The Disadvantages of Having an Uninterruptible Power Supply

By Aaron Parson

Uninterruptible power supplies provide a number of benefits to both home and business use, keeping vital computer and electronics systems running through brief power outages and preventing damage from sudden power loss. Using a UPS also involves a number of disadvantages, especially in the upfront and maintenance costs. These costs pose a significant investment both for home users and even more so in commercial use requiring a large number of batteries.

Startup Cost

Installing uninterruptible power supplies requires a major startup investment. Even a single unit for home use can cost hundreds of dollars. Corporate setups on a large scale run in to tens of thousands of dollars for the machinery alone. These major installations also require an infrastructure setup that can bring the total setup cost over $100,000.

Infrastructure

Home UPS use does not require any more setup than a standard surge protector, but corporate use brings several additional considerations. Attaching many UPS batteries to an existing wiring system must be done by a knowledgeable electrician. These UPS systems also require special care with ventilation. While many battery types do not emit gasses, "vented" or "flooded" batteries must have a separate ventilation system to control their fumes.

Maintenance Cost

UPS batteries do not last forever. Like all rechargeable batteries, their capacity to hold a charge diminishes over time. Depending on the model, a UPS battery can last from about five to 10 years. After this, the old battery requires proper disposal and a new battery must be purchased. Many UPS manufacturers as well as retail stores will recycle home users' UPS batteries for free, but corporations must pay for safe disposal of their equipment.

Energy Use

In order to keep its batteries charged at all times, a UPS system must draw more power than the attached equipment requires. This causes an unavoidable waste of power, correlated to the amount of electricity used in the system. In large-scale uses, this additional power represents a significant additional cost. This wasted energy should also be taken into account when considering your business's environmental practices.