an online music service (Rhapsody – could not love it more) and use a wireless music player to stream it throughout the house (Sonos, also wonderful). When the music stopped, I knew the router had shut down.

It came back on again in just a minute or two – no big deal, really.  But this was dinner time. Had I been at work, and if the outage had been longer, it could’ve really put a damper on my productivity for the day. My laptop would still run for a few hours, but I wouldn’t be able to use the external monitor and my VOIP-based phone service would be useless, as would Skype. And of course, I’d have no Internet connection. I’d be on a virtual island, probably trying to make do with my smart phone.

I needed to replace my old UPS, so it was with great interest that today I read a piece in a forthcoming issue of APC Currents magazine titled, “How to pick a UPS for your home office.” In short, the piece says to consider four items when choosing a UPS for home office use: sizing, runtime, management and energy efficiency, and data line surge protection.

APC has an online tool that helps with the sizing issue, enabling you to enter the load capacity of the devices you want to protect, by the type and number of devices. To do the former, you need to check out the nameplate information on each device, which typically lists its power draw in terms of watts (W) and volt-amperes (VA).

In terms of runtime, the idea is to allow enough such that your equipment can ride through at least shorter outages. And most are just that – the article says 90% of outages are less than 5 minutes. If you know you frequently have outages of a longer duration, go for a larger UPS that offers more runtime.

Management and energy efficiency is where things get interesting. Many devices in a home office aren’t really used all that much, such as printers and scanners. Yet they still draw a bit of power even when they’re in hibernate mode. Devices such as the APC by Schneider Electric Back-UPS Pro enable you to turn off such devices and eliminate these so-called “vampire loads.” And in the case the blackout outlasts the runtime of your UPS, it comes with software that will gracefully shut down applications and equipment so you don’t lose any work or data.

Finally, UPSs should also protect against data line surges.  A decent power strip will protect against AC line surges, but surges can also come through Ethernet cables, CATV links and phone lines. So you need a UPS that provides appropriate protection depending on how you connect your computer and networking devices to the Internet.

Here in New England where I live, summertime is thunderstorm season. But before long it’ll be winter, when things can really get hairy and any decent snowstorm can mean a power outage. I’ll certainly be in the market for a new UPS before then.

119 Responses to “4 Factors in Selecting a Home Office UPS”

  1. DanH

    I followed a link take a suirvey to win an Ipad, I ended up taking a quiz and then this article.
    Where is the survey to win my Ipad?:

    • Ken

      Same here— why ask me questions that are extremely basic if you are in the industry? Seems more like a scam to get you to the website…sad actually.

      By the way Dan, if you use rack mounted APCs–you can rebuild the battery trays with universal UB-1280′s at about $17 a piece–thats about 70% savings over buying the original tray

      • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

        Hi Ken — you are obviously entered into the contest. We had a bug which we are working to fix and apologize for the mistake.
        In regards to the questions, you would be surprised to see that many of our customers are not aware of these issues. These responses have generated a tremendous amount of interesting facts that we will be pulling together and distributing soon. Check back here for the link to the results once we compile them all and thank you for being a faithful customer. Jennifer

    • Rob K

      Hey Dan. I had the same question. The Optimist in me said that by clicking the link in your email, they have your entry. The Pessimist in me says: “I think I was just (teased).” Good Luck everyone.

      • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

        Be an “Optimist’ Rob! Sure, we made a mistake, but we’re human and I am making sure you are included on the list for the iPad drawing. Hopefully you will see that we weren’t teasing… just fell asleep at the keyboard!
        Jennifer

    • Ray H

      just another BS advertisement. When I needed a schematic for my UPS these folks wouldn’t help me despite owning 5 or 6 of their UPS backups. I can fix my own gear, I don’t want to get “credit” towards the purchase of another short lived product that beeps warnings when their circuits fail, shutting down my computer for a problem with the UPS. Don’t get me wrong, a UPS is essential, but so is good customer support. If you don’t, you could end up with another box that fills a landfill, and two batteries to recycle.

      • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

        Thank you for your feedback and I understand your concerns. Internal schematics are proprietary documents and this is the main reason they are not released publically. Many of our units also come with lifetime equipment protection policies. We do not want this policy to be negatively affected in any way, so we want to ensure units are only repaired by an APC authorized partner.
        I would also like to understand some of the issues you have had with our units. We are always looking for ways to improve our products, services and support and would appreciate the feedback.
        Our customer support supervisor is looking forward to speaking with you for any additional questions you may have at eileen.finch@apc.com to help resolve any other incertainties or questions you might have. Thanks Ray

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hi Dan
      Your information has been entered personally into the drawing by me. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. My email email is jennifer.wendt@apc.com. Thank you!

