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Keeping Your VoIP Phone Working When The Power Goes Out

Bill in Raleigh, North Carolina asked us about keeping VOIP phones working during a power outage

Office phone

Bill asked: “Switched our office to VOIP. Got 5 extensions. It’s not like the old days, so when the power goes out, the phones go out. Are there solutions out there that make sense for power supply to the individual phones? And also the base unit, the router and the modem to keep you up and running with VOIP?”



Bill, what you’re looking for are UPS units, not the shipping people but Uninterruptible Power Supply units.

Luckily, phones and basic network equipment are not very power hungry, so even basic ones should keep you running for a while.

Prices vary because units are rated for different power, and they’ll typically say something like “10 minutes at full power” or even “2 minutes at full power”.

Full power is something closer to a computer, your equipment should be able to run far longer on them.

Unfortunately, these things are just big batteries so eventually they do go bad and will need to be replaced, but they should keep you going if your office loses power for a short time.

If it is not short periods that you’re worried about, then you’d probably have to look at something like a generator, but that’s probably overkill unless you lose power for days at a time. If you’re thinking of maybe 15 minutes or an hour, then look into UPS units.

In many cases, VOIP phones can be powered using something called POE

In many cases, VOIP phones can be powered using something called POE (Power over Ethernet). This is where your switch sends power to the phones using the same Ethernet cable used to carry the data. The phone itself is no longer plugged in.

The magic sauce here is that as long as you have a battery backup on the switch, it won’t lose power and it will in turn keep the phones running. Remember that you’ll need to also have a battery backup on whatever devices bring your phone service in, whether that’s a standard cable modem or a dedicated PRI circuit. (PRI is old school telephone speak for Primary Rate Interface, which is the standard for business telephone service.)

You will need a new switch, if the one you have now doesn’t support POE. Keep in mind that all POE isn’t created equal. You need enough power per port to run the phones and enough total power in the switch to run the aggregate of all the ports.

Good luck! I hope some of this helps you.

Written by Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline

Dave Graveline is the founder, Host & Executive Producer of "Into Tomorrow" in addition to being President of the Advanced Media Network".

Dave is also a trusted and familiar voice on many national commercials & narrations in addition to being an authority in consumer tech since 1994. He is also a former Police Officer and an FBI Certified Instructor.

Dave thrives on audience participation!

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