UPS devices and inverters are both devices that support power supplies during blackouts or load shedding. However, the functions of these devices are often confused with each other. In this short article, we’ll help you decide which one you need for your application.

 What Is an Inverter?

An inverter converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). It can receive current from DC sources such as solar power and battery to power devices as a stand-alone device, or it can be integrated into your house mains to relay power to your existing plugs and lighting when the main power fails. It does not store or generate power but is used to make battery or solar power available in the type of electric current used by household appliances and devices.

 What Is UPS?

UPS or Uninterrupted Power Supply provides backup power when there is a power failure of the primary power source or a significant power drop. Unlike an inverter that just transforms electric current, a UPS both stores electricity and transforms it into the correct current. To do this, it contains an inverter, a battery and a transfer switch.

Do you need an inverter or a UPS?

You probably need both. With an inverter, you can integrate solar and battery power to your mains power supply or provide alternate power points for your devices. This can help you to mitigate ever-increasing Eskom bills, load shedding and become self-sufficient in terms of electricity generation.  In contrast, the main function of a UPS is to protect your mission-critical devices from sudden power interruptions. These failures can come from self-generated or Eskom power. That is why it makes sense to connect computer and security equipment to a UPS device regardless of whether you have other sources of backup power.