Your UPS deserves regular checkups and, if necessary, a complete redesign. Here’s what to consider before deciding.
- Every UPS should be regularly tested and repaired or replaced/upgraded when necessary
- Professional inspection can reveal existing UPS problems or trouble waiting to happen
- Upgrading can help businesses keep up with new UPS innovations
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is one of the best tools a business can have in its arsenal. It must always be preserved, especially if you’re running a data center. How many other “employees” work super-hard on short notice to protect you from data loss, handle power surges, and keep operations online in a crisis?
Our earlier blog explained five important installation tips for every UPS, including choosing the right model and protecting it from unauthorized access. We also covered how to extend UPS battery life by considering factors such as the surrounding temperatures and using a battery monitoring device to keep track of performance metrics.
A UPS can be uniquely designed, but every system has something in common: they aren’t invincible to wear and tear, nor are they automatically suited to operational growth. It will eventually be time to reassess or redesign your existing system, so here’s a guide to troubleshooting and understanding the different setups!
Red flags which may signal a redesign
Recognizing any of the following UPS issues can cause managers and finance departments to react two ways: “We can’t don’t have the time to fix that,” or “We can’t don’t have the money to fix that.” A failing or improperly designed UPS can cost a business between $100,000 and $540,000 per hour in downtime, which is way more than regular maintenance or a redesign!
Here are some common signs the power pros look for when deciding if your UPS needs rescued or rebuilt:
- Broken capacitors|
Capacitors must be kept moist with electrolytes. Keeping your data center cool will go a long way toward preventing them from drying out and help avoid wider equipment damage.
- Metal oxide varistor (MOV) overload
One of the important tasks a UPS is designed for is absorbing significant increases in voltage. The MOVs are sponges. These need to be assessed regularly, especially if your UPS system has soaked up a big jolt in the past.
- Struggling batteries
Impedance and conductance tests look for early signs of battery weakness and should be carried out at least once a year. Depending on your power framework, they can take up to a few hours, but it’s time well spent to see if a battery is on its last legs.
- Overworked cooling fans and filters
A struggling fan or stuffy filter usually gives itself away by being visually grimy and audibly cranky. Maintenance can be as minimal and affordable as regular dusting and replacement of blocked filters. Keeping your site’s air filtration system in good health will reduce the burden on UPS filters and fans.
Regular maintenance and repair are great, but sometimes a UPS upgrade is driven by improvements in available technology rather than smoke wafting from the system.
Upgrading to a trendier UPS
An ongoing trend in the UPS world is remote monitoring. This is a feature of newer systems where they’re automatically examined by software and/or remote engineers, with data made accessible online for end users or sent via text or email alerts.
Another reason for a redesign is that technology is always getting both more compact and more affordable. A custom-built UPS today costs less than before and can be smaller, faster, and more powerful. The old lead batteries, once common in UPS systems, can be replaced by mechanical energy flywheel technology, which uses accelerated rotors to create a more efficient and environmentally friendly UPS.
It’s also an increasingly widespread practice for redundancies to be made part of UPS designs so if one component fails, others kick in to compensate. Whatever UPS design you settle on, it will be one of three types:
This is the least expensive of the three options, with battery-provided standby power via direct AC. As the name suggests, these designs wait in the wings until utility power veers above or below acceptable voltage. This emergency power is only there for a short time, which should be sufficient for staff to safely shut down systems.
A line-interactive UPS will protect your equipment during blackouts and brownouts and can decrease or increase voltage automatically via transformers to send a safe amount of AC power to devices. Like standbys, line-interactives have a transfer time of a few milliseconds between line power and battery power.
Online are the more expensive designs, supplying clean, unbroken power converted from AC to DC, then back to AC. They’re best suited for extremely sensitive electronic equipment that can’t tolerate switchover times of even a few milliseconds. This type of UPS system is always running (unlike the standby design that only turns on when needed), which means zero transfer time during a power event.
Even when you design the perfect UPS system for your current needs (no pun intended), it’s best to view it as a work in progress. No UPS design should be considered final.
Why your UPS needs to see the future
Businesses grow, and so do their power demands. A smart move is installing a UPS system with a higher wattage capacity than you currently need. This provides a contingency against greater power requirements in the future. Alternatively, you could add multiple smaller systems that can work together to handle bigger loads.
Whichever you choose, it’s best to keep your UPS system in mind every time your business may be ready to scale up. Assessing the current system’s suitability for tomorrow’s needs could mean the difference between growing your reputation or going offline.
Contact the UES power pros for UPS solutions
Our team brings over 20 years of electrical experience designing and installing UPS systems for many industries across South Florida. We offer top-quality systems ranging from 20KVA to 1500KVA that can be tailored for your company’s needs in the present and won’t let you down as your operations expand in the future.
Whether it’s us designing the system or our team working collaboratively with your engineers, we’ll take the time to understand your operation and deliver a cost-effective UPS you can rely on. Contact us for assistance, and we’ll be there in a flash!