APC BN1250G  CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD  Eaton 5110 Series UPS  Tripp Lite SMART1500LCD UPS

If you don’t yet have one of these, I’d highly recommend one (or more).  I’ve been using them for over 12 years, and just bought my 4th & 5th units.  In the past I’ve mainly used them to guard against power surges, spikes, sags, brownouts and other power abnormalities.  But they also make great backup power supplies for DSL/Cable modems, routers, cordless phones, laptops and/or netbooks, cell phones, etc.

The first three I purchased have been used on my desktop systems, not necessarily for their “uninterrupted” power, but primarily because of their superior surge protection.  When connected to a UPS, I’ve never lost any electronic eqmt due to power surges, lightning, etc.

I purchased my two most recent UPS’s for devices other than my PCs (although they’ll make great backups for my 7 yr old UPS’s).  One is for my DSL modem/wireless router, network switches and VTech cordless phones.  The other is for recharging my laptop when the power is out.  If I had a new wide-screen HDTV & home theater setup, I’d put all of that equipment on a UPS, too.

Power outages at our house over the past 14 years have gone from monthly to just a few times a year.  Even so, it’s a royal pain in the arse when all your phones are cordless… can’t even call the power company to tell them the power is out (we don’t have cell phone coverage at our home, and I can’t imagine where I last saw one of our old “Ma Bell” hardwired phones).  Even more disruptive is being cut-off from the Internet!  With my DSL modem & wireless router attached to a UPS, I can still surf the Internet with my laptop/netbook for hours, or as long as the laptop/netbook batteries last.  (That’s why I purchased an extra UPS just for powering/recharging my laptop & netbook.)  A UPS is also great for charging your iPhone, iTouch, cell phone, mp3 player, etc., etc., etc.

What UPS to buy?  It looks like the “main” brands are APC, Tripp Lite, CyberPower & Eaton.  APC is the most expensive, but that’s what brand all five of my units are.  The only reason I bought APC is that’s what Sam’s Club sells (at a reasonable discount).  The last two APC units I bought were Model # BN1250G (1250VA/750Watt) for $145 each.  If I had it to do over again, I think I’d go with either the Eaton Powerware 5110 1500VA/900Watt or CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD (1500VA/900Watt).  Both are available on-line for about the same price (or less) than I paid for the APC 1250VA units.  Amazon.com has one of the bigger selection of UPS’s at reasonable prices, but be sure to check out pricegrabber.com for the lowest price.  Just make sure you shop around, as prices vary as much as 100% for the same units.

What size should you get?  I’d recommend getting the largest capacity you can afford (i.e., 1500 VA / 900 Watts).  More capacity means more time on the battery per given load.  As a minimum, I’d get double your estimated load.  For example, if your PC & monitor consume 300 Watts, I’d get at least a 600 Watt unit.  As long as you purchase double the estimated load, you should get 10-15 minutes of battery time should the power go out.  Again… the higher the capacity of the UPS, the more time of usage you’ll get on the battery with your current load.  When your only load is a DSL/Cable modem and wireless router, you should get hours of use with a higher capacity unit.

With respect to connectivity, each of the above brands connect to your PC & have software that save & close any open files and safely shutdown your PC during a power outage.

Although the batteries used in a UPS are usually warranted for only 2 or 3 years, I’ve only had to replace one set and that was after 7 years of continuous use with numerous power outages.

If you don’t have a portable/standby power generator in your home inventory, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is convenient to have on hand.  Its uses are only limited by your imagination & the power capacity of the unit.  But don’t forget — the PRIMARY purpose of a UPS is to protect your electronic equipment!  I strongly recommend that you use one with all electronic equipment that you value.