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Which UPS Topology is optimal for your environment?

Which UPS Topology Is Optimal for Your Environment?

The central design of an uninterruptible power system (UPS) is categorized as its topology. Of the three primary UPS technologies available today — standby, line-interactive and online — each offers different performance characteristics and varying degrees of protection.

It’s important to recognize that not all UPS are created equal.

Determining the best topology for your facility depends on a number of factors, including the level of reliability and availability required, as well as the type of equipment being protected and the overall application/environment.

Different types of UPS systems are appropriate for different uses, but no single UPS type is ideal for all applications. Consider the following:


Also referred to as an off-line or passive system, standby topology provides the most basic type of UPS protection. Safeguarding connected equipment against common power problems — power failures or sags — the standby UPS lets equipment run off of utility power until it detects a problem.

At that point, the UPS switches to the battery. Standby UPS are best suited for less critical applications such as office environments, provided that the power supply is not subject to frequent disruptions.

The Pros of Standby

Here are some of the benefits of a standby UPS system:

  • It is one of the most cost-effective UPS systems available.
  • It allows the equipment to run on utility power while providing continuous power failure protection. 
  • It’s perfect for offices and point-of-sale applications, as it can provide uninterrupted power to essential devices. 

The Cons of Standby

While an attractive alternative from a cost perspective, the downside to standby UPS is that they do not buffer equipment against other power anomalies, and they must resort to batteries frequently, which can reduce battery run time and service life. You should also consider the following with a standby UPS system:

  • It is limited to small-scale UPS needs. 
  • The batteries have a short lifespan.

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A UPS with line-interactive topology is designed to shield connected devices from power failures and sags like a standby model does, but it also provides protection against under- and over-voltage conditions.

Typically used to safeguard enterprise network and IT applications, the line-interactive UPS is controlled by a microprocessor that monitors the quality of incoming power and reacts to fluctuations. One of the biggest advantages of the line-interactive topology is that it compensates for under-voltage and over-voltage circumstances without using the batteries.

These systems provide more protection than standby UPS, with better power conditioning and regulation that helps prolong battery life. Battery usage is lower than a standby UPS but still higher than an online model.

The Pros of Line-Interactive

Line-interactive systems have many pros, including the following:

  • They’re highly reliable and efficient. 
  • They’re suitable for IT equipment like switches, servers and storage. 
  • They come in various shapes and sizes to fit your building. 

The Cons of Line-Interactive

Here are some of the considerations of line-interactive UPS systems to think about:

  • The batteries will be unable to power your equipment for very long. 
  • They may not be ideal for the largest industrial needs. 


An online or double-conversion UPS is designed to deliver continuous protection against all nine of the most common power problems.

Supplying a consistent power quality regardless of any incoming instabilities, the output voltage of an online UPS is entirely regenerated by a sequence of AC to DC conversion, followed by DC to AC conversion in order to create a supply of power without any electrical interference.

An online UPS system switches to online double-conversion mode during moments of irregular power or disturbances, such as moments when AC input power varies from preset tolerances for line-interactive mode. This isolates the equipment from incoming power. 

If the input power exceeds rectifier tolerances or is completely lost, the UPS will rely on the battery to keep loads operating, then convert back to high-efficiency mode when it is safe.

Online UPS’s are the best choice for critical applications or those involving highly sensitive equipment, such as data centers, communications hubs and other mission-critical installations where continuous, clean power is a business-critical requirement.

Pros of Online

Here are some of the most notable benefits of online UPS systems:

  • They can filter fast disturbances in power quality.
  • They’re great for sensitive loads.
  • They’re the ideal option for businesses in areas with poor power quality. 

Cons of Online

Online UPS systems have some potential concerns, including the following:

  • They have a complex design.
  • They may have a higher initial cost than other systems.

How to Choose the Optimal UPS Topology

While all three UPS topologies outlined above meet the input voltage requirements for IT equipment, there are significant differences in both performance and demands on the battery. The following list of steps can help you learn how to choose the optimal UPS technology for your needs. 

Step One: Know Your Business

Every business is different, and your business will have unique needs that affect the type of UPS system you choose. Larger businesses may need the extra power provided by line-interactive systems over standby systems. If your business is in an environment with unreliable utility providers, then an online system may be the most beneficial to you. You must also consider the complexities of your current electrical system to know which UPS system will work best for your needs. 

Step Two: Know Your Options

Once you understand your own needs, it’s time to research your options. As you’ve learned above, each type of UPS system has its pros and cons. They also provide different benefits and work to keep your power from being interrupted by irregularities or complete power loss. You’ll want to match your location, your electrical needs and your business as a whole with the right UPS system so you can stay up and running and protect your valuable equipment and assets. 

Step Three: Partner With a Critical Power Equipment and Service Provider

Lastly, to get the optimal UPS topology for your business, you need to partner with a critical power equipment and service provider. Ideally, you’ll find a company that has respect in the industry and recognition nationwide. Your service provider should offer sensible solutions to your power needs that fit the needs of your business. And they should be knowledgeable to answer your questions so you can make a final decision with confidence. 

Explore UPS Systems and Services With Unified Power

Explore UPS Systems and Services With Unified Power

If you need assistance determining the optimal topology for your environment, Unified Power can help you to properly identify and compare UPS topologies. Since our beginnings in 2011, we have grown into one of the largest critical power services companies in the nation. And thanks to our extensive experience serving a wide variety of industries, we can help you choose the correct topology for your business based on your unique needs. We have the UPS services you can count on. 

Contact us today for more information about our equipment and maintenance services.

Page updated on November 16th 2021

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