Lighting Inverter vs UPS – Which Do You Need?

When it comes to lighting inverters and UPS systems for lighting, clarifying the differences concerning need and application can be tricky, especially for beginners. While both provide the backup supply to your electrical systems, the main function of a UPS is to store electrical power supply, whereas an inverter’s function is to convert power into a usable form for your equipment and devices. However, as expected, that difference is only the beginning. There are many other distinguishing factors that will help you decide which device is best suited for your particular needs. Here, we will cover a basic understanding of both UPS systems and inverters, including both functions and applications. Read on to learn more from the experts at Lighting Inverter Supply.

First, What is UPS?

UPS stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply. UPS systems supply power in the event of an outage or fluctuation in available utility power. Some models can also come with voltage regulators to ensure constant, clean power is being delivered. Typically, UPS systems are more sophisticated devices with a wider rank of functions.

How Do UPS Systems Work?

Uninterruptible Power Supplies perform two vital functions.

The first is energy storage. Usually accomplished with batteries and a charge controller of some kind, this function allows UPS systems to continue delivering electric power, even when your service is interrupted.

The second function of a UPS system is to respond immediately during an outage. This function prevents the loss of information during outages and can save your equipment from damage caused by forced shutdowns. That seamless transition is one of the major benefits of such a system.

What is an Inverter?

As mentioned above, a lighting inverter differs from a UPS system in that its sole purpose is power conversion. What does that mean? Inverters will usually receive power from a source of direct current (DC), like a battery or solar panel, and will then convert it to an alternating current (AC). Most appliances and electric devices can only use alternating current. See Lighting inverter examples here.

How Do Lighting Inverters Work?

It is important to note that lighting inverters are only capable of converting power into a usable form. Because they cannot store of generate electricity independently, they must always be connected to a working power source. If the electric supply is interrupted, a lighting inverter will become just as useless as the rest of your equipment.

Inverters are also differentiated by the amount of power they are capable of handling. Referred to as a power rating, most residential inverters have a rating lower than 10kW while commercial and industrial inverters commonly exceed 100kW.

The Overlap Between Lighting Inverters and UPS Systems

Despite the differences between the two, UPS systems and lighting inverters do have both commonalities and overlap in their functions.

For instance, UPS systems often have inverters included within as one of their many internal components. As a result, UPS’s almost always perform power conversion in addition to further functions, such as the instant response and energy storage that lighting inverters typically lack.

As you may have expected, because of the additional functionality, UPS systems are generally more expensive than inverters with the same power rating. Which you choose will likely come down to what your facility has a need for and what you can afford.

Applications of Each Device

So, how can you choose the best device for your needs? Taking a closer look at which applications each type is best suited for may provide further insight.

When continuous power is a must, even during a blackout, UPS units will be your top choice for optimal functionality. However, inverters may provide a more cost-effective option when paired with exterior power storage, such as a generator. It’s important to note that the latter may be a tolerable solution for equipment such as a lighting system, where a short delay is acceptable. However, applications where even a brief disconnection can be disastrous, such as a data center, will often require a UPS and the immediate response that comes with. Link to Eaton UPS Systems.

In order to implement the benefits of both systems, a common solution is to use both inverters and UPS systems together. Typically, facilities will install a smaller, more cost-effective UPS system with a short-term capacity and a larger inverter system. The point of this set up is to allow the UPS system to provide enough time for the larger inverter to become operational and take over the load.

Lighting Inverter Supply: Your Single Source Lighting Inverter Provider

At Lighting Inverter Supply, we are dedicated to helping you ace the selection process of your next inverter system. Our team is available for technical review of specifications, sizing assistance, voltage selection, and even runtime calculations.

If you are interested in better determining which lighting inverter, or UPS system, is best for your particular needs, we encourage you to contact our team today. Whether you want to get a quote or simply a few ideas about your chosen equipment, we are here for you.