October 2022

Why Do You Need an Uninterruptible Power Supply?


In our beginners guide to Uninterruptible Power Supplies blog, Specialist Power sales director and UPS expert Adam Baverstock touched briefly on everything you need to know about buying and owning a UPS.

As demand for ‘clean’ power continues to increase across all businesses and mission critical activity so heavily reliant on ‘always on’ systems, Uninterruptible Power Supplies now play an even more important and significant role in keeping your business running.

In this post Adam will go through in more detail why it is so important that your business needs a UPS to protect your critical equipment, not something to consider but a necessity!

Loss of Mains Power Can be Catastrophic to Your Business

In the 21st century, where we have become so heavily dependent upon the continuous availability of electricity, a loss of power can be catastrophic.

Businesses across all sectors are reliant on a consistent and stable electricity supply to keep technology operational 24/7/365. Computers, telephones, hospital operating machinery and many other pieces of electrical equipment require continuous power to maintain productivity and efficiency.

Any unexpected shutdown or disturbance in the electricity supply can lead to potentially damaging disruptions, and the resulting downtime and data loss can cost businesses thousands of pounds a minute in sales or hours of lost productivity.

4 Reasons to Have a UPS System Protecting Your Business

It is likely that we will all suffer a power outage at some point. An Uninterruptible Power Supply will allow you to perform essential data backups or continue with mission critical services until power is returned.

Here we look at the main reasons why having the right backup solution in place is so important.

  • No interruptions should mains power fail
  • A UPS provides protection from power spikes and surges
  • Avoid costly downtime due to power interruptions
  • A UPS should play a major part of any business continuity planning

No Interruptions Should Mains Power Fail

Probably one of the most obvious reasons is that an Uninterruptible Power Supply typically offers battery backup protection against power loss should the mains power suddenly fail. Unfortunately, this will often occur with little or no warning making it so important to be prepared.

A UPS system will provide enough time for any connected equipment to safely shut down with minimal risk of damage or data loss or if longer backup is needed then an alternative power source such as a backup generator can kick-in.

The UK Could See Potential Energy Shortages Next Year

With the recent government warning that we could see potential energy shortages next year, the UK potentially faces its greatest risk of blackouts in quite some time. This winter could cause problems, as old coal plants and nuclear reactors shut down and energy demand rises as the economy emerges from the last few years Covid-19 restrictions.

A recent article in the Guardian discussed how the National Grid, which is responsible for keeping the lights on, said it expected the country’s demand for electricity to return to normal levels this winter, and should be braced for “some tight periods”.

Regardless of whether a loss of power would be business-critical or an inconvenience, a standby power solution is always strongly recommended.

A UPS Provides Protection from Power Spikes and Surges

Whilst a total loss of power isn’t a frequent occurrence, interruptions to power quality are more common, often going undetected and can be equally damaging to IT equipment. These common power problems range from spikes, surges, and sags to brownouts.

A UPS constantly monitors the incoming electrical supply and identifies these damaging spikes and surges. If short-term high voltages above 110 percent are detected, the UPS will switch to DC power, stopping the spike from reaching any connected devices.

When the spike has gone, the UPS simply returns to it’s online double conversion mode where the mains supply is being conditioned via the UPS inverter/rectifier.

Surges Can Often Damage Components of Electrical Systems

Spikes and surges are often associated with lightning strikes and utility switching; however, most surges originate inside a facility. The increased voltage from surges can often damage the components of electrical systems.

Damaging surges occur much more frequently than power outages and over time, the increased strain can cause premature failure of expensive components but can be prevented by using a UPS to monitor the incoming voltage.

Most modern online UPS systems monitor and correct a wide range of common power problems, including:

  • Sags: Short periods when the voltage is below the usual mains supply level
  • Blackouts: One of the most common types of power problems when there is a total crash of the power grid.
  • Brownouts: An undervoltage similar to a sag, but over a longer period (several hours or even days)
  • Power surges: The opposite of a brownout where there is a sudden increase in voltage caused by an event such as a lightning strike.
  • Harmonics: A distortion from the ideal sinusoidal waveform
  • Unstable frequency: Where the power oscillates at something other than 50 Hertz (sometimes referred to as electrical noise)

Avoid Costly Downtime Due to Power Interruptions

Any disruption to the mains power supply can potentially have an impact on a business. Especially when costly downtime can prevent you from delivering services, manufacturing products, carrying out medical operations, or serving customers with payment machines.

Organisations have never been so reliant on ‘always on’ technology working 24/7/365. From phone systems, computers, IT infrastructure, internet access and factory machinery through to data storage, sensitive medical equipment, lost man hours or equipment downtime.

The potential costs for damage or downtime caused by outage or poor power quality effecting any of the above can be significant.

According to a study carried out by APC Schneider, one of the leading UPS brands we work with, every year billions of dollars are lost in the US due to downtime caused by power disruptions that could have been prevented by a UPS.

For Fortune 1000 companies:

  • Average annual cost of unplanned downtime, $1.25—$2.5 billion
  • Average hourly cost of infrastructure failure: $100,000
  • Average hourly cost of critical application failure: $500,000—$1 million

From computers that we use at home to industrial scale production facilities that require constant reliable power, the technology that we have become so reliant on, means that it has never been more crucial to make sure our power supplies are protected by a UPS system.

A well-maintained Uninterruptible Power Supply removes issues associated with mains power interruptions, reducing the need for expensive repairs or replacement.

A UPS Should Play a Major Part of Any Business Continuity Planning

Defined as the capability of an organisation to continue the delivery of products or services at acceptable levels following a disruptive incident, most organisations will have a business continuity plan in place and an Uninterruptible Power Supply should play a significant part in that planning.

With so many risks it is vital for an organisation to be able to identify things that could stop business and put in place things to negate that and decrease the chances of any costly downtime.

Any loss of power is a significant risk to businesses and a working and well-maintained uninterruptible power supply is the ideal solution during a crisis.

Even the briefest power interruption can have a costly impact on businesses. A recent article by Centrica highlights how even a 15-minute power outage can be a nightmare for businesses.

They talk in detail about how the recent biggest power outage in a decade provided a sharp reminder of the need for businesses to think seriously about energy resilience and have a robust emergency backup plan should the worst happen. Click here to read the article in full.

It is important to assess the risks created by a mains power supply failure. If your systems ‘go down’ what is the cost to the organisation in terms of service and performance?

Always Best to Speak to a UPS Expert

I hope from reading this blog that you understand the importance of installing a UPS and how a well-maintained UPS can keep your business running 24/7/365 without any costly downtime.

With over 20 years’ experience in offering UPS sales and service contracts across multiple UPS manufacturers such as Riello UPS, APC, Eaton, Socomec and Vertiv, our technical expertise and knowledge of the power protection business has built us a reputation for uncompromising service excellence and trust from our customers.

Contact us today to find out how we can help with your power backup needs.

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