Wondering what factors to consider when selecting an industrial Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)? Most building construction projects start with dignitaries spooning a ceremonial first blade of dirt and end with those same people cutting a giant ribbon. But for the design engineers, facility and building managers engaged in the project, it’s the task that takes place between those two ceremonies which matter the most.
What is Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)?
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is an electrical device that provides emergency power to a load when the input power source or mains power fails. It is commonly used to protect sensitive electronics such as computers, servers, and other critical devices from power outages, voltage fluctuations, and other electrical disturbances that could cause data loss or equipment damage.
A UPS typically includes a battery backup that can provide power to connected devices for a short period, usually from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the capacity of the UPS and the power requirements of the load. In the event of a power outage or other electrical disturbance, the UPS will automatically switch over to battery power, allowing the connected devices to continue operating until the main power source is restored or until the battery is depleted.
UPS systems come in a variety of sizes and types, ranging from small desktop models designed for personal computers to large industrial units that can power entire data centers or critical infrastructure. They can also offer additional features such as surge protection, voltage regulation, and automatic shutdown capabilities to help protect connected devices from damage caused by power fluctuations and other electrical disturbances.
How to Select the Best UPS?
Whether building a new facility or modernizing an old one, there are significant decisions that must be taken during the building and designing process, including whether critical power equipment is required or not.
UPS systems have two major functions- condition incoming utility power and bridge the gap between generator startup and utility failure. Product varies based on factors like operational efficiency, topology, energy storage technology, and power density. As every industry has a unique set of needs, they need different solutions.
To ensure you choose the most appropriate tool for your industry, consider the following five factors during the building and designing phase:
System performance: To know which UPS product is best for your application, the first step is to conduct an in-depth analysis of UPS systems’ topology, features, and power protection performance. Determining the power capacity needed based on the total power consumption of the connected equipment is crucial. Further, ensuring that the UPS can handle the maximum load and has enough headroom for future expansion.
Runtime: For centuries, the industrial standard for UPS runtime was not seconds but minutes. However, technological advancement has led to faster startup times for on-site generators with most being able to fully support a load within 15 seconds. Irrespective of this, the default was to overprovision UPS with several minutes of runtime through batteries. This is no more needed or a justifiable expense.
Minutes do not matter when seconds count. By selecting a UPS with less runtime, operators can decrease operation and maintenance costs, and manage system footprint while still prolonging availability and reliability.
Reliability: In engineering definition, it refers to the likelihood that a component or system will function appropriately under stated conditions for a specified time. Through electrical equipment, reliability is calculated on how likely the system is to fail.
In mission-critical units, UPS reliability is significant. Request for scientific research, whitepapers, or studies that supports their claims rather than listening to the vendor’s word related to their product’s reliability. Asking for customer references who have similar applications and needs, is another brilliant idea.
Maintenance: Traditional battery-based UPS systems use electrochemical energy generally stored in strings of Valve-regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries. Producers of these tools suggest that the batteries be maintained quarterly and replaced every four to eight years.
Although these preventative steps ensure that the batteries and UPS are working properly, they can also be counterproductive- as human error is the reason behind most site failures.
The total cost of ownership: When choosing a UPS, it is significant to remember that the product with the lowest initial cost may not be a suitable long-term solution. Traditional battery-derived UPS systems need regulated ambient temperatures. frequent maintenance, space, and battery replacement cycles that can contribute to higher costs.
Choose a UPS equipment that provides a lower total cost of ownership because of higher operating efficiencies, no battery replacement costs, and lower maintenance and cooling needs. Along with this, prefer a UPS solution that takes up less floor space such as a solution with no battery cabinets.
Selecting the right UPS for your industry requires careful consideration of several factors. By taking the time to evaluate your power needs and the level of protection required, you can ensure that your UPS system provides reliable and uninterrupted power to keep your operations running smoothly.