The 9 Best Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) of 2021

When power goes out, an uninterruptible power supply will let you keep working

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An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS (which is how we’ll refer to them from now on), are, at the most basic level, a big battery that kicks in when your power goes out. They range from really small units to whole-house units. We’re going to focus on testing smaller, desktop models that give you enough power for a desktop PC, and leave the whole-house models to other experts.

With all of that out of the way, if you feel you need a UPS, order the APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA. It’s got a big enough battery so you can save your work and safely shut down without having to panic.

The Rundown
You could buy this one without reading the rest of our list and know you got a solid, reliable unit.
The Tripp Lite AVR750U is an affordable unit if you only need a small UPS.
It won't keep a gaming rig going, but it can keep you connected when you need it the most.
The EC850LCD is a pretty modest unit, but it will allow you to save your work and safely shut down.
The LCD screen tilts up to 22 degrees so it's more easily readable from the floor, and it displays a lot of information.
It’s hard to believe this off-the-shelf unit won’t meet your needs.
Best for Networking and Other Devices:
CyberPower CP800AVR at Amazon
The Cyperpower CP800AVR is designed for keeping your networking gear up and running.
Best Compact:
APC BE600M1 at Amazon
If you're working at home, in a dorm, or someplace where space is at a premium, a compact UPS is just what the doctor ordered.
Best for Gamers:
APC Gaming UPS at Amazon
Our reviewer had a storm knock out her power, and she was pleased to find the computer had shut itself down.

Best Overall: APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA

What We Like
  • LCD display

  • Numerous outlets

  • Small footprint

  • Hot swappable batteries

What We Don't Like
  • No USB Port

  • Large and in charge

Our reviewer, Jeremy, tested the APC Back-UPS Pro 1500 with his own equipment (a desktop computer and monitor) and found it had more than enough power to allow him to wrap up what he was doing, save all of his work, and properly shut down his computer.

While this APC model has 10 outlets, only five of them are connected to the battery (the other five do have surge protection, though). We feel five outlets are plenty and should cover most setups adequately (more so, really). This unit is vertically oriented, so while it doesn’t have a large footprint, it will resemble a computer tower.

You could buy this one without reading the rest of our list and know you got a solid, reliable unit.

Outlets: 5 battery, 5 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 1500VA/865W | Sine Wave: Simulated

"This UPS is capable of putting out over 800 watts of power, so you can safely charge any device at the same speed you would normally experience by plugging the same charger directly into a wall outlet."Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

APC Back-UPS Pro 1500

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best for Home Use: Tripp Lite AVR750U UPS Battery Backup

What We Like
  • Lots of outlets

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Documentation is sparse

The Tripp Lite AVR750U is an affordable unit for very modest uses. Despite its smaller battery, the Tripp Lite will still give you enough time to save your work and shut down safely.

Keep in mind: If you decide to go this route, the Trip Lite lays on the floor horizontally, so it takes up more space than you might be used to.

Outlets: 6 battery, 6 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 750VA/450W | Sine Wave: Simulated in battery backup mode, pure in standard mode

Best Budget: APC Back-UPS 425VA

APC UPS, 600VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector
What We Like
  • Easy to use

  • Small footprint

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Low power output

  • No LCD screen

The APC Back-UPS 425VA UPS is our favorite budget option, and not only because of the clever name. The Back-UPS is designed to keep some low-power devices online when the power goes out. It won't keep a desktop PC going, but it can keep you connected when you need it the most. 

It's small enough to keep on your desk if you want. There's no LCD screen, which is something we always like to see on a UPS, but if you have just a few smaller devices to power, this UPS can get the job done.

Outlets: 4 battery, 2 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 425VA/225W | Sine Wave: Simulated

Easiest to Use: CyberPower EC850LCD

CyberPower EC850LCD
What We Like
  • LCD panel

  • Eco mode

  • Twelve outlets

What We Don't Like
  • Short-term power

This CyberPower EC850LCD is a UPS like the others on this list, but it has a trick up its sleeve. Three outlets (of the 12) shut down their output (which is the opposite of what a UPS should do, come to think of it) when the CyberPower unit detects the device that’s plugged in is in standby or vampire mode. That can end up saving you real money.

So, the EC850LCD is a pretty modest unit, but it will allow you to save your work and safely shut down.

Outlets: 6 battery, 3 surge-protected, 3 Eco | Battery backup power: 850VA/510W | Sine Wave: Simulated

Best Features: CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD

What We Like
  • Tiltable LCD panel

  • USB ports

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

The Cyberpower CP1500PFCLCD has a lot of what we like to see in a UPS. Its vertical orientation makes for a smaller footprint. The LCD screen tilts up to 22 degrees so it's more easily readable from the floor, and it displays a lot of information like wattage and remaining runtime. Speaking of runtime, at 100W, you'll get 83 minutes. 

