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Smart UPS features for better backup power

Vendors now offer UPSes with functions that help regulate voltage and maintain battery health. Before you upgrade, evaluate costs and confirm infrastructure compatibility.

The main benefits of an uninterruptible power supply in a data center are to supplement primary power source failure and protect sensitive hardware from damaging electrical surges. These systems come in a variety of types, but you should consider how the latest technology can make backup power management easier; vendors now offer more than just extra voltage.

Some uninterruptible power supply (UPS) options integrate smart capabilities, which is a potential game changer for data centers. These functions can provide with connected monitoring, centralized management and optimized power loads.

Even so, whether you make the switch to smart power supplies depends on your specific situation and reasoning, so you should weigh the benefits against cost, implementation time and return on investment to see if the upgrade to a smart UPS system is worth it for your organization.

What are the advantages of a smart UPS?

A traditional UPS prevents downtime across your data center's power infrastructure, so you might wonder why you should consider a smart UPS. Compared to legacy and standard units, smart UPSes provide functions that simplify UPS management and deliver a lower mean time to recover.

A smart UPS that integrates with your network can provide real-time status updates, giving you better visibility into device health and performance. If a battery needs replacement, the system sends you a notification so you can swap it out and keep your power supply at maximum strength.

Smart UPSes also provide more precise charging control, as well as frequency and voltage regulation. This type of intelligent battery management not only extends battery life and performance, but can help save on total energy costs. You won't have to worry about overcharged batteries and your equipment should get a balanced level of power protection, along with evenly matched, conditioned and regulated current without any oversight.

These functions mean a smart UPS can potentially deliver higher availability, plus better reliability and performance, compared to traditional offerings.

Features to look for in smart UPSes

When you select a UPS, you must consider a variety of factors, such as how to properly size a UPS unit, voltage requirements, battery type, backup power duration and maintenance requirements. Once smart features enter the picture, there are few more considerations in the equation:

  • Predictive alerts. Many smart UPSes monitor component degradation or failure potential, so the system sends an early warning notification to replace faulty or aged parts. In the case of a battery failure, you can perform preventive maintenance to replace the bad battery and avoid an event where the system switches to a weak, overcharged or nonexistent backup power supply.
  • Remote power management. A smart UPS can connect to your network and enable remote power management. This enables you to integrate UPS management with your data center infrastructure management system, so you can control everything from one central location.
  • Intelligent battery. This feature helps extend maximum performance and life from your battery with more precise charging capabilities. This type of charging can adjust the charge voltage based on battery temperature to prolong life.
  • Advanced power conditioning. Most UPSes provide a layer of power conditioning, but a smart UPS can ensure an optimally balanced and matched current supply to any load. Your equipment will receive protection against everything from unexpected outages and spikes to minute surges and power disturbances.
  • Modular design. Battery modules come in a few types, but a modular UPS design can protect against isolated failures. This, ultimately, translates to higher availability and improved redundancy, which are key to successful UPS operation. It's also easier to scale a modular power system if you must add batteries or capacity without expanding the UPS footprint.
  • Intelligent paralleling. This feature automatically optimizes performance at a partial load. It adapts device energy consumption to improve overall efficiency based on load demand. A small tweak like this may not seem game-changing, but if you spread this across your power infrastructure, it can result in superior cost savings compared to older units.

Considerations for the switch to smart power systems

A smart UPS can help with management and power load matching, but making the leap to this technology depends on your current infrastructure and backup power needs.

For instance, if you have a centralized battery bank to support your entire power infrastructure, it will take time and investment to transition the entire grid to a smart UPS. If you use individual units or UPS systems that can simultaneously support multiple machines, you can swap them out at your own speed and measure the value of switching the entire facility to smart UPSes.

Your team must also consider which costs can arise during the upgrade process and confirm that any new UPS systems you place in your data center are compatible with your infrastructure and you have the necessary software programs for reporting and maintenance.

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