John Bryant
Arizona Computer Consultant
(602) 861-1738

Power to Save
Battery Backup Review

(July, 2000)

Battery Backups or Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) can be bought at any computer or office supply store. Their prices range from $80.00 to several hundred dollars. Which one is right for you? A few simple facts (and my personal recommendation) will save you time and money.

Step 1: Terminology

Battery Backup performance rating and functionality is based on several factors. In order to evaluate these factors, you must first know the terminology:

VA Rating:
The VA rating is a mathematical formula used to tell you how much drain the battery backup can handle. “VA” stands for “Volts” multiplied by “Amps”. The rating tells you how many gadgets you can safely connect to the battery backup.

Runtime is simply the number of minutes that the battery will stay on after the power goes off. Usually, runtime will be shown as a range of time, based on the level of drain (VA) on the battery.

Step 2: How Much Is Enough?

First things first - equipment such as monitors, printers, scanners, etc should not be plugged into the battery backup unless they are very expensive pieces. These “peripheral” components are a very heavy drain on the battery and will greatly reduce your ‘runtime”.

The computer system (the “Box”), modem and network cables should all run through the backup and a good battery backup will handle all of these.

The higher quality battery backups will have extra “surge protected” plugs for your other peripherals.

Generally speaking, the new Pentium systems should have at least a 300VA rating, with a runtime of 10-15 minutes.

Step 3: My Recommendation:

Year after year, my battey backup of choice is the “Blackout Buster” made by PK Electronics.

The Blackout Buster is loaded with great features, including a 500VA rating, internet/ network line protection, and excellent voltage regulation against common “brownout” damage.

Additionally, the Blackout Buster has 3 extra plugs that give surge protection without draining your battery. One battery plug is at the top of the box so large “transformer” type plugs will fit easily. Installation time is about 5 minutes - no tools needed.

The best feature is it’s price. Normally, you can get the Blackout Buster for under $100.00 at Staples office supply stores or Fryes Electronics. 

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