Nationwide Service on All UPS Equipment
24/7 Support: (877) 469-4846

Is a UPS Safe?

While working around any electrical system has the potential to expose personnel to some level of risk, uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and their batteries have a solid safety record when correctly operated and maintained. Having a thorough understanding of how UPS systems work, coupled with exercising proper precautions, will ensure that your organization is able to harness the numerous advantages of UPS systems while mitigating risk and protecting your employees.     

UPS Maintenance

Is a UPS a Generator?

While both UPS systems and generators serve as viable backup sources during a power failure, the two devices are not the same. A UPS is designed to safeguard sensitive electronic equipment against common anomalies in the utility supply, such as when voltage dips or surges outside of an acceptable level. UPSs also deliver short-term backup in the event of a complete loss of utility power. Relying on an internal battery to keep connected devices up and running long enough to save work-in-progress, UPSs enable safe shutdown of equipment during an outage. While some models have the option to extend battery runtime, most UPS units provide 10 to 15 minutes of backup, depending on the load and the model.

On the other hand, a generator supplies power consistently for an extended length of time, enabling businesses to remain open and operational during a power failure. Generator systems ― which can be fueled by natural gas, propane or diesel ― can automatically detect an outage and within seconds, begin supplying electricity to critical loads such as air conditioners, refrigerators and sensitive electronic devices.

It’s important to note that many organizations deploy both types of backup solutions. Generators are usually paired with UPS systems to provide alternate power to the load during the crucial seconds or minutes required for a generator to power on. 

Benefits of Using UPS Systems

While there are numerous advantages to deploying a UPS, shielding sensitive electronics against both power anomalies and complete outages ranks at the top of the list. As power failures continue to increase in both frequency and intensity, utility disruptions are wreaking havoc with business operations. In fact, customers experienced 1.33 billion outage hours in 2020, up 73% from roughly 770 million in 2019, according to PowerOutage.US. Consider some of the advantages provided by a UPS system:

Equipment protection ― When electronic devices are not shut down properly during a power outage, it can cause damage or failure. In addition to keeping equipment operational during a complete loss of power, a UPS also acts as a filter to buffer sensitive electronic devices such as computers and networking gear against damaging variances in the utility supply. Depending on its topology, a UPS allows only a steady stream of clean power to reach attached devices, helping to safeguard against common power anomalies that can negatively impact equipment. 

Data protection and preservation of work ― By automatically kicking on during a power failure, surge or other fluctuation in utility power, uninterruptible power supplies prevent the loss of irreplaceable data. Many UPSs provide the capability to automatically save work-in-progress, as well as safely and sequentially shut down connected devices in a user-defined order.

Cost savings ― When weighed against the potential price tag of unexpected downtime, a UPS system represents a relatively small investment. Consider the fact that the cost of unexpected power failures continues to take a steep toll on an organization’s bottom line; the Uptime Institute’s 2022 analysis found that more than 60% of failures result in losses of at least $100,000, up substantially from 39% in 2019. 

A UPS provides peace of mind that your organization will be able to avoid the financial toll, customer frustration and business disruption caused by downtime.

Are UPS Batteries Dangerous?

It is not unusual for people to ask, are UPS batteries dangerous? The short answer is, when properly operated and maintained, UPS batteries are very safe. While it can be alarming to hear about a UPS system catching fire, it is a very rare occurrence in a well-maintained UPS unit. That’s because routine preventive maintenance (PM) allows trained service technicians to examine UPS batteries on a regular basis ― affording the opportunity to fix any loose connections, remove corrosion and identify potential issues before they become significant problems. In addition, regularly scheduled PM increases uptime and extends overall battery life. In fact, lack of maintenance is the single largest contributor to premature battery failure. Without regular PM, UPS batteries are subject to variables that can cause unexpected failures. Even more, one bad battery can impact an entire cabinet ― rendering the UPS unreliable if a power failure occurs. 

There are two primary types of UPS batteries: traditional lead acid and lithium-ion, which has been growing in popularity over the past decade. Although lithium-ion batteries were once considered more volatile and prone to igniting fires than their lead-acid counterparts, changes in cell packaging and chemistry, as well as enhanced safety features, have made them a safe UPS alternative. 

How to Ensure Your UPS Is Safe

Although UPS systems are generally safe when used properly, any electrical device can pose risks if not handled or maintained correctly. To avoid potential pitfalls, there are a number of precautions you can take around your power protection systems, including: 

Ensure proper installation ― When installing the UPS unit, be sure to adhere to all manufacturer’s instructions. To prevent the UPS from overheating, it is important to ensure proper ventilation around it. In addition, the unit should be situated on a stable surface away from heat sources and water. To minimize the risk of electrical shock or fire, the UPS should be appropriately grounded according to local electrical codes. Many customers choose to engage with a professional service technician to complete the installation process.

Avoid overload ― Do not overload the UPS beyond its rated capacity, as doing so can cause overheating and potentially damage the UPS or connected devices. 

Keep it clean ― Be sure to keep the UPS unit free from dust and debris.

Schedule regular maintenance ― PM dramatically improves the performance, availability and service life of UPS systems. In fact, an analysis of thousands of UPS units operated over millions of hours revealed that the mean time between failures (MTBF) was more than 20 times better for those that received PM twice a year. Research has also shown that units that do not receive PM have a 400 percent greater chance of experiencing a load loss, compared to properly maintained systems. And don’t forget the importance of performing regular maintenance on UPS batteries, too.

Hire an experienced technician ― Just as you wouldn’t hire a plumber to oversee your IT network upgrade, it is crucial that you select only a trained UPS technician to service your power protection solution. Look for a company whose technicians are familiar with various brands of UPS equipment and equipped to handle a wide range of service issues. 

Train employees on safe work practices ― It is important to offer all of your employees a formal training program that includes safety around electrical systems. This will help ensure they understand the risks of electrical hazards such as arc flashes, and how to avoid them. 

Keep accurate records ― Maintaining up-to-date records of your electrical system and all work that has been performed on it will help minimize the risk of arc flashes and other hazards. In addition, be sure to keep records of all maintenance performed on your UPS, including cleanings, repairs and replacements. This documentation can help down the line when planning for equipment replacement, additional maintenance needs, or troubleshooting if an issue arises. Just like your contact numbers, keep records in a handy spot.

Maintain a Safe UPS System With Unified Power’s UPS Services

With more than two decades of experience, the experts at Unified Power can help you service your existing solution ― or design the optimal backup power solution for your environment. Providing nationwide critical power equipment and service maintenance ― including UPSs, battery systems, backup generators and DC power plants ― our preventive maintenance services will help your facility avoid unplanned downtime and costly repairs by providing the opportunity to catch potential issues early on. Ready to schedule regular UPS maintenance? Contact Unified Power today to learn more about UPS maintenance services or to request a quote.

Contact Unified Power for UPS Power Solutions. We provide immediate help for UPS failure and mission critical power services to help you keep your UPS in the best condition possible, preventing failures and unexpected downtime.
Quick Quote
Or call (240) 772-1710 for immediate help.