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Education, UPS

The 7 Most Common Causes of UPS Failure

When it comes to malfunctions in uninterruptible power systems (UPS’s), there is unfortunately no shortage of potential mishaps.

In fact, UPS system failure ranks as the No. 1 cause of unplanned data center outages, according to a 2016 report from the Ponemon Institute.

Even more disheartening, the same study estimates the average price tag of a data center outage to be a whopping $740,357.

But don’t despair —significantly reducing the risk of a UPS failure is surprisingly simple.

By engaging in regularly scheduled preventive maintenance (PM), you can dramatically lessen the likelihood of a load loss while also extending a UPS’s overall lifespan.

Research has shown that the mean time between failures (MTBF) is more than 20 times better for UPS’s that receive preventive maintenance twice a year over those that do not.

Prevention pays off, affording the opportunity to detect and repair potential problems before they become significant and costly.

Whether you are operating aging infrastructure or looking to optimize the lifespan of a newer equipment, consider some of the most common UPS components that are susceptible to failure:

1. Batteries – As the heart of any UPS system, batteries require regular checkups to ensure they remain fit to safeguard critical systems.

Regardless of their age, batteries should be inspected semi-annually as part of a PM visit that includes testing for impedance or conductance, as well as assesses performance and evaluates any potential weaknesses.

2. Capacitors – A fairly simple device that stores and releases electrical energy, capacitors range in size and type, and generally need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years.

A typical UPS contains a dozen or more capacitors, which are responsible for smoothing out and filtering voltage fluctuations.

However, because capacitors degrade over time, annual inspection helps to optimize their operation and extend their lifespan.

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

 

3. Fans – Some UPS fans may perform well for 10 years of continuous use, while others could run for just a short time before locking up or failing.

Electrical or mechanical limitations and dried out ball bearings are common issues that can result in fan failures and subsequent UPS overheating.

4. Filters – UPS’s are also prone to overheating (and shutting down) when dust or other coatings block air filters.

Because replacing filters is an inexpensive component of an effective UPS maintenance plan, they should be inspected on a monthly basis and changed as needed.

5. Connections – An annual PM visit gives a trained service technician the opportunity to inspect the UPS and battery cabinets for loose internal connections, which can result from machinery situated close to the unit or from building vibrations.

6. Power supplies – Even redundant power supplies can be impacted by input voltage surges, which can lead to stress and overheating. Yet regular inspection can identify potential issues before they cause downtime.

7. Contactors – Also susceptible to dust, UPS contactors should be inspected and cleaned regularly.

While it’s clear that UPS components are prone to failure for a variety of reasons, investing in preventive maintenance with a professional and skilled service provider will appreciably reduce your risk of downtime — and potential disaster.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals.

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Maintenance, UPS

5 Qualities To Seek In A Power Quality Service Provider

Obtaining regularly scheduled service is one of the most successful and cost-effective approaches to ensuring the ongoing optimal performance of your critical power quality equipment.

And for companies operating aging infrastructure, these routine checkups are even more vital.

Research indicates that regular preventive maintenance (PM) can also appreciably reduce the likelihood of downtime, as it affords the opportunity to detect and repair potential problems before they become significant and costly issues.

However, when it comes to deciding on who will perform maintenance and repairs, it’s important to understand that all service providers are not created equal.

Before you trust just anyone to look under the hood of your critical equipment, consider a provider who demonstrates the following five qualities:

Solid Reputation. Seek an experienced company that specializes in working on UPS’s and power- related equipment, and make sure the firm is proficient with your specific brand(s) of equipment.

Request references from existing customers and contact them to gauge their satisfaction.

The best service companies will not only strive to maximize equipment efficiency, but also to build long-term, trusting relationships with their customers.

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Highly skilled technicians. Look for a company whose technicians are prepared to service any type of critical power equipment, no matter the age or product line.

Familiarity with various brands of UPS equipment — including manufacturers that are no longer active in the industry — ensures that technicians will be equipped to handle a wide range of service issues.

Ongoing Training. Displaying initial proficiency isn’t enough; the only way technicians remain that way is with regular, ongoing training.

