What to look for in an uninterruptible power supply
Many smart devices such as phones and laptops have built-in batteries, with phones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max bordering on two-day battery life and modern laptops having enough cells to last all day. But typical desktop computers, routers, and similar devices still need to be connected to a power source to function.
This is where an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) comes in. Its main function is to act as a large battery that powers your device when your power goes out. They range from small units that can hold a few low-energy appliances to large home units for entire households.
Battery capacity (usually indicated by the wattage rating) should be the number one priority when purchasing a UPS. A UPS under 1000W should be good enough for most devices, but if you have really powerful systems like a gaming rig, you may want to look beyond 1000W.
Once you’ve lined up the capacity, you need to evaluate the devices you’d be connecting to the UPS, specifically their sensitivity to signal fluctuations. Sensitive devices such as some newer LED TVs, CFL bulbs, and audio equipment work best on a pure sine wave. In this case you would need a UPS with pure sine wave output. However, most other devices, including laptops, cell phone chargers, and any device that uses an AC/DC adapter, will usually work fine with a modified sine wave output.
You should also consider the UPS’s ability to protect your appliances. Most options come with built-in surge protection, so you can be sure that sudden jolts of electricity won’t phase your connected devices.
But equally important is the presence of automatic voltage regulation (AVR), which will protect your device from minor power fluctuations during the day. Not having an AVR doesn’t necessarily spell doom for your equipment, but your UPS will have to charge battery power more often, which will lead to faster wear and tear.
Size is another factor to consider when purchasing a UPS. A higher capacity will more often translate into a larger device. However, factors such as outlets and the presence of other technologies play a role. That said, a bigger device doesn’t necessarily mean more ports.
With these factors in mind, here are our favorite UPS for every price point and use case.
- ✓ Visible backlit LCD
- ✓ Numerous (up to 10) drawers
- ✓ Replaceable battery
- ✓ The possibility of connecting additional batteries
- ✓ Intelligent vertical orientation minimizes space consumption
- ✗ USB ports are missing
- ✗ Big and heavy
- ✗ Step-approximated sinusoids as cheaper options
Our pick for the best UPS overall is the APC BR1500G Battery Backup. And it’s no surprise considering we picked our best surge protector. At 1500 VA/865 W, it can power most of your devices, including computers, external hard drives and wireless routers, from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the total connected load. This should give you enough time to wrap up what you’re doing, save your work, and gracefully shut down your computer.
The device has an automatic voltage regulator (AVR) that protects the battery from power fluctuations. It also has built-in surge protection to protect your connected devices from abnormal electrical shocks.
In terms of size, the APC BR1500G battery backup is quite large. It has five outlets with battery backup and surge protection, and another set of five outlets with only surge protection, for a total of ten. However, there are no USB ports for direct phone connection.
There is also a small backlit LCD that displays a lot of information at a glance. However, you can get even more detail by installing the included Windows PC power management software.
The APC BR1500G battery backup is even more special with its ability to connect to an external battery backup to double the performance. This could come in handy if you are connecting multiple devices or need to power existing appliances for longer. Plus, if the battery runs out, you can easily replace it.
Unfortunately, it makes do with a simulated sine wave rather than a pure sine wave, causing sensitive audio/video equipment and satellite systems to not perform optimally. Keep that in mind depending on what you’re looking for
Best UPS overall
APC BR1500G Backup Battery
The APC BR1500G is an excellent backup battery with AVR and surge protection. It allows for easy cell replacement and the ability to add external backups.
- ✓ A small footprint
- ✓ Cheap
- ✓ Great for small equipment
- ✗ No automatic voltage regulation
- ✗ No USB port
If you need a UPS and don’t want to spend a lot, the APC UPS BE425M Battery Backup is for you. Its 425VA/225W output won’t keep your desktop computer running for a few minutes after a power outage, but it’s perfect if you have a few smaller devices that need to stay powered.
The device is small enough to fit on a desk, which is great if you have limited space. It has a total of six outlets protected against surges (four of which are battery backed). Unfortunately, however, there are no USB ports that USB-A or USB-C cables can be plugged into directly.
