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3 Essential Questions for UPS Selection

In recent months, I have been working with several customers on projects that include needs for IT hardware power protection in the form of Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). Volta is implementing several large-scale rollouts of monitored and remotely managed UPS devices at customer sites.  There are several essential questions for UPS selection that a potential UPS customer would need to ask themselves to determine which UPS is the correct fit for their environment.

  1. What am I trying to protect against?

A UPS can serve two basic purposes.  The first is to provide protection against temporary power loss, brownout, or power surges that can damage equipment.  A UPS can prevent hardware from losing power and taking a hard outage, which can damage network equipment and servers. Most UPS devices of any size can protect against a temporary loss of power and a smaller UPS can provide several minutes of battery power to meet the needs of the environment.  These requirements are common for workstations or network closets.

Some IT environments require more extensive protection than just a temporary power loss and need instead the UPS to provide extended run time in the event of a prolonged power loss.  A UPS with more or larger internal batteries or external battery packs can keep equipment powered during longer outages. Most UPS manufacturers can also provide automated shutdown agents that will trigger graceful shutdowns of vulnerable equipment if the UPS has been on battery power for a pre-determined amount of time.

  1. Do I need to focus on Load or Run-time?

This is the next question that can help you decide between the various UPS models and sizes.  The UPS you choose must have enough load capacity to support all the equipment that will be plugged into it.  A UPS manufacturer or partner like Volta can help you to estimate load requirements if given a list of hardware.

You should also have an idea of your run-time requirements.  Protection against temporary outages may only require a few minutes of run-time, while others may need hours of battery run-time.  If the internal batteries on the UPS model don’t fit your run-time requirements, you need to make sure the model will support external battery packs.

Please note that external battery packs will only increase run-time, and will not affect the load capacity of the UPS.  If your UPS is overloaded, you will need to either replace the device with a larger load capacity UPS or spread your load across multiple UPS devices.

  1. What are my Input/Output Power Constraints?

This is probably the question that is most important in determining the correct UPS model for your environment, because it is often one of the most difficult to change.  If you do not select a UPS device with the appropriate Input/Output Power requirements for your environment, you will end up with a UPS that is incompatible and unusable.  There are a lot of details that I could get into, but I’ll keep it simple: match your plugs and receptacles!

First is Input, which requires you to match the UPS Plug with your environment’s receptacle.  Changing your pre-existing receptacle will generally require an electrician, so it’s best to avoid that step if possible.  Here are a few common examples:

Second is Output, which requires you to match the UPS receptacles with the plugs from the hardware that the UPS will support.  Check to see if all the supported hardware has a similar plug, and if not, how many of each receptacle will be required.

There are many options of UPS models with different types of plugs and receptacles, so make sure you are accurate.  Volta offers a pre-site visit for prospective customers to make sure that the UPS devices we are proposing will be the best fit for your IT environment.

If you can answer each of these three questions, you will be on your way to choosing a UPS device for your power protection needs.  Volta is able to offer many types of services to configure, install, manage or monitor UPS devices, including a comprehensive solution “UPS-As-A-Service” that allows a customer to pay a monthly fee that includes the price of the UPS hardware itself.  Please reach out to with any questions.

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