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How to Implement UPS Equipment into Your Existing Infrastructure

From safeguarding the transfer of critical data during a power outage to keeping life-saving medical devices operational amid fluctuating power conditions, the need for a reliable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is universal across virtually every industry. However, knowing which type of UPS system to deploy in your existing infrastructure can be challenging. To ensure the right fit, there are several factors to consider, including the unit’s capacity, topology, type of power management or monitoring solution, and the level of service required.

Importance of UPS Systems

Across today’s interconnected and data-driven business landscape, even the briefest amount of downtime can be devastating to an organization. Not only is the current price tag for downtime estimated at a whopping $5,600 per minute, but unplanned incidents can result in consequences including equipment damage, data loss, missed opportunities and even damage to a company’s reputation.

By supplying a steady stream of clean power and an adequate window to safely shut down sensitive equipment during an outage, UPSs help prevent data loss and minimize the stress of a hard shutdown on electronics. As power outages become increasingly prevalent ― in 2020, U.S. electricity customers experienced an average of 8 hours without power, more than twice as long as the 2013 average ― uninterruptible power supplies have taken on an even more critical power role. Ultimately, a UPS provides peace of mind that your organization has taken the proper precautions to avoid the financial toll, customer frustration and business disruption caused by unplanned downtime.

Protecting equipment against a complete blackout isn’t the only reason you need a UPS system. Depending on the model, backup power systems also shield connected devices from damaging power anomalies and unsafe voltage fluctuations that can reduce equipment lifespan, affect performance and cause failures in sensitive electronics.

How to Implement UPS Equipment Into Your Existing Infrastructure

While an uninterrupted power supply is one of the most simple, cost-effective solutions to help companies avoid the unwelcome consequences of downtime, the challenge lies in selecting the model that best matches your needs and budget. The following tips will help you implement the optimal UPS system for your existing infrastructure.

Determine How Much Power Your System Consumes

Understanding how much power your electronic devices utilize is the first step to rightsizing UPS equipment. Keep in mind that the more closely UPS capacity matches your load, the more efficiently it will operate. However, a UPS with insufficient capacity or runtime may not be able to support your connected equipment during an outage. When selecting the optimal unit, consider how much power is required to support connected equipment, which represents the capacity, and how long you want the UPS to operate during an outage, which will determine runtime. To ensure sufficient protection and account for growth, it is recommended to choose a UPS system with a VA capacity rating that is at least 15% greater than the total power needed.

To properly calculate your capacity requirements:

  1. List all the equipment and devices you want to protect.
  2. List the amps and volts for each device.
  3. Multiply amps by volts to determine VA.
  4. Multiply the VA by the number of pieces of equipment to get the VA subtotals.
  5. Add the VA subtotals together to get the total power requirement.
  6. Multiply by 15%.

While the load represents the total equipment that will be connected to the UPS, you also must determine your desired runtime, which is the amount of time you want that load to remain operational during a power outage. Every UPS features an internal battery that supplies a limited amount of power when the utility source is unavailable. However, many UPS models have the ability to incorporate additional battery modules to increase runtime by minutes or hours.

Choose the Best Type of Protection

It’s important to recognize that all UPS systems are not created equal. Rather, there are three primary topologies, each of which delivers varying levels of protection:

Double-conversion online UPS ―Designed to deliver continuous protection against all nine of the most common power problems, double-conversion UPSs supply consistent clean power by regenerating the output voltage through a sequence of conversions. If input power falls outside a preset tolerance, the UPS stops charging the batteries and begins using the stored energy they provide, without interruption of power to critical load equipment. Double-conversion UPSs are the optimal choice for mission-critical applications, those involving highly sensitive equipment, installations where continuous, clean power is a business-critical requirement, and environments that are particularly prone to dirty power.

Line-Interactive UPS ― Shielding connected devices from power failures, sags, surges, and voltage spikes and drops, line-interactive technology is typically used to safeguard enterprise network and IT applications. One of the biggest advantages of this topology is that the system compensates for undervoltage and overvoltage conditions without using the UPS batteries, bypassing input power to connected equipment through a surge/noise filter and voltage regulator. The UPS converts stored battery power into regulated power to support connected equipment load during an outage.

