How to choose a UPS to optimize costs

    According to IDC forecasts, in 2018, the expenses of small and medium enterprises on hardware, software and IT services will reach almost 602 billion dollars, which is 4.9% more than in 2017.
    Further - more.

    In 2021, the expenditure rate of enterprises with a staff of less than 1000 people will reach 684 billion dollars, with an average annual growth rate of 4.7% in the period 2016–2021.

    Power supply is one of the main items of expenditure, and proper management of it is one of the best ways to reduce costs.

    What do small and medium businesses?

    There are not so many real opportunities to optimize the power supply system. Most often, SMB companies are located in rented premises, where electricity supply issues are resolved by a business center representative. Business owners can only choose UPS and surge protectors to ensure equipment operation. And this should not be neglected.

    How to make a choice? You can contact the experts who analyze the characteristics of the equipment available at the plant and offer the most suitable options. And you can - sort out the question yourself. By the way, in most cases it is not so difficult, especially if we are talking about a more or less average office, and not about a specialized room in which, for example, a medical office is located.

    1. Analyze possible problems of centralized power supply.

    Before signing a lease agreement, be sure to pay attention to how the existing power supply system is organized.

    The refusal of the owner to provide comprehensive information is the reason for the negative decision on cooperation. Commercial real estate is now a lot, you should not rush to the first suitable option. If the power supply system is implemented qualitatively, then the owner has no reason to hide it from a potential tenant.
    The easiest way is to look at the protective devices: circuit breakers, residual current devices, difavtomats and so on. If these are products of well-known global manufacturers, then there is probably no reason for concern - there is a serious attitude towards power supply.

    The authoritative statements of various "technical experts" about the viciousness of love for "nameplates" are not worth paying attention to. At home, they can put "the same thing, only cheaper," and the attitude to the goods for sale suggests a slightly different approach.

    An external examination does not negate the expediency of obtaining accurate information. The most reliable way is to use voltage monitoring relays or software supplied with the UPS and able to collect statistics.

    As a result, the company’s management should obtain an objective picture of the threats associated with faults in the power supply network. It is on it that the policy of optimization will be built, since the reassessment of the danger is just as harmful as the devil-may-care attitude toward it.

    2. Understand UPS functions

    Contrary to popular belief, the UPS protects not only from the disappearance of the voltage and its increase / decrease. Modern devices offer much more features. For example, they protect sensitive devices from high-voltage pulses, electromagnetic interference, various transient switching processes, and distortion of a pure sinusoid voltage.

    Properly organized uninterruptible power supply system should perform two functions:

    • eliminate equipment damage due to voltage fluctuations and other network problems;
    • eliminate equipment downtime due to power outages.

    3. Conduct an audit of your equipment

    First of all, you need to decide what kind of equipment really needs protection from unstable power supply and its emergency shutdown. The sudden de-energization of your favorite coffee maker and the printer necessary for the operation in general does not threaten any devices or business. But if the transmission of the letter, which contains the data necessary for the partner, is suddenly interrupted, the damage may turn out to be not only reputational.

    As a result of the analysis, all the equipment should be divided according to the signs of technical sensitivity to the quality of the power supply (in case of power surges, it may fail) and the commercial need for continuous operation (if it stops, the company will not receive the expected profit). After the equipment is categorized, you can evaluate what will require powerful UPS, where there will be enough simpler sources, and where - conventional surge protectors.

    3. Estimate the number of required UPS

    You can save a lot of time and buy a general system of protection against faults in the power supply network for all equipment - if you agree with the landlord, he will surely find a place not only for high-power UPSs, but also for a backup generator. True, such a solution has only two drawbacks.

    First of all, such a pleasure will be expensive. Secondly, the well-known rule about eggs and a basket is applicable not only to finance.

    However, it may not make sense to equip each protected device with a separate UPS. Suppose there is a group of employees at the enterprise who are often traveling, so their simultaneous presence in the office is unlikely. If during an accident it is enough to ensure only the correct closure of several applications while preserving files, then you can save money by connecting such workstations to the same source - the main thing is that there are enough outlets on it.

    However, there are no obstacles for connecting several constantly working computers to the same source. For this purpose, suitable, for example, UPS APC Smart-UPS 1000 SMT1000I capacity of 700 watts. It has 8 protected connectors and produces a clean sine wave when running on battery.

    Thus, if a business involves the use of typical low-power workstations, then it is easier to connect them to one UPS. If expensive equipment is installed that is critical to the quality of power supply, then each device will need a separate source

    4. Choose UPS power and battery life

    According to the standard recommendation, the UPS power should be equal to the total power of all consumers plus 20-30%. If there are any difficulties with the calculation, then the easiest way to use a special configurator (, which will offer obviously suitable models.

    When choosing the power of the UPS, it is necessary to take into account not only the rated power of the protected device, but also the starting current necessary for its operation, equal to the product of two passport values: the rated current of the device and the multiplicity of the starting current. If it exceeds the capacity of the UPS, then such equipment should not be connected to the selected source.

    A common mistake when choosing a UPS is a misunderstanding of the relationship between its power and battery life, which in reality is not linear. If the power of the UPS is several times greater than the power of the protected equipment, the battery life is partially spent on the internal needs of the source, and not on the power of consumers. The increase in battery life, of course, will be, but not as large as the approximate estimates show.