As power quality products and technologies evolve and change, service companies must also keep pace.

Look for a provider who requires its technicians to attend manufacturers’ factory training sessions to ensure comprehensive knowledge on various UPS lines.

Annual internal training should focus on a broad spectrum of topics and be delivered through a combination of classroom, hands-on, and even online courses.

Dedicated Account Manager. Having a single point of contact with your service organization helps keep your site on track.

Your representative should coordinate all preventative maintenance and emergency service, track your equipment and replacement dates, and serve as the point person during any emergency incident.

An account manager should also work with you to develop a proactive service plan that will ultimately help you achieve long-term savings.

Emergency Response. There’s nothing that tests the reliability of a service provider like a frantic call during an unplanned downtime event.

Your service organization should not only answer that call regardless of the time of day (or night), but furnish representatives who are qualified to troubleshoot over the phone to try to resolve the issue.

If the emergency cannot be remedied, prompt on-site response time is essential.

Furthermore, easy and quick access to replacement parts is crucial for unplanned repairs, so make sure your service provider maintains a well-stocked warehouse (including discontinued and rare parts) and the ability to have components on the way to your facility in a matter of minutes when necessary.

Wondering just how vulnerable your power protection solution is? In the final installment of this series, Unified Power will break down the most common causes of UPS failures and what you can do to avoid them.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Education, UPS

5 Simple Strategies to Deal With Aging Infrastructure

With many of today’s data centers operating on decades-old technologies, downtime disasters such as the Delta Airlines fiasco have become increasingly common.

Companies are falling prey to these potentially fatal issues in large part because their existing infrastructures are unable to accommodate the rising demands of today’s enterprises.

In fact, one survey of 1,750 IT industry insiders found that 91 percent believed their data center facilities were not adequately equipped to meet the needs of current consumers and clients —even though 75 percent reported having upgraded their infrastructure within the past three years.

Yet even more disconcerting is that 41 percent revealed that data center-related issues had resulted in lost revenue.

Unfortunately, many firms do not have the budget allocated to upgrade their facilities. So what can be done to solve this dilemma?

Maintain. Studies have shown again and again that regular preventive maintenance is the single most cost-effective approach to optimize the lifespan and performance of your equipment.

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Equally important is selecting the right maintenance organization to oversee the ongoing health of your critical infrastructure.

Opt for an experienced service company with a well-documented track record and reputation, and one that specializes in servicing critical infrastructure.

Also, any maintenance tasks that will be completed in-house should be clearly defined, with staff properly trained.

Document. Ensuring that all your records and documentation are up-to-date — including verification of all maintenance tasks performed — is vital for your operation, as well as to fulfill regulatory requirements.

Tie every procedure to an internal goal and objective.

Replace. While regularly scheduled preventive maintenance is paramount to the ongoing health of equipment, there are times when replacing a legacy system is ultimately the best (and cheapest) option.

Use each maintenance visit as an opportunity to gather and analyze trend data to help determine the best option for your specific devices.

Evaluate. To ensure effective decision-making, it is imperative to forecast the growth and requirements of your facility over the next 5 to 10 years.

You may want to consider hiring a data center design company to evaluate your site’s layout, especially if it is approaching capacity.

Often these firms can provide viable solutions at a fraction of what it would cost to construct a new data center.

5. Monitor. Environmental monitoring provides an accurate, real-time assessment of data center conditions at all times — an especially helpful gauge for older servers that are prone to overheating, a condition that can quickly spiral into unplanned downtime.

In addition, by implementing virtualization initiatives and software-defined networking workflows, companies can dramatically boost the effectiveness of their network infrastructure even if limited budgets prevent a complete overhaul.

Is your infrastructure in need of a checkup? Then stay tuned. In part 3 of this series, Unified Power will break down the qualities you should look for in a service provider for your critical power equipment.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Education, Maintenance, UPS

The Risks of Owning Aging Infrastructure

In the wake of the Delta Air Lines outage, IT professionals across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief that it wasn’t their network crashing and sparking a disaster of global proportions.

