In the first two blogs in this series, we investigated the driving forces behind the appeal of modular power protection systems, including high availability, scalability, efficiency, simplified maintenance, smaller footprint and a green energy solution. Now we will consider the reasons an organization might instead choose a standalone model of an uninterruptible power system (UPS).
1. Cost. When it comes to initial purchase price, modular UPS systems tend to be significantly more expensive than standalone units, primarily due to the need to buy the cabinet that will house the modules. Although available in different sizes, the smallest cabinet usually accommodates either four or eight units, which will allow for future expansion (and one of the primary advantages of modular solutions). Because of this, it is important to consider both the short- and long-term requirements of your business when right-sizing an initial UPS solution. While the ‘pay as you grow’ approach can be extremely advantageous, it assumes that your load is going to increase; otherwise the initial outlay of a modular system would be prohibitive.
2. Resilience. Robustness of a modular system can become a factor when users mistake modularity for a parallel system. Although a modular UPS solution allows for redundancy, it requires that spare modules be available in the cabinet in order to deliver the benefit. Furthermore, the overall system should be carefully monitored at all times to ensure that changes in load do not consume capacity that was originally allocated to backup modules. In the event that all modules are used, redundancy for the system will be lost.
3. Potential For Single Point of Failure. Elaborating on the issue of resiliency, it stands to reason that when multiple individual components comprise a modular system, this in turn creates multiple opportunities for a single point of failure. Likewise, one issue in the cabinet has the potential to cause a collapse of the entire system. While the advantages of a parallel modular UPS system clearly outweigh the disadvantages, in mission-critical applications, it is always wise to deploy an N+1 or N+ 2 approach with modules (though this does result in additional costs).
Clearly, there is a lot to consider when deploying a UPS solution. In our fourth and final blog in this series, we will offer some tips to help you determine the optimal power protection system for your particular environment.
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