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Understanding Modular UPS Systems

When investing in an uninterruptible power system (UPS), it can be challenging to forecast how your power protection requirements might change one, two, five or 10 years down the road. The fear of running out of capacity and having to reinvest in a larger backup power solution has forced many organizations to over-size their UPS system. However, this practice results in excessive upfront costs, while also causing the UPS to run less efficiently with a lighter load. While you may never have the ability to predict the future, you can at least plan for it, thanks to the flexibility provided by modular, scalable UPS systems.

How Does a Modular UPS work?

A modular UPS is designed to allow individual power modules to be easily added or removed in building-block fashion. Organizations can begin by deploying a base configuration and gradually add power modules as needed, optimizing their investment and aligning power capacity with their growth track.

There are numerous options to capitalize on modular architectures and custom-tailor a backup power solution to meet an organization’s unique requirements. For instance, most modular UPS solutions can accommodate extended battery modules to expand backup runtime. Other options include intelligence modules that house the system controller, and static bypass modules which allow the module to be serviced or replaced more quickly compared to integrated designs.

Scalable UPS systems enable organizations to achieve a power infrastructure that is as adaptable as IT infrastructure ― making it easy to keep pace with moves, additions and changes ― with the flexibility to expand at your own pace without starting over each time with a new UPS platform.

Key features of modular UPS systems

The list of benefits afforded by modular UPS systems is extensive, including:

  1. Scalability ― The advantages of scalable UPS systems enable you to flexibly and cost-efficiently meet evolving business requirements. With the ability to add, remove or redeploy modules in a scalable, building block fashion, modular UPSs can be incrementally built out as needed.
  2. Ensure high availability ― Modular UPS systems make it easy to achieve both reliability and redundancy by simply adding modules. Unlike UPSs with a single-module architecture, modular UPSs do not run the risk of a single point of failure because any power circuit fault is confined to the individual module. Modular UPS solutions enhance availability through hot-swappable and module redundancy, which reduces downtime in the event of a failure. high availability power system                 
  3. Achieve energy efficiency ― As sustainability expectations and initiatives continue to magnify, organizations are under increasing pressure to achieve efficiency optimization and consciously reduce carbon footprint. Maximizing efficiency with modular UPS systems is one way to contribute to these goals, as these backup power solutions tend to be more energy efficient than traditional centralized UPS systems. Scalable UPS systems also enhance energy efficiency, as power modules can be activated or deactivated based on demand, reducing energy wastage during periods of reduced power requirements.
  4. Lower total cost of ownership ― The flexibility of a modular UPS enables an organization to optimize the load, while responding quickly and easily to any changes in load requirements. With the ability to add modules as needed without impacting the existing framework, modular UPS systems save on operating costs and contribute to lower total cost of ownership.  
  5. Ease maintenance requirements ― The hot-swappable-module design of these systems eases maintenance and service options, maximizing uptime while reducing overall cost of ownership.
  6. Preserve space ― Because they are designed with a sleek, compact footprint, modular UPS solutions occupy less space than conventional UPSs, saving real estate for revenue-generating equipment.

Modular UPS Applications

Ensuring uptime with modular UPS redundancy is a common practice across numerous sectors. Scalable UPS systems are ideal for a wide variety of sectors where continuous power is essential to maintain business operations, especially those seeking flexibility in their backup power solution. Key applications include:

Data Centers

By deploying UPSs that scale for added capacity or redundancy, today’s data centers can meet ever-changing requirements. The plug-and-play power distribution components of modular UPSs also enable data centers to break down room-level wiring into row- or rack-level modules, while extended battery modules allow data centers to customize their backup runtime requirements.

Telecommunications Networks

Modular UPS systems are an ideal choice for ever-expanding telecommunications networks, ensuring uptime to critical telecom switches, routers and other network equipment. They also help telecom providers to optimize energy usage.


The demand for a modular, flexible power backup system in hospitals, laboratories and other healthcare facilities continues to increase. The scalable and redundant features of modular UPS solutions are an excellent fit for medical equipment and infrastructure.  

Industrial Process Control

Modular UPSs are a common backup solution for control systems, robotics and other industrial processes where uninterrupted power is required to ensure process continuity.

Financial Institutions

Modular UPS systems represent an excellent solution for organizations in the financial sector operating critical applications that cannot experience downtime or data loss due to power disruptions, such as banks, investment firms and insurance agencies.

The Difference Between a Modular UPS and an N+1 UPS System

It is not uncommon to hear the terms modular UPS and N+1 UPS interchanged. However, these two types of backup power solutions are not the same, and typically differ in size, cost and efficiency.

While scalable UPS solutions enable capacity or redundancy to be expanded by increasing the number of power modules, an N+1 UPS system relies on multiple UPSs to provide redundancy and extra capacity. Because of this, these systems occupy a large footprint. Conversely, a modular UPS system offers a smaller footprint by enabling you to initially deploy a frame containing the exact number of power modules needed to support the load. Additional modules may be added until the capacity of the frame has been reached.

The cost of a modular UPS is usually less than an N+1 system because the initial system can be right-sized for current needs, then expanded based on growth and budget. On the other hand, because an N+1 UPS is generally sized for a future capacity, there tends to be a greater cost, while also creating the potential that the oversized system is never operated at full capacity. Furthermore, because a UPS runs less efficiently with a lighter load, these larger systems often result in greater operating expenses than modular UPS solutions.

Contact Unified Power for your Modular UPS System Needs

Modularity in UPS systems offers tremendous benefits, enabling organizations to achieve greater flexibility in meeting evolving power demands while ensuring uninterrupted power to critical applications. Unified Power can help you adopt a modular approach so you can scale your critical power protection infrastructure efficiently and enhance overall system reliability. We are also available to meet the complete service requirements of modular UPS systems.

From UPS and generator sales, to turnkey electrical solutions, to maintenance and repair of all major manufacturers’ equipment, Unified Power delivers unparalleled support on a nationwide scale. For additional information about our products and world-class services designed to optimize the reliability and performance of your critical power systems, please contact us today.

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