How to choose an uninterruptable power supply for your business

The business guide to uninterruptable power supplies

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According to UK National Statistics, electricity and heat account for 63% of the countries energy consumption. Your business may take the delivery of electrical power for granted, but what would you do if a power cut did happen? Ensuring your business has a crisis management plan is essential, but few businesses include their power provisions in this plan.

And power outages are no joke. Over 90% of businesses will suffer this kind of disruption that can have a profound impact on the enterprises ability to continue trading especially if the power outage persists for days.

In most cases power cuts don't last for long periods of time. This means that your business can install some form of battery backup to give your company enough power to make essential data backups while you wait for the power to come back on, or continue with mission critical services.

Today even the smallest business can protect itself with a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). Units now come in all shapes, sizes and budgets to suit every need. A UPS can offer your business a number of advantages:

  1. Continuous working with no downtime maintains your business' efficiency.
  2. Low cost when compared to recreating lost data.
  3. Gives employees time to backup essential information.
  4. Protects sensitive equipment from damage.
  5. Provides business continuity.

UPSs can also help to smooth out the power fluctuations that often occur with main power supplies. You should protect all of your business' sensitive equipment with power surge protectors, but these are usually built into UPSs as well.

Uninterruptible power supplies

UPS systems have developed to offer a number of platforms dependent on the power needs of the user. It's important to look for a good fit with the precise needs of your business.

It's a good idea to get a site survey of your business before making any buying decisions. A UPS isn't just another IT purchase. Your company will have to trust the UPS to perform as expected if a power outage does occur. So it's important that you are confident that the systems in place can protect your business' IT systems.

Planning your installation

UPSs can be bought off-the-shelf, but this doesn't mean your business shouldn't spend some time planning their installation and use. There are a number of considerations before you buy your UPS that include:

  • The load (number of PCs and other devices) you will attach to a UPS need to be carefully managed. UPSs only deliver limited amounts of power. If you attach too many devices the UPSs won't be able to cope.
  • How long will you need your UPS to provide power for? Your business needs to create a management plan that in the event of a power failure, everyone in your business knows what to do. Most smaller companies will use a UPS to give them chance to safely shutdown their PCs and other equipment to avoid hardware damage and data loss. APC [www.apc.com/tools/ups_selector/] have a handy UPS selector your business can use.
  • Will you need several UPSs in your offices? Keeping standard PCs and servers running for a period of time will require different types of UPS with different power ratings. However, it is best practice to have the minimum number of UPSs operating in one location. You also need to decide whether the UPSs will be sited indoors or out, as this has a bearing on the units your business can buy.
  • The power rating of the UPS also needs to be carefully considered. The load rating of the UPS will be in volt amps (VA) and watts (W). You will need to consult the specifications of each piece of equipment you want to attach to any given UPS to ensure the UPS can support the loads you need. So add up the power usage (in watts) of every piece of equipment you want to attach to a UPS. This will give you the total load you need. Look for a UPS with around 25% additional capacity. However, try to not exceed more than 80% of the maximum load of the UPS to ensure it operates reliably.
  • Think about the additional equipment you might want to connect to a UPS. Will your systems need to send data to the internet before they close down? If this is the case then you will need to attach your routers and modems to protect the network and uplinks to the internet.

The important point to bear in mind with UPS systems is that they are designed to give you time to save critical files and properly shutdown your business' IT equipment. They are not designed to replace mains power for any lengthy period of time.