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Powering up the 5 key differences between a UPS and an inverter

November 20, 2023
Read Time 2 mins

Powering up the 5 key differences between a UPS and an inverter

By Diana Hughes, Business Unit Manager, Tarsus Distribution

Power outages and disruptions are a common occurrence and the euphemism ‘load shedding’ is a term that we have become all too familiar with. It’s never been more important to invest in a reliable backup power solution, but you probably still have a question or two about which one’s for you.

Two of the most popular backup power solutions are a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and an inverter and, one of the most common questions we get at Tarsus Distribution is what’s the difference and which one is better.

Covered in this article

Why are UPS systems more expensive than inverters?
Can inverters provide longer-lasting backup power solutions?
Do UPS systems serve critical devices, while inverters power homes?

Here are the 5 main differences between a UPS and an inverter and how they can provide backup power solutions for home and office.

  1. Purpose: The main purpose of a UPS is to provide instant backup power to critical devices such as servers, medical equipment, and other sensitive electronic equipment. UPS systems are designed to provide an uninterruptible power supply, hence the name. On the other hand, the main purpose of an inverter is to convert DC (direct current) power from a battery or solar panels into AC (alternating current) power for use in home appliances or other devices.

  2. Capacity: UPS systems are designed to provide backup power for a limited time, usually in the range of a few minutes to an hour, depending on the size and capacity of the UPS. In contrast, inverters are designed to provide continuous power to devices for several hours or even days, depending on the battery capacity and load. Power disruptions can last for 10 to 12 hours, especially during high stages of load shedding. This means that having an inverter can provide more reliable and longer-lasting backup power solutions for homes and offices.

  3. Efficiency: Inverters are generally more efficient than UPS systems in converting DC power to AC power. Inverters typically have efficiencies of 80-95%, while UPS systems have efficiencies of around 70-80%. This means that inverters are able to provide more power for longer periods of time, using less energy. This can help to save costs in the long run, especially in areas where power disruptions are frequent.

  4. Cost: UPS systems are generally more expensive than inverters. This is because they are designed to provide instant power backup, which requires expensive components such as batteries, capacitors, and inverters. In contrast, inverters are simpler devices that only require a battery and a DC-to-AC converter. In South Africa, where the cost of living is high and the cost of electricity (when available) is on the rise, it is important to invest in a backup power solution that is both cost-effective and reliable.

  5. Applications: UPS systems are commonly used in data centres, hospitals, and other places where continuous power is critical. In contrast, inverters are commonly used in homes, small offices and other places where portable or backup power is needed. An inverter can provide reliable backup power solutions for homes and offices, ensuring that essential devices and appliances can continue to operate during power outages.

A UPS and an inverter are two popular backup power solutions that provide reliable power solutions for homes and offices. While they have their differences, both solutions can be effective in ensuring a reliable supply of power during power disruptions.

There is no doubt that investing in a backup power solution is essential. At Tarsus Distribution we offer a range of backup power solutions from APC, Eaton, Lalela and Vertiv to suit your needs. Click here for more information.

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