With the predictions of a very active storm season between now and January and with questions over the reliability of our power in general, it is perhaps timely to explain what to look for when choosing an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A UPS is vital to protect your office equipment from damage that may be caused by a sudden power outage, under voltage or over voltage. You can’t just go to a store and grab the first UPS you see. There are several factors you need to consider to ensure you get the best one suited for your needs.
Factors to Consider When Buying UPS
1. What are you going to connect to it?
Determine what equipment you will need to connect to the UPS. Typically these will be servers, routers, switches, and storage arrays. With the number of devices noted, you can then proceed to identifying the UPS that can accommodate these. There are UPS systems with up to eight outlets.
2. How much power do you need to provide?
Along with the number of devices, you need to know how much power they need. You’ll just need to add up the total electrical load of all the equipment identified. The rule of thumb is to get a UPS with a power capacity that is 25% higher than your total power needed. The major manufacturers such as APC, CyberPower and Eaton have calculators on their websites where you select the devices you have and it will recommend a suitable UPS based on what is connected, how long you want them to run for and how much capacity for expansion you want.
3. Backup Runtime?
You also need to identify how much backup runtime you will need for your UPS. Generally a UPS is needed to have enough time to properly save files and shut down the equipment before a power outage. This will not take more than five minutes. And usually this is enough time to switch to an alternate source of power. Certain models can have additional battery packs connected to increase the run time. Depending on the load and the number of battery packs this could be many hours.
4. Types of UPS?
There are three types of UPS you can choose. Each offers different features that are best for different types of equipment. The standby or offline UPS is the most commonly used UPS and is also the most economical. This is adequate for desktop computers or POS terminals but the batteries are generally quite small so they only provide backup power for a short time. The line-interactive UPS is the one we specify most often as they are the most flexible and provide a good tradeoff between functionality and cost. The online UPS, is the best type of UPS for providing clean power almost regardless of the input power. On these the input power simply runs a battery charger and the load is always running off inverted power from the batteries. They have now been developed so the efficiency is as good if not better than a line interactive model.
5. Tower or rack mount?
UPS’s are generally available as either a tower or a rack mount. Manufacturers now also provide convertible models so they can be stood up on one side as a tower or mounted on rails in a rack. Tower UPS’s are the most common as they tend to be cheaper and are easier to fit in bigger batteries. Rack mount models can be as thin as 1U but these generally only provide a short run time - OK if you have an alternate power source such as a generator but not ideal if it is your only source of backup power. Also consider the airflow in your chosen location as higher temperatures will affect the life of the batteries.
Various companies offer different types of warranties for the UPS system and batteries they provide. As standard they are generally 2-3 years on electronics and 2 years on batteries. Some have sufficient faith in their product to provide advanced replacement warranty. Extended warranties are available and they are worthwhile as they will cover replacement batteries.
In making sure these six factors are covered, you can ensure you have the most ideal UPS that matches your needs. And with the right UPS system for your home or office you can be assured that your equipment will be protected in the best possible way. We are always available to advise on a suitable UPS to fit your needs.