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Opinion: 5 aspects to understand about UPS battery backup

04 Mar 2019

Article by Schneider Electric India Region Digital Customer Experience general manager and head Atin Chhabra

An uninterruptible power supply, also known as a UPS battery backup, is an electrical device that provides emergency power to a load when the primary power source – typically the utility mains – defaults or fails.

A UPS is most commonly used to safeguard computers, data centres, and telecommunication equipment from an unexpected power disruption which could potentially cause human injury, fatalities, severe business fluctuations, and data loss.

Businesses need all the possible infrastructural support due to escalating industry growth, propelled by technological and automation advancements.

A UPS battery backup is crucial for every business processes – it not only includes IT infrastructure and computer systems but also governs other functions such as manufacturing and sales retail.

Its functionality makes it an essential device for businesses and homes alike. Therefore, it is important to understand the following aspects of UPS battery backup:

What exactly is your requirement?

Due to the vast array of models and manufacturers to choose from, deciding which smart UPS model to fit your requirement is easily the most cumbersome task involved in the buying process.

This perplexing dilemma can be solved by evaluating the scale of power backup required by you.

There is an obvious difference between the requirements of a residential home and a large-scale manufacturing plant. Selecting an appropriate system that depends upon the electrical infrastructure of your building is an effective way to gauge which type of back UPS you should buy.

How long do you need battery supply for?

People have different reasons to seek out back UPS functionality. Some users would want this backup simply to save essential work or documents and then subsequently turn off their systems, while others would want to work on their systems for the entire duration of the blackout. One must keep in mind that the number of watts supported by the system impacts the battery supply time: the smaller the wattage load connected to the system, the longer the batteries will last.

How to relate the types of power problems with the kinds of UPS systems

There are three types of smart UPS systems – Standby Design, Line Interactive Design, and Double Conversion System. The common types of power problems – along with the types of UPS systems that can deal with said problems – are explained below in detail.

  • Surge – Caused by a brief and sudden fluctuation of electricity. All of the three above mentioned systems are capable of handling a surge.
  • Blackout – Commonly caused by severe weather conditions, utility power shortages, accidents, and grid failures. A blackout can be efficiently dealt with by all three UPS designs.
  • Over-Voltage – Commonly occurs when the incoming voltage is higher than the standard level. Line Interactive and Double Conversion Systems can suitably handle this.
  • Frequency variation – Occurs when generator levels and power frequency fluctuates more than usual. Only Double Conversion designs can rectify this variation.
  • Line noise – Frequency line has the potential to disturb or degrade the performance of a circuit. Again, only a Double Conversion design can tackle this problem.

How long does a UPS battery last?

The battery life of a smart UPS will wear out eventually and requires replacement about every three years. When the battery is close to dying, the system will flash a red light and emit a ‘chirping’ electronic noise to notify users. Since it’s most likely a lead-acid battery, it will require safe and supervised disposal.

How much should you pay for this system?

All of the UPS designs mentioned above operate at different scales and capabilities, and it’s pretty self-explanatory that a back UPS catering to a higher scale of power requires larger investments to implement. Therefore, one needs to gauge its exact power requirement and choose the configuration that will suit their needs adequately.

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