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We’ve written many times on this site about modular, prefabricated data center components such as power and cooling and the benefits they can provide to a data center (such as this post on a UK automotive company). As it turns out, the concept also applies to UPS systems.
Too often, a UPS solution simply comes down to a tradeoff between cost and performance, with cost usually winning out over risks such as system damage and even fire.
Perhaps you weren’t aware that UPS systems represent a fire risk. But when UPS batteries are close to the end of discharging, or when they get older, their level of short circuit current falls. If it becomes too low, it may not be enough to open a protective fire circuit breaker or fast fuse, which can lead to overheating and, potentially, fire.
I learned all this from a new Schneider Electric white paper, “Design and Specification for Safe and Reliable Battery Systems for Large UPS.” The paper explains why a properly designed UPS battery solution is important for safe and reliable operation, and why modular, pre- engineered UPS systems are your best bet. In cases were pre-engineered systems won’t suffice, the paper walks through the requirements to look for in a vendor-engineered solution.
A pre-engineered modular battery system is a standardized and qualified solution. The UPS vendor specifies the product performance criteria such as run-time, voltage, discharging current characteristics and so on. It includes qualified batteries connected in a series or in parallel to create a module, along with a monitoring system to track the health of the batteries. It’s assembled in the factory, subject to strict quality controls. And it includes protective devices and cabinets engineered for safety and is thoroughly tested to insure everything works as intended. What’s more, they use tried and true designs that are proven out over many systems.
A vendor-engineered or “engineered to order” battery system is one that’s recommended and validated by a UPS vendor based on a user’s custom requirements and preferences. They typically have batteries sized according to UPS back-up time requirements, protective devices based on the range of short circuit current and an integrated battery monitoring system. And it’s installed by qualified personnel based on standardized best practices.
The paper makes the case that the pre-engineered UPS battery option is the best in terms of electrical safety and reliability, with vendor-engineered solutions the second-best option.
It also offers design steps and guidelines for those of you who simply must go with a third party custom UPS solution.
Before you buy your next UPS system, check out white paper number 207: Design and Specification for Safe and Reliable Battery Systems for Large UPS – you may just save yourself from a UPS failure or even a disaster.