But in most instances, that sense of gratitude was immediately followed by a firing squad of critical reflection:  Exactly how old are our systems? When is the last time I tested our backup solution? Did I ever schedule that preventive maintenance visit? Could that same type of disaster strike MY organization?

The devastation that can result from aging infrastructure is one of the most significant lessons underscored by Delta’s downtime incident, in which a piece of failed switchgear was attributed to more than 2,100 flights being canceled over a multiple-day period.

The airline’s turbulence came on the heels of a similar outage just weeks earlier, when a faulty network router forced Southwest to cancel 2,000+ flights.

While neither the precise monetary losses nor the potential reputation damage have been assessed for either airline, both are likely to continue soaring in the skies.

But how well would your organization fare from a crisis that disrupted operations?

Need help deciding on a UPS? Get a free site assessment!

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Consider the fact that more than 40 percent of all companies that experience such a disaster never again reopen their doors for business.

North American businesses lose $26.5 billion each year due to IT downtime and data recovery, according to data collected by Forsythe FOCUS magazine.

Aging infrastructure is a common source of these downtime events, as many legacy sites built during the boom of the late 90s and early 2000s are approaching — or have already passed — the 20-year mark.

As a result, they face issues such as insufficient capacity, wear and tear, end of life, and inadequate power and cooling.

Coupled with the continuous trends to increase power density while reducing energy costs, and the expense of constructing new facilities, a growing number of organizations are left trying to squeeze additional life out of their existing equipment.

In most cases, newer hardware has been added as technology has evolved, but the underlying infrastructure is still decades old, which tends to complicate overall management while impacting performance and security.

Yet the prospect of completely replacing aging infrastructure is expensive and time-consuming.

At Unified Power, we are committed to delivering exceptional, timely maintenance performed by highly trained industry professionals.

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

Click above to get started or call 240.772.1710 for instant help.

Education, UPS

12 UPS Terms You Need To Know

Researching about UPS and running into a bunch of technical jargon that feels confusing?

UPS terms can be complex, technical, and sometimes do not have much of an impact on the quality of the UPS.

KVA Vs. KW

Not familiar with KW and KVA? Visit our post on “10 UPS Electrical Terms You Need To Know”.

What’s really important for the typical UPS user is to know that when comparing capacity of different UPS’s, the ONLY thing you need to look at is output KW. The rest (KVA) is smoke and mirrors.

For example, if you want to purchase a 3KVA UPS, you must compare the output capacity in KW between machines.

An APC SU300RM is 3KVA, but only 2400 Watts.

An Xtreme P90-3000 is also 3KVA, but can supply 2700 Watts for your equipment.

You get a 10% increase in capacity on the Xtreme machine for a lower purchase price. That’s a no brainer.

On- Line UPS

Also known as “Double Conversion”. This is the best protection you can provide for your sensitive equipment. Incoming power is converted to DC, and then re-converted back to AC to power your equipment. The result is clean, isolated, regulated, uninterruptible power for your load

Line Interactive UPS/ Standby UPS

Less expensive technology to power your equipment.

The inverter is normally offline and in standby mode. Essentially your load is powered by utility 99.9% of the time. When a power interruption occurs the UPS starts up its inverter to power the load.

It does so with a slight interruption , but is quick enough to prevent your equipment from shutting down. Not really an ideal scenario for any Data Center.

Run Time

Simply the amount of time the batteries will support the load, at a given load level. Typical run time is 10-15 minutes at full load.

CAUTION – If you want to increase your run time to 1 hour, or even 4 hours be prepared to pay a huge adder. Batteries are very expensive, and they also need to be replaced every three to five years.

We like to say that a two hour battery on a medium size three phase UPS is really a generator. This is because at that run time, it’s cheaper to install a generator than pay the cost of the extra batteries, along with 3-4 replacements of them during the life of the UPS.

Don’t be that person who blindly says I want a four hour battery unless you have the budget for it.

Rectifier

The electronic portion of the UPS that converts incoming AC Power to DC Power. Once converted to DC it is then used to charge the batteries, which are DC devices and to power the inverter.

