Top Tips to buying a UPS
by Mike Elms, Managing Director, CENTIEL UK Ltd
In an always-on world, we depend on being connected round the clock with immediate access to information and with zero downtime. We want a system that never fails.
Reliability is often considered the key attribute when purchasing a UPS. Yet a system can be reliable over a period of time, but still fail on a particular occasion with far-reaching consequences. Therefore, availability must be your No. 1 priority.
In recent years, modular systems have introduced a significant step-change in the industry. When properly configured, they are designed to maximise load availability and system efficiency simultaneously. This is because modular systems have a single frame, containing a number of power modules which run together and share the load equally. If one fails it automatically isolates itself from the system and the remaining modules continue to support the critical load, preserving system availability. Furthermore, with decentralised architecture there is no single point of failure, contributing to the highest level of availability. In addition with hot swappability the load also remains protected even when any individual module is being replaced.
Another consideration is total cost of ownership (TCO). Purchasing poor quality or inferior designed products can rapidly drive up overall investment costs. Batteries and other components may need to be replaced within a short time – think fans, capacitors etc. Efficiency and lower TCO are inextricably linked. Look for a UPS with the highest online efficiency; as well as reducing energy costs they are environmentally friendly.
Purchasing directly from a manufacturer also cuts out the middle man, reducing cost and providing the peace of mind of full factory support and servicing, plus that all important factory warranty.
Consider also Li-ion. Unlike lead acid, Li-ion batteries are happy running at a temperature of high 20/low 30 degrees centigrade. Similarly, most IT systems work at >25 degrees C and the UPS technology itself can work well up to 40 degrees C. By contrast, an industry standard estimate is that for every 10 degrees above 20 C the operating life of a lead-acid (VRLA) battery is halved.
Switching to Li-ion could mean significant savings on running costs and a reduced carbon footprint. However, not all UPS are Li-ion ready. Technology needs to be compatible to “talk” to the Li-ion battery monitoring system.
Remember that no matter how sturdy and state-of-the-art, your UPS equipment can’t always be relied on to look after itself! So do have a planned maintenance programme for ongoing, reliable operation and safe upkeep.
Originally featured in Networking Plus Magazine June 2019