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Critical Power Blog

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.

Batteries, UPS

Enersys 16V Front Terminal UPS Battery in short supply

Enersys 16V Front Terminal UPS Battery in short supply – read more about what this means for users…

  • DataSafe 16HX550F-FR
  • DataSafe 16HX800F-FR
  • DataSafe 16HX925F-FR

Enersys introduced the world’s first 16 volt front terminal UPS battery several years ago.

This battery has many advantages over typical 12V batteries, chief of which is a high power density in a very small footprint.

Your typical UPS runs on a 540V DC Buss which consists of (40) 12V batteries connected in series. With the Enersys 16V battery, you only need (30) batteries to make up one string.

Also – the Enersys battery is narrow in the front, but deep, further reducing space.

In order to take advantage of the smaller footprint, special, smaller battery cabinets were designed specifically for the 16V Batteries.

While all of this is good news for greater power density, it is not without a downside that can be disastrous if you’re not aware.

None of the other major battery manufacturers have jumped on the 16V battery bandwagon, so currently Enersys is the only manufacturer offering this battery.

This means that you will pay a premium for replacement batteries every 4-5 years.

You are also at the mercy of factory lead times, so if the current lead time is 17 weeks (which it was in April 2016 for the 925’s) there is nothing you can do about it.

If you opt for a different battery, you will need to replace your UPS battery cabinets in order to switch over.

If you are in an emergency situation and need to replace your 16V batteries, 24/7 Technology can work with you to engineer an alternative solution to the Enersys 16V battery.

We also work with customers to pro actively replace their UPS battery systems with standard sizes and models that are readily available and cost effective.

The key is to be proactive and not get caught in a dangerous situation where your batteries are failing, and the lead time for new ones is 4 months.

TVSS, UPS

TVSS – What is it? & Why do I need one?

What is a TVSS?

A TVSS or Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor protects sensitive electronics from short duration, extreme voltage spikes.

This protection is accomplished by clamping the voltage to a safe level before the equipment is destroyed. The excess current is then diverted to the ground.

The most common cause of extreme voltage surges are nearby lightning strikes or the switching of large loads. 

Don’t all UPS’s come with a TVSS?

One of the great myths or misunderstanding about UPS’s is they will protect your equipment from a lightning strike or high energy electrical spike.

While this may be true for some small single phase units such as APC or Tripp Lite, the vast majority of medium to large 3 phase UPS provide no internal lightning or TVSS protection.

So while you think your large, expensive 3 phase UPS will protect you from a lightning strike, the truth is it may not.

As a result, it is highly recommended that you research and confirm that your UPS is protected by a TVSS at the panel feeding the input power to your UPS.

You will need to protect both the rectifier and bypass inputs to the UPS.

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

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

TVSS Products

Several companies manufacture TVSS units.

  • PQ Protection
  • Schneider Electric
  • Raycap
  • MGC Surge Protection

One high quality company suitable for Data centers and three phase systems is PQ Protection. They have a wide range of sizes and features.

Their products include the PQC100, PQC200, PQM100, PQM200, PQS300, and PQS400. 

PQ Protection TVSS has proven to be highly reliable while cost effective.

Next Steps.

If you are not sure if you have a TVSS, or need further information please contact Unified Power to learn more about your options and how you can protect your equipment from lightning and power spikes.

At Unified Power, we have designed, specified and installed thousands of UPS systems with TVSS at the source.

More information about our UPS Contracts for UPS service & maintenance.

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).

Education, UPS

10 UPS Electrical Terms You Need To Know

Researching backup units or UPS often means learning lingo that you don’t use in everyday life. Volts? Phase? Single Phase? Three Phase?

Don’t worry we put this guide together to make things easier.

Alternating Current

Commonly referred to as AC. It is the way the raw power is delivered to you, as generated, by your utility company.

AC takes the form of a sinusoidal waveform which changes in amplitude and direction a fixed number of times per second.

AC is the opposite of DC, and was chosen because it can be sent over many miles by the utility company with relatively low line losses.

Direct Current

Commonly referred to as DC. It is the same type of current that is in a battery. The current is direct, constant and flows from negative to positive.

It is only suitable for transmission over short distances.

DC is the opposite of AC

Frequency

Frequency only applies to AC, and is the number cycles per second that the sine wave repeats itself. Also referred to as Hertz (abbreviated Hz).

In North America the frequency is 60Hz. In the rest of the world it’s 50hz.

Volts

The measure of electrical potential that is available for use. Look at it like pressure in your water pipe. It’s always there, just waiting for someone to open the faucet.

In the US, the standard residential voltage is 120V. Commercial voltage is generally 208V or 480V

Helpful Tip: Volts can be converted to Watts. Here is a Volts to Watts calculator to help.

Watts

This is the measure of true power, and in and AC System it is similar to KVA, with one very important, critical difference. Power Factor.

An explanation of Power Factor is beyond the scope of this blog, but suffice to say it is a rating determined by your load, and then applied in the calculation to determine KW, which for a three phase system is V * A * 1.73 * Pf

Power factor in a perfect system will be 1, and if so KVA = KW (also known as unity).

In real life the Power factor is rarely one, and is typically somewhere between .9 to .97.

In practice , it acts as a de-rating factor, because the typical UPS can deliver less KW than KVA.

Amps

The actual flow, or movement of electrons which is also known as current.

The flow of electrons performs a useful task such as lighting a light, turning a motor, or powering a computer.

Using the example above under voltage, current would be the flow of water that comes out of the faucet, and is dependent upon how much you open the faucet and the pressure behind it.

KVA

Thousands (Kilo) or Volt Amps.

If your UPS operates on 120 Volts and can deliver 10 Amps then the UPS is rated at 1200 Volt Amps OR 1.2KVA (1.2 Thousand Volt Amps).

In single phase systems KVA = V * A

In three phase systems the formula is V * A * 1.73 (the square root of 3).

Important Note: KVA is apparent power, and doesn’t tell the full story of your UPS’s capacity.

Phase

This refers to voltage and defines the number of input wires supplying voltage that are connected to the device.

Each wire carrying voltage is sometimes referred to as a “Hot”.

Single Phase

The 120V outlets in your house are all single phase.

This means there is one “Hot” wire supplying power to the load. Single phase is used in residential, and low power commercial applications.

Single phase UPS’s are small desktop or rack mount systems, and range from 300VA to about 10KVA.

Typical manufacturers are APC and Xtreme Power Conversion

Three Phase

Commercial voltage is generally 3 phase, which means there are three separate wires connected to a device each supplying 120V, or a different voltage.

Essentially 3 “hots” Three Phase Power is used in Commercial and Industrial applications, and delivers high power.

Three Phase UPS’s are larger systems that power many racks of equipment, to large data centers.

Three Phase UPS’s will start at around 10KVA and can be as large as 1100KVA. The Eaton 9355 is a great example of a three phase UPS.

Hopefully you found this guide helpful.  

Still have questions? Get a response immediately.

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

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