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The Importance of Power Monitoring

You rely on your uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to safeguard sensitive electronic systems and to protect business processes in the event of a power outage ― but connecting critical equipment to a backup power supply is just the first step to a complete power management strategy. To help ensure ongoing reliability, maintain business continuity and detect potential issues before they turn into expensive problems, many organizations also deploy power monitoring software.

Doing so places vital information into the hands of IT administrators and company decision-makers ― giving them the data they need to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and bolster overall system resilience.

Why Is It Important to Monitor a UPS System?

While the primary purpose of a UPS system is to provide a reliable source of power to critical equipment during power failures or fluctuations in the electricity supply, power monitoring is a tool that keeps a watchful eye on the health of the UPS, as well as affords other business advantages.

To begin with, monitoring ensures that the UPS is functioning correctly and will be ready to provide uninterrupted power when needed, thus maintaining the availability of essential systems. Many solutions enable 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, such as retail locations.

Monitoring is key to detecting potential problems or failures early. With the ability to send alerts and notifications to administrators or IT personnel when certain thresholds are breached or when issues are detected, these solutions facilitate timely response and resolution. They are also instrumental in enabling proactive maintenance and reducing the risk of sudden UPS failures, preventing downtime and its associated costs. Even more, by monitoring the health of a UPS’s 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.

In addition, monitoring has the ability to deliver insight into the energy usage and efficiency of a UPS unit, which can help to optimize power consumption and energy management, while potentially reducing operating costs.

There are various solutions that oversee different critical aspects of a facility or data center, such as infrastructure monitoring, server monitoring, applications monitoring, environmental monitoring and uptime monitoring. Some advanced monitoring solutions provide the ability to analyze data trends and predict when components might fail, which can aid in establishing scheduled maintenance and minimize unplanned downtime. Assessing this type of data from monitoring solutions can also be instrumental in assisting companies with long-term planning for equipment replacement and infrastructure upgrades.

The more information you have at your fingertips, the more likely you are of ensuring reliable UPS operation, early detection of issues and efficient maintenance, all of which ultimately enhance overall system stability and promote business continuity.

7 Best Practices of UPS Power Monitoring

While monitoring systems can clearly optimize the reliability of UPS operations and minimize the risk of downtime, it’s important to recognize that all solutions are not created equal. When it comes to UPS power monitoring, the following best practices have been shown to produce the best results:

1. Real-time monitoring ― By providing instantaneous data about the UPS’s status ― such as input and output voltage, frequency, load levels, battery health and runtime ― real-time information enables organizations to promptly identify and address any anomalies.

2. Remote capabilities ― Remote access allows users to manage and monitor a UPS even when they are not physically on-site.

3. Automated alerts ― By setting up notifications for critical events ― such as power outages, low battery levels, overload conditions and fault indicators ― specified users receive updates via email, SMS or another preferred communication method.

4. Battery monitoring ― Ascertaining the health and status of UPS batteries ― including voltage levels, temperature and internal resistance ― is crucial in order to avoid unexpected battery failure, as well as understand when batteries needed to be replaced.

5. Load monitoring ― Monitoring the load level of a UPS helps ensure it is operating within its designed capacity. Overloading can lead to reduced battery runtime, drops in efficiency and even system failure.

6. Environmental monitoring ― It’s important to keep track of the ambient temperature and humidity around the UPS, as excessive heat or humidity can impact UPS performance and battery life.

7. Training and documentation: Make sure that your team is trained on how to interpret UPS monitoring data and respond to alerts. Create clear documentation outlining procedures for troubleshooting, maintenance and emergency actions.

5 Ways to Monitor a UPS

There are numerous ways to effectively monitor and manage UPS systems; combining two or more approaches contributes to a more comprehensive monitoring strategy. The primary methods include:

  1. Cell level monitoring ― In this approach, each individual cell or battery unit within the UPS system is monitored separately. This provides a more granular view of the health and status of each battery, which is crucial for identifying any weak or failing cells that might impact overall system performance. This type of monitoring typically involves using specialized battery monitoring systems (BMS) that can measure voltage, current, temperature and other parameters for each cell. The data is then analyzed to predict battery life, detect anomalies, and facilitate timely maintenance or replacement.
  2. Remote control and monitoring ― Remote control and monitoring involve the use of networked communication to access and manage a system even if the UPS is located in a remote or difficult-to-access site. This can be accomplished through a web interface, dedicated software or mobile app. Remote monitoring allows administrators to keep track of critical parameters such as input/output voltage, load levels, battery status and system health, with alarms and notifications configured to alert administrators in case of any issues and enable prompt action.
  3. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) integration ― The SNMP protocol is widely used for monitoring and control of network devices and systems, providing administrators with UPS-related data, alarms and status information. UPSs equipped with SNMP agents can send alerts and respond to SNMP queries, allowing organizations to seamlessly incorporate UPS monitoring into their existing network management infrastructure.
  4. Environmental monitoring ― In this approach, environmental sensors are placed near the UPS that deliver critical information about operating parameters that can impact system performance and lifespan, including temperature, humidity and airflow.
  5. Data logging and analysis ― Many modern UPS systems are equipped with data logging capabilities that record and store historical data on UPS performance, events and alarms. Data analysis tools can be used to review trends, identify patterns and contribute to making informed decisions about the need for maintenance, load management and system upgrades.

Protect Your UPS Devices With Unified Power

By keeping a constant pulse on UPS health and triggering alerts of unfavorable conditions, UPS power monitoring represents a vital aspect of an effective overall power management strategy. Engaging with Unified Power for ongoing critical power equipment and service needs is another essential component.

As part of our comprehensive range of services, we provide highly reliable battery monitoring and maintenance packages, including battery monitoring systems that provide daily reports of a battery plant’s life and notification when a failure is detected. Learn more about how Unified Power can help you achieve all of your monitoring and uptime goals.

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