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Location: Surge Protector vs UPS

Why a Battery Backup is better than a Surge Protector

Surge Protector Versus a Battery Backups. The basic difference between having a power reservoir, and not! Don't worry, you are probably here because you found out the hard way, or someone near you did.
There are 2 types of Hard Drives; 1 Those that are going to fail, 2 those that already have.

You thought that all a computer needed was a good power surge protector to deter position number 2 adequately. The good old United State Power Grid is fairly stable after all. As long as you've got surge protection to catch short circuits, and fusing to catch lightning and acts of god, a power outage will simply turn your computer off.

That can't be so bad, right?
Well, Um, in a word, NO!

There are an average of 120 disruptions to your power annually.
Enter the Northeastern Blackout of 2003.
The winter storm of 2006.
The floods of 2011.

These, and a number of catastrophes large and small, including your own, often annihilated computer hard drives in seconds. Meanwhile, across town, other "SMART" folks were waiting for Windows to shut down or working along without a care. Their UPS battery backups taking the power outage in stride. Let's just say they knew, based on the first picture below, that the 2nd and 3rd were bound to happen again.



It's a bad story, all the hard drives in the land were spinning nicely. Then, abruptly, most suddenly had power shut off to both the computer and the hard drives. Only those with battery backups have time to react. Those with big battery back ups keep right on working...

Many are in the Hudson. Where will you be?

A hard drive is really amazing technology, think of a 747 flying 12 inches off the ground, counting every blade of grass at 600 mph...a HDD is very similar. Let's just say when the little 747 that holds your data lose's power, the crash doesn't take long. Basically your computer's hard drive's heads, can crash into it the platters and seize to it. I'll skip the nerd talk, but this means anything from recoverable data to instant and total hard drive data destruction - Loss of a few files, to COMPLETELY UNRECOVERABLE. Thanks to Scully, we can joke about our hard drive ending up similarly to his airplane. He got the folks back, prey you get your data if it happens to you...



Don't let it happen to you. Know the difference. Know why. Start here :) good power and backup is the key!

Many guys (including myself) have used the words "power surge" and "battery backup" interchangeably, but these terms are very, very different. Power surge protection protects your computer and all attached hardware from excessive current or voltage coming into the system. THAT IS ALL!

What it a surge supressor does well:
If the amperage is too high, the fuse blows. Should the voltage go out of line, the circuit blows as well. This is most useful to mitigate extra power in the line; be it from electrical storms, areas with lots of static electricity, and minor interference.

What a surge suppressor is Not!
A surge protector can not store power, and therefore can not fill in the GAPS if the power coming into your systems is not adequate. Without the power, waiting ready, to fill the gaps, the system shuts down, or struggles until power returns to normal..

american, standard, 15 amp, 120 volt, edison plug, surge protector for general use


A battery, being the only electrical component known to man that can "STORE" power, gives a system the power to endure a brownout or blackout. A basic UPS battery backup system has the power necessary to fill in the gaps, until the battery runs dry. Most little battery backup systems will at least give you the opportunity to use your computer for a few minutes, or shut it down in the event of a power issue that is caused by a lack of adequate power supply on the line. Based on the size difference, this battery being 168 pounds, and the powerstrip above being about 2, it's easy to see why the battery can hold 3 kilowatt hours of juice and the power strip just can't hold power at all.

deep cycle, premium, american made, deep cycle batteries


For longer run times, use a bigger battery, to store more power in the backup system. If the power is there for you, you don't have to stop working. The small, self contained models giving you a few minutes cost about $50-100. A full home costs around $5000.

Our DIY section show you how to take your little one and scale it up (for slow charge times, but long run times during failures).
We also show you how to take parts and build an adequate tank (battery array), with supply (battery chargers), and output (inverters) in the DIY Upgrade Kit Section.

Should you need more power, look at through battery sizing charts on BDBatteries.com and then build your own to accomodate your specific needs. A few things to keep in mind: your batteries in the battery backup system should be brand newer, not used. Batteries are the part of this system that age. Should yours not be performing well any longer, replace those batteries, the battery chemistry will degrade over time and use. Batteries are the tank, and they provide the run time. The Inverter determines the maximum size of the load, not the runtime...
Battery, Inverter, and Generator Failover Calculator
AC - DC Lifeline AGM Battery Bank Sizing Calculator
DC - DC Lifeline AGM Battery Bank Sizing Calculator
DC Reserve Minutes Calculator


One last thing: a computer's hard drive will fail, for reasons that may or may not attribute to power interruption. Do keep your data backed up. There's no substitute for a good data backup routine. My time is prescious, and my completed work lost just means lost time. Forget the money, it is worth a lot of time to save the work. Back up both your data and your computer's power supply and you'll keep your data longer too.