Companies across Africa would do well to look at the line-interactive uninterruptible power supply (UPS) when on the lookout for a power protection solution to safeguard homes and businesses from the hardware damage and data loss associated with lightning strikes and power outages, writes Carl Kleynhans, regional director: Africa, Critical Power and Cooling Services division of Schneider Electric.

The line interactive UPS has an improved design that is commonly used in both homes and businesses. One of the major advantages to this type of UPS is Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR), a device that boosts and trims the power without using the battery. AVR protects a computer from damage and loss of data by monitoring incoming electricity, smoothing out high and low voltage conditions and ensuring delivery of only safe, "clean" electricity.
A wide range of errant line voltage levels such as brownouts, surges, or spikes are converted by AVR into safe electricity for your computer. In addition, the line interactive UPS  is also available in sizes up to around 3 000 VA and offers a number of benefits over other UPS topologies, including size, durability and low cost.
In this type of unit, the separate battery charger, inverter and source selection switch have all been replaced by a combination inverter/converter, which charges the battery and converts its energy to AC power for the output as required. When the line power is operating, the inverter/converter charges the battery. When the power fails, it operates in reverse.
The main advantage of this design is that the unit is always connected to the output, powering the equipment. This design allows for faster response to a power failure than a standby UPS, filtering out noise and spikes as well as regulating the power output, providing additional power during brownouts and curtailing output during surges.
Additional benefits of the line interactive UPS include lower electricity consumption, meaning that the UPS is less costly to operate and is more efficient due to using less power. This UPS is also theoretically more reliable due to a lower component count and lower operating temperatures which produces less heat.