    Cost-effective for medium and small businesses, UPSs are designed to keep equipment running for the minutes it takes to switch to another source: a generator or a backup line. More from them, as a rule, is not required.
    However, the reality is that the lines protected by single-phase UPSs may not be connected either to the backup line or to the generator. Moreover, they may be absent altogether, and there are simply no other suitable places. In these cases, you have to sacrifice energy efficiency in favor of battery life.

    A similar approach is reasonable to apply to another important characteristic of the UPS - efficiency. And not only because this indicator determines the effectiveness of the basic function of the product. As you might guess, we are talking about such an unpleasant effect as heat.

    The lower the efficiency, the greater the heat dissipation. Hence, respectively, unnecessary and no one needs the cost of air conditioning.

    Optimization in this case consists in the choice of power supplies of the lowest possible redundancy. Almost ideal solution for most cases - objectively necessary power + 25%.

    By the way, a list compiled during equipment revision can be useful here. Surely, it has devices for which power redundancy is desirable, but not necessary. If the UPS has excess power beyond what is needed, then there is something to spend on it. This will improve the efficiency of work without spending extra money.

    5. Choose the right type of UPS

    Interstate standard IEC 62040-3 defines three types of uninterrupted power supply systems. Currently, they are all on the market and the user can choose the most suitable for themselves.

    Type one - Standby or simply backup UPS. They are characterized by the fact that during normal mains operation the battery and inverter are completely disconnected from the load. In emergency mode, it supplies the protected equipment with the voltage of an approximated sinusoid, which is very far from ideal. This property virtually eliminates their use in conjunction with devices on transformer power supplies, and indeed any expensive equipment.

    In addition, the waveform at the output of such devices is not sinusoidal, which eliminates However, backup UPS are very popular because of their low cost and are widely used to protect workstations with impulse power supplies. And the problems of an unstable network are solved with the help of an additional stabilizer.

    Type two - Line-Interactive. Unlike the younger brother, their input is equipped with a transformer, which compensates for possible external voltage drops, thereby preventing the source from switching to emergency mode with minor jumps in the network. Depending on the model, the output signal can be in the form of both approximated and pure sine wave during battery operation.

    This type of UPS is most popular today as a reasonable compromise between price and quality. The most powerful and functional models are used even to protect critical server hardware.

    Type Three — On-Line or double conversion UPS. In them, the battery is constantly charged through the rectifier, and the power to the protected device comes only from the battery. Such UPSs are distinguished by a pure sinusoid at the output and can be used in conjunction with critical equipment, including instrumentation.

    To power the load to bypass the main circuit in the UPS with double conversion implemented bypass mode. Transition to it can be carried out either automatically at an overload or internal malfunction, or manually for carrying out maintenance without shutdown of the equipment.

    Optimization in this step - based on the needs of the protected equipment, to minimize both the types of UPS and their brands, in order to avoid the “zoo solutions” as much as possible. Should we be guided by the existing composition of equipment that needs protection or take into account the future? Obviously, there is no general answer to this question - everything is determined by the specific situation, including the financial one.

    6. Pay attention to the type of battery.

    In practice, the choice is limited to two options: lead-acid or lithium-ion. Moreover, this also applies to single-phase UPSs - in particular, Schneider Electric has expanded the APC Smart-UPS series with two models equipped with Li-Ion batteries.

    Despite the higher cost, lithium-ion batteries have several advantages. Their service life reaches 10 years, while the lead-acid battery needs to be replaced in 3-5 years.

    Longer service life not only reduces the total cost of ownership of the UPS. Any experienced operator will say that replacing the battery is a rather troublesome business, because at the right moment there will be no money to buy new ones. Especially if there were no global outages in the several months preceding this moment.

    7. Consider additional features.

    The capabilities of the software supplied with the UPS are much broader than the usual statistics collection. Thus, the most advanced version of PowerChute Network Shutdown allows you to not only know in advance about the need to replace the battery, but can even turn on and off virtual machines in accordance with their priority group.

    If you want to protect the telephone line and local network from interference, then it is wise to choose models equipped with additional RJ-11 and RJ-45 sockets. Their presence does not affect the quality of the main function in any way.

    About the number and type of conventional outlets, too, do not forget. For example, if it is necessary to protect not only computers, the UPS should contain both specialized IEC 320 sockets and the universal Schuko CEE 7.

    It is better if the UPS uses managed groups of sockets - they provide the user with advanced load management capabilities by redistributing it between the connected devices. With the help of PowerChute Business Edition software, maintenance personnel sets different on / off algorithms for each group. Management can also be carried out in manual mode - if necessary, individual groups are disabled, which allows to increase the uptime of the most important equipment.

    Attention should be paid to the display and controls built into the UPS. The first should be understandable, and the second - comfortable. Special software is good, but there are situations when it is easier to look at the LCD display and press a button.

    It is highly desirable to support the EPO function (emergency power off), which allows you to instantly disconnect the load and power converters from the UPS, putting it into fault indication mode. Finally, SmartSlot will surely be useful for managing sources over an auxiliary channel.

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