UPS vs AVR — Which is best for eliminating power issues?
18 Oct 2022
Est. Reading Time: 12 minutes
Both UPS and AVRs are helpful devices in ensuring electrical equipment and infrastructure receive appropriate and quality power supply. However, you shouldn’t confuse a UPS with an AVR, as both are developed for different purposes. In a way, they are as different as apples and oranges.
It isn’t appropriate or economical to install a UPS when your application only needs an AVR, and neither is it technically sound to use an AVR in place of a UPS. Installing the wrong power solution product can result in inadequate protection, a waste of money, or both.
In this article, we’ll clear the confusion between UPS and AVR once and for all. More importantly, you’ll learn specific situations that call for each device.
What is a ups?
UPS is the acronym for Uninterruptible Power Supply, which is a device that protects electrical equipment from complete power outages or brownouts by diverting electrical energy to the supply line from its internal battery. This allows mission-critical equipment like computers, telecommunication transponders, industrial machines, and data centres to operate as usual despite power issues.
The UPS consists of a charging circuit, battery, inverter, and a filter to ensure that the load does not reset during power disruptions. During normal operations, the UPS will convert the incoming mains AC into DC and charges the battery. The UPS battery takes over when the incoming voltage falls between a certain threshold. By inverting the battery’s DC voltage back to AC, the UPS ensures continuous load operations.
Types of UPS and their Usage
Generally, a UPS is available in 3 different categories.
Standby UPS is a commercial UPS that consumers use to protect low-voltage appliances, such as a computer. A standby UPS is connected in parallel to the AC mains. It provides basic outage protection by connecting the load to the battery output with a static switch.
As it does so, there is a slight gap of about 25ms before the backup supply kicks in. The switching window does not affect appliances like computers but is unacceptable to sensitive industrial equipment and mainframe servers.
Line interaction UPS uses a single charger-inverter module to provide outage protection to the load and compensate for fluctuation in the incoming voltage. In normal operation, the line interaction UPS stabilizes the load voltage against voltage sags, overvoltage, and other variations. During a power outage, the static switch cuts off the connection between the incoming voltage to the battery and redirects the latter to the load.
Also known as the double conversion UPS, the UPS circuit is placed in series with the AC mains. The incoming voltage is converted into DC, which charges the battery, before being converted back to AC to power the load. Due to its seamless switchover time and voltage stabilising capabilities, it provides ideal outage support for mission-critical or industrial applications, such as data centers and medical equipment.
Common UPS applications
Standby UPS are a common fixture in applications not exceeding 2kVA. For example, gamers use standby UPS to protect gaming PCs from power issues. Likewise, line interaction UPS is mainly used for low power rating loads as it has a slight latency when switching to battery output. Meanwhile, the online UPS is suited for industrial applications, such as data centres and medical equipment, because of its seamless switchover and voltage-stabilizing capabilities.
How long does a UPS last?
UPS is constructed from power electronics components and batteries. Due to limitations in the charging cycle, the battery’s healthy lifespan is averagely from 3-5 years, while the UPS might last up to 13 years. You will need to replace the battery at least a couple of times during its lifespan.
What is an AVR?
AVR, short for Automatic Voltage Regulator, is a voltage stabilizing device that provides complete autocorrection for inherent incoming voltage variations—optimising nominal voltage levels that are ideal for electrical systems. It safeguards critical loads and sensitive electronic components against harmful anomalies (from the AC mains grid) such as voltage fluctuations, electrical noise and transients, voltage sags, and overvoltage.
An AVR consists of a variable or autotransformer and a feedback control mechanism. It works on the principle of rapidly changing the winding ratio of its transformer to produce a clean and stable voltage level. Each AVR is designed with certain power rating limits or KVA capacity that the electrical load must not exceed.
They are commonly used in facilities, infrastructure, and buildings that suffer from severe voltage variations. AVRs ensure electrical loads operate optimally at their respective rated voltage and protect sensitive electronic components from premature failures.
Types of AVR
These are common types of AVR used by different industries.
The servo AVR uses a servo motor to change the transformer’s winding ratio based on the feedback signal of the control circuit. Despite featuring moving mechanisms in their design, Servo AVRs are adopted by leading organisations for their high reliability and efficiency. Typically, a servo AVR can stabilize mains grid voltage between ±0.5% and ±1% accuracy of deviation from its nominal value, with a wide input voltage tolerance of variations up to ±40%.
The magnetic induction AVR controls the proximity of the primary and secondary winding with a brushless (contactless) servo. It works on the principle of varying the amplitude and angle of magnetic flux coupling between the windings. Because of this, magnetic induction AVRs are virtually maintenance-free and are ideal for rugged environments. These AVRs are highly accurate and have extra robust tolerance to electrical disturbances on the mains grid. For example, Coca-Cola (Saudi Arabia) installed Ashley Edison’s Magnetic Induction AVR to stabilize incoming three-phase voltage to its production facilities.
Static AVRs, also known as tap-switching AVRs, use a series of silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) to alter the winding ratio. Due to the setup, static AVRs are generally an economical option, however, they cannot produce accurate regulation as their servo and magnetic induction counterparts do. Also, these SCRs are prone to electrical damage, which makes static AVRs unsuitable for severely volatile operating environments.
How long does an AVR last?
The life expectancy of an AVR varies according to the type. While Static AVR will require careful maintenance throughout their healthy lifespan, Servo AVRs are the industry’s safest bet (lasting up to 10 years or more in operation). However, in terms of absolute reliability, the magnetic induction AVR is widely considered by electrical professionals to be the most reliable due to its brushless, contactless design and robust construction.
The Differences between UPS VS AVR
WHICH IS BETTER FOR POWER ISSUES…
a UPS or an AVR?
If your machines suffer from frequent failure due to inconsistencies in the mains voltage, you’ll be pressed to seek a prompt solution. It’s either the UPS or an AVR. While an online UPS provides voltage stabilizing functions, there might be better options to address your issues.
UPS are designed primarily to ensure continuous operation during power outages. This means they contain bulky batteries, which take up space and are costly to produce. Not all installations can afford additional spaces to accommodate the batteries within the UPS. Also, the cost is an influential factor when seeking a voltage-stabilizing solution.
Unless your machines require power outage protection, the AVR is the best choice for ending power quality issues. Designed to respond to a wide range of voltage irregularities with prompt precisions, it does so without redundant components, which means you’ll have a more economical and compact solution. Besides, AVR also enjoys a longer life expectancy and requires very little maintenance.
We hope our explanation gives you a better idea of how the UPS compares with an AVR. While each is a purposeful electrical protective device in its own right, the AVR is much better suited when dealing with voltage sags, overvoltages, inrush current, and other power quality issues.
Explore Ashley Edison’s range of industry-proven AVR solutions, or talk to our experts now.
Since 1977, Ashley Edison continues to deliver total power protection with top-of-the-range customised AVR solutions that dependably optimise facilities in multiple industries—across the world.
Speak to our Voltage Specialist for a comprehensive consultation, or drop us an email at email@example.com to discover how you can effectively solve your power problems—permenantly.
To learn more about Ashley Edison’s Automatic Voltage Regulators, visit our product page here.