It’s a normal day, as you are reading this blog — your spreadsheets open, a design half finished, an email half written on another tab. What happens if your power goes out on your PC? Thanks to the work of Microsoft and Google, probably nothing. But what if the PC is operating on a factory floor or lies at the heart of a data logging, security, or medical embedded application? Data can be lost, sensitive equipment can be damaged and time is wasted. An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is the solution, but what if space or environmental factors (dust etc.) make a traditional external UPS impractical? In-PC UPS then comes to the rescue.
What is a UPS
At the core, a UPS is a secondary power source — a battery — that connects to a system to take over in the event of a change in power. They come in three general categories, or modes, each with their own purpose.
Offline/standby – This is your most basic UPS, giving you surge protection and battery back-up. They have a switch that triggers when power is cut off and brings the system onto battery back-up usually in a few milliseconds. This is fine for most PCs, routers, firewalls and the like, but can cause data errors if the machine is running a particularly intensive process, like rendering video.
Line Interactive – These UPSs are popular in areas where power fluctuates. A line interactive UPS can sustain a continuous under voltage (brownouts) and overvoltage situations thanks to a an autotransformer that compensates without tapping the battery. However, the voltage adjustment can cause power momentary irregularities that can affect sensitive devices like medical equipment, precision measuring tools and the like.
Online/double-conversion – The Online UPS is a ‘must have’ when no variation in power can be allowed. In these UPSs, the battery is connected into the current constantly and, when power changes occur, there is no effect on output. The primary downside to these is that the batteries can take more wear and tear and require replacement more frequently, but they are the best choice when system stability is at stake.
Why In-PC UPS?
Employing a UPS makes sense if data loss from power outages is a concern or if continuous operability is required. But why internalize it? UPSs usually take the form of a large external box.. An In-PC UPS is internal to the computer, in some ways like a Laptop battery. This configuration provides a variety of benefits:
- Ease of Monitoring – Some external UPS, often for an additional cost, be connected to monitoring software or the network, but an internal one can be monitored as easily as a network drive. Most OS’s will recognize it as a battery, like it was a laptop component.
- Mode Flexibility – In-PC UPSs like have a programmable output and mode. This means a single type of UPS can work on many different systems, and the mode can be set to Offline, Line Interactive or Online, depending on the need of the system.
- Size – The footprint of an external UPS can vary considerably, but an In-PC UPS like the OpenUPS2 is mounted in a SATA drive bracket, seamlessly tucked away inside the case. When space is an issue, such as in a Digital Signage, an In-PC UPS allows for the feature where one would have been impossible before.
- Protected – Perhaps most importantly, an In-PC UPS can’t be damaged as it is protected by the case. If your system can handle the dust, wood chips, rubber, steel shavings, or what have you, your UPS is safe.
How do you pick a mode?
Making the move to a UPS, let alone an In-PC UPS, is sometimes a tough sell, at least before a disaster. It’s important to look at your use case and decide. Does your factory have an initial power draw when line starts up? You will want a line interactive UPS to prevent damages to your PCs. Do you have an older manufacturing machine that occasionally blows a fuse? A battery back up will save you from losing data. Are you running delicate and precisely calibrated sensor equipment? An Online UPS will prevent them from becoming inaccurate. In a standard UPS, it is a single device often locked into one of the three modes. With an In-PC UPS you choose what more it is in, for the best of all worlds.
The Takeaway: Fail-proofing
When thinking about how to fail-proof your system, especially in harsh environments, effort is often made to go fanless, and remove vents from a system. That’s a clear start for maintaining the life of a system, but UPSs are often an afterthought, or worse never thought of until a failure happens.
The bottom line is if power failure, space and environment are a concern then In-PC UPS is the way to go.
Solution Spotlight: A Powerful New Option
The new In-PC UPS is a 2.5 SATA-sized internal UPS add-on option that fits into a number of OnLogic small form factor computers. It mounts in standard 2.5″ HDD bay via built-in standoffs. The 11~24V input uninterrupted power supply offers a battery backup feature. Its output power accommodates most computing needs for roughly 30min – 1hour. The firmware behaves like typical laptop battery in OS (eg no special drivers needed). For questions about UPS or to learn more about the In-PC UPS and how it can fit in OnLogic’s ML300, ML250, or your system, contact an engineer.