Reducing Reliance On Your UPS System

A checklist from experts, vendors, and UPS system users can help you minimize your energy usage, and reduce the chances that you'll have to depend on your UPS system.
An electricity drain is inevitable as August closes in and as air conditioners turn on full blast. So this is a good time to get a handle on your power situation. If you're evaluating uninterruptible power supply systems, this checklist from experts, vendors, and UPS system users can help you minimize your energy usage, and thus reduce the chances that you'll have to depend on your UPS system.

  • Work with your local utility to develop a power-saving program, sometimes referred to as a power-shedding agreement.

    Perform an internal energy audit, and encourage employees to conserve power throughout the workday by turning off lights and non-essential equipment. Consider alternative sources of energy. Most utilities are likely to provide companies that are diligent about power conservation with relief from the rolling-blackout rotation.

  • Make sure your facilities staff has been fully trained in managing your power system.

    Charlie Potter, staff engineer for Verizon Communications, estimates 99% of outages are caused by human error, so take steps to prevent tasks being completed out of sequence or switches being improperly operated.

  • Data-center operators should consider segmenting their approach to ensure that only portions of their facilities are affected by a power outage and subsequent UPS failure.

    Other businesses that depend on 24-by-7 availability of business-critical systems should do the same.

  • Identify single points of failure.

    Find the points at which an outage would impact a disproportionate percentage of your operation by tracing the power supply all the way to the utility, and try to reduce the points of failure by adding switches or upgrading equipment.

  • Before shopping for a UPS system, do a cost-benefit analysis.

    Don't buy more than you need. Project the number of failures you expect in the course of a year, and budget your UPS expenditures appropriately.

    Once you've decided to purchase UPS equipment, or upgrade what you already have in place, you may want to take the following things into account:

    1. Determine equipment life-cycle costs to make the most of your capital investment, and attempt to limit the space you have to devote to your UPS equipment. Every square foot occupied by UPS equipment is real estate that could otherwise house additional data-center resources, for instance.
    2. Look for systems that are adaptable and scalable.
    3. Choose equipment that's easy to manage, so that when outages occur, you're not hampered by complexity.
    4. Make sure the equipment is backed by a thorough maintenance and service agreement, but also try to choose equipment that's configured in such a way that your internal staff can perform routine or emergency maintenance. If you don't have UPS-maintenance capabilities in-house, get them.
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