  2. Mark A Harper

    I have UPS ES-8′s and they have kept me online many times. I have other protection ahead of my computers but still feel safer with the units on the individual computers.

  3. Fred Kvasnicka

    I agree whole heartly with everyones responses above

  4. Matthew Mailman

    Thanks for completing my surge suppressor replacement requests.

  5. Kimberly Morgan

    Good article. Have used APC products for years and highly recommend them.

  6. Fred Garner

    went to survey got Quiz and nothing to confirm to win IPAD !!
    Please advise

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Fred, you are entered to win. I apologize for this error on behalf of APC. We will be pulling the results and winners in the next few days. If you have any questions, please contact me! Jennifer

      • Edward Potter

        I, like others came to this web page without being asked my info. How do I know if you have my e-mail address when I am a winner (optimist)?

        • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

          We love optimists! Thanks for your comment Edward — I hope you were able to see our comment at the top of this post and I hope we were able to relieve you of the concern. Your name will be added to the list. Thank you again, Jennifer

  7. Tom Herlacher

    “I’d be on a virtual island, probably trying to make do with my smart phone.”

    WOW!! On a virtual island and no contact with the outside (real) world. Did you ever think about getting up out of your electronically over burdened office and walking outside? There are real people out there and a whole world you are missing.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      If only! Personally, I live in the digital world, working online most of my waking hours… and times have changed so drastically from when I first started as a professional. I agree… many of us have forgotten the days “pre-internet”, and take everything else for granted. Thanks for sharing Tom!

  8. Paul Wallman

    I learned a few things. Thank you for the quiz.

  9. Jane Harris

    Because of where we live–I REALLY thought lightning was the BIG CULPRIT

  10. Anil Verma

    Good brain tinkler…enjoyed refreshing my basics.

  11. Michael

    I use UPSs on all my computers. My electricity is pretty reliable where I live. But I still like them just in case. Especially if I am doing a BIOS or firm-ware update!

  12. Drew Smith

    We sell IT Hardware, Software, and Services and ALWAYS include UPS as part of our proposed solutions. Very good article, I am definitely going to sign up for your email newsletter.

  13. John Hudson

    I have relied on APC for surge protection and back-up power for years both at my office and home. The products are good quality and when replacement parts are needed they are easily available. APC seems to be the “state of the art” in power supply protection.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      We’d love to hear more about your story, both at home and at work. I would love to put you in touch with our group here to see if we could talk more about your experience and perhaps feature this in one of our future emails? I can be reached at jennifer.wendt@apc.com. Thanks John!

  14. Hank Reed

    I have 3 APC units in my house. Since installing them, we have not had any issues with the pc’s that are connected and the entertainment center electronics have been protected as well.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      That’s fantastic Hank! When did you install them and did you have issues before installation?

  15. Cindi Fisher

    I was surprised how well I did on the survey.

  16. Weldon Dube'

    Things people should know to make there lives safer and
    More productive.

  17. Thomas Deuley

    Appreciate you little reminder that my APC had worn out and I have yet to replace it. Thanks.

  18. Benjamin

    Good information even if I already knew it. Still good to have for “newbies” in the environment.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      We say that every day we come to work…. It’s a great place to be and we love it here!

  19. David Quattlebaum

    Thanks for the enlightening questionnaire

  20. Deb Ragno

    Fun quiz but what does this have to do with winning an iPad? I’m looking for an entry form.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hi Deb – you are entered to win. We had a glitch but are making sure you are included in the drawing. Thank you for your time!

  21. JACK GRIFFIS

    Excellent quiz. Am cetin nthe average person does not recognize all the sources of possible trouble. You fill that void.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hi Abe – it’s always nice to hear positive comments from our customers and appreciate the time you took to share your experience!

  22. etech

    I have had many home office APC backups. Unfortunately, replacing the batteries seems to be more expensive than buying a new unit. Am I entered in the iPad contest?

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hi there — yes, I have made sure your name is included in the contest. Thanks for helping us understand more about our customers!

