From monolithic to modular UPS: Part 2

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After years of debate, and extensive comparison of monolithic and modular UPS designs, consumers are reaching a consensus: the best 3-phase UPS is a modular 3-phase UPS. As the pain points of the modular UPS disappear, and customers need to control operating costs, the added value of modular design is not just visible – it’s essential.

data center modular UPS

In part 1 of this series, we discussed the reliability benefits of modular 3 phase UPS design. Next, let’s explore how modularity delivers efficiency and ease of operations.

Efficiency & effectiveness

With a modular approach, the efficiency of the 3-phase UPS has dramatically increased, from 94% in the monolithic UPSs of the past to 97% in double conversion and even above 99% using eConversion in our Galaxy V series solutions.

For this reason, the price difference between both UPS types is largely compensated by the efficiency gain. This is even more true today, with energy costs rising around the world. Even with a best-case scenario of $0.15/kW, within 10 years, the electricity savings represent over 3 times the price of the Galaxy V-series UPS.

Additionally, monolithic UPSs are frequently oversized, “just in case”, which means the UPS is not operating at its highest-rated efficiency. Operating a right-sized UPS increases efficiency, especially at low load.

Scalability, or “Pay-as-you-grow” design, supports not only the initial investment, but the efficiency of your infrastructure when operating at low load levels.  If you start operations with an IT load below 10% of the total projected capacity, add only one or two power modules into the frame on day one and get the maximum efficiency level of your system. As your IT load increases, simply add the power modules you need to maximize your uptime. Weeks, months, or even years after start-up, you can add another power module for N+1 redundancy, too, preserving availability without a high operating-efficiency penalty.

Galaxy VL modular UPS scalability

What about footprint? Modularity increases the density of power per square meter. Thanks to our engineers, in 20 years, Schneider Electric has reduced the size of the UPS by 4 – from 8m to less than 1.7m for a 1MW UPS system! This allows more space for IT racks in data halls, but it is not limited to that application. It also optimizes containerized solution/skid-based designs, increasing the power capacity in a significantly better footprint. In some locations, like London, Paris or Amsterdam, saving on space means saving on real state, and potentially opens the door to projects that were not economically viable previously.

Ease of operations with modular UPS

Finally, modularity offers significant simplification of installation and maintenance tasks. A plug and play approach to all the critical components streamlines installation – just install the frame, make the cable/busbar connections, and then, just before the commissioning, slide the power modules into the frame.

During operation and maintenance of a Galaxy VS or Galaxy VL UPS with Live Swap, it is simple and fast to add, replace, or remove power modules while the Galaxy VL UPS is online and fully operational, increasing protection for your employees. (With this UL-verified innovation, the power module area is compartmentalized, and energy incident levels are kept below 1.2 cal/cm2.)

modular UPS live swap

Modularity makes maintenance tasks faster, so even if you prefer to complete your maintenance during scheduled downtime, or move the load to bypass operation, you will still save time, maximize your uptime, and limit the amount of time in bypass mode. Spare parts stocking and management are streamlined as well; ordering a few modular components and organizing them in a supply closet is much easier than ordering a spare part kit for a monolithic system.

Adopting a modular platform has improved 3-phase UPS efficiency, availability, footprint, and resiliency, while optimizing your total cost of ownership and helping you meet sustainability targets. Contact Schneider Electric today to learn how the modular Galaxy V-series platform can help you meet your energy conservation and power availability goals.

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