Q: I read your column about getting started with home automation, and I have a question about my router.
Several years ago I installed a full-house standby emergency generator to keep my house powered during the many power outages that I experience in my neighborhood.
The generator works fine, but when I have the slightest blip in my power, even if it is so short it doesn't bring on the generator, my router goes offline. Then I have to unplug it and wait a minute or so before plugging it in again.
The router is several years old, but it still works fine for the wireless network in my house. I would love to make my house more automated, but I fear that when I am away my router will go offline and none of the equipment on my network will be operating. Is there an easy way around this problem?
A: It's very easy to get around this problem. All you need is a UPS (uninterruptable power supply). A UPS is essentially a surge protector or power conditioner with battery backup.
Depending on the type or model you buy, it will resemble a largish surge protector or a full-size audio component like a receiver.
You plug it into the wall and multiple outlets are available, some with battery backup and some without. If the power from the wall is ever interrupted, the backed-up outlets will be powered by the battery and will not lose power.
Because the availability of outlets with backup is limited, you should be smart about what equipment you use with them.
For example, I have a battery backup power conditioner that I use for my projection TV. Not that I'm worried about my show going off; it's so the hard drive on my DVR won't stop spinning and the cooling fans for the TV will stay on. Stopping power to a running hard drive can corrupt the data, and having the fans shut off prematurely could shorten the life of my television.
For a computer system, things like your router, external hard drive and the computer itself would be good candidates for battery-backup outlets. Peripherals like a printer, scanner or computer speakers could use the regular outlets.
Of course, the standby power is limited by the size of the battery, which is largely a function of how much you are willing to spend. Typically, the more the unit costs, the greater the backup capacity.
Given your standby emergency generator, you won't need much capacity because the generator will kick on in the event of a sustained outage.
You can find a UPS almost anywhere that sells electronics. Tripp Lite (tripplite.com) is a top choice for these units and offers many models for computer and home entertainment applications.
The ECO550UPS would be a good choice for you, with eight outlets, half with battery backup. It sells for $63. Popular online retailer Monoprice (monoprice.com) has a variety from several manufacturers, and APC by Schneider is highly regarded as well.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.