Important UPS System Design Considerations
When considering a new UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) system for your business, site or facility, some key design considerations need to be taken into account when it comes to analysing your needs regarding this power source.
In today’s blog, we’re going to be looking at the most important UPS design considerations. If you spend time analysing which power solutions are best for your business then you’ll love our team at Dale. As one of the leading suppliers of generators and UPS power supplies, Dale combines technical knowledge with operational experience to provide a five-star service to our range of clients in the healthcare sector, the world of utilities as well as a range of other industries.
We provide support across the UK, and therefore, if you’re located in areas such as Glasgow, Pen y Cymoedd, Manchester, Liverpool, London or Newcastle then be sure to get in touch with us on 0330 999 3000 to discuss the options we have available to you.
Having an understanding of your current UPS power supply is a crucial step when considering which power source is right for you. While it may seem tempting to focus on the bigger, three phase UPS systems, in our experience, a lot of IT managers work with single-phase equipment at a rack level.
Single phase loads, at the rack level, exist in a lot of small to mid-sized data centres and computer rooms. A lot of ground-up designs prefer a three phase power source because it helps them in increasing efficiencies and reducing total costs. These benefits create a great opportunity for three phase solutions to be used in new construction.
An evaluation of the environments, and how a potential UPS system will be deployed, is vital because a lot of environments can support several different uninterruptible power supplies. If you operate in harsh weather conditions for example, then a severe weather UPS power supply may be required.
One of the most important factors to consider is the VA or watt rating of the power source when discovering which UPS power supply is best.
The size of the UPS will further narrow the selection of modern UPS systems, as will the correct power environment and whether it is single phase or three phase.
When it comes to single phase deployments, it makes sense to choose a UPS that exceeds the current input power requirements but, in turn, offers greater runtimes and allows for future expansion if needed.
This consideration involves determining your actual run-time requirements. Most people think runtime is a simple thing to quantify. But, when it comes to considering the development of bespoke end-to-end solutions, it’s important to understand the facts behind the numbers. The amount of runtime required can greatly affect the total cost of the solution. However, Eaton solutions tend to be more cost-effective when it comes to extended runtime applications, and this is why we are proud to supply their UPS systems.
In general, four basic battery power configurations should be considered.
UPS with a 10-15 minute runtime and no generator. This covers 90-95% of power outages. You have two options: to use the UPS shutdown to save data on computer systems; or try to stay online as long as possible before the system crashes.
UPS with a 10-15 minute runtime and a generator. This is a very reliable set up and most UPS power backups will start up between 1 and 5 minutes later. This solution covers you in most situations.
Dual-corded servers which involve redundant USPs, generators and two power feeds. This configuration is for people who are worried about what happens if the power source fails. In this scenario, it’s time to get consultants on-site to figure out an appropriate solution.
The final configuration is a UPS with two or more hours of battery runtime. In a lot of these cases, generators may not be practical, and this means a reliance on batteries is a must.
Answering questions such as, “How much space are you willing to designate to your UPS?” and, “Where do you plan to install it?” will help you determine whether the environment you find yourself in is better suited for a tower or rack-mount model. Some USPs have a 2-in-1 form factor which allows you to deploy the unit in a way that suits you.
UPS solutions by Eaton are scalable and give you a competitive advantage because the ways to increase capacity are extremely cost-effective. All Eaton USPs with a 6 kVA or more power can be scaled in some way. From firmware upgrades, additional hardware components or paralleling multiple UPS.
Having that scalability built into your UPS provides great long-term value because it allows you to scale up your utility power without needing to purchase additional hardware. A simple kVA upgrade is all you need to get your UPS to operate at full capacity. If you want to service your UPS power supply yourself be sure to look for a unit that allows you to add capacity with power or battery modules. We also offer an extensive UPS service and maintenance programme that can aid operational efficiency and plan for future growth.
