What’s the Difference Between Surge Protectors, Line Conditioners and UPS Systems?

Your options for protecting home and office electronics from power problems can be a bit confusing. Surge protectors, line conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS systems) all have outlets for AC equipment, protect against power surges and filter line noise to help prevent EMI/RFI interference. Line conditioners and UPS systems, however, have additional types of protection. Your best choice for power protection depends on your equipment, your application and the quality of your facility’s electricity.

Surge Protectors

Reliable Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

Surge protectors are your best defense against AC voltage surges and spikes that can ruin your valuable equipment in a flash or build up damage over time. Look at the joule rating when comparing surge protectors – a higher rating means more protection. Some models even protect phone and data lines. Surge protectors also help prevent EMI/RFI line noise from interfering with equipment performance.

Line Conditioners

Voltage Regulation, Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

Line conditioners are your best defense against brownouts, which are low-voltage power sags that can cause your equipment’s internal power supply and circuitry to work harder. Frequent exposure to brownouts can overheat these sensitive components, leading to equipment failure. Line conditioners automatically adjust low and high voltages to provide safe computer-grade power. In addition to voltage regulation, line conditioners offer surge protection and line noise filtering.

UPS Systems

Voltage Regulation (Line-Interactive and On-Line Models), Battery Backup, Surge Protection and Line Noise Filtering

UPS systems are your best defense against downtime, damage and data loss. All UPS systems provide battery backup to keep equipment up and running through short blackouts and brownouts, providing you with enough time to save data and shut down properly during longer outages. A UPS system can also keep equipment powered during transfer to generator power.

There are three types of UPS systems, each with different features:

  • Standby: Provide battery backup, surge protection and line noise filtering.
  • Line-Interactive: Provide voltage regulation, battery backup, surge protection and line noise filtering.
  • On-Line: Provide the highest level of power protection. Constant on-line operation completely isolates sensitive equipment from every power problem on the AC line.

Communication ports are also a useful feature to have on UPS systems. Most Tripp Lite standby UPS systems and all line-interactive and on-line models are compatible with Tripp Lite’s free PowerAlert software, which can automatically and gracefully shut down computers during a prolonged power outage.

Feature Comparison

 
Surge
Protectors
Line
Conditioners
Standby
UPS Systems
Line-Interactive
& On-Line
UPS Systems
Surge Protection
Brownout Protection
EMI/RFI Line Noise Filtering
Voltage Regulation
Battery Backup
Typical Connected Equipment Computers and Peripherals, Home Theater Electronics Computers, Laser Printers, Industrial Equipment, Refrigerators, Air Conditioners Desktop Computers and Peripherals Servers/Network Equipment
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Need help choosing power protection for your equipment?

Contact a Tripp Lite Power Specialist. Our advice is always fact-based and free.