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March, 2022

Main Differences between Generators, UPS Systems and Inverters

Solutions to Keep You Staying Powered

Most people have heard about generators, UPS systems or inverters, and all of them are able to provide backup power supply when the power goes out. So if any of them can achieve the same goal, why would they coexist? In fact, there are still differences between these three and they can be applied under different scenarios for the best use.

Things to Consider when Evaluating Your Backup Power Plan

We have listed some key elements that you can look into by showing the differences between generators, UPS systems and inverters. In this article, power inverters and Emergency Power Systems, known as EPS, are classified as inverters.

Runtime Duration

When the power fails, a UPS is mainly used to give you sufficient time to shut down critical devices properly and save data, so normally the runtime lasts for minutes. However, runtime can still be prolonged when connecting the UPS to Extended Battery Modules (EBM). A power inverter is designed to provide backup power from the connected external battery to various appliances. The higher the battery capacity, the longer the runtime will be. An EPS can be connected to multiple external batteries to provide battery backup, allowing flexible runtime capacity. A generator provides long backup power supply, which could be for days.

Transfer Time

When a UPS detects a power failure, it can automatically switch to battery power, and the typical transfer time is only a few milliseconds, which gives you an uninterrupted power supply. Additionally, the Online Double-conversion UPS can even achieve zero transfer time; therefore, a seamless operation is guaranteed. The typical transfer time of a power inverter and an EPS is also in milliseconds, so the connected devices will keep operating without interruption. A generator usually takes time to start up, which could be a few seconds or minutes; therefore, there would be a power gap before the generator takes over.

Power Quality

A UPS, an inverter and an EPS provide stable power supply as well as protecting connected devices against power surges and spikes. On the other hand, the output power from a generator typically may come with inconsistent voltage and frequency variations, which can be used to power less sensitive devices.

Environmental Comfort

A UPS system, an inverter and an EPS are relatively noise-free with no air pollution created, maintaining a comfortable level of your environment. Meanwhile, a generator may produce emissions when it is in operation, depending on the type of fuel a generator uses. Generally, it is more suitable to be placed outdoors.

Backup Power Source

The backup power provided by a UPS system, an inverter and an EPS is drawn from batteries while a generator relies on fuel source. Common types of fuel include diesel, liquid fuel and natural gas.

Common Combinations for Long Backup Power Solutions

1. Generator + UPS

A generator can work with a UPS system to complement each other and prolong power continuity. Normally, a generator takes some time to start functioning when a power outage happens, and during this downtime, a UPS acts as a bridge and switches to battery power to keep connected devices working until the generator kicks in. In addition, the UPS plays a key role in power conditioning, making it indispensable when using a generator to provide backup power. Some UPS systems can regulate the voltage and frequency variations produced by the generator and provide stable and consistent power to sensitive devices. Different types of UPS have different working principles, although they might be compatible with generators, it is recommended to select an Online Double-conversion UPS for the backup generator, so the UPS can filter the unstable power without switching to battery mode, delivering clean power while preserving battery life.

Utility
Generator
Auto Transfer Switch (ATS)
UPS
Critical Loads
2. Generator + Inverters

Even though an EPS can be an ideal substitute for a generator considering the benefits it provides other than long-lasting power supply, including noiseless and pollution-free advantages. Still, you may also use the backup generator together with an EPS for extended power supply and better power quality. The generator acts as an input power source and the built-in automatic voltage regulation (AVR) of the EPS helps to regulate the voltage fluctuations from the generator, allowing continuous clean power for connected electronics.

A power inverter can also be connected to the generator to provide longer backup power supply. With its AVR design, the inverter is also capable of correcting voltage deviations produced by the generator to protect connected devices.

Utility
Generator
Distribution Box
EPS
Device

Each backup power supply has its own advantages and CyberPower offers various compatible products with generators to help you build a backup power system.

Emergency Power Systems
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Power Inverter
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