An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is crucial for keeping critical devices running during a power outage. However, a UPS can only continue working for a short period before running out of power. Still, can a UPS last for 3 hours?
Some UPS backup batteries can last for 3 hours or more. However, that will depend primarily on the battery capacity. Entry-level UPS backups can only last for approximately 10 minutes. So, you’ll need a high-end UPS if you want to keep devices running for 3 hours or more.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about UPS runtimes. Keep reading to discover what affects a UPS runtime and how to maximize it on your unit.
What Is A UPS Runtime?
Not all UPS batteries can last 3 hours. So if you’d like to know how long a UPS model can last, you have to find out what its ‘runtime’ is. This information is typically made clear as part of the unit’s specifications.
A UPS runtime simply refers to the estimated duration that the battery can run without any incoming power from the wall socket or a generator. As you might already know, once there’s no incoming power, the UPS internal battery will take over and supply power to devices plugged into the UPS power outlets.
Unfortunately, the UPS runtime is only an estimate. That’s because the actual runtime will depend on a combination of several factors, like:
- Battery capacity: A UPS unit’s estimated runtime depends on its internal battery capacity. Simply put, a UPS battery with a larger capacity can store more electrical power and therefore keep your devices running for much longer during a power outage. Batteries with smaller capacities will drain faster, while those with larger capacities will last longer.
- Half-load or full-load: Aside from the battery’s capacity, the runtime is also affected by whether you’re placing a half-load or full-load on the unit. In other words, it depends on how many devices you have draining power from the UPS battery. For example, a small device like a router might not drain much energy, but a fridge will place a much larger load on the UPS.
- Battery condition: Lastly, your UPS runtime will also depend on the battery’s condition. All batteries have a limited lifespan, and they’ll gradually perform worse as they get older. So, even if your UPS could last 3 hours when you first bought it, an old, worn-out battery will drain much sooner.
How Long Does A UPS Battery Run?
An average entry-level UPS backup battery can run for approximately 10 minutes when powering a full computer setup (i.e. a computer with a monitor and a WiFi router). That runtime is normal for UPS units sold to household and home office users.
A 10-minute runtime might not seem like much at first. However, those 10 minutes can be a lifesaver during a power outage. That’s because it gives you enough time to save your data and shut your computer down safely.
That average runtime also depends on how much of a load you place on the UPS. So, on the one hand, you can expect it to run for a lot longer if it’s only powering a small device like your WiFi router.
On the other hand, the UPS will drain much quicker if you have heavy-duty appliances plugged into it.
Still, you can choose to invest in UPS backup batteries with much higher capacities. Those kinds of UPS units cost significantly more, but they’ll keep your devices running for up to several hours.
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That kind of extended runtime might not be necessary for the average user. Still, it’s a necessity for critical equipment like telecommunication equipment, data centers, and computer servers.
How Do I Maximize My UPS Runtime?
Your UPS runtime is limited according to its battery capacity. However, there are several ways you can maximize that runtime to ensure you get the most value from your investment.
The 3 ways you can maximize your UPS runtime are:
- Optimize environment: First and foremost, you should optimize the environment around your UPS backup battery. The unit must be in a place with lots of ventilation to prevent overheating. Besides, the surrounding temperature must be within the manufacturer’s recommended temperature range. For heavy-duty UPS units, that might mean providing additional air conditioning to keep the unit cool.
- Minimize load: Your UPS has a limited battery capacity that should only be used for your most critical equipment. So, avoid plugging non-critical equipment that will drain battery power unnecessarily. That way, the UPS can power your essential devices for much longer.
- Periodic maintenance: A UPS backup battery is easy to overlook. So, you should set and follow a regular maintenance schedule. That way, you can inspect and clean your UPS regularly. Doing so will keep your UPS battery performing well and help you resolve minor issues before they become significant problems.
Why Is My UPS Not Lasting As Long?
There are a few reasons your UPS is not lasting as long as you’d expect.
If the battery drains out sooner than your estimated runtime, consider the following:
#1 The Battery Hasn’t Charged At All
What’s happening: Firstly, it’s likely that your UPS battery backup has not been charging like you thought it was. That could be due to a UPS error, or the battery connector is loose or disconnected.
How to fix it: Check that the UPS unit is functioning correctly. Then, check that the battery connector is firmly in place.
#2 The Battery Hasn’t Charged Fully
What’s happening: The bigger your UPS battery’s capacity, the more time it requires to charge. So if the UPS doesn’t last long, it’s likely the battery didn’t have enough time to charge in the first place.
How to fix it: You should check the user manual to know how long your UPS model needs to charge. Then, you should let it charge for that amount of time.
#3 The Battery Is Old Or Worn Out
What’s happening: UPS batteries wear out the more you discharge them. Besides that, the batteries will deteriorate as they age, typically after 3-5 years.
In both cases, your UPS battery will not run as long as it should as the battery is not in good working condition.
How to fix it: Unfortunately, you can’t fix old or worn-out UPS batteries. The only solution here is to remove those batteries and replace them with new ones.
Remember: you don’t have to change the whole UPS unit, only the batteries inside.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Check out these questions and answers to help you understand UPS backup batteries better:
What Type Of Battery Does A UPS Use?
UPS units typically use Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries. These batteries combine oxygen and hydrogen to store power. They are also very safe to use as they release only a tiny amount of hydrogen and pose no danger to users.
How Do I Increase My UPS Runtime?
You can increase your UPS runtime by minimizing the load you place on it. In other words, don’t plug any non-critical devices into your UPS. That way, the battery capacity can power your critical devices for much longer overall.
How Long Will A UPS Battery Backup Last?
A UPS battery can last anywhere from around 10 minutes to several hours. But, of course, the actual runtime will depend on several factors like the battery capacity, battery condition, and the load you place on that battery.
Does Using UPS Increase Electricity Bill?
Yes, using a UPS will increase your electricity bill slightly. That’s because the UPS charges the battery and keeps it that way, so it’s ready for use at any time.
Is An Uninterruptible Power Supply Worth It?
If you have electrical or electronic devices that can get damaged by a sudden power outage, a UPS is worth it. The UPS will keep those devices running just long enough so you can shut them off safely.