  23. Henry Tourney

    Considering you never ask for my details prior to this comment, I’m sure that I will not be entered into any sweepstakes. This email though well written, fails to impress me about your company. Any reputable company doing this would ensure that persons entering their contest would at the very least have a chance of winning. This appears to be a scam to get publicity for your products with no chance of winning a sweepstakes.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hello Henry,
      This was most definitely a glitch which we are not proud of. I am making sure personally that your submission is entered into the drawing and appreciate your comments — these will help us serve loyal customers such as yourself and avoid any issues like these in the future.
      We aim to provide the utmost care to you and your peers and if you have any questions, please know that I am available to help guide you to the right person. Jennifer

  24. Michael

    Thank you for the inormative quiz. However, do consider designing your power supplies such that the basic power on/off switch is more reliable and easier to use. Push button switches tend to stick and do not always release reliably. Toggle switches are preferable.

  25. Paul Lau

    Took the survey, but I don’t see anyway to enter the contest.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Hi Paul
      You are entered to win. Thanks for providing your email address : we will contact you if you win of the prizes. Please contact me if you have any questions!

  26. Juan Galan

    Hello guys,
    Don’t forget good Smart-UPS protection when mining Bitcoins.
    Thank you!!

  27. Bill F.

    Scored well, but good to be reminded of surge problems.

  28. Monica DeLuca

    I believe in your product as much as I believe in Apple…..Love Apple….

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      I’m an Apple addict and know what you mean : we’ll take that as a huge compliment. Thanks Monica!

  29. William Lee

    Thanks for the offer for the Ipad, all I got was a quiz.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Never fear, William. I’ve got your back and have added you to the list of contestants. Thanks for taking the time to respond! Jennifer

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Not just a quiz… you’re also entered to win. Stay tuned for results!
      Jennifer

  30. Kelly

    A few years ago lightning hit our windmill, went straight down the tower, hit my phone lines, and outdoor wireless modem for internet, shot into the house and fried my phones, computer and printer. All via the ethernet and phone cable. Needless to say all may electronic equipment now it protected by many APC UPSs. Including, phone lines, ethernet, and power. Thanks for all the info.

  31. Frank KooraSingh

    Completed survey, I found it to be lots of fun.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Thanks Frank! You’re entered to win… appreciate your business with APC, Jennifer

  32. Bob

    Please enter me in the contest, thanks. I did the questions and even got them all right.

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      Absolutely Bob! Thanks for taking the time to respond. Jennifer

  33. Rick Christenson

    I enjoyed the quiz. Am I now entered in the contest?

  34. Srikanth

    Useful article. BTW, how are you tracking the quiz performance time round?

  35. Marita

    Hello Jennifer, I’m also entering to win an iPad – your survey said I had all 5 questions correct, so now I want my iPad :)
    BTW I’ve been buying your products for the past 15 years or so. I got good customer service when there was a recall and a good deal on an upgrade I requested.
    And recently I bought APC surge protectors for my daughter’s college dorm. Your products are well built and have been protecting all our equipment through the years.
    In fact I remember the rolling (and sudden) blackouts from the ENRON scandal – anyone else remember those? Talking about power surges! We had no equipment problems and the one surge protector we had in the house with backup batteries (UPS?) came in real handy!

  36. William Burnett

    re: “power failures occur in the data center due to human error”.
    We refer to this as “OIE”, because it occurs so frequently. Of course it means “Owner Induced Error”. Great info thanks !! Keep it up. It is always both fun and interesting to learn new things.

  37. ADROS SUNAN

    So far there is no major problem. 1 year after using your UPS everything runs well. reliable product. Indeed.

  38. Christopher Richwine

    Is ‘Leave a Reply’ how we enter the contest?

  39. Robert

    we have dozens of smaller individual units and several large units in our facility and we routinely have to replace batteries. Be careful of cheap batteries, low cost does not always work out. Look into the manufacturer of the batteries you intend to buy as replacements.

  40. Chris A

    Very fun survey. Will I receive a confirmation email that I have been entered into the contest?

  41. Ronald Dailey

    Good article. I’ve used APC products for years and have had no problems with them, unlike some other brands which I will not name. I’ve mostly had power outages, but I have also seen “electrical noise” and brown-outs from time to time. For me, the primary advantage of having a UPS with surge protection is to be able to shut down gracefully in the event of a power outage. I’ve never counted on being able to continue operating for an extended period.

  42. Ginny

    Unfortunately I have had a lot of experience with power surges at my house so the questions were quite simple to me. I have learned the hard way that everything has a surge protector attached to it.

  43. Jacki Surles

    I had an APC for years, then moved and never purchased a new one. This has reminded me I need to get it. A most important piece of equipment!!!

    • Jennifer Wendt Jennifer Wendt

      We appreciate your business, Jacki! I’m glad these reminders helped you to reconnect with us. Feel free to reach me if you have any questions on which UPS to purchase again. Jennifer