Chromebook UPS & Power/Surge Protection Review Shootout!

One of the most critical appliances to have in a computer setup of any kind is some manner of surge protection, and Chromebooks are no exception. While most people are familiar with surge protectors and UPS devices, I’m constantly surprised by how many people continually put their new computer investment at risk by neglecting to have any kind of power protection in their setup. Again, most of these people are aware of the need for such power protection, but neglect it either out of carelessness or to save money (even though, obviously, it can cost you WAY more in the end to not have any power protection– ask me).

My family once lost not only a recent investment in a $2200+ desktop computer, monitor, and printer, but a brand new TV in the same blink of an eye during the first minute or so of a thunderstorm. Apparently, something caused the voltage to spike suddenly and both electronics were unable to handle it. It does happen.

Whatever! Just take me straight to the reviews!

How do I Choose a UPS/Surge Protector?

Basic protection for a Chromebook, laptop, desktop or any computer setup should definitely include a well-built surge protector. No, I’m not talking about those cheap China-made “power strips” you find at the stores that make ridiculous claims about $500,000 in compensation if the device fails to protect your electronics (Talk to anyone who’s tried to actually get that money after a lightning storm fried everything in their computer room, and you’ll see why I bash them).

If you want to protect your investment in, say, a brand new Samsung 3G Chromebook (review), you’ll want to skip the power strip aisle at Walmart/Target and look for a real surge protector, from a respected power protection manufacturer.  As you’re probably aware, different surge protectors offers many levels of protection, but the numbers can be cryptic. For instance, many people confuse the VA rating advertised on surge protectors and UPS devices with watts, which is incorrect. Both specifications, watts and volts-amperes (VA) are connected, but a full explanation is highly technical a not worth going into here. For the purposes of our review, we’ve focused on watts, which are generally easier to understand.

The “big three” best companies for power protection for some time have been APC, CyberPower, and Tripp-Lite. These companies all offer both surge protectors and even better devices called Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) that integrate the strongest surge protection but also will store electricity in a large battery so that you can continue to use your computer if power is lost. In a way, it’s like having a backup generator for your Chromebook, so if the voltage suddenly drops in your house for any reason, even for a millisecond, you’ll be able to continue using your Chromebook without relying on the battery, and in an extended outage you’ll have, at least, a chance to save your open work and shut down properly. Even if the power never goes out in your neighborhood (unlikely), constant voltage fluctuations in the noisy, unfiltered power that comes through the walls (fine for lamps and toasters — bad for sensitive, expensive electronics) can shorten the life of your Chromebook battery by putting it under continual stress (on, off, on, off) without you even knowing it.

I can speak from personal experience here — The first time a UPS kicks in and allows you to save/backup your work while everything else in the house goes dark, you’ll be really glad you made the investment.

Which Surge Protector Do I Need to Protect my Chromebook or Laptop?

Chromebooks are optimized to have low power demands, and do not require as much power as many other devices. Therefore, you will not need to invest in the higher-priced UPS devices unless you are also running several other peripherals with your Chromebook such as an external monitor, printer, external drives, and so on. Getting a UPS that’s better than what you need won’t hurt, of course, and allows you to expand your computer experience in the future without worrying about upgrading to a UPS with a higher capacity.

In this shootout, I’ll compare three of the bestselling UPS/surge protectors for Chromebooks:

  • APC Back-UPS Pro, 420 Watts / 700 VA UPS
  • CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Intelligent LCD Green UPS
  • Tripp Lite INTERNET750U Internet Office 750VA Compact UPS

Though we’re usually unaware of it, the voltage level in our houses fluctuate often. Sudden dips or spikes in voltage can cause unexplained computer shutdowns and shorten the life of electronics. Some of the devices being reviewed have AVR (Automatic Voltage Regulation) technology, which means that when they detect a drop or surge in electricity, they will raise or lower it to the normal level, keeping your Chromebook running smoothly and extending the long life of your battery.

APC Back-UPS Pro (420W/720VA)

Maximum Wattage: 420 Watts
Number of Outlets: 6 (3 with battery backup, AVR & surge protection, 3 with surge protection only)
Ethernet/Internet Cable protection: Yes

Automatic Voltage Regulation: Yes

Estimated running time for a Chromebook: 30-60 minutes.

Estimated running time for a Desktop PC: 15-25 minutes.

APC has been one of the top UPS/surge protector manufacturers for computers for many years now. Their power protection products are of a high build quality and last for years (I’ve had two UPS devices from APC in my lifetime, and both of them performed very well for 5+ years before needing a battery replacement. APC has no doubt saved my electronics numerous times over the years (although I’ve recently switched to a CyberPower UPS due to the lower purchase price).

