When the power goes down everything in your house turns off. No lights, no tv, and no network anymore. Now that fact that everything goes offline isn’t really a big issue, yes it always happens at the most inconvenient moment. But in most countries, a power outage is resolved quickly.
The problem is that your Network equipment, Smart Home, and PC don’t really like it. Network equipment, like routers and switches, but also smart home devices like bridges and smart home hubs, can really break or loose there configuration with a sudden power loss.
To protect your devices in home you can use a UPS, an Uninterupted Power Supply, which is a large battery that will keep your device a running and protects them against power spikes and drops.
In this article, we are going to take a look at why and how you should use a UPS at home and which is the best UPS for home use.
Why should you use a UPS at home?
A UPS serves two purposes, it protects the devices against power spikes and against power loss. A sudden power spike can really damage your network equipment or pc, while a power loss can result in loose of work or configuration of devices.
A UPS is generally used for servers or other machines to give them time to gracefully shut down in the event of a power loss. It isn’t meant to keep devices running for a couple of hours. Datacenters use generators for this and only use the UPS to keep the servers, etc running until the generators are started.
In a home environment, we have a slightly different setting and can use a UPS differently. If you are working at home on your computer and the power goes out, then the document you are working on is probably lost. With a UPS you will have the time to save your document, maybe keep working for an hour before you will have to shutdown.
Protecting your Smart Home
If you have a Smart Home then you will have a lot of sensitive devices in your house. Now you can’t protect all of them with a UPS, and you don’t really have to. But you really should protect your Smart Home Hub and any Smart Home bridge that you have with a UPS.
I learned it the hard way; after a recent power outage in the whole street, my Ikea Tradfri bridge lost its complete configuration. Normally you can make a backup of those kinds of configuration, only the problem with smart home devices is that they are paired.
When the hub loses its configuration, it also loses all the paired devices. So you will have to pair all the lights (and other devices) again and even worst, fix all your flows/routines in your Smart Home hub.
By placing the hub and bridges behind a UPS you can keep them running for a couple of hours. Given that most power outages only last 1 to 2 hours max, a UPS could really save you a lot of work.
Where you shouldn’t use a UPS for
Some people want to use a UPS for the refrigerator, which is really a bad idea. In the event of a power outage, a refrigerator can stay cool for almost 4 hours if you keep the doors closed. A freezer for 24 to 48 hours.
A normal size UPS can only let a refrigerator run for max an hour, so that won’t do much. A low-cost solution to keep your refrigerator cool is to keep a couple of icepacks in your freezer and place them in your refrigerator when the power goes down.
What you need to know about a UPS
Before we are going to take a look at what the best UPS is for home use, there are a couple of things you need to know.
A UPS can have different output sockets. For home use you want the normal nema 5-15r receptacle (atleats in the United States and in Canada) where for a server you commonly use the schuko c13. The smaller, less then 1500va, UPS batteries pretty much all have a normal output socket. Put if you go bigger, make sure you check the sockets.
Calculate runtime of your UPS
Before we can select a UPS, we first need to calculate the required runtime. Now, this really depends on your equipment and how long you want to keep it running. To give you an idea:
- Desktop computer with 22inch monitor – uses 120 W in total.
– To keep it an hour running, you need a 900 Watts / 1500 VA UPS, which cost around $200
– To keep it running for 15min, you only need a 450 Watts / 850 VA UPS, costing around $90
- Small home network (router, switch, 2 access points, smart home bridge) – 50 Watts in total
– With only 300 Watts / 500 VA UPS you can keep it an hour only, costing $60
Now, these are just two small examples, but you can easily calculate the needed battery size with the online calculator from APC.
The larger and more expensive UPS devices come with a network card and Smart Connect. A network connection is only interesting if you have a server or NAS at home. You can configure your server or NAS to shut down after a set amount of time when your UPS goes into battery mode.
Synology’s for example are capable of connecting to a UPS and shut down automatically when the battery is almost empty. You can read more about that here at Synology.com.
You can also protect a Synology NAS with the home line (Backup-UPS pro). They have a USB port that you can use for this. But you will have to connect your NAS directly in the UPS with the USB cable. If you also want to protect your network equipment with the same UPS, then they will have to be in the same room (or use really long extension cables, which I won’t recommend).
Best UPS for Home use
Besides that you need to calculate the required capacity (VA) of your UPS, there are some standard models that will work really good for home users. Most UPS devices are available with different battery sizes. Keep in mind that a large battery, let’s say one step bigger, isn’t really expensive and give you maybe that little bit extra what you need during a power outage.
So my personal go-to brand for a UPS is APC. I have used them for the past 15 years and they have never let me down. The battery self of a UPS is the first thing to “break”, but with APC you can easily replace them for a fair price.
