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Director's Blog: So just what exactly is a UPS?

Kohler Uninterruptible Power News and PR from Kohler Uninterruptible Power - Published 03 August 2015 This blog written by Alan Luscombe, UPS Ltd Director, explains what a UPS is, as well as putting the various risks averted by UPS systems into perspective.
UPS systems provide emergency power in the event of an outage, either to enable the safe shutdown of your equipment, or as a stopgap until generator power kicks in.

The trouble is, not only do UPS systems have another (more important) role, but if you’re only considering implementing a UPS on the basis of disaster recovery, it probably won’t happen until it’s too late. You see, as a species we’re terrible at assessing risk.

A UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, is a device that sits between the mains power supply and your critical systems, performing two primary functions:

1. Providing emergency power in the event of an outage

2. Filtering disturbances from the mains power supply to provide safe, clean power

Outages are not the only thing that can go wrong with your mains power supply. Here are some of others:

· Spikes– Short, rapid fluctuations in voltage, ranging in intensity from a malfunction at the power company to a locally grounded lightning strike

· Electrical noise– A ‘catch-all’ term for interference in the power supply lines, which might be caused by load switching, cable faults or radio frequency interference (RFI)

· Surges– A sustained voltage increase, usually occurring after a large load is switched off

· Sags– A drop-off in the mains supply, usually occurring when a large load is switched on

· Brownouts– Identical to sags, but with much longer duration; these occur when the mains supply is unable to cope with the current load demand

· Harmonics– Current and voltage distortions caused by loads such as computers, photocopiers and laser printers, which pull current from the mains supply in large peaks

These minor fluctuations are often more damaging to your equipment than a complete outage would be. It’s easy to imagine the implications of an outage on your organisation – Loss of business, inability to trade, data loss or corruption, and so forth.

The phenomena described above can easily result in a reduced lifespan, or even failure of your critical systems.

In the UK the average time between mains power failures is 10,000 hours, or 445 days. By contrast, the average time between disturbances is as low as 50 hours in some areas. Combine these figures with the damage caused by disturbances, and we find that outages are not only by far the least frequent of power issues affecting your systems, they’re almost always the least expensive.

Hopefully this article has helped to explain what a UPS is, as well as putting the various risks averted by UPS systems into perspective. The headline that you’ll still be able to work (or at least safely shut down your equipment) in the event of an outage is a good one, but I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of protecting your business against power disturbances.
I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance of protecting your business against power disturbances.

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  • Choosing a generator for data centre power protection

    UPS generators are no longer just a backup plan. Today, they are considered a vital component of a companys power protection policy, as sizing UPS batteries for protracted power blackouts is simply uneconomic and impractical. In choosing a generator for a data centre or other critical IT load application, a number of factors must be considered. These include the generators key components, environmental issues and the qualifications of the suppliers as well as compatibility with the UPS to be supported. In this article, Alan Luscombe, director at Uninterruptible Power Supplies Ltd., a Kohler company, discusses how generators work with UPSs, and the factors you must consider when choosing a generator as part of your power protection policy.

    23 Jul 2015