With a New Year on the horizon it’s almost time to start thinking about your 2016 resolutions. One that we recommend wholeheartedly for anyone involved in the protection of critical IT systems, is to put a date in your diary to review the health and connectivity of your uninterruptible power supplies.
If you have a large 3-phase UPS system, you may more than likely have this maintained under a UPS maintenance contract. This may include an annual preventative maintenance visit and possibly 24/7 remote monitoring. For smaller single phase UPS (sub 10kVA) you may not and often it is one of these unmaintained systems that can prove to be the weakest link in your power continuity plan. Here is a quick 10-point checklist you can use to review your installation. If you need a more in-depth preventative maintenance visit (PM visit) then please do call the Eco Power projects team and we can arrange this for you in the new year.
UPS System Health Check
The following is a simple checklist you can use to check any single phase (or 3-phase) UPS system in your facility. It is brief and not as comprehensive as that we would follow during an engineer’s visit but it will give you a good overview of your system and you may find aspects that will require attention. Our simple 10 point UPS Health Check plan includes:
- Front Panel Inspection: review the status LEDs and alarm logs that are user-accessible if the UPS system has an LCD display. If there are signs of an alarm condition request a UPS service visit.
- Rear Panel Connections: check that all connections are secure and map out cable runs from the UPS to the critical IT loads you expect to cover. Remember that just one missed router or hub can lose a network its communications functionality if it is not connected to the UPS system. Some UPS IEC sockets are filtered only without backup power. If you have a UPS like this then ensure you only have non-critical hardware plugged into the filter only sockets i.e. equipment you can afford to lose during a power outage.
- UPS Monitoring Interface: do you monitor your UPS system on a network interface (via IP/SNMP) or a PC or remote status panel? If so ensure this is working and functional. We often come across UPS systems in remote areas of a building in an alarm state that have been ignored or missed due to a lack of monitoring.
- Remote Shutdown Interface: is the UPS connected for Emergency Power Off (EPO)? If so test the connection to make sure it is valid and live.
- Fan Clearances and Air Flow: the cooling fans have to move sufficient air through the UPS to dissipate heat from the power electronics section (inverter and rectifier IGBTs, and any internal transformers). If the fans look particularly dusty they could need a clean and/or replacement. Around the UPS there must sufficient air flow.
- Battery Status and Runtime Expected: check the battery indicator for percentage charge. When was the last time a discharge test was made or the UPS batteries replaced? This information should be close to hand for inspection. If the batteries are 5 year, then a 3-4 year replacement cycle is recommended. For a 10 year battery, replacement in years 7-8 is the norm. What runtime do you expect? If you can see the batteries do the cases show any sign of buckling or white residue around the terminals.
- Load Status: what is the load percentage on the UPS? Ideally it should be no more than 80% to provide some spare capacity for overloads and expansion. An old UPS system when run at low loads (<40%) can also be quite inefficient and costly to run.
- External Bypass Operation: if the UPS has an external bypass when was it last tested? As there is often a set switching sequence when transferring a load from and to the bypass supply (to prevent UPS damage or a dropped load) it is important to ensure that a switching procedure is close to hand.
- Manual Location: it is always useful to have the manufacturer supplied manual close to hand either as a printed hardcopy or accessible via your intranet. If you have to call a UPS engineer to site they may ask for this as a reference for operation, alarms and status reporting.
- Emergency Contact Number: whom do you call in an emergency? This could be a local on-site IT or engineering help desk, the supplier or UPS service company. Always make sure you have the latest contact details, contract number and any other references required.
To discuss any aspect of your single or 3-phase UPS system installation and/or arrange a preventative maintenance visit please call the Eco Power projects team on 0800 210 0088.