Summer Weather Puts Backup Power in the Spotlight    

Contributed Commentary by Ed Spears, Eaton  

August 14, 2023 | Summertime is here and storm season is kicking into high gear—along with devastating summer heat—which means disaster preparedness is a heightened priority for many companies. It’s a good time for IT leaders and industry professionals to re-familiarize themselves with current uninterruptible power system (UPS) offerings and accompanying battery technologies to ensure they are ready for the months ahead.  

Serving as the critical bridge to generator power in the case of an outage, a UPS can make all the difference in defending against downtime that could bring operations to a halt. Combining these solutions with the latest power management capabilities can also help businesses ensure efficiency and reliability while also saving costs.  

Bottom Line On Downtime 

Weather-related power outages can have costly consequences for companies and it’s a problem that’s only getting worse. According to Uptime Institute’s 2023 Outages Analysis, outages are growing more expensive with more than two-thirds now costing more than $100,000 – underlying the business case for investing in solutions that can improve resiliency.  

Challenges with downtime also come at a period when a reliance on digital applications is increasing across many industries. Major IT systems serve as the catalyst for companies to run efficiently and drive exciting new services to customers. If a weather emergency occurs without a sufficient backup power plan in place, it could bring business operations to a standstill.  

UPSs To The Rescue   

To help protect IT systems from weather-related power disruptions, there are a multitude of UPSs to consider based on application requirements. The five main types of UPSs include: 

  • Standby UPSsenable equipment to operate using utility power until it identifies an issue, at which point it quickly switches to battery power to protect against power sags, surges or outages. This topology is ideal for applications that require basic backup or less sensitive equipment such as small office/home office and point-of-sale equipment.  
  • Line-interactive UPSsactively regulate voltage by boosting or decreasing utility power as necessary, or by resorting to battery power. They are ideal for applications where protection from power anomalies is required, but the utility power is relatively clean. 
  • Online UPSs use double conversion technology to provide the highest level of protection – isolating equipment from raw utility power, constantly converting power from AC to DC and back to AC. This UPS topology is best suited for mission-critical equipment and locations with poor or highly unreliable utility power. 
  • Ferroresonant UPSsoperate similarly to line-interactive UPSswith the exception that a ferroresonant transformer is used to condition the output and hold energy long enough to cover the time between switching from line power to battery power. Although no longer the dominant type of UPS, these robust units are still used in industrial settings such as the oil and gas, chemical, utility and heavy industry markets. 
  • Multi-mode UPSs are considered the best choice for companies looking to achieve an optimal balance of efficiency and protection. The two modes within these UPSs auto-select between a high-efficiency, eco-mode and a premium power protection mode.  

In addition to type and size considerations, runtime requirements are also an important factor. Most UPSs are equipped with internal batteries that support their electrical loads for 10 to 15 minutes of runtime. However, for applications where more battery backup is necessary, extended battery modules (EBMs) are available that can be connected to a UPS to increase the runtime.   

Advances In Chemistry And Capabilities  

While innovation in lithium-ion battery technology has been developing for some time, advancement has reached a point where it is an attractive option for UPSs. These solutions can perform the same functions as traditional lead-acid batteries while offering significant advantages. A UPS deployed with lighter weight lithium-ion battery technology offers an eight-to-15-year life cycle compared to traditional valve regulated lead-acid batteries, which generally need to be replaced every three to six years.   

Along with hardware enhancements like lithium-ion batteries, digital tools such as disaster avoidance software can be integrated with UPSs to help bridge the gap in connectivity and allow IT staff to oversee their power infrastructure. Network management cards can be deployed to advance connectivity and improved cybersecurity. New monitoring services that incorporate predictive analytics can also be added to help teams analyze power trends over time and execute more proactive maintenance.  

Strong And Steady  

When it comes to disaster avoidance, the old sports saying that “the best offense is a good defense” holds true. We can’t predict what the weather will bring in the coming months, but the debilitating heat waves thus far and storms from previous years indicate that it’s best for IT teams to be prepared for anything. By deploying the proper backup power solutions now – anchored with the right UPS system – IT teams will be positioned to deliver uptime to the businesses they serve when disaster strikes. 


Ed Spears is a technical marketing manager in Eaton’s Critical Power & Digital Infrastructure Division in Raleigh, North Carolina. A 40-year veteran of the power-systems industry, Ed has experience in UPS systems testing, sales, applications engineering and training—as well as working in power-quality engineering and marketing for telecommunications, data centers, cable television and broadband public networks. He can be reached at, or find more information at