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Keeping your home internet up with an uninterruptible power supply

In the age of working from home, work has mostly moved to the laptop for many. This means that the odd blip in terms of power normally on their machine. This isn’t the case for your home network infrastructure, specifically your router and/or modem. A uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is essentially a big battery that is used to keep your hardware up when the power is out. Laptops essentially already have a big battery so in many cases a UPS is not necessary where the power cuts last for minutes or a couple of hours at most. The recent uncertainty around the winter power supply in the Dublin region prompted me to look more into this area.

My backup power recipe

Mostly routers and modems are pretty low power, they run anywhere from a dozen watts to maybe twice that for the really fully featured models. This means that you can get a moderately powered UPS which will be able to offer power for an hour or more to these devices. I went with APC and specifically with the BR650MI Back UPS Pro BR 650VA.

Dublin’s Winter 2022 Power Worries

The real worry I had after hearing about the potential problems in Dublin’s power supply this winter (2022) was with brown outs and potentially surges. COVID-19 has limited the maintenace on a number of generators in the national grid and they’re currently undergoing maintence there is an open question as to whether these will be fully functional for this winter, hence the power supply worries.

A power outage typically doesn’t impact your Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as they’ll normally have their equipment protected with UPS and surge protectors.

Brown outs and surges

Surges and brown outs are the two main reasons I went with slightly higher specification model from APC. Understanding what a surge and a brown out will be helpful to why I chose that specification.

A brown out is the term for when there is a drop in voltage in the power system. This can be intentional (by the power company) or unintentional (or due to a failure). It’s the intentional brown out scenario with the limited power in Dublin that was the prime reason I got a UPS. I hope this does not happen but if it does, I wanted to be prepared. A brown out can be imposed by the power company in an effort to reduce load and prevent a full power outage.

A surge is an abnormally high voltage lasting for a short period of time (millisecond typically), this most often is from lightning strikes. Many UPS offer features to protect against these shocks which can significantly damage sensitive electrical equipment like your router or modem. I’ve already got two APC Surge Arrest Essential 8 socket protectors which I discuss in more depth in this post.

BR650MI Back UPS Pro BR 650VA highlights

There are a couple of features in this model that helped my choice. You can checkout the full specification on this page.

It offers:

  • Regulation of voltage, it steps up low voltage (brown out) and steps down high voltage (surge) before sending the power to your devices
  • Can start cold, so if the power goes completely there isn’t a lag in it providing power to the connected devices
  • 390 Watts / 650 VA reasonable sized battery to give around an hour or so of supply to the devices I intend to connect

Setup and installation

Here are a few photographs of the unboxing and setup.

UPS box and cables

UPS boxed with cables

UPS connected to test battery and first power up

UPS powered up but with nothing connected

UPS setup and connected to router and to modem

UPS setup and running

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