There are 12 plugs on the back of the tower. Six of those are battery backup plugs and the other six have only surge protection. You'll also find a USB-A and USB-C plug for charging your mobile devices. It's a little on the expensive side, but we like this as a solid pickup for mid-sized computer systems.

Outlets: 6 battery, 6 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 1500VA/1000W | Sine Wave: Pure

Best for Businesses: APC UPS 2200VA Smart-UPS with SmartConnect

APC 2200VA
What We Like
  • Remote monitoring

  • Power to spare

  • Green mode

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Very heavy

Whoa, a new player has joined the game. There is very little chance a regular home computer user needs this big, beefy UPS, but if you run a small office or run a small server then stop right here.

If that server is not in your office, then you can take advantage of the software that lets you control the APC UPS 2200VA remotely. Keep in mind these two points: It’s 100 pounds and costs around $1,000. But it's hard to believe this off-the-shelf unit won’t meet your needs.

Outlets: 8 battery and surge protected, 2 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 2200VA/1980W | Sine Wave: Pure

Best for Networking and Other Devices: CyberPower CP800AVR

CP800AVR
What We Like
  • Widely spaced plugs

  • Vertical orientation

What We Don't Like
  • Short runtime

While a UPS can be useful for keeping a computer alive and working, for those of us working on laptops, keeping the internet up is just as important. The Cyperpower CP800AVR is designed for keeping your networking gear up and running.

There are four plugs with battery backup and an additional four plugs with surge protection. The outlets are nicely spaced out so you can plug devices in with larger plugs (such as those that come with routers and modems). Automatic voltage regulation can fix minor power fluctuations without fully kicking in the battery power. That's better for your power consumption and overall battery health. You can stand the UPS up or lay it down, depending on what's best for you.

Outlets: 4 battery and surge protected, 4 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 800VA/450W | Sine Wave: Simulated

Best Compact: APC 600VA UPS BE600M1 Battery Backup

APC UPS, 600VA UPS Battery Backup & Surge Protector, BE600M1
What We Like
  • Low price

  • Small size

  • Seven outlets

What We Don't Like
  • Some plugs not spaced out

If you're working at home, in a dorm, or someplace where space is at a premium, a compact UPS is just what the doctor ordered. Our reviewer Jeremy noted the UPS "switches to battery backup so fast that I never lost my internet connection." That's an important consideration, especially if you're working from home. 

This is designed to sit on a table, which gives you easy access to your plugs. Some of the plugs are pretty close together, while others are spaced apart. You'll need to put some thought into plug placement with this unit. There's also a USB-A port for charging your mobile devices. That's a nice addition, but in 2021, we'd like to see a USB-C port here.

Outlets: 5 battery and surge protected, 2 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 600VA/330W | Sine Wave: Simulated

“This UPS fits easily under a desk, awesome for small offices in an apartment, like mine. The inclusion of a USB port is also helpful for phones and cameras.”Katie Dundas, Tech Writer

APC Back-UPS BE600M1

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best for Gamers: APC Gaming UPS

APC Gaming UPS
What We Like
  • RGB lighting

  • Lots of ports

  • Large battery

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Nothing says "gamers" like a UPS with built-in RGB lighting and 900W of power. The APC Gaming UPS brings exactly that with 10 total outlets. There are five outlets with battery backup and five with just surge protection.

Our reviewer Erica fired up a mid-range gaming PC and LCD monitor and pulled only 14 percent of the capacity, which lasted around 40 minutes, including 30 minutes of gaming. That's more than enough to finish up your game, save, and shut down.

The software for the APC also allows some neat tricks like automatic power shut down of your computer in the event of a power loss. Our reviewer had a storm knock out her power, and she was pleased to find when she woke the next morning that the computer had shut itself down.

If you have a high-end gaming rig, the last thing you want is for a power loss to mess things up. This gives you peace of mind that even if you're away, your PC will be just fine.

Outlets: 6 battery backup, 4 surge-protected | Battery backup power: 1500VA/900W | Sine Wave: Pure

"The customizable RGB lighting on the reactor circle can match any RGB lighting you have on your rig or peripherals, and there’s an additional RGB light on the back of the UPS that provides a glow." Erika Rawes, Product Tester

APC Gaming UPS

Lifewire / Erika Rawes

Final Verdict

All a UPS has to do is give you enough time to save your work and safely shut down your computer, so there’s no trouble later when it’s time to start it back up. The APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA UPS (view at Amazon) offers just what you need. If your needs are even more modest, your budget is tight, or the APC isn’t available, the Tripp Lite AVR750U (view at Amazon) is also a good pick.

