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When power goes out, who do you call?

Teng Seen Khoo, VP of sales for Eaton’s electrical business in East Asia | Dec. 11, 2014
Power management company, Eaton explains how businesses can select the right UPS for their facilities and keep their backup systems in tiptop condition.

The importance of a stable uninterrupted power system (UPS) is one that should never be downplayed - with a misguided spark, even the shortest of power outages could spell big trouble for the most established structures.

As the industry turns its attention to power outage cases, the need for regular UPS maintenance regimes and apt data center solutions is being amplified. What this illustrates is that not only can companies not afford to leave their IT assets unprotected from power issues, but all corporations - big or small - are equally susceptible to these problems.

As we continue to learn from experience, it is apparent that power sags, surges and outages are not only unavoidable but also more than capable of damaging valuable IT equipment and bringing productivity to a halt. And while back-ups are a given, it is imperative to have a good understanding of the systems involved, and that a robust power protection solution is planned and deployed.

Which UPS is right for the job?

Think of the UPS as the central component of any well-designed power protection architecture -put simply a UPS is a device that provides backup power when utility power fails, either long enough for critical equipment to shut down gracefully so that no data is lost, or long enough to keep required loads operational until a generator comes online.

The majority of data centers today are using static UPS systems. They typically consist of banks of lead-acid batteries that store energy to provide line conditioning and backup to network equipment during power disturbances. If the disturbance progresses to an outage, diesel-fueled power generators are switched on. Static UPS systems provide load isolation, are relatively straightforward to maintain, and can give a range of ride-through times at the loss of utility power with different battery string configuration/sizes.

Another type of UPS is the rotary UPS, which uses a motor/generator to create output. Rotary UPSs are capable of providing high fault-clearing capabilities (peak/maximum current to blow a fuse) without going to bypass. This means that the unit is able to provide 'short circuit current' to blow a fuse or trip a protection switch downstream instead of 'protecting itself' as static UPSs do.

In terms of maintainability, rotary UPSs require periodic downtime for mechanical maintenance, while static UPSs may not if batteries can be hot-swapped. With so much to consider, mission-critical facilities would thus have to select the most ideal UPS, and also learn to tweak the systems to fit their usage and needs.

Getting a health check

While choosing the right UPS is crucial for any application, a wellness check for the power system is equally vital. A well-managed power system is the foundation of any successful enterprise, delivering reliability, efficiency and safety. But as an organization grows, demands on the power system increase, necessitating equipment additions or replacements.


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