Inverter

This is an electronic portion of the UPS that converts DC to AC, which is then used to power your critical equipment. The inverter re-creates the sine wave in a near perfect form. The result is a clean, isolated and regulated output to power sensitive and critical equipment.

The inverter (in an on-line UPS), achieves its magic by being powered from (2) separate sources.

The rectifier when Utility is present, and the battery when there is no utility.

If utility power fails, the battery is continuously connected and provides power to the inverter instantly, and without interruption.

In most on-line systems, there is no delay, and no switching to battery which ensure continuous power to the load.

Static Switch

This is a protection device within the UPS.

The purpose of the Static Switch (in simplistic terms)  is to bypass the  UPS, which essentially means we connect incoming Utility Power directly to the UPS output to power the load.

In this mode, the Inverter no longer powers the load, Utility does.

The Static Switch is designed  to instantaneously  transfer the load without interruption, and in reality does so 99.5% of the time.

Any time you transfer the load there is a very slight degree of risk.

There are only two reasons the Static Switch would be used: To transfer the system offline for maintenance and in the event the Inverter has a failure and can no longer power the load.

On Line

The load is being powered by the UPS inverter, or if the UPS is a standby system, the Inverter is ready to start and carry the load in the event of a power interruption.

When you’re online, it means your Uninterruptible Power System is uninterruptible because the battery is connected and the Inverter is either on , or ready to start.

On Battery

Either the input power to the UPS  is not present, or out of acceptable tolerance (usually outside of nominal +10%  to -15%).

In this case, the rectifier ceases to provide DC power to the Inverter, so the inverter draws the DC current it needs from the battery to power the load.

Typical UPS’s will have a battery sized to provide power for 10-15 minutes. In this mode the battery is being discharged.

Bypass

This means the UPS is offline, and not able to support the load in the event of a power interruption.

In this mode the load is powered by utility.

This condition is sometimes referred to as Internal bypass, or module bypass because utility power still flowing through the UPS.

Internal bypass is different than maintenance bypass, which is explained next.

The only reasons a UPS would be in bypass is for maintenance, or due to an internal failure.

Important Note: When you’re on bypass you are NOT on battery. The opposite is true. When on bypass, you’re on utility, with no battery backup.

Please keep this fundamental concept in mind and you’ll be a UPS hero.

Maintenance Bypass

This is a device which is external to the UPS and consists of 2 to 4 circuit breakers.

A maintenance bypass provides a second, parallel path around the UPS for power to flow to the load.

IT is sometimes referred to as a “wrap Around”.

The maintenance bypass has breakers that allow for  sequence of operation that makes a parallel path around the UPS, before breaking the UPS output to the load.

This action is referred to as “Make Before Break” or MBB.

A Maintenance Bypass costs a few thousand dollars to install, but is invaluable if you ever need it.

This is because that certain repairs to a UPS can only be made with all power removed from the UPS.

If you don’t have a maintenance bypass this means you will need to power down your load.

Imagine breaking that news to the CIO…

On the other hand, if you have a maintenance bypass and your UPS suffers a catastrophic failure, (or you just didn’t want to spend the money to replace your 20 year old UPS, and now there are no parts available), you can actually remove the UPS, install a new one, and cut it over to the load, all without powering down.

Now the CIO thinks you’re a hero.

Thermal Run Away

A very serious condition affecting your batteries. In thermal run away, the  battery builds up heat either due to an internal failure, or because of external conditions such as high ambient temperature.

The excess heat causes more current to flow. The additional current creates more heat.

The additional heat causes more current to flow…. You get the idea.

We’re talking Fire Department time if you don’t disconnect the battery from the charger quickly.

If a battery is in thermal run away you will smell sulfur or rotten eggs.

If you smell this, don’t wait, contact your service provider immediately.

Sadly – most cases of thermal run away are caused by poor or no maintenance, or the desire to save money.

UPS’s and batteries are reliable, but do need to be maintained.

Don’t let thermal run away be your reminder. If you do, you’ll get a long meeting with your bosses boss (and maybe their boss too).

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