The Back-UPS Pro we recommend for a Chromebook user is the APC Back-UPS Pro 420W/700VA. It has Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR), which, in short, can potentially prolong the life of your electronics. It comes with a basic, understated LCD display that allows you to find out various information such as voltage, wattage, and so on without having to use software or connect the UPS to your Chromebook with a USB cable to do so. The APC, like the CyberPower below, also has power-saving technology that can drastically lower power consumption of devices that are plugged in but not currently being used. You won’t have to worry about bad customer service with APC — they’ve been in this business for years, and their products, like the APC Back-UPS Pro, reflect that experience.

Overall: All in all, the APC Back-UPS provides solid power protection and AVR that can not only protect you from voltage surges, but extend the life of your Chromebook’s battery.

Rating: (4.5)

Lowest Price: Lowest Price for APC Back-UPS Pro (420 Watts / 700 VA)

 

CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Intelligent LCD Green UPS

Maximum Wattage: 600 Watts
Number of Outlets: 9 (5 with battery backup, AVR & surge protection, 4 with AVR & surge protection only)
Ethernet/Internet Cable protection: Yes

Automatic Voltage Regulation: Yes

Estimated running time for a Chromebook: 30-60 minutes.

Estimated running time for a Desktop PC: 15-25 minutes.

CyberPower is one of the best-known companies for power protection when it comes to the computer world. In general, their UPS and surge protectors are more affordably priced than APC, and the CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD is no exception. It has room for 600 watts of power — far more than a Chromebook needs — so why did we choose this model in particular? Well, for one thing, the models with lower capacity don’t cost significantly less. Thus, it would make no sense to opt for a UPS that looks and feels exactly the same but has less wattage and protection when the price difference between it and this one is so marginal (only $5-7 at the time of this writing). In addition, as you can see from the name CP1000AVRLCD, it has Automatic Voltage Regulation, which provides cleaner, more stable power to your electronics, potentially extending their life.

But, what we like most about the CyberPower UPS, is its extremely useful LCD display. By pressing the button on the front, you can cycle through multiple screens of information about the UPS, how much power your computer is using, its current charge level and projected running time if the power goes out, and more. The blue LCD automatically shuts off when you’re not using it, so it won’t light up your room at night (particularly important if your computer is in your bedroom). Users will also appreciate the power-saving features (the “Green” in the product name) that can lower your power bills by drastically reducing the energy consumption of electronics that are plugged in, but not being used. Finally, CyberPower has a very high reputation for both quality in its UPS units and great customer service. All things considered, we feel confident in giving the CP1000AVRLCD our highest “Chromebook” rating: 5 stars.

Overall: With 3 more outlets than the APC, a handy LCD display full of information at your fingertips, and a reptuation for great quality and customer service, buying the CyberPower is a no-brainer.

Rating: (5.0)

Lowest Price: Lowest Price for CyberPower CP1000AVRLCD Intelligent UPS

 

Tripp Lite INTERNET750U Compact UPS


Maximum Wattage: 420 Watts
Number of Outlets: 12 (6 with battery backup & surge protection, 6 with surge protection only)
Ethernet/Internet Cable protection: Yes

Automatic Voltage Regulation: No

Estimated running time for a Chromebook: 20-40 minutes.

Estimated running time for a Desktop PC: 10-15 minutes.

The Tripp-Lite 750U is a bit less expensive than the other UPSs in this review, and has the most outlets of all three UPS. It has a small footprint, and a no-frills design overall, with no LCD display or other bells and whistles. A definite minus is that this model doesn’t come with Automatic Voltage Regulation (Note: Tripp-Lite offers this model that does have AVR for only a few bucks more) In addition, Tripp-Lite is generally not considered as great of a power protection company as CyberPower and APC by computer afficionados, but for the average non-power user it should provide adequate protection at a somewhat lower price.

Overall: For a lot of protected outlets and a lot of peace of mind for a little less money than the others, the Tripp-Lite 750U offers adequate protection with room to expand.

Rating: (3.5)

Lowest Price: Lowest Price for Tripp-Lite 750U Compact UPS

 

Our recommendation?

Out of the three models in our Chromebook UPS shootout, we recommend the Cyberpower UPS overall, based on all factors including reliability, build quality, company reputation, compactness, its AVR technology, LCD screen, power-saving and battery life/surge protection capability.

Of course, the best indicator in any review shootout is always “which UPS do you use?” Well, this is the Cyberpower UPS I personally use for my workstation, which includes a high power desktop, two monitors, 40 watt speakers, and a number of external hard drives and other computer peripherals. For a Chromebook, it would likely be overkill thanks to the Chromebook’s low power demands and its non-reliance on peripherals. However, if you have another computer or other valuable electronics besides your Chromebook that you want to have the ultimate peace of mind for, I strongly recommend the Cyberpower CP1500AVRLCD. It can handle just about any load you throw at it (it has a capacity of 900 watts — most people will never come near that amount), provides a good amount of runtime in the event of a power failure, allows me to save my work/e-mails and documents when the power goes out, and adjusts for spikes and dips in voltage which happen frequently where I live.

Thanks for reading. Check here for more reviews of Chromebook accessories.

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About Jake T.

Blogger. Chromebook Reviewer. Chrome-magnum. Then I say something.