Factors to Consider When Selecting a UPS Backup System

Choosing a UPS System

Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) provide backup power to electronic equipment in the event of a power outage or other power-related issues. Solutions like a UPS battery backup ensure that devices such as computers, servers, and other critical systems continue to operate without interruption for a few seconds or minutes while a generator comes online, preventing data loss and hardware damage.

You must choose a UPS backup solution that fits your facility’s unique needs. Keep reading to learn more about factors to consider when selecting a UPS backup system.

Understanding Your Power Needs

It’s essential to know your power needs before you can choose a UPS backup system for your operation. Ideally, you should use a power meter to measure the voltage and amperage of critical equipment. Alternatively, you can consult the owner’s manuals for voltage and volt-amp (VA) ratings.

When assessing the power load for a UPS system, add the power (VA) ratings of the equipment you want to support. Then, add at least a 10% buffer to ensure your UPS backup system can meet your expectations.

Types of UPS Systems

There are three major types of UPS systems to consider:

Standby UPS

Standby UPS, also known as offline UPS, is designed to provide basic backup power and protection to electronics devices. In normal operation, a Standby UPS supplies power directly to the equipment and charges its internal batteries. If the UPS detects an input power failure, it quickly switches to its internal battery and an inverter converts DC power into AC power to supply connected devices.

Advantages / Limitations

Generally, Standby UPS are less expensive than other types of UPS. They are very easy to install and operate and designed to be compact. Most of them include surge protection.

Standby UPS systems may not handle all power disturbances as well as other types. They provide a minimum backup time to allow for proper shutdown. Most models have a switching delay to battery, which is fast enough to protect most equipment.

Typical Applications

Standby UPS systems are usually found in homes or small offices to protect computers, network equipment and peripherals. Most standby UPS systems are rated for 1,500VA or lower.

Line-Interactive UPS

Line-interactive UPS provides enhanced power protection and voltage regulations compared to Standby UPS. It is designed to handle a wider variety of power disturbances, making it suitable for sensitive and critical applications. It also relies on its internal batteries to power the load in case of an outage or input power fluctuations.

Advantages / Limitations

Line-Interactive UPS are better at reacting to power disturbances than Standby UPS and can maintain constant output voltage without battery usage. They offer a good tradeoff between cost and performance.
They still provide a limited amount of backup time and may not be suitable for most sensitive equipment.

Typical Applications

You can find line-interactive UPS systems rated for up to 5,000VA, making them suitable for larger offices, businesses with on-site servers, networking equipment and point-of-sales (POS) systems.

Online Double-Conversion UPS

Double Conversion UPS systems, also known as Online UPS, provide the highest level of protection to critical loads by continuously converting incoming power from AC to DC and then back to DC, while charging its batteries. Online UPS ensure a consistent and clean power output to most sensitive loads.

Advantages / Limitations

Double Conversion UPS provides output power without any interruption and zero transfer time to batteries in case of a power failure. They are ideal for environments where power quality and reliability are vital. Online UPS can be configured with longer backup time than any other UPS types.

Generally, this type of UPS is more expensive due to its advanced features, and may provide lower efficiency than the UPS previously mentioned. They also tend to have a larger footprint.

Typical Applications

Most common applications are critical systems such as data centers, telecom, medical equipment and industrial operations. Online UPS are rated from 5,000VA up to 1.5MW.

Runtime Requirements

How long do you want your UPS backup to power equipment?

If you have an on-site generator, you might only need the UPS backup system to operate for a few minutes while your generator comes online. If the UPS is relying exclusively on its battery backup system, then you will likely want to maximize battery runtime.

Most smaller UPS (up to 60kVA) are configured with internal batteries, while larger UPS require external batteries for backup. The amount of runtime needed is highly dependent on the load applied to the UPS.

As UPS battery technology evolves, different types of batteries are becoming more prevalent outside of traditional lead acid batteries. You may want to consider a move to lithium-ion batteries to reduce overall footprint and weight, while increasing the life of the battery by 2-3x compared to lead acid.

To perform a UPS runtime calculation, multiply the UPS system’s battery capacity (in Ah) by the battery rating (in V) by the battery efficiency (in %). Then, divide that amount by your equipment’s power requirements (in W).

You can also use the Global Power solution calculator.

If a system can’t meet your runtime requirements, look for an option with a larger capacity.

Battery Performance and Management

Battery performance and capacity can degrade over time due a few factors, such as temperature, number of discharges and aging, even when you are not using your UPS system very often. Preventive maintenance of a UPS keeps your system in excellent condition, so you can rely on it when you most need it.

Global Power Supply offers preventative maintenance for long-term UPS reliability.

UPS System Scalability and Flexibility

As organizations increasingly adopt digitalization, electricity usage will likely increase. That makes it important to consider UPS system scalability when choosing solutions for your facility.

Modular USP backups make it possible for businesses to scale as their power needs evolve. If you prefer a standalone USP backup, choose one that will meet your estimated power needs a decade from now.

UPS Warranty and Support Services

Warranties can vary significantly depending on the product, manufacturer, and vendor you choose.

Most UPS manufacturers will offer 3-year to 5-year warranties. You can potentially get an extended warranty from a vendor, which will cover your UPS for a longer period of time.

It’s important to read the warranty carefully to understand what is included. Some will replace equipment that malfunctions within a certain amount of time while others will repair malfunctioning items.

The warranty should also outline your responsibilities as a user. If you violate the terms, you could invalidate the agreement.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental considerations to think about when choosing a UPS system include:

  • How much heat the system will produce and whether you have a way to keep it cool (battery lifespans can shorten in conditions over 77F (25C)).
  • How much noise the system creates and whether it will interfere with your operations.
  • Does the system’s operational efficiency help you reduce energy usage and curb greenhouse gas emissions?
  • Do you have the correct space available to house the UPS system?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, so you might want to have an expert perform a power system evaluation before you invest in a UPS.

Cost Considerations

The total cost of ownership for UPS will exceed the amount of money you spend buying the equipment. Some experts estimate that the purchase cost accounts for 25% to 40% of the total cost of ownership. Other cost considerations include:

  • Installation, start-up and commissioning services
  • Energy efficiency (more efficient systems usually have lower long-term costs)
  • Battery replacement cycle
  • Project management
  • Integrating with existing systems
  • Performance monitoring (onsite or remote)
  • Uninterruptible power supply maintenance and repairs

Get Custom UPS Recommendations From GPS

Obviously, there are a lot of factors to consider before investing in UPS backup solutions. Contact Global Power Solutions today to speak with an expert who can help you select a system that matches your business’s needs.