Like the APC BR1500G, the BE425M lacks a pure sine wave output. But that shouldn’t be a problem for most devices you’d connect to it anyway. Another disadvantage is that it also lacks automatic voltage regulation, so you lose protection against electricity fluctuations.
Best budget UPS
APC UPS BE425M Backup Battery
Low-cost UPS with a small footprint. Provides enough power to keep small devices running after a power outage.
- ✓ Enough power for network equipment
- ✓ Automatic voltage regulation
- ✓ Widely spaced plugs
- ✓ It can be oriented vertically to save space
- ✗ No USB ports
- ✗ Simulated sine wave
Most laptops have long enough battery life to last anywhere from a few hours to a full day. So unless you have a larger desktop with higher power consumption, you’ll only need a smaller UPS battery backup to power your routers and network devices and keep your internet up and running in the event of a power outage. And the CyberPower CP800AVR 800 VA/450 W UPS system is ideal for this.
The UPS has four outlets with battery backup and surge protection and another four with only surge protection. Four of the sockets are nicely spaced so you can easily connect devices with larger plugs. Unfortunately, there are no USB ports on this UPS, so if you only have eight A/C outlets available.
There is automatic voltage regulation that corrects minor power fluctuations during the day without connecting the battery. However, the CP800AVR uses a simulated sine wave, not a pure sine wave, so don’t connect expensive A/V equipment to it if you want it to perform at its best.
The best UPS for networks
CyberPower CP800AVR UPS system
450W provides enough juice to keep routers powered for a really long time. Plus there’s surge protection and an AVR at a low price.
- ✓ 12 well spaced drawers
- ✓ A small footprint
- ✓ Powerful surge protection
- ✗ No AVRs
- ✗ Simulated sine wave output
The Amazon Basics Standby UPS is great for those who want a UPS that’s compact enough to fit into a small space, but with enough power for your equipment. It measures 12.2 x 7 x 3.14 inches, which is about the size and shape of a dictionary lying flat.
Despite its size, the Amazon Basics UPS has 12 outlets, two more than the larger APC BR1500G. All outlets are surge protected, with six connected to the battery. The sockets are decently spaced, with four of them spaced far enough apart to accommodate extra-large plugs.
The 800 VA/450 W rated power is more than enough power for simple equipment. It should even be enough to power a PC, albeit for a very short time. There is no protection for the AVR against power fluctuations, but it uses standby power management to help regulate the voltage.
Standby power management should be fine if you don’t have any sensitive equipment, but it will take a toll on the UPS battery in the long run. However, the device has built-in surge protection to protect your appliances from wild electrical surges.
The best compact UPS
Amazon Standby UPS Basics
Amazon offers a basic compact UPS with unbeatable dimensions for power. Plus it has all the essentials and way more outlets than you know what to do with.
- ✓ Large capacity
- ✓ AVR
- ✓ Pure sine wave
- ✓ Practical LCD control panel and software
- ✗ High price
- ✗ A huge footprint
Gaming setups can easily consume hundreds of watts of power, although a powerful device could break the 1000 watt mark. If you have a power-hungry setup, you need a UPS that can handle all that load without dying as soon as the power goes out. That’s where the CyberPower PR1500LCD UPS system comes in.
Rated at 1500 VA/1500 W, this CyberPower UPS is ideal for high power consumption devices such as gaming systems. It easily outperforms options with similar volt-amperes (VA) but lower wattage, including 1500VA/1000W or 900W ratings.
Unlike our previous picks, it has a total of eight outlets, all battery powered and surge protected. But the CyberPower PR1500LCD isn’t just a beast in raw power. It provides a true sine wave output like you would get from the mains, so it’s great for sensitive equipment. There is also AVR support to protect your device from minor fluctuations without draining the battery.
The downside is how much all of this costs per unit. It will set you back more than $500, which is much more expensive than any other option on this list. But if you can overlook it, you’ll quickly find it’s worth it.
As with most UPS battery backups, more power means more space, and the CyberPower PR1500LCD is no exception. When you stand up, it’s more than 1.5 times the width of our best overall recommendation, which in itself is not small.
But if it’s any consolation, the size has been put to good use, with a handy LCD control panel to monitor its status. Plus, with the bundled Power Panel Business Edition software, you can easily monitor all UPS details remotely using just a web browser.
The best UPS for gaming