FAQ
  • How big of a UPS do you need?

    This answer is largely dependent on what devices your UPS will be supporting and for how long. If you're hooking up a couple of desktop computers or a home entertainment system, you can typically get away with a 750 VA battery backup, which will give you ample time to save your work and shut down your devices properly without incident. However, for commercial setups like server farms, you'll need something quite a bit larger. Something closer to a 2200 VA backup can provide ample insurance to even the most power-hungry tech.

  • Can you replace the battery on your UPS and how long will it last?

    Not all UPS have replaceable or "hot-swappable" batteries. But unless you need to have your UPS remain on battery power for an extended period, having "hot-swappable" batteries isn't entirely necessary, and the lifespan for a typical battery can be anywhere from 3 to 5 years, meaning you shouldn't have to replace your battery very often. However, this isn't standard for every UPS.

  • What will benefit the most from a UPS?

    Just about any appliance can benefit from being connected to a UPS, but items that should absolutely be tethered to a UPS are any sensitive electronics. These can be TVs, home theater receivers, or computer desktops. While a UPS can effectively act as a power strip for any appliance, prioritizing anything that might be damaged by abruptly losing power will let you get the most out of your UPS.  Some other use cases for a UPS include electronics that should not lose power for any reason, like fish tanks, home security systems, cordless phones tied to a landline.

  • What's the difference between pure sine wave or stepped sine wave battery?

    There are two kinds of battery backups that you can buy. Those are pure sine wave and stepped (or modified) sine wave battery backups. A battery stores direct current (DC) which is great for powering things like your car, or your mobile devices. Anything you plug into the wall with a plug runs on alternating current or AC. In order for a battery to power a device designed for alternating current, it needs to provide power in a sine wave. A pure sine wave has a much cleaner output and is suitable for sensitive electronics like newer TVs, servers, computers, audio equipment, and appliances that use an AC motor, like refrigerators or microwaves. Older TVs, water pumps, and motors with brushes can use modified sine wave output because they're not as sensitive. With modified or stepped sine wave output, motors will run hotter, and devices like computers will run less efficiently. However, Pure wine wave batteries tend to cost at least double what a modified sine wave backup will cost. In the case of a UPS, which is typically used for computer equipment, we recommend using a battery backup that produces a pure sine wave whenever possible. However, in the case of a UPS, the type of sine wave output specified only matters in the event of a power loss. Even if you have a UPS with a modified sine wave, when your UPS is running on external power, it will output the pure sine wave of the power grid. If you lose power very infrequently, and you're on a budget, you can probably get away with a modified sine wave, but we recommend shutting down your computer as quickly as possible in the event of a power loss.

APC 600VA UPS BE600M1

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

What to Look For in an Uninterrupted Power Supply 

Compatibility

When buying a UPS, the most important factor to consider is its compatibility with the power supply. Before hooking anything up, check what your devices require and make sure there’s a match.

On-Battery Runtime

Generally, you don’t need a UPS to last too long but it should be sufficient to start a standby power source or properly shut down the protected equipment. Some run for just a few minutes, while others will provide power all night long. Depending on your needs, make sure the on-battery runtime is ample.

"A good run time for (a UPS) is relative to the load (Watts) of devices powered by UPS. You want enough time to be able to safely shut off your systems or enough time to replace a power cable. You can also use external batteries for added runtime." — Aaron Johnson, senior product manager at ATEN

Device Support

How many devices will you need to connect to your UPS? Some can accommodate as many as 12 devices, while others top out at just two. Some also provide USB ports, but not all. 

APC Back-UPS Pro 1500VA

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Portability

Some UPS devices are made for home or business use, while others are built for travel and the outdoors. If you’ll need to take your device with you, you’ll want something with a more portable design that can fit in a handbag easily. You might even want a solar charging port so that you aren’t entirely dependent on electricity. 

"Remote monitoring gives the homeowner the ability to remotely monitor the status of the UPS, know if it is charging (power is on and the UPS is available to protect) or if there is a power disruption and the UPS is providing backup power. It can also provide notifications of state (discharging or charging) and time left of protection, real-time power consumption, voltage-current draw all via email or SMS." — Sean Dion, owner of Mr. Electric

About Our Trusted Experts 

Katie Dundas is a freelance journalist and tech writer who has written for Lifewire since 2019. She has thoroughly researched all products reviewed here.

Jeremy Laukkonen is a tech writer and the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. He specializes in consumer technology, including uninterrupted power supplies.

Erika Rawes is a tech reviewer who's been writing for Lifewire since 2019. She is a consumer tech expert and tested the APC Gaming UPS on this list.

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's playing with the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. When not working, he's a cyclist, geocacher, and spends as much time outside as he can.

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