The Beginner’s Guide to UPS Systems

UPS - Unintterruptible Power Supply with batter is kept on a table.

Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems (UPS Systems) perform backup and conditioning roles for the systems they are connected to. They are very important in situations where primary power supplies fail or other power supply problems, such as spikes, brownouts, electrical noise, sags, or surges. UPS systems protect small business applications used for communication, entertainment, or security from electrical surges or sags and prevent business disruption, data loss, or even injuries and fatalities.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about UPS Systems and have you choose the best UPS type suited to your business.

Understanding UPS Systems

The UPS is a battery backup system that can perform many important functions in a set-up that depends on a primary power supply. Its main role is to act as a secondary power supply that will run long enough to shut systems down properly and back up data sufficiently when an unexpected power outage occurs. The UPS also performs an important surge-protector function to keep devices safe from the harmful effects of abnormal voltages and surges, including reduced performance or lifespan of the device. So it saves the company a world of pain when it prevents data loss and device stress or damage by preventing forced shutdown during an unforeseen power outage.

An acid or lead battery inside the UPS system provides the backup power required when its sensors detect that the main power supply has suddenly shut down. This backup power will not be available for an extended period, but it allows operators to save or back up any critical data and shut the system down gradually or function until the power supply is back on.

Types of UPS Systems

UPS Systems are of three main types - the line interactive system, the standby system, and the online system. Other types exist, but they are usually hybrid combinations of two or multiple main UPS system types.

Let’s discuss these system types in more detail:

1. The Line Interactive UPS System

This system serves a dual purpose as a backup power source and a power conditioner. It is the optimum system type if your devices function in an environment with rare power outages but frequent fluctuations. The system can adeptly handle several ranges of fluctuation episodes before switching on its battery power backup. This benefit of handling wide ranges of fluctuations and the circuitry for voltage boosting is a critical one. In fact, wider ranges of accepted fluctuation in the system will give you more overall protection for your devices.

2. The Standby UPS System

The Standby system earned its name from its basic function of acting as a standby when there is a sudden power outage. It performs conditioning for minor surges and usually draws power from the main AC source during normal functioning. The system is also provided with an AC/DC inverter that kicks in when sensors detect trouble in the main power source. But this system has a small transfer time drawback that users should be aware of.

3. The Online UPS System

The online UPS system, also called the double conversion system, performs by isolating the device load from the main power grid. It achieves this by following an AC/DC DC/AC double switch. The online UPS system converts the incoming supply of main power to DC and then back to AC, effectively isolating the load from the rest of the grid.

This switching function is possible because of the rectifier device in the system, which receives incoming power, converts it to DC, and feeds it into the inbuilt battery and onto the connected device through an inverter. This system nullifies the need for power transfer switches. In a power outage, the rectifier drops its connection with the main grid and uses the battery energy to power the connected device until the main power is restored.

How to Choose the Perfect UPS System for your Needs

Four main factors should determine your choice of UPS systems for your devices. These are discussed at length below:

1. Determine common power problems.

Power blackouts are the most common power problems people are aware of. But when electronic devices and critical equipment are involved, you will need to be aware of the following:

  • Blackouts - Power outages lasting anywhere from a few minutes or seconds to a few days.
  • Surges - A brief, intense burst of electric energy when there is lightning– it affects the main power supply.
  • Voltage sags or over voltage - Fluctuations in voltage that are not as intense as brownouts or surges. Voltage sag is a brief, small drop in voltage, while an overvoltage is a voltage spike.
  • Brownouts - A drop in voltage for a long duration that could have been intentional, uncontrolled, or accidental.
  • Frequency noise or variations - These are abnormalities in the main power supply. Frequency noise, or line noise, are abnormalities in the primary power source that cause disruptions in the power circuit. Frequency variations are usually caused where generators are in use, and the occurrence of power fluctuation is more frequent than normal.
  • Harmonic distortions - This is an anomaly in the primary power source when it gives out an unusual electrical signal.

If your business is operating in an area that faces blackouts, brownouts and surges but none of the other power anomalies, a standby UPS system could work well for you. An online UPS system may be required if you face a combination of all the above power problems.

2. Select the right size.

The optimal UPS system for your business will have to be sized correctly in terms of capacity. Depending on how much equipment will need the supported power supply and the combined load or amount of power they will use, you can choose a UPS with a comparable load capacity. You can find information about capacity and load in the corresponding user manuals of your devices and the UPS system you are considering. Manufacturers or other professionals could also help you make the right connections to match device load to UPS capacity.

3. Determine optimum run time.

Runtime is the next important consideration for choosing the right UPS system. Runtime is the amount of performance time your system requires to provide alternate power when there is a power outage or other trouble in the main supply. Calculate how much time you will need to perform a safe system shutdown and data backup, and this can be used as runtime. System load or the amount of power load your system needs to back up has an effect on runtime. A larger load will mean less runtime or battery life, and vice versa.

Think in ranges when determining optimum runtime. Work from the least amount of time you will need to optimise your devices and work up from there. A broader range of runtime will give you more choice in UPS systems.

4. Choosing an appropriate form factor.

There are three main form factors or size and shape of the device housing. These are:

  • Rack-mount systems - meant for server rooms.
  • Desktop systems which are compact - can fit under desks and are discreet.
  • Mini-tower or tower-style systems - are aesthetically pleasing and can be displayed on desks.

In short, form factor choice is usually determined by where you want to place your system.

Conclusion

UPS systems are not everyday buys. They are high-priced investments that must be carefully considered and matched to your needs. At the same time, they are necessary in most cases and are invaluable for protecting your devices and company data. If you are looking for professional, experienced UPS dealers in Chennai, our Nantech services will be just the right fit for you!

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Author: Nantech Team

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