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How To Achieve UPS & Generator Harmony

How To Achieve UPS & Generator Harmony

Dale Power Solutions

Grid systems, and your main power supply, are fantastic 9 times out of 10 and will continue to provide you with electrical power to help power your online network or to help run your business’s equipment. However, the chance of a blackout or power outage is just too great for you not to consider implementing a UPS and generator power supply infrastructure. Think about the impact that power loss could have on your normal operations, even for just a few minutes. The downtime and subsequent damage could be financially catastrophic if you work in telecoms or construction and potentially life-threatening if you work in a hospital.

In today’s blog, we’re going to be looking at ways you can achieve generator and UPS harmony to ensure your systems always have the right output, no matter what is happening on the grid.

What Does A UPS Do & What Is The Role Of A Generator?

An uninterruptible power supply – sometimes referred to as an uninterruptible power source – is a piece of electrical equipment that can act as your mains power supply if something goes wrong. Uninterruptible power supply systems are used across a variety of sectors such as data centres and transport due to the nature of these industries, and the continuous need for reliable power.

Uninterruptible power systems are popular because they automatically detect power loss and will look to fill the gap so that electrical equipment, applications, engines or devices are not compromised. An uninterruptible power supply reduces fluctuations and keeps electrical power flowing, all while keeping noise levels low and requiring little to no maintenance to provide a sufficient power load.

Generator sets are self-powered devices that generate their electrical output. Generators can be diesel generators, LPG generators, or they can run on natural gas – and are used to power your uninterruptible power systems for longer periods of time. Easy to install, generators, such as heavy generators, can help provide emergency power to heavy appliances and devices easily.

There is a debate about whether diesel generator solutions are a better option when it comes to supplying emergency power compared to uninterruptible power systems. However, the real answer lies in a combination of both. Combining both a UPS and compatible generator sets can give you a seamless power transition and can support electrical equipment and critical systems.

Common Problems That Occur When UPS And Generators Work Together

Line Notches and Harmonic Current

A lot of UPSs use a rectifier, a type of charger control, that often causes notches and variations on the power feed, be it a generator or a utility. Notches such as this can cause real issues and incompatibility with generator controls. A rectifier doesn’t draw sine wave current from the line and this difference is generally referred to as total harmonic distortion and can cause excessive heating variations and differences in the generators.

The key to solving these heating issues and maintaining a steady power load and power output is by using a properly designed passive filter. A proper passive filter will be able to address harmonic heating problems. A lot of generators that power electrical devices will have derating information which also addresses these issues.

Step Loading

When a generator turns on to provide emergency power, there is a switch that connects it to the UPS. When this closes the immediate total load that is fed to the generator can cause huge swings in frequency and voltage. This issue can be controlled if the UPS has what’s called a ‘walk-in feature’, which means the power in the UPS can gradually be applied to the generator over 10-20 seconds. This prevents the power surge, from the total load, damaging the protected equipment, and gives the user greater control and protection over the transfer of power.

Bypass Synchronizing

Requiring the UPS to synchronise to bypass, to allow the prospective load to transfer to the generator, tends to put more demand on the generator because it needs to have good voltage and frequency stability. If it can’t maintain voltage or frequency stability during its interactions with the UPS as it bypasses, it can expose big system integration problems. Thankfully, good control design will ensure stability across voltage and frequency and ensure capacity isn’t breached. UPSs can then increase the bypass frequency deviation and slew rate when it comes to the load.

3 Ways To Achieve UPS Harmony

So we’ve looked at some of the problems, but what about the solutions? Well, what follows are just a few ways that you can maintain a strong alignment between your generator and UPS and ensure power conditions and generator system reliability are optimised.

Generator Sizing

Proper generator sizing is essential to the safety of the UPS and the power around it. Consider all of the things you want your generator to do, from powering emergency lighting and running air conditioning units through to keeping protected equipment going to avoid data loss and phone lines operating to ensure communications remain active. All this needs to be thought of before selecting a generator otherwise it may not be able to hold the voltage, frequency and current flow or handle surges when the UPS is needed and you suffer a blackout or power outage. A good rule of thumb, if budget allows, is to always size up your generator to accommodate new equipment, features or products that may be introduced in the future, should your business grow or expand.

Consider The Fuel Source

Generator fuel options range from diesel and natural gas through to propane, LPG and even fuel cells. Therefore, you should take time to consider the fuel source that will be best for you, for instance a natural gas generator tends to work better when it is sized larger so, budget depending, this might be a better choice for you. Diesel is an extremely popular fuel source and is used for generators above 50 kW so if you need a generator that has this kW or higher, diesel might be the best choice.

Don’t Forget About The Governor

A governor limits the speed of fuel being delivered to the output engine to protect it from unexpected load changes. Electric governors are quicker to respond whereas mechanical ones tend to be a little slower and can sometimes cause calibration challenges, so it’s important to take time to consider these features and weigh up, in your mind, what is the best solution for you.

Contact Dale Power Solutions

We hope this blog helped you understand what you need to do to achieve UPS and generator harmony. For many years, the team here at Dale Power Solutions have been helping companies and organisations across the UK in places such as Manchester, Glasgow, East Anglia, Birmingham and Cardiff that are in the public and private sector – from the fire and police service through to marine oil and gas businesses. We’re confident that we can supply the right generator and UPS system for you and your business so why not get in touch with us today online or call us on 0330 999 3000 for more information about our product range.