Which is better: an uninterruptible power supply or a generator? Here’s why Florida commercial property owners should consider both.

Key takeaways:

  • Deciding between an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and a generator can be a difficult decision.
  • A generator offers a backup power source, while a UPS protects critical appliances and electronics against power surges — but the differences between the two don’t stop there.
  • If you are considering a generator or UPS, it may be beneficial to consider both to ensure your business is fully protected against power interruptions.
  • Universal Electrical Services takes the guesswork out of the UPS vs. generator debate and can help you find the best way to guard against power outages.

If your commercial property experiences a power outage, it may cause panic (and rightfully so). It may take some time before power is restored, and until then, how will the business operate without electricity?

On the other hand, a backup power source can make a world of difference, particularly for business operators in South Florida. In fact, leveraging a UPS and a generator can keep the electricity on (at least temporarily) during an outage and avoid damage to critical appliances and electronics.

Uninterruptible power supply vs. generator: here’s what you need to know

The UPS vs. generator debate is ongoing because both systems provide a viable backup power source. But, to get the most value out of your backup power source, you need to know the differences between a UPS and a generator.

Differences between a UPS and a generator include:

1. A UPS is often battery-powered

How a UPS and a generator run varies, as each has a different power source. A UPS usually includes a battery that keeps the system running for a limited time. The system also works near instantaneously, as it can detect the moment a power outage occurs.

Comparatively, a generator can be powered by a variety of different energy sources — from a simple hand crank to a large diesel engine. Plus, a generator may require a few minutes before it restores electricity to appliances and electronics following a power interruption.

2. A generator may have a transfer switch

If you think a generator is sufficient to keep all the critical systems running during a power outage, think again. A generator typically has a transfer switch that lets you power computer systems, interior lights, and other critical electrical circuits in the building.

A generator’s transfer switch is linked to a power inlet box, which looks like an electrical outlet connected to the side of a building. So, if the power goes out, you can connect the generator to the power inlet box. However, make sure all the box’s transfer switches are set to “off” before doing so. Then start the generator and temporarily restore power to your critical electrical circuits. Of course, only set the switches needed to the “on” position; otherwise, there’s a risk of overloading the power inlet box.

You won’t have to worry about a transfer switch if you’re using a UPS. Instead, a UPS is generally plugged into an electrical outlet and any electrical devices that need to be protected during a power outage. A UPS protects one or more electrical devices, depending on the type of system uses.

3. The number of generator options exceeds the number of UPS systems available

In terms of options, the number of generator offerings is greater than the number of UPS systems on the market. 

Popular types of generators include:

  • Gasoline: Are easy to operate and tend to be more affordable than other types of generators
  • Standby: Work automatically, run on diesel, and can provide 8 hours or more of backup power
  • Diesel: Use a diesel engine and electric generator and can be more efficient than other generator options
  • Natural gas: Have a low emission rate and cost of ownership in comparison to gasoline- and diesel-powered generators
  • Portable: Leverage a gas- or diesel-powered combustion engine that activates a small turbine to create energy

Meanwhile, there are three types of UPS systems:

  • Online double-conversion: Takes an incoming AC power supply, converts it to DC, then converts it back to AC
  • Line-interactive: Offers power conditioning and battery backup
  • Offline: Protect against power spikes by quickly switching to battery power if a power interruption is detected

It pays to evaluate different types of generators and UPS systems. That way, it’s easier to weigh the pros and cons of various generators and UPS systems and determine which ones work best based on your backup power requirements.

4. A UPS protects against power surges

In addition to providing a backup power source, a UPS can identify and address voltage and frequency discrepancies, power grid disturbances, and other unstable factors in the power supply. As such, a UPS is a great option to safeguard computers, telecommunications equipment, data centers, and other critical hardware against damage caused by a power outage. 

5. On its own, a generator is often insufficient

A generator can be a terrific choice for property owners who require backup power to minor appliances and electronics. But, if you need high-quality power, you may need a generator and a UPS. By leveraging both a generator and a UPS, you can maintain a temporary power source during an outage and protect critical systems against power surges.

The bottom line on uninterruptible power supply systems and generators

If you are on the fence about getting a UPS system or generator for your business, you may want to consider both. If you partner with UES, you can learn about UPS systems and generators and ensure your building is well-equipped to guard against power outages.

We understand that power outages can be detrimental to any facility, and we strive to reduce or eliminate these issues. To achieve our goal, we listen to your needs and develop cost-effective solutions. Best of all, we ensure our work is done to the highest quality, so you can get a UPS system, generator, or both according to your request.

Our team is available to discuss UPS systems, generators, and other electrical services for commercial property owners. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today