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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Uninterrupted Power Supplies

 Back in my other life (the corporate world), in the event of a power outage, I had to make sure that a number of computer items always had power.  Always, never fail, no excuses, pack-your-crap-up-if-it-goes-down serious.

For those systems, we had a number of redundant, very expensive schemes to ensure they all had power. 

We also had a number of systems - usually desktop PCs - located in each department that needed to have power so that any important information could be entered or accessed during the outage.  The power needs of these systems were generally less demanding, both in terms of electrical draw and length of service.  Typically, if a system was available for an hour after a power outage, we were in good shape.

For these systems, we used UPSs - Uninterrupted Power Supplies.  Basically, these were large, but mobile battery units that had a number of outlets so that you could run a PC and monitor.  One very nice feature is that they automatically kick in when utility power is lost.  With modern UPSs, you will generally not have any interruption in service for any attached device.

These can very easily be used in a home power outage situation as well.

For computers, a system to run a desktop PC, monitor, cable modem and wireless access point will run about $400.  A bit pricey, but if you run a business that depends on your PC, it is an option to consider.

Another use is to power medical equipment, such as home dialysis.  These machines have significantly differing power consumption profiles, and the UPS demands would need to be tailored to a specific machine.  Clearly, a UPS to power a dialysis machine would be more expensive than for a PC.  But if your life is dependent upon getting a dialysis treatment, how much is too much?

Accept The Challenge

We are a very electricity-dependent society.  Part of your emergency preps should include identifying items that you could not do without.  Identify the absolute minimum amount of time you would need power, and  consider your options.

Generators are an item to be considered, as are UPS systems.  A plan that incorporates both items might be considered for life sustaining items.  The UPS to ensure short-term uninterrupted power while the long-term generator is activated.

Copyright 2009 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

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