7 Best UPS Maintenance Guide: Choosing a UPS System

Practical Tips on How to Choose and Maintain Your UPS System

Just because a UPS system is up and running doesn’t mean it’s fully operational. For effective functioning, UPS maintenance is a mandatory procedure that should be executed regularly, properly, and with the utmost precision.

A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) system functioning at its optimum capacity affords your business or home a proper backup power supply in the event of a blackout. To boot, it significantly extends the life of the system Below is a peek as to some of the things you need to do to ensure your UPS is up to the task of supplying backup source of electricity. The measures fall under two categories: preventive and corrective.

Preventive measures are tips involving sorting out issues in a UPS system well before it malfunctions.

Matching the Right Size of UPS system with Device Requirements

UPS systems come in different sizes which translates into different power capabilities. Basically, there are three different types of UPS systems: small to medium businesses UPS, large networks UPS, and data centers UPS.

The small UPS systems are suitable for small server rooms and comms cabinets (current range of 1 – 20kVA). Large network UPS are ideal for dedicated IT rooms with a current range of 10 – 300kVA. And data center UPS are used in large server rooms with extremely large electrical loads (current range bordering on 1mVA).

To avoid overloading a UPS system, it’s important to connect it devices for which it’s dedicated. On the other hand, if you used a powerful system on a low-power device, you’ll be wasting its power resource.

Placing the UPS System in a Protected Spot

As you might already know, many electronic gadgets when placed near water, heat or fire are susceptible to damage. Water generally results in short-circuiting of live electronic components present in the system. Heat, fire, smoke disrupts the ambient temperature (20 – 25C) of most UPS system resulting in irregular behavior such as electrolyte loss to evaporation.

Additionally, it’s advisable to place it in a well-ventilated spot for easy accessibility and temperature regulation – where large blasts of cold air serves to cool the device. Other external agents to avoid include: corrosive materials and dust.

Carrying out Battery and Mains Tests

As aforementioned a smoothly running system doesn’t guarantee it’s fully functional. Why so? Example, your UPS might indicate that its 100% charged but if a power blackout happens to occur, the batteries fail to last. This is because, the batteries might have degraded over time but still show a maximum capacity charge.

Fortunately, modern systems are equipped with advanced monitoring systems which remotely provide status reports to technicians for items such as utility power, maintenance bypass, battery back-up time, and system voltage.

Extending Your System’s Battery Life

A healthy battery is crucial for the optimum operation of a UPS system. Regardless of its importance, manufacturers haven’t been able to come up with a solution to make batteries last for long. Usually, a properly maintained battery will service you for a period of 3 – 5 years. To make sure, you get the most out of this period:

Avoid deep battery discharges.

Avoid exposure to extreme environmental conditions such as heat, humidity, and cold.

As for the corrective measures, these should be done when your UPS system malfunctions or shows erratic changes.

Performing a Recalibration on the System

Simply put, the period of time that a given system remains in a certain stable state is its dwell-time. A UPS’s dwell-time, as of other systems, will lose its accuracy as its battery degrades. Such loss of accuracy leads to a bad-battery condition going undetected among other odd symptoms.

But since, a recalibration procedure involves tweaking with the firmware in the system, it’s advisable to enlist the help of a specialist on this.

Replacing The System’s Batteries

The lifespan of UPS batteries is typically 3 -5 years after which a replacement should be considered. Well, you don’t have to really keep tabs on the date you bought the UPS to determine the date you’re going to replace it because modern systems handles most of the work for you. A low-battery alarm and a periodic self-test will alert you when a replacement is needed.

However, manufacturers do sell two or three different types of batteries. Some of which might not work with your system. Additionally, a new battery needs special attention which might be hard to afford especially if you are not tech-savvy. Thus, this is the juncture where you call for help. Urgently!

Why Have A UPS Or Uninterruptible Power Supply?

Uninterruptible battery power supply comes with a number of advantages that make them an attractive investments to both businesses and individuals alike.

Even though it’s obvious that this unit maintains power supply to electronics such as computers and their routers during an outage, a UPS may also bring with it other benefits as well.

Today, these power backup units come in various sizes and capabilities to address different power needs.

Depending on the capability and the number of machines being served, a user will choose their ultimate UPS based on how the unit can handle the job at hand.

Other than protecting systems at the work place, an uninterrupted power supply unit may be used to protect electronics such as refrigerators, machinery or any other gadgets that depends on power to run.

Its also important to ensure your UPS has regular battery testing to help maintain a healthy state.

Offering continuous supply of power is the most basic features that these units come with. So while plugged into a wall socket, the unit will charge its battery during normal operation.

When built-in electronics sense that there’s no external power, they instantly switch from external power mode to UPS output.

It converts wall power to AC through its battery and inverter. By doing this, they prevent power glitches that may reset electronics.

And in the long run, a UPS gives a user the chance to shut down their device without damage or loss or data.

How to choose a ups system?

