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Single Phase UPS Management & Maintenance
In order to keep your UPS operating at maximum efficiency, simple preventive UPS maintenance should be performed on a regular basis.
All electronics have a life expectancy. Many of the factors that affect battery life also affect UPS electronics. Some factors may be controlled by taking some preventative measures or simply adjusting some basic UPS settings.
In the past, it was difficult to test and monitor a UPS. However new designs provide users simpler, yet more advanced ways to monitor their UPS. Today’s UPS models, for example, are designed to provide regular, automatic status updates. Despite the inclusion of self-monitoring software and auto-notification features of many new UPS models, timely inspections are still necessary to assure a UPS is operating properly.
Proper care and regular UPS maintenance will help avoid unnecessary downtime, saving time and money. Most serviceable UPS components are designed to be touch-safe to ensure the safety of the person servicing the device; however it is still important to keep safety at the forefront when servicing your UPS. The UPS is directly connected to a source of power, and general electrical safety precautions should always be taken.
When considering UPS maintenance inspections, the following general best practices are recommended:
- Be proactive. This is always the best approach to both battery and UPS replacement. UPSs that have been in service for more than 5 years have a higher risk of unanticipated downtime due to the increased likelihood of internal component failure.
- Be prepared. If you are able to provide proper storage, battery replacements could be kept on site to increase availability and avoid downtime.
- Be organized. UPS Maintenance inspections should be scheduled routinely to keep the user up to date on UPS operations. This should include documentation of the performed inspections and the date on which the inspection was performed.
Scheduling and performing preventative maintenance is vital to getting the most out of UPS systems. However, simply performing the inspections is not sufficient. Keep records of the type of UPS maintenance performed and the condition of the equipment. Keeping detailed records of maintenance performed and areas of degradation (e.g., reduced battery runtime) will aid the user in predicting failures as well as help the support team if a problem does occur in the future.
Due to the important equipment and information UPSs are designed to protect, they generally tend to be reliable and durable, however there is still a chance that an older UPS could malfunction mechanically or electronically. The following are the most common causes of a UPS failure:
- Batteries – typical lifespan of 3-5 years however, this life expectancy will fluctuate greatly depending on placement, ambient temperature, cycling, maintenance, battery chemistry, and battery storage.
- Fans – temperature can have a significant impact on the life expectancy of UPS components
- Electrolytic Capacitors – under normal conditions their life expectancy is up to 10 years. Similar to batteries, the biggest factor affecting the projected life of an electrolytic capacitor is temperature and humidity.
- Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) – typically malfunction after being exposed to frequent and/or extreme voltage spikes.
- Relays – unlikely a UPS will cycle enough times to cause a relay failure, however incorrect or malfunctioning firmware setup could result in overuse
While providing preventative UPS maintenance is crucial to maximizing expected life, providing proper management optimizes the performance and capabilities of a UPS. Many manufacturers now offer software designed to provide protection, manageability, compatibility, and convenience.
Advanced management software should offer UPS configuration & control, safe system shutdown, and energy reporting capabilities. Energy usage cost and CO2 reporting helps provide a greater understanding of the energy consumed by IT equipment enabling optimal energy usage. Advanced analysis features can help to identify the causes of potential power related problems before they occur; ensuring the health of protected equipment.
In addition to the management software, select manufacturers also offer management cards for pro-active, 24×7 management and monitoring from a single software application.
These cards typically provide notification features that inform a user of problems as they occur.
Inevitably, every UPS will eventually reach the end of its usable life, however proper over-sight and maintenance will ensure you maximize the life of your UPS.
UPS are designed to be durable and dependable; however, maximizing your UPS potential requires proper care from the user. Most users are aware that batteries will eventually need replacement, however many overlook the importance of UPS monitoring and maintenance. This is made easier since battery life and UPS life are often affected by similar factors which can typically be mitigated by the user.
Temperature, and frequency of use are the two characteristics that should be most closely monitored, but the importance of periodic inspections, unit placement, and unit storage cannot be overlooked. Understanding the magnitude of these effects, and providing proper maintenance play a critical role in establishing a maintenance plan that fits the needs of you and your business.
Just like batteries, UPSs have a life cycle, and they will not last forever. However, the UPSs that last the longest, and provide the best performance are the units that are being provided the best management and care. Providing optimal oversight to your UPS should be simple; just make sure you utilize the management features available and that your plan is simple, consistent, and proactive in nature.
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