Just say 'No' to power interruptions

UPS technology keeps critical systems on line


Power outages, shortages and brownouts happen, locations where it is impossible to keep a power current going, exist. When such events or locations call for a source of power to keep security systems and data centers going the solution could call for an uninterruptable power source or supply (UPS).

Essential for keeping systems up and running in most settings and environments, UPS products are designed to keep it all together when regular sources of power have failed. Loaded with new features and options, UPS products can accommodate the demands of challenging applications 24/7.

As Dave Boroevich, vice president of Marketing, Alpha Technologies, British Columbia, pointed out, "it is critical to ensure the right UPS solution is chosen for the application."

It's important to understand the engineering choices involved when choosing a UPS system. "There are quite a few approaches to UPS power protection in a data center environment," said Rich Feldhaus, product manager, Tripp Lite, Chicago. "Much of the way the facility is wired is influenced by the company growth patterns, budgets or facility management team preferences and specialties."

Demand for extended backup

"Integrators in the field need to have the knowledge and ability to know how these systems back up," added Chuck Gougler, marketing manager, Staco Energy, Dayton, Ohio. There are three types of UPS systems: Line Interactive, Offline and Double Conversion Online. Each version works from offering such basic features as surge protection, to adding and subtracting power, to providing power for several hours with greater current loads.

The demand for these systems has grown, especially in data centers where more servers are coming online. "Network devices are being put into place and consequently this level of activity demands backup and it is a good thing to have a UPS attached providing longer run times during power shortages," said Bill Allen, director of Marketing Para Systems, Minuteman Power Technologies, Carrollton, Texas. "It used to be we could get away with providing 10 to 20 minutes of back up time, but demand has grown with two to four hours being common and the industry is looking to provide eight hours in some situations, which is desirable." Boroevich of Alpha Technologies, agreed that "the demand for extended backup time is a big trend as buyers realize their security system is only as effective as the assurance of power."

New reliability enhancements

Other enhancements to the UPS are increased reliability. "Customer demand and industry trends are continuously driving new product development in exciting new directions," Feldhaus stated. "The most recent lineup changes involve enhanced reliability in the form of fault-tolerant UPS systems with simple, easy-to-replace power modules that can be serviced by non-electrician IT staff without down time for connected equipment." Feldhaus also found the emphasis on low power consumption and 'green' modes of operation are something users are eager for. Also desirable are products with efficiency levels of upwards of 97 percent.

Efficiency adds significant value to these systems which are becoming smaller, saving money in floor space, but are still doing the job of providing instantaneous or near-instantaneous protection from input power interruptions. "The units have become lighter, which means they are easier to install and maintain, but there is a limit to how small they can become," said Gary Anderson, marketing manager, AC Power Systems, Emerson Network Power, Columbus, Ohio. "The UPS must remain the key product that delivers clean power to servers in the data center. Those servers need to have constant power that does not vary too widely." Power shortages, changes in frequency and voltages can cause problems and even damage servers.

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