Power Conditioner Vs UPS: What Are The Differences?

power conditioner vs ups

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The power conditioner and the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) both have the same function: stabilizing voltage. But there are some differences that you should know before deciding which one is best for your needs.

Unfortunately, power outages are a part of life. They can happen for many reasons, and they can last anywhere from seconds to hours. So what should you do when the lights go out? You need to have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or a surge protector with battery backup in your home!

The question is which one is better? Below, I will discuss the difference between these two devices and why it’s important that you choose wisely.

Power Conditioner Vs UPS: Overview

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS):

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) provides emergency power to devices when the utility power fails. If either power source fails, the bridge acts as a regulator, maintaining the flow of electricity.

A UPS is typically used in computers and other devices that do critical work. There are many types of UPS systems, but they share the same purpose: ensuring that a device continues its work in a stable and consistent manner.

Types of UPS:

One of the most common types of UPS systems are:

Standby offline ups

1) Standby (offline): A standby (or offline) UPS system consists of a battery pack, an inverter, and some electrical distribution equipment. The inverter is typically located in a confined area, such as a utility room or equipment closet. 

This type of UPS is used to protect PCs, monitor equipment racks, telecommunication equipment, and control equipment.

Line-interactive ups

2) Line-interactive: A line-interactive UPS system consists of a battery pack, an inverter, and a voltage regulator. 

The line-interactive UPS system is designed to provide power as long as within certain operating specifications, even if the power quality is poor.

Online UPS

3) Online: An online UPS system consists of a battery pack, an inverter, and some electrical distribution equipment. The inverter is typically located in a confined area, such as a utility room or equipment closet. 

This type of UPS is used to protect PCs, monitor equipment racks, telecommunication equipment, and control equipment.

Power Conditioner:

A power conditioner is a device that provides proper power to an electrical load. The power it supplies may or may not be within the required voltage range.

It usually provides surge protection, filtering, and regulation methods such as line disturbance power factor correction methods, harmonic waveform distortion correction methods, and so on.

As well as protecting the equipment from surges, it prolongs its lifespan by filtering radio frequency interference (RFI) and electromagnetic interference (EMI), both of which can harm the equipment.

Voltage-sensitive equipment includes advanced life support medical devices, home offices, labs, networking gear, industrial control equipment, semiconductor fabrication equipment, servers, and storage equipment.

Also, there are many power management processes, you can do using a power conditioner. So it’s better to use a power condition where it is appropriate.

Types Of Power Conditioners:

There are two main types of power conditioners:

1) AC power conditioner: It doesn’t provide automatic voltage regulation or line disturbance power factor correction, but does provide surge protection and filtering.

This type of power conditioner is used in small-scale systems that have no or little power factor correction requirements. For example, a single rack of network gear in an enterprise wiring closet.

AC power conditioner
Image source: Raymond Soo

2) Power line conditioners: These use a three-phase high-power switching power supply to provide automatic voltage regulation, line disturbance power factor correction, and filtering.

It is best suited for large-scale systems. For example, data centers and other enterprise facilities have many racks of equipment.

Power line conditioner
Image source: CRUTCHFIELD

Features Comparison

There are many differences between a power conditioner and a UPS. Below is the top common features comparison between them.

Voltage Rating and Run-Time

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) provides voltage regulation, while power conditioners do not. Uninterruptible Power Supply has a higher Voltage rating and run time compared to power conditioners. Also, the power conditioner output voltage can vary a lot if it is overloaded, which is not the case with a UPS.

Inverter Technology

Unlike UPS inverters, power conditioners use switched-mode technology, which is cheaper to build and maintain. When you consider the inverter technology benefits, then the UPS is superior.

Power Factor Correction

Power factor correction is only available with UPS systems. That’s why UPSs can produce an improved power factor, while power conditioners always have a poor power factor which is not suitable for power-sensitive devices, but it can improve the sound quality of power audio devices.

Noise

UPS systems are typically used when you need to provide clean power, so there is no noise in the output of a UPS. Power conditioners are cheaper to build, so they may have little noise in the output.

Run-Time

UPS systems can run for a long time without any input signals, so they don’t need to be turned off. But if you use power conditioners, they will need to be turned off when there is no signal. That means, you can’t use power conditioners for remote-switch applications, while UPS systems can be used.

