Network Switch UPS: Fixing a Nagging Frustration

Do you live in an area that has power outages more often than you’d like? I do. Our power lines are above ground and we have lots of trees in the neighborhood. Anytime there is a powerful storm you can bet the power will be out for at least a little while. As part of my outage protection plan for my smart home, I invested in a generator and in creating automations that let me know when the power is out.

I have a network switch in my tight-fit structured wiring panel that connects all the rooms in the house. When it’s down, we temporarily lose Internet services across the house, despite my critical computing devices being connected to a UPS. I’ve tried a few different network switch UPS solutions over the years, but they’ve all been less than optimal. Now I believe I’ve found the perfect network switch UPS solution. Read on to find out what it is and why it works wonderfully.

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Previous tries at finding a home network switch UPS

It seems like finding a home network switch UPS should be easy. Network switches don’t use much power, so you don’t need a hefty UPS to get a long run time when the power is out. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the space that encloses my switch. It is less than 3.5″ deep, and most traditional UPS units don’t fit. Also, most UPS units are overkill for the 16-port GS316 Netgear unmanaged gigabit switch I have connecting all the rooms in my house inside my structured wiring closet. Over the years I’ve tried the following solutions with varying levels of success:

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Preview Product Price
Tripp Lite 550VA Audio/Video Backup Power Block UPS - Exclusive UPS Protection for Structured Wiring Enclosure (AV550SC) Tripp Lite 550VA Audio/Video Backup Power Block UPS - Exclusive UPS Protection for Structured Wiring... $241.03
CyberPower CP350SLG Standby UPS System, 350VA/255W, 6 Outlets, Compact CyberPower CP350SLG Standby UPS System, 350VA/255W, 6 Outlets, Compact

The Tripp Lite UPS looks like a winner on the surface. It is compact and has more than enough power and capacity for my needs. It easily fits inside my structured wiring closet. The problem is that it is really expensive. I bought a used one for much less and it worked okay for a few years. The main problem I had was that it needed to be manually reset when we had power surges or when the battery was fully depleted. I had to manually reset this UPS to get network connectivity throughout the house when power was restored.

Eventually, the Tripp Lite battery and unit died. I wanted a replacement that was easier to regularly find at an affordable price. I’d had good success with CyberPower units and this one was just small enough. Although less expensive, it had the same problem as the Tripp Lite unit: It needed to be reset after power surges.

Home network switch UPS units I considered

Another problem with both of my previous units is that the lead-acid batteries are only designed to last a few years. I’m a fan of lithium-ion batteries. These are the type of batteries that we use in our mobile electronics like mobile phones and laptops. In general, they have less capacity than their lead-acid counterparts. I didn’t find too many lithium-ion UPS units. Most were either too big or too expensive. As I mentioned in my wish list article, I did find the following lithium-ion UPS that seemed to fit the bill:

Again, more expensive than I wanted to buy, but used ones can be found for less.

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My final home nework switch UPS selection

The epiphany I had was that I was needlessly limiting myself to lithium-ion UPS units that had A/C inputs. My network switch is powered by a 12 volt/1 amp DC barrel connection. All I need is a lithium-ion UPS or power pack that outputs a 12V DC connection. I saw a couple of relatively affordable options:

Both of these units fit the bill. They have a 12V out barrel connection that can power my switch. I went with the Shanqui unit because it was the least expensive at the time of purchase. I’m happy to report it works great. I’ve gone through a few power outages and surges and it keeps on ticking. No need to reset it. I feel confident it will last a lot longer than my previous units.

If you are going to go a similar route I must caution you about some lithium-ion power packs. Many of them do not supply power while charging. Make sure you verify that the unit you’re interested in can both power your switch and receive a charge at the same time. Also, make sure you match the voltage and amp output capabilities of the UPS with your network switch or other networking device.

Final thoughts

This solution has worked great for me, and if you’re interested in something similar, I hope it works great for you. I wish there were consumer switches with backup batteries built-in, but I didn’t find any. This will work for now. And it could work for other items (e.g. modem and router) that you keep in your structured wiring enclosure.

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Do you have a battery backup for devices in your structured wiring enclosure? What do you use? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

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Network Switch UPS: Fixing a Nagging Frustration

by HomeTechHacker time to read: 4 min