Tips for Purchasing a UPS (battery backup)Billy McKindley
Power outages, brown-outs, surges and electrical storms are all mortal enemies of computer equipment, the damaged they can cause may immediately fry equipment or sometimes causes minor damage that takes weeks before equipment fails or degrades.
Power surge equipment should always be used on computer equipment however, that only protects your equipment from surges, a brown-out or power outage can also cause just as much damage to equipment and even permanent loss of data, for example a server uses Memory (RAM) to temporarily store data before it writes it to a hard-drive, when a server unexpectedly loses power it is no longer able to maintain the data in the RAM nor does it have time to write this data to the hard disk, and any unsaved data will be lost permanently.
All of this can be avoided with the use of a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply), this is simply a battery that can help fill the gaps in power supply as well as filtering any harmful spikes.
When choosing a UPS there are 3 things to consider:
- What equipment needs to be connected to the UPS and does it have special power requirements?
- Power Load – how much power does your equipment use, this information can sometimes be found written on the equipment, note down the Voltage and Amperage of your equipment and we will work out below your UPS size requirements. A UPS size is determined by its VA number which means Volt/Amps, you may also see it written as a K VA number, the K simply stands for thousand Watts, for example a 1k VA UPS is the same as a 1000 Watt UPS.
Refer to the noted down Voltage and Amperage each of your device use, using those numbers you can calculation your required VA numbers:
For each piece of equipment that will be connected to the UPS, Multiply the Voltage and the Amperage together, then add the total for each piece of equipment together, the total will be give you your total VA, now let’s add some runtime and increase the total by 20%.
Voltage X Amperage of each device = VA + 20% = VA number with 20% spare to give you some run-time.
- How much Run-time do you need? The run-time refers to how long the batteries can sustain your computer equipment before they go flat, the runtime is usually determined by your business requirements, some businesses may have a backup power generator and the UPS runtime can be very short and only needs to last until the generator is online, other businesses may use automation to gracefully shutdown servers when the UPS starts supplying power to computer equipment, others may need an extended run-time to accommodate for support staff traveling to site to troubleshoot power issues or perform shutdown procedures.
- A UPS must be tested and may need the battery power drained occasionally to maintain healthy chemistry. Some higher end UPS equipment will perform this function itself.
- UPS Batteries need to be replaced every 1-3 years, you should consider a UPS with user replaceable batteries, this will be cheaper than replacing the whole UPS and is also a lot more environmentally friendly.