Be sure to consider how the input power or utility power will be delivered to your most critical equipment. Some electrical equipment may be plugged directly into the UPS. In others, you may require a PDU (Power Distribution Unit) to help distribute the power to computer systems and other electrical apparatus. You may also have to incorporate rack-based PDUs into the overall design.
Power management software is essential in ensuring that your important work-in-progress is being saved properly and other connected equipment is shut down properly if the output voltage exceeds the battery runtime of the UPS. Software is important because without it, the UPS will run until the batteries, and battery backup, are depleted. Some other capabilities, associated with monitoring and managing, should be considered:
Notifications, such as text messages and emails, whenever an unexpected power event happens.
Suitable logging of recent power events.
Advanced capabilities in useful virtual environments. This includes integration into software such as VMware’s, ESXi and vSphere, Microsoft’s Hyper-V and Nutanix Ready Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV).
Dedicated battery monitoring with strong service notifications.
Remote monitoring by service personnel from your UPS systems manufacturer.
The peace of mind that comes with on-site services or advanced UPS exchange agreements is preferred by a lot of IT and facility management professionals. To decide whether you opt for this route or the alternative, which is servicing your equipment, you should assess your technical and service capabilities. There is a risk when it comes to maintaining UPS and battery safety, which both need to be considered. A good rule to stick by is that the more complicated the equipment, the more important it is to have experts perform the maintenance.
Be ready to prioritise your needs to ensure the UPS power system that you choose can fit within your budget. You may need to make trade-off decisions to ensure you can get the right package, as opposed to your dream one.
Determine if there’s a suitable electrical supply closeby to the UPS. Compare UPS fuse ratings, breaker types and whether any electrical work will be needed before you install the UPS.
Work out the dimensions of the UPS and include battery cabinets in these measurements. Ensure the installation site you have selected has enough space available for everything to ensure it can function.
Make sure the UPS can be put in the designated location. Consider the journey it needs to take to its final position. Stairs, doors and other existing racks are all things that need to be thought about.
Ensure your floor has the correct loading capacity to hold the UPS and its associated battery cabinets.
Does the location you’ve chosen have adequate ventilation? You shouldn’t install a UPS in a sealed container or in a small room where there aren’t any windows or extractor vents.
Check you have the right wall receptacle to plug in your chosen UPS. Those that have power ratings up to 1500 VA can plug into your standards 15-amp wall outlet. All others, however, will require a larger receptacle that needs to be installed by an electrician. It’s important to ensure all this is sorted before the UPS system arrives.
If you want the UPS output to be distributed via electrical panels, then hardwired outputs are probably a good idea. This allows for greater flexibility when it comes to receptacle types. If there are no other UPS that fits your receptacle and power requirements you may need to hardwire it. Hardwired UPS models require a certified electrician to wire them which can be more costly.
If you’re installing a smaller, newer UPS system behind an existing one, it is important to consider the total power of the smaller UPS as well as the other loads that will be powered by the larger UPS. A good example is this, is if you’re plugging a 1500 VA UPS into a 10,000 VA UPS you’ll also need to consider the load of the smaller UPS rather than just considering the load that is plugged into it. What’s more, the larger UPS must be at least five times bigger than the smaller UPS. This is done to avoid overheating and to prevent it from affecting building power.
When deciding on your UPS solution, you must keep the relevant and related power ratings in mind. You’re never going to size a generator in a 1:1 match to your chosen UPS system and expect to be successful. A good rule to follow is for 20 kVA and above, auxiliary generators should be sized 1.5 times the size of the output ratings of the UPS in kW. For 20 kVA and below they should be approximately two times larger.
Ensure the final UPS system meets local building codes.
Automatic transfer switches can be used in several different ways to help you monitor and manage your connected equipment. You can enjoy seamless switching between non-phase synchronized AC power sources if the worst happens and there is a power failure. These are often used to provide power redundancy to equipment with just a single power supply. These eATS models will transfer power between sources with no interruption if the primary source fails or required maintenance. See a diagram of the different feeds below.