Don’t get left in the dark: Your essential guide to UPS systems

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Power outages are a fact of life, impacting businesses of all sizes and across industries. An unplanned power interruption can lead to idle staff and lost work, damaged equipment, unhappy customers, or even safety hazards. A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) acts as your dependable backup, ready to step in and keep critical systems running smoothly.

With so many UPS options available, how do you select the right one for your specific needs? This guide will illuminate the selection process and help you find the perfect UPS for your business peace of mind.

Choosing Your UPS Champion:

Power Needs: Start by assessing the power requirements of the essential equipment you need to protect. Calculate the total power draw in watts or VA (Volt-Ampere) and leave some room for future expansion. Consider any inrush currents, which are momentary surges of power that can occur when equipment is turned on.

Runtime: Determine how long you need your equipment to run during a power outage. Do you require just a few minutes for saving work and a safe shutdown, or do you need extended hours for vital operations? Will a backup generator take over if the grid fails? How much time does it need to start up and stabilise? For longer runtimes, consider a UPS that supports the addition of EBMs (External Battery Modules) that will extend the battery runtime of the UPS

Phases: Consider the type of power your equipment requires. Most commercial buildings use single-phase power, but some larger facilities and equipment will utilize three-phase power.

Line Interactive vs. Online UPS: UPS systems come in two main topologies:

Line-interactive UPS: These offer a balance of affordability and functionality. They provide basic surge protection and battery backup, and they can regulate minor voltage fluctuations. However, they may not be suitable for sensitive equipment or applications requiring consistent, clean power.
Online UPS: These offer the highest level of power protection. They continuously convert incoming AC power to DC power, then back to clean, regulated AC power, even during an outage. This ensures consistent power quality for even the most demanding equipment.

Batteries: The battery is a critical component of any UPS system. It provides backup power during an outage. Here are some key considerations when it comes to UPS batteries:

Battery Backup Time: The backup time refers to how long your UPS can power your equipment during a power outage. This depends on the capacity of the battery and the power draw of your equipment.
Battery Types: There are two main types of UPS batteries:
Lead-Acid Batteries: These are the most common type of UPS battery. They are relatively affordable but have a shorter lifespan (typically 3-5 years) and require more frequent maintenance.
Lithium-Ion Batteries: These offer a longer lifespan (typically 8-10 years) and require less maintenance than lead-acid batteries. They are also more compact and lightweight, making them a good choice for space-constrained environments. However, they typically come at a much higher initial cost.

Footprint and Rack Space Requirements: Consider the physical space constraints in your environment. UPS systems come in various form factors, including tower and rackmount configurations.

Tower UPS: These are ideal for desktops or small spaces. They have a vertical orientation and a smaller footprint compared to rackmount models.
Rackmount UPS: These are designed for installation in standard server racks, maximizing space utilization in data centers and IT environments. They are available in different heights (measured in rack units or U) to fit various rack configurations.

Remote monitoring and control capabilities
Environmental monitoring probes and SNMP monitoring: These features allow you to monitor environmental conditions (temperature, humidity) in your IT environment and receive alerts if they fall outside acceptable ranges. SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) enables integration with your network management system for centralized monitoring and control.
Software Options: UPS manufacturers like Eaton offer a suite of UPS management software solutions that provide comprehensive monitoring, control, and management capabilities for your UPS systems. These tools allow you to remotely monitor your UPS health, receive notifications of potential issues, and perform configuration and shutdown actions as needed. Eaton’s software is compatible with a wide range of operating systems and network management platforms.

When does your business need a UPS?

  • Essential Electronics: Protect computers, workstations, and network devices in offices, schools, and any setting where sudden shutdowns would disrupt work and potentially lead to data loss. (Eaton Recommends: Eaton 5 Series UPS (5PX, 5P, 5SC))
  • Point-of-Sale Systems: Ensure uninterrupted transactions in retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses relying on point-of-sale systems. (Eaton Recommends: Eaton 5 Series or Eaton 9SX)
  • Security and Medical Equipment: Guarantee continuous power for essential security systems like cameras and alarms, and life-saving medical devices in hospitals and clinics. (Eaton Recommends: Eaton 9PX and Eaton 9SX online UPSs)
  • Manufacturing Processes: Safeguard sensitive equipment and prevent costly production downtime in manufacturing facilities. (Eaton Recommends: 9SX and Eaton 9PHD online UPSs for more demanding industrial loads)
  • Data Centers: Protect servers, storage, and networking infrastructure – the backbone of modern businesses. (Eaton Recommends: Eaton 9PX and larger three-phase online UPS solutions)
  • Telecommunications: Maintain reliable communications networks and services to prevent interruptions for customers. (Eaton Recommends: Eaton DC Systems, Eaton 9PX DC)
  • Financial Institutions: Protect critical systems and data within the financial sector. (Eaton Recommends: 9PX and larger three-phase online UPS systems, depending on the specific needs.)
  • Marine: Protect navigation, control, communication, and sensitive electronics on ships and vessels or port/coastal deployments. (Eaton 9SX Marine online UPS, specifically designed to withstand the harsh marine environment such as vibrations, moisture, extreme temperatures, etc.)

Preventive Maintenance: Keeping Your UPS Ready

At Sirap Ltd, we understand the critical role your UPS plays in keeping your business operational. That’s why we recommend scheduling regular preventive maintenance with our Eaton Certified engineers. We have been a trusted Eaton representative since 1988 and we are certified and have extensive experience servicing and maintaining all Eaton UPS models. Our comprehensive maintenance agreements provide peace of mind, ensuring your UPS receives the expert care it needs to function optimally and extend its lifespan. During preventive maintenance, our engineers will perform a thorough inspection of your UPS, identify any potential issues, and take corrective measures to prevent unexpected downtime. They will also clean and calibrate the unit, ensuring it operates at peak efficiency. Regular preventive maintenance is an essential investment that helps you avoid costly repairs and disruptions, maximizing the return on your investment in your Eaton UPS.

Battery Replacement and Recycling

UPS batteries typically need replacement every 4 years (unless the UPS has been pre-fitted with 10 year long life batteries). Choose responsible disposal options to protect the environment. Here at Sirap Ltd, we are committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility and offer a comprehensive UPS battery recycling program under the ERA license and regulations – regularly going way above the recycling targets set in the legislation. We ensure safe and proper disposal of old UPS batteries, preventing harmful materials from entering landfills and contributing to a greener future.
By understanding your power requirements, choosing the right UPS, and prioritizing maintenance, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes with continuous operation. Be prepared, and let your business shine even when the power grid fails.

More from Eaton: https://www.eaton.com/gb/en-gb/products/backup-power-ups-surge-it-power-distribution.html

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