Be prepared! Protecting your power supply with backup power

In February 2023, Cyclone Gabrielle plunged New Zealand into darkness, leaving nearly 234,000 homes powerless—some for over a week. This blackout wasn’t just an inconvenience; it brought daily life to a halt. Shops, cafes, restaurants, banks, and even petrol stations were forced to close their doors. Traffic lights failed, throwing busy roads into chaos.

While many businesses floundered, others, like hospitals, medical centres, and IT businesses, weathered the storm thanks to pre-existing emergency plans. These crucial facilities rely on backup power—backup batteries or backup generators (sometimes a mix of both)—to keep people safe and vital services running smoothly.

candle

What’s the difference between a UPS and a Generator?

A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and a generator provide backup power in different ways and for different situations. A UPS is ideal for protecting sensitive electronics from short outages and power fluctuations, while generators are better suited for providing extended power during long blackouts or powering entire buildings.

Think of a UPS as a safety net for your electronics during a temporary power hiccup, while a generator is like a backup power plant for your business or home during a prolonged power loss.

 

What we need backup power for – some examples:

  • Data centres and server rooms: These facilities store mission-critical information for businesses and organisations and require constant power. During a power outage, a battery-powered UPS is essential to keep the servers operating until a generator kicks in and the regular power supply comes back on.
  • Medical facilities: Hospitals and medical centres rely on various electronic equipment for patient care. Power interruption to this equipment could be life-threatening. Therefore, UPS backup batteries and power generators are both needed.
  • Security systems: Security cameras and alarms should function during power cuts to maintain business or home safety, so a battery UPS would work best here.
  • Network equipment: Routers, modems, and other network devices are vulnerable to power disruptions and need uninterrupted internet connectivity, so a UPS would work best.
  • Point-of-sale systems (POS): Businesses that rely on electronic transactions (such as Eftpos machines) need a UPS to keep this operating during outages.
  • Petrol stations: Power is needed to pump fuel, so a petrol station would need to close its doors without a generator.
  • Computer workstations: Personal computers used for business or tasks where data loss is unacceptable (e.g., design, finance). The UPS ensures that power is maintained to ensure there is no data loss before you can save everything and close everything down.
  • Home entertainment centres: If you have a home theatre setup or expensive gaming consoles, a UPS protects them from power surges and allows for orderly shutdown during outages. 

FAQs and simple explainers:

What type of power source is needed for a UPS and a generator?

A UPS relies on backup batteries charged by the main power grid. When there’s an outage, the backup battery seamlessly switches over, stopping your electronics from immediately crashing. A backup generator creates its power by burning fuel – petrol, diesel, or natural gas.

How long does the power supply last?

A UPS provides limited backup power, typically for minutes to hours, depending on battery capacity—each type of battery has different ratings. A generator offers extended backup power, lasting for hours or even days if fuel is available, although this depends on the size of the fuel tank.

How quickly can you activate them?

A UPS switches immediately to battery power during an outage, and a generator requires manual startup or automatic transfer switches that can take seconds or even minutes to kick in.

How much do they cost?

A UPS is generally less expensive than a generator, especially for smaller units. Generators have a higher upfront cost, with additional fuel expenses.

 What sort of maintenance is needed?

A UPS requires minimal maintenance, mainly a battery replacement every few years. Because a generator is a motor with moving parts, it needs regular maintenance, such as oil changes and filter replacements.

Which is more portable?

A UPS is smaller and lighter, making it suitable for specific devices, while a generator is typically bulky and requires dedicated space (usually outside), which is best for powering entire buildings.

What about noise?

A UPS is silent and can be placed anywhere, such as a server room, but a generator, especially a portable model, can be quite noisy, so it’s best placed outside.

Which is better for the environment?

A UPS produces no direct emissions, but depending on the fuel type, a generator creates emissions.

How can I find out what I need for my home and business?

Book a consultation with us, and we’ll assess your needs and provide a quote.

man using a generator

Be prepared! Protecting your power supply with backup power

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