The Stack Archive Feature

UPS basics: how to choose the best UPS for a data centre

Tue 17 Jul 2018


In the final episode of ‘UPS Basics’, power management specialist Riello UPS outlines the most important things to bear in mind to ensure you select the most suitable data centre uninterruptible power supply system.

A reliable UPS is a central component to any data centre’s power protection contingency planning. It’s the often unsung yet essential safeguard that springs into action if and when you face any electrical-related emergencies.

When disaster strikes, a UPS provides vital battery backup power until the mains supply is up and running. It also gives servers and IT equipment those precious moments to safely shut down without any devastating data loss.

But as those who have watched the previous ‘UPS Basics’ animations know only too well, there’s a wide range of UPS units to choose from.

Could a simple offline UPS provide suitable power protection for your facility? When a data centre’s concerned the answer is probably not. But would a line-interactive model suffice, or would an online UPS be a better and more robust option?

This video covers some of the key questions you need to ask to make sure you choose the correct UPS for your specific environment. We’ve already touched on the first criteria – determining critical from non-critical loads. Obviously, the equipment you simply can’t afford to be without during any power disruption needs the highest level of power protection.

Of course, another factor that heavily influences UPS selection is your power capacity requirements. Generally speaking, line-interactive models generally stop at 3 kVA, so if you’re managing a large data centre and your load is higher than that, your only choice is likely to be an online UPS.

Another important aspect to consider is providing the necessary redundancy to share the data centre’s critical load in cases where there’s a fault or failure with the UPS. To achieve standard N+1 redundancy, a design would need to parallel two equally-sized static units together, which runs the risk of oversizing during initial installation. Alternatively, IT managers could embrace modern, modular UPS, which enable designs to be configured far closer to the overall load as well as offer the added advantage of built-in scalability.

What else does a data centre manager need to consider when choosing a UPS?

Installation environment plays a significant part. In data centre server rooms, it’s likely that a rack-mount UPS is preferable, although this is far less important in industrial settings. Having sufficient space for ventilation and maintenance is also crucial. For example, some UPS have rear-venting fans so will require full side access for maintenance or battery replacement.

With something as significant as a UPS power protection system in a data centre, it’s vital to get your design and configuration correct at the very start. Initially oversizing can lead to running an inefficient and energy-wasting system. On the other hand, undersizing the initial installation will probably require a costly and time-consuming upgrade.

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