APC UPS BE850G2
The APC BE850G2 line is in my opinion the best UPS for home use. It has everything you need to protect a home network and/or computer. What I really like is that it comes with 6 sockets that are connected to the battery. And 3 extra sockets with only surge protection, which you can use for devices that are ok to go offline (like your TV), but that you still want to protect for surge sparks.
Another nice feature is that you can even charge your phone from the battery with the build-in USB ports. Which you can also use to power and protect your Raspberry Pi or Ikea Tradfri Hub 😉
The price is great, the features are great, if 850VA/450W is enough for your situation, then I recommend picking this one. With a load of 100 watts will it keep running for 32 minutes.
- 850VA / 450W battery backup power supply
- 9 Outlets (NEMA 5-15R): 6 UPS Battery Backup and Surge Protector Outlets; 3 outlets wiht Surge Protection only
- 2 USB Charger Ports (2.4A shared) for cell phones, portable electronics
- 5' Power Cord, right-angle 3-prong wall plug (NEMA 5-15P), wall-mountable. Plus free Windows PC power-management software (Mac OS uses native "Energy Saver" Settings)
- Replaceable Battery. Easily replace the battery back up with a genuine APC replacement battery, model RBC17 (sold separately)
APC UPS BX1500M
The BX1500M is a large UPS that can also protect your network and coax connections. It comes with a large battery, 1500VA/900W, coax ports, and network port surge protection and just like the BE850G2 a USB connection to monitor the battery.
With the APC comes a free power management software that can shutdown your computer when the battery is almost empty. This way you can safely shutdown your computer.
1500VA gives you enough runtime to keep working during small power outages, it can run 1 hour and 8 minutes with a load of 100 watts. If you live in an area with regular short black-outs, then this large APC is a really good choice.
- 1000VA / 600W battery backup power supply
- 8 Outlets (NEMA 5-15R): 4 surge protector with battery backup; 4 outlets with Surge Protection Only
- Boost Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR): instantly corrects low/high voltage fluctuations without discharging the battery, and is Active PFC compatible
- Replaceable Battery: Easily replace the battery back up with a genuine APC replacement battery, model APCRBC158 (sold separately)
- 1 GB network dataline protection, 6' Power Cord, right-angle 3-prong wall plug (NEMA 5-15P), and free Windows PC power-management software (Mac OS uses native "Energy Saver" Settings)
Semi Professional UPS with Smart Connect
If you have a server at home or a Synology NAS, then you probably want to use the Smart Connect from APC to monitor and safely shut down your devices. The SMC1500C is then a really good choice. It has a nice large battery of 1500VA/900W, 8 outlets, and is capable of running 1 hour and 30 minutes on a load of 100 watts.
- 1500VA / 900W Pure Sine Wave UPS battery backup
- APC SmartConnect is the first cloud-enabled UPS for Distributed IT. Through a secure portal (via any internet-connected device), you can view the status of your UPS, receive notifications, get firmware updates and more
- Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) adjusts high and low voltages to a safe level, helping preserve the life of the battery
- Input: NEMA 5-15P. Output: (8) NEMA 5-15R
- Intelligent battery management means the Smart-UPS SMC1500C prolongs the battery life of the UPS by regulating the charge voltage in relation to battery temperature
If you find a UPS to expensive, then buy atleast a Surge Protector. They are available in many sizes, shapes, and with different specifications. You can buy a really simple one, like this APC Surge Protector, which is really cheap but will do a fine job.
Or even a smart surge protector that you can connect to Alexa. This APC Smart Plug comes with USB charging ports, Wifi connection, 3 Smart plugs, and 3 normal plugs.
- 5 WiFi smart plugs: 3 surge protected smart outlets, plus 2 smart USB charger ports (2.4A shared) that can be independently controlled by Alexa or the APC Home app
- 3 standard surge protector outlets, and 2 standard USB charging ports (2.4A shared)
- 2160 Joules of surge protection (inlcudes UL certification) to guard connected electronics from the most powerful surges
- Alexa smart plug voice control or access the smart plugs from your phone via the free APC Home app, and control from anywhere (WiFi required, but no hub needed)
- Scheduling: Devices connected to the wifi outlet, such as lighting, small household devices and other electronics, can be scheduled to turn on or turn off automatically via the apc home app, available from the Apple app and Google play stores
I hope this article helped with find the best UPS for your home. Keep in mind that a good surge protector or a small UPS isn’t really expensive. It can save your equipment during a thunderstorm or during a black-out for a fraction of the price compared to replacing your equipment.
Always put your network equipment, routers, switches, etc, behind a surge protector. If you have NAS, use a UPS so it can safely shut down in the event of a power loss.