UPS for data centres

Why a modular UPS for data centres is so often the preferred option

The unanticipated loss of power in a critical environment, such as a data centre, can be disastrous. That is why the efficient modular UPS (uninterrupted power supply) is often the best backup choice. 

What is a modular UPS?

The centralised UPS system uses some form of double-conversion design, whereby the UPS device takes AC (alternating current) and changes it to DC (direct current) to charge batteries before it is converted back to AC. In modular UPS devices, the system uses modules to create high-capacity systems. More recently, the trend has been to use smaller UPS modules to make up a bigger UPS system. 

What are the advantages of modular UPS?

There are several benefits to using the modular UPS system, particularly for critical environments such as data centres. Here is a look at these benefits:

  • Capacity enhancement

Possibly the biggest advantage of the modular UPS system is the scalability factor. Where a centralised UPS system usually has a fixed capacity, limiting the user to a once-off decision, the modular UPS system can be increased in capacity as the IT load increases. The modular UPS system is generally chassis-based so that as the load grows, the power and battery can be added to increase capacity and run time. Often, extra modules are installed in a matter of minutes, all of which enhances efficiency and reduces costs. 

  • Cost reduction

Because extra UPS modules can be fitted by on-site staff, businesses are able to reduce engineering and maintenance costs. The UPS modules are also hot-swappable, meaning they can be returned to the factory for exchange or repair. 

  • Improved efficiency

The UPS system runs at highest efficiency when it is near maximum-rated capacity so, as load-level drops, so does the efficiency. These losses add up over time, leading to an excess in energy waste and cost. The larger systems are also often bought with anticipated future capacity in mind, rather than current capacity needed, leading to redundancy. With the modular UPS system, the user is able to configure and reconfigure so that they are running close to capacity. 

  • Enhanced reliability

With a traditional UPS system, a major fault is a major problem, whereas, with the modular UPS system, there is limited impact. In the case of a power module failure, the redundant module will take over and the user is able to replace the faulty module without any downtime or a loss of UPS back-up. If a battery module fails, there will be a slight reduction in the back-up time available until the faulty module is replaced. The modular design removes the potential for a single point of failure that you have with a traditional standalone UPS and provides the highest level of reliability and availability.

What are the disadvantages of a modular UPS?

No equipment is without a few downsides, but there are very few for a modular UPS, all of which can be addressed. These are:

  • More space and weight

The smaller modular UPS systems are often installed in-row as additional cabinets, which means there is additional space needed and weight added to the server room. 

  • Extra cost

When it comes to the capital cost, a modular UPS system will generally be pricier than a traditional UPS system. However, this cost is quickly offset by the reduction in operating, infrastructure, maintenance and spares’ costs saved by the modular UPS. 

Investing in a modular UPS system for a data centre will, undoubtedly, improve efficiency and reliability while reducing costs and allowing for capacity expansion. However, it’s important to invest in a system that is robust and will be professionally managed and maintained to ensure optimum efficiency and long-term benefits. 

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