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Difference Between UPS and Inverter

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Don't know how a UPS functions and performs differently from an inverter? Here we've the answer to it.

How is a UPS different from an inverter?

There are quite a healthy number of factors that keep a UPS and an inverter apart from being similar. At first, both feature an entirely different working principle. Moving forward, both the devices differ in the duration of backup provided. Where a UPS suits shorter sessions, an inverter perfectly fits the need of extensive power backup durations. Apart from these, other factors such as cost, connectivity, switch over duration and more sets both the devices fairly apart.

What is a UPS?

Abbreviating to uninterruptible power supply (or source), a UPS is an electrical appliance that provides users with a power backup.

ups power supply
UPS power supply

It features a battery that is built within, and it supplies during uneven power outage situations. A UPS generally comprises a rectifier. The rectifier is responsible for converting the AC power into DC and further charging the built-in battery. 

Functioning as a flywheel storage system, a UPS is capable of carrying quick and immediate switchovers. Mostly, UPS has three different types, Offline, Online and Line Interruptive.

What is an Inverter?

Used for the same power backup reasons, an inverter is a device that transforms the direct current into the alternating one.

Inverter power supply
Inverter power supply

The conversion is generally acquired by storing voltage in the dc source (battery) then converting it into an alternating voltage. In other words, it is a device that uses the mechanism of transforming a unidirectional current into a bidirectional one and provide the user with stored power.

Inverters also bear three forms when we talk about the types, namely Sine Wave, Square Wave, and Quasi Wave. An inverter is generally used to deliver power backups for prolonged duration. Aided with a nature that depends on the source voltage, an inverter is less protective during unusual voltage fluctuations. However, the good thing is, it drives less amount of energy.

Difference Between a UPS and an Inverter

Working Principle

A UPS at the very initial stage converts the AC power to DC. The conversion is done to charge the battery inside. Once done, the DC power gets converted to AC again, and then it gets supplied to the available load.

On the other hand, the inverter shortens the entire process and converts the DC power(which is already stored in the battery) to AC power and distributes it between the connected devices.

Backup Duration

An inverter can help users with an extensive period of power backup. On the contrary, a UPS is built in a manner to generally aid power backups for a comparatively shorter duration.

Available Types

There are three types of UPS available, namely Offline UPS, Online UPS, and Line-Interactive UPS. An inverter also has three different forms but with different functionality altogether, Square Wave inverter, Sine Wave inverter, and Quasi Wave inverter.


With a UPS, you’ll have a built-in battery, while an inverter features a battery that is externally connected.


A UPS is connected directly to the desired appliances. At the same time, an inverter requires a connection with an external battery before getting connected to the circuit of any appliance.

Switch Over Duration

Under a power cut situation, a UPS starts delivering its backup right away. While when we talk about the inverter, the switch over duration is a bit delayed.

Nature of the Circuit

The nature of the circuit in a UPS rests more on the complicated end, while the same for an inverter is comparatively straightforward.

Energy Consumption

Usually, a UPS consumes more energy. The scenes are entirely different in the inverter, though. The built makes an inverter consume considerably less energy.

Battery Maintenance

As already mentioned, UPS features an in-built battery. For that very reason, users don’t usually need to worry about carrying maintenance-related activities. 

But considering the external nature, you as a user will need to work a bit to keep the battery connected to your inverter in a perfectly working condition. The maintenance tasks generally include filling distilled water.

Voltage Alterations

Although similar to a certain level, UPS comes out top in smoothly bearing voltage fluctuations, mainly because of the fact that the input in a UPS is independent of what kind of output supply you’re using.

Inverters usually offer less to no protection against any abnormal voltage alterations.


In General, a UPS costs more than an inverter. However, with so many companies making it to the scene, the gap sometimes narrows to a negligible level.

Comparison Chart: UPS Vs Inverter

Working PrincipleConverts AC to DC (for the built in battery), and then from battery to the sourceConverts DC power(already stored) to AC and then distributed over the gadgets
Backup DurationLessMore
Available TypesOffline, Online, Line-InterruptiveSine Wave, Square Wave, Quasi Wave
ConnectivityConnected directly to the desired devicesConnected to an external battery and then to the circuit of the appliances
Switch Over DurationLessMore
Nature of CircuitComplexSimple
Energy ConsumptionMoreLess
Battery MaintenanceNot NeededEssential
Voltage AlterationsMore ProtectiveLess Protective
CostExpensiveComparatively Cheaper

Similarities: How is a UPS similar to an Inverter

Although sitting quite a bit apart from each other in various departments (as mentioned above), there still exists a thing that brings a UPS and an inverter under the same roof. The purpose, yes you read that right, both the devices hold similar overall utility. No matter it be for a long or short duration, we as users tend to shift our attention towards a UPS or an inverter when we need a power backup solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

🧐 Do I need a UPS or inverter?

The question has been up for a debate many times. Now the answer is entirely subjective. Depending on what your usages are like, opting for one of the devices accordingly will be the most appropriate option. However, for that very thing, the best approach is learning about the factors that set a UPS apart from an inverter. 

🔀 Can we use UPS as an inverter?

If you're generally looking for a power backup solution with less to no special requirements, in that case, you can use UPS or an inverter. However, if you're after a solution that can help you store power for longer, going for an inverter is the only way out.

💸 Does UPS increase electricity bills?

Of course, it does. Both UPS and inverter are pieces of equipment that drive energy from the primary system. With that being said, the fact that both will add up to your final electricity bill is evident.  


With that, we wrap up this edition of detailed comparison. In this article, we've looked at each and every element that acts as a distinguishable factor between a UPS and an inverter. Further, we've also traced the territory where both the devices sit similarly. So if you're someone who had been in trouble setting both the devices apart, certainly the things won't be an issue after you walk through the entire article.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
All Posts Written By Nicolas Seignette

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