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Buy a Battery Backup…and please don’t void the $50,000 insurance policy!

A month ago, we pleaded with all DVR owners to purchase an uninterruptible power supply. We consider this so important, that we’re reminding you again—please, if you have a TiVo DVR, purchase a UPS! A UPS, unlike a standard surge protector or line conditioner, will protect your TiVo from power fluctuations, surges and power drops. Because it has a battery to provide power, a UPS is able to increase power when it drops, and can step down power when there is a surge.


UPSs nearly always come with some amount of ‘insurance’ from the manufacturer, which promises that if any unit connected to the UPS is damaged from a power event (surge, brownout, etc.), the company will reimburse you for your losses. After talking with several manufacturers, we have learned a bit about how these insurance policies work.

Obviously, the purpose of a UPS is to avoid trouble down the road. However, if you do have problems, you’ll want to be sure that the UPS manufacturer’s insurance policy will cover your losses. To do so, you must install the UPS properly, and comply with the manufacturer’s requirements.

The insurance policy on UPS devices is likely to require you to jump through various hoops. For example, APC has a number of conditions that must be met if you expect to make a claim, including.

1. REGISTER YOUR PRODUCT ON TIME! You must register the product by returning to APC the warranty card provided with the product within 10 days of purchase. All information must be filled in, and you should retain a copy for your records. The warranty card must clearly identify the types of electronic equipment that will be plugged into the APC product for which protection under this policy is claimed. All connected equipment must be UL or CSA approved.

2. DO NOT USE A UPS WITH AN EXTENSION CORD, SURGE PROTECTOR OR OTHER DEVICE! The APC product must be plugged into properly wired and grounded outlets; no extension cords, adapters, other ground wires, or electrical connections may be used, with the sole exception of other standard APC 120 volt products. The installation must not include power protection products made by any manufacturer other than APC. The installation must comply with all applicable electrical and safety codes set forth pursuant to the National Electrical Code (NEC).

3. SUBMIT YOUR CLAIM QUICKLY! Any claim under the Equipment Protection Policy must be made within 10 days of the date of alleged damage to the connected equipment.

I suspect that the number of failures attributable to a faulty UPS is fairly small. However small, though, it seems pretty clear that the number of valid claims has got to be miniscule. How many UPS purchasers read the fine print sufficiently enough to register the product? And of those who have actually registered, how many fail to submit the claim on time? It’s gotta be a small number.

I don’t mean to suggest that UPSs fail frequently; to the contrary, we have many customers whose problems (TiVo-related problems, that is) disappeared the day they purchased a UPS. Inexpensive investment…well worth it.

7 replies on “Buy a Battery Backup…and please don’t void the $50,000 insurance policy!”

I have UPSs all over my house. On my computer certainly, but also on my Tivo, and on the VCRs and DVD recorders I had before it. I even have a UPS on the alarm clock in my bedroom.
Next, just for extra protection, I do want to get a whole-house surge suppressor installed by a professional electrician.
But the good thing about a UPS is that in most cases if there’s a short power outage, your Tivo can continue recording. Also, power surges and missed programs aren’t the only problems that are prevented by UPSs: If a hard disk is in the middle of a read/write operation when a power dropout occurs, the disk can definitely be damaged. I’ve had it happen with a computer in the past, and don’t forget that Tivo’s are continually writing to their hard drive(s).

We recommend at least a 350W (350vA) if you have only a TiVo connected to the UPS. If you are planning to connect additional equipment, you will want to consider larger UPS units (500vA, 750vA, etc.).


I would suggest buying or making adaptors to convert the amp’s power connector to an F connector (most already are a coax connector) and use RG59 or RG6 coax cable from your amp to the ups location in your house (close to your Tivo and the UPS) then use a adaptor between the coax and the amps power pack. Plug the power pack into the ups and your all set!

Try for connectors and adaptors

The surge protection for my tivo is why I put a UPS on it in the first place but shortly after I hooked everything up I realized an added benifit. When the power goes out my TiVo is still recording my favorite shows.

One other thing about the connected-equipment warranty on just about any UPS or power conditioner: these warranties are almost worthless for the most common TiVo problems.

The reason for this is that the manufacturers pretty much all require that you get equipment diagnosed by an authorized repair facility, and the warranties don’t pay for diagnosis fees. For example, when my TiVo was recently fried by a power outage despite being hooked to a line conditioner (not a UPS, a power conditioner), I was told I would have to
a. send the power conditioner to the manufacturer to verify that they were at fault,
b. send my TiVo to get diagnosed

The shipping on each unit runs $15-20, and the diagnosis fee for a TiVo runs around $99.

Or, I can just order a new disk for $119 and install it. Guess which option I chose?

In most cases, the problem with a TiVo is going to be a power supply or disk. Disk failures are particularly easy to diagnose. In those cases, the warranty on a UPS or power conditioner won’t do you a speck of good.

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