Standby UPS ― Also referred to as an offline or passive UPS, standby technology provides the most basic type of protection, allowing equipment to run off of incoming utility power until it detects a power failure or routine sags and surges. Standy UPSs enable safe shutdowns so equipment and data remain protected. Because this topology does not protect equipment against other common power anomalies, it is best suited for non-critical and less demanding home network and office environments.

Consider Power Input and Output

Another important step when deploying a new UPS system is to carefully examine your facility’s existing electrical outlets to determine the input and output voltage and ensure that the current design is capable of supporting the unit. Prior to selecting a new power solution, many organizations opt to engage in a site survey in which trained professionals review your power requirements, create a baseline of the current power system, and take into account your short- and long-term business goals. The results of the survey can be extremely valuable in helping you hone in on the best UPS solution.

Another beneficial service is a power quality audit, which assesses the condition of the electricity flowing through your facility’s electrical distribution system, as well as gauges how devices such as computers, variable frequency drives and control motors impact the power distribution system. The power supplies within these types of devices often generate dangerous harmonics that can overload wiring and create excessive heat, impacting power quality and resulting in failure of motors, drives and circuits.

Furthermore, it is important to consider how power will be delivered to your critical equipment. Depending on the UPS, you may be able to simply plug loads directly into the unit, while in other cases, power distribution units (PDUs) may be required to distribute power.

Ensure You Have the Necessary Power Management

While a UPS is tasked with protecting the connected load during an outage, power management software is the component that ensures all work-in-progress is preserved and that the attached equipment shuts down safely if the outage exceeds the UPS’s battery runtime. In the absence of power management software, the UPS will run until its batteries are depleted and then drop the load.

In addition, power monitoring is a tool that keeps a watchful eye on the health and status of the UPS, ensuring that the unit and the UPS batteries are functioning correctly and will be ready to provide uninterrupted power when needed. Monitoring also helps to maintain the availability of essential systems by detecting potential problems or failures early. This enables proactive maintenance, which reduces the risk of sudden UPS failures and helps prevent downtime and its associated costs. Many solutions allow UPSs to be remotely monitored and managed, which is particularly valuable for geographically dispersed sites, as well as environments where IT staff may not be present.

Even more, by monitoring the health of UPS batteries, organizations can identify when batteries are approaching the end of their useful lifespan and replace them before they degrade to a point where they can no longer provide sufficient backup power. Power monitoring can even provide insight into the energy usage and efficiency of a UPS unit, which can help to optimize power consumption and energy management while lower operating costs.

Seek Professional Assistance

Many times, turning to professionals for guidance is the best way to ensure that all critical power requirements and design considerations have been addressed when implementing a UPS system into an existing infrastructure.

Unified Power offers a Design-Build service that minimizes risk and reduces cost by assigning a single contractor to spearhead your entire project development. Our experienced master electricians listen to customer needs, communicate expectations, provide feedback and remain budget-conscious throughout the entire process. Our Design Build options range from data center expansions and electrical engineering projects to switchgear replacements and tenant fit-outs.

Once your UPS system has been deployed, it is imperative to have the proper staff or service provider to monitor and maintain the equipment. UPSs require different levels of management and maintenance; the more complex the solution, the more important it is to engage with professionally trained and experienced technicians.

Trust Unified Power With Your UPS Equipment

While there are many factors that must be addressed when choosing the optimal uninterruptible power supply (UPS), the right partner can help make the process seamless. The team at Unified Power is uniquely qualified to not only assist with UPS system selection and service, but also power quality equipment retrofits and replacements, power management and monitoring, and other critical power needs.

For more than two decades, Unified Power has been providing comprehensive power quality solutions and services to customers across the nation ― from routine maintenance and emergency response to replacing UPS batteries and completing turnkey installations. We service all manufacturers’ equipment and maintain a 24/7 dispatch facility, providing peace of mind that you’re protected at all times. Our highly trained technicians are dedicated to ensuring that your critical power equipment performs at its peak, helping you to avoid downtime, save money, and avoid more involved and expensive repairs in the future. Contact us today to learn more, to request service or to obtain a quote.

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