Performance Monitoring

Some UPS systems have performance monitoring features that provide run-time information. Also, you can monitor the battery voltage and current for providing the health status of the UPS system. 

Whereas, power conditioners don’t have such features, but you can monitor a it by using a power quality monitor or a power meter.

Form Factor

UPSs are always larger and heavier than power conditioners, while some models can be very large. In this case, UPSs are more suitable for small-space installations.

User-Replaceable Batteries

Most power conditioners don’t have user-replaceable batteries, while UPSs always have. Why user-replaceable batteries? Because UPSs are used in remote-switch applications where you can’t access them when the power is off. So, when the battery is dead, you can replace the batteries without turning off the UPS.

Equipment Protection Policy

UPS provides more protection for your equipment than power conditioners against short-term power failures or voltage transients. When you have expensive equipment, UPSs will be more appropriate.

Also, power conditioning devices and UPS both provide output AC voltage regulation and voltage correction facilities. A UPS will provide a sustained backup time, whereas a power conditioner is used for short-term systems like data centers, automation systems, etc. 

Besides, UPS is suitable for remote-switching applications where power should be cut off without any interference. While power conditioners are suitable for short-duration systems.

Power Conditioner Vs. UPS: Pros & Cons

Both devices are useful in different situations, but both have some pros and cons. So if you are new to these devices or want to know more information about them, you must read their pros and cons.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) PROS

  • Produce an improved power factor.
  • Power remains stable even when there is a sudden change in the load.
  • Produce a sinusoidal waveform.
  • Have user-replaceable batteries.
  • Provide longer backup time.
  • Can work on remote-switch applications. 

CONS:

  • They are large and heavy.
  • They are expensive.
  • Not suitable for remote-switch applications.
APC Battery Back Up Surge Protector Power Supply

Power Conditioners PROS:

  • Huge reduction of noise floor (no more loud hazy whirr)
  • Prevent your gear from getting fried (especially tube amps)
  • Your equipment will last longer (less stress on gear, therefore less failure)
  • High-rated power conditioners work as surge protectors.

CONS:

  • Have a poor power factor that can’t be used for power-sensitive devices.
  • Produce a distorted waveform.
  • Have no user-replaceable batteries.
  • Do not protect against large power outages.
  • Some best power conditioners are much more expensive.

Popular Brands of UPS & Power Conditioner

Now you have a general idea about both power protection devices. But you should know some popular brands in this market to make a smart purchase decision.

Top 3 Brands of UPS & Conditioner

  • APC: APC is a popular brand for power conditioners, UPSs, and also some other accessories. They always provide good products at a reasonable price.
  • CyberPower: CyberPower is very good for all types of power conditioners especially. You can get cheap and the best power conditioners from this brand.
  • Tripp-Lite: The Tripp-Lite is a little bit expensive as compared to others, but they produce some high-quality products. Their UPSs and power conditioners are durable and more efficient.

You can read our comparison between APC and Tripp Lite.

Power Conditioner: Our Top Picks

UPS: Our Top Picks

FAQs

What should you do to use a power conditioner before or after?

Before using one, you must check the voltage and frequency of the output. If they are stable and within the range, it is good for use. Whereas, UPS doesn’t need this checking, because UPS always provides stable voltage and frequency.

What is the difference between a power conditioner and a voltage regulator?

A power conditioner provides voltage regulation and filtering. It operates on the source, while a voltage regulator works only with the load.

What is the difference between a power conditioner and a surge protector?

A power conditioner is a device that helps regulate the voltage of an electrical supply. On the other hand, a surge protector is a device that protects against sudden spikes in voltage. You can read more about power conditioners vs surge protectors.

Summary

When it comes to choosing a power conditioner or UPS, there are several factors to consider. If you’re looking for the best protection for your electronics, a UPS is a way to go. Because it will provide clean, uninterrupted power to your devices in the event of a power outage or brownout.

Whereas, a power conditioner will also help protect your equipment from voltage spikes and surges. However, if you’re only concerned with protecting against blackouts, a power conditioner may be all you need.

Palash is an entrepreneur in the tech industry and the author of the Smart Home Protector. As a tech entrepreneur & reviewer of a home safety gadget store, his job helps customers remain on top of what's coming next in our rapidly changing world.

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