Here are some advantages you may enjoy when you consider using uninterrupted power supply

  1. Reliability
    When working with electronics such as computers, you need to be assured of reliability where power supply is concerned. Most people go for UPS units because they want to have a peace of mind when working. They want to be sure that they will accomplish their tasks without any glitches, just in case power outage strikes. Therefore, a UPS unit is the answer for people who take their work seriously.
  2. They prevent power surge
    A surge takes place when there’s a short term increase in power voltage. This can damage delicate electronic components in a machine due to excessive dissipation of heat. However, since the circuit inside the UPS constantly monitors the incoming voltage, spikes or any irregular flow of power, they tend to protect the electronics involved before irregular voltage can cause damage to them.
  3. Some models clean incoming power before sending it as output
    These special UPS units use electric components called autotransformers to clean incoming power before sending it as output power, thus reducing chances of unstable AC power flow that might be unsuitable due to high or low voltage. By adjusting power output, these units ensure that all electronics connected to them are not subjected to dangerous fluctuations that may damage them.
  4. Protect critical data from unnecessary loss
    With a good UPS unit, you will never encounter power glitches since the battery is always available to power the machine you are using. Just in case the power outage persists, then it gives you enough time to save your work in a safe manner. This could be the answer to working safely with critical data, whether in the office or at home.
  5. Eliminates noise, or damaging wave forms
    Standard UPS units provide a guarantee for stable power supply even when there is an outage. However, online UPS units are equipped with more than just standard equipments for providing power stability. Although online UPS is a bit expensive compared to their standard counterparts, they tend to provide the most benefit where sensitive equipments are being used.

They always power their internal battery source through the incoming AC power. The output power is always safe, hence taking the condition of input AC power out of the equation. Because of this, power sent to every attached device in its line is always safe and free from damaging wave forms, spikes or outages.

It is so unfortunate that some public places still don’t use power backup units to protect their systems. They are too reluctant to invest in these units. But even if they buy them, they choose UPS units that don’t accommodate all their machines. To them, saving is very important. But they don’t think about the long term consequences. In a fast-paced business world like this, everybody needs power backup to remain competetive. So get yours today.

Scheduling tests for your UPS

For people working with computers, servers and a host of other equipment, the need for continuous power supply is mandatory. Nonetheless, failure of the UPS part in case of a blackout may be detrimental to vital work and processes.

As such, it is important that the UPS batteries be checked regularly to ensure all faults are dealt with so as to avert such a scenario. So how often should you test a UPS?

Factors to consider when scheduling tests
While most people find it sufficient to test a UPS once every year, there are other factors that should be considered which may necessitate more frequenting testing. These factors include the following:

  • The quality and power of the UPS

    The frequency of testing should depend be determined by the quality and capability of the UPS. This is because a good quality and power UPS comes with better capable components capable of withstanding damage that comes from power fluctuations and time. Furthermore, a UPS that serves a lot of gadgets should also be put to regular testing as it is more prone to wear of components like the capacitors which wear under stress.

  • Frequency of power outages

    It is also important to note that the frequency at which the power tends to fail or fluctuate also takes its toll on the UPS. This is because the components are more engaged then, and they tend to wear with time and usage. As such, people who work or live in places where the power tends to fail more often and unexpectedly should perform more frequent check-ups on the UPS.

How to carry out a UPS battery test

When wondering how often should you test a UPS, it is also important to consider how to approach the task itself. This is because the task can be somewhat complicated depending on your approach, and fault may put your equipment and data at risk.

Most people tend to test their UPS by simply unplugging the power cord linking their equipment and observing the response. However, this is dangerous and not an entirely efficient way to test the UPS. For starters, you are putting your equipment at risk should the UPS be indeed faulty.

Furthermore, you don’t get to observe other crucial elements like the terminals and other components. However, if you must use this approach, it is important that you use a gadget that not related to work so as to avoid disappointment.

Other better tests that can be administered include:

  • Checking the filter

    You should check the filter regularly as failure on the UPS part would most likely arise from here. This is the part where the input, output and rectifier are all held, and they make use of inductors, resistors and capacitors to relay power to the gadgets. Consequently, it is these parts that are most prone to failure owing to their crucial and demanding role. Capacitors especially tend to wear out faster owing to stress from power and time too, leaking acidic electrolyte as they dry.

  • Calibration and protection settings

    The UPS will perform as programmed to in its protection settings. As such, it is important to always check the settings once in a while to ensure they meet your needs. When going through the settings, ensure to look at factors like the metering as this is more prone to change as compared to other components.

The benefits of regular testing
In addition to avoiding disastrous scenarios that may arise from lost data and work owing to power failure, regular testing of the UPS also benefits the user in other crucial ways like:

  • Surety during use – As the user, you are able to proceed with work confidently without worrying about what may happen in case of a power blackout.
  • Cutting costs – While some parts of the UPS are more susceptible to damage as compared to others, letting faulty parts go on running may put the others at risk. As such, early detection of faulty parts ensures they are eliminated and replaced early, saving the others damage and higher costs.

While it may not be easy for the common person to get into details with the UPS, it is recommended that you schedule for tests with a technician for comprehensive check-ups. This ensures that all faults are identified, guaranteeing safety and surety when using the UPS.

How to size a UPS

  1. List all equipment to be protected by the UPS.
  2. List the amps and volts for each device.
  3. Multiply the VA by the number of pieces of equipment to get the VA subtotal.
  4. dd the VA subtotals together.
  5. Multiply the total by 1.2 to get the grand total.
  6. Use the grand total to select a UPS.