8 Features To Look For In Your Next UPS

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Like any other IT-related product, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems regularly see upgrades and enhancements. That means the UPS you can buy today is likely quite different from one you bought, say, 5 years ago. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together this list of what to look for in a UPS, to make sure you’re not missing out on any of the latest features that can save you time and money.

1. Compact. Just as servers have essentially shrunk in size, with blade servers taking up a fraction of the space that their predecessors did, UPSs are getting more compact, too.  When you consider how valuable data center real estate is, that’s a good thing.

2. Efficient. Similarly, today’s UPS systems are far more efficient than models of even a few years ago. In fact, UPS systems were recently added to the list of products that can qualify for the Energy Star seal, so we’re starting to see UPSs that carry the designation. (As mentioned in a previous post, Schneider Electric was the first manufacturer to receive the Energy Star designation, for members of the Back-UPS and Smart-UPS families. And the list keeps growing.)

3. Expandable. Schneider Electric is big on the idea of modular architectures that enable you to grow your data center as requirements dictate, ensuring that it is always “right-sized.” We believe the same theory should apply to UPS systems. You should be able to start with a UPS that fits your requirements today, secure in the knowledge that you can add modules to it over time as your IT loads grow.  Our new GalaxyVM UPS, for example, can grow from 180kVA to 900kVA in an N+1 configuration.

4. Manageable. The more IT and facilities managers can centrally monitor and control all sorts of devices and systems, the better. So look for a UPS that can integrate with your data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and/or your building management system (BMS). Here again, the GalaxyVM fits the bill as it integrates seamlessly with Schneider Electric StruxureWare DCIM software.

5. Flexible configuration. A UPS system should be flexible in terms of where it can be installed, to give data center owners some options. One simple feature to look for is whether cables can enter the UPS cabinet from either the top or the bottom. The UPS should also allow full front access, to enable it to be installed against a wall or back to back with other UPSs.

6. Flexible energy storage. Flexibility should also extend to how the UPS stores its energy. A unit that supports a VRLA battery in cabinets or racks, wet cell, modular battery, and DC flywheels allows a tailored solution to fit the specific needs of a data center.

7. Lightweight. As they become more compact, UPSs should also shed weight. The GalaxyVM, for example, is built on a transformerless platform, which makes it lightweight as compared to transformer-based UPSs. That makes them suitable for either raised floor data center installations or within multi-level buildings.

8. Built-in self-test. When installing a UPS system, it’s customary to test it out to ensure it works as expected. Typically, customers rent a load bank to mimic the IT load that’s required for the test. But some UPSs, including the GalaxyVM, come with a self-test feature that obviates the need for a load bank while performing a test of all critical components. The feature saves both time and money during the UPS commissioning process.

If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a hard look at your UPS systems, maybe it’s time to check them out and see whether it makes sense to upgrade to a newer model. With all the energy saving features they bring, along with operational efficiencies, you may well wind up saving money in the long run.

To learn more about the GalaxyVM, check out the product page and this educational video. (As an aside, the GalaxyVM is the first UPS that is branded solely under the Schneider Electric name, as opposed to “APC by Schneider Electric.”  Now that we’re some 7 years removed from the merger of APC and Schneider Electric, it seems like it’s time.)

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