PacB Group // UPS Monitoring – How It Works and Why You Need It


UPS Monitoring – How It Works and Why You Need It

When a power outage occurs, one of the greatest concerns is to ensure that mission-critical data is safe or that some core process is not interrupted. To provide such assurances, business owners will often take the precaution of installing a piece of equipment known as an uninterrupted power supply. This type of device is, in effect, a large battery that is connected to the mains to charge it and to provide a source of emergency back-up power for selected devices in the event of a mains failure. Known more commonly as a UPS, without a suitable monitoring system, its potential value is likely to be substantially diminished.

Let’s say that a mainframe computer is in the midst of running a payroll programme for several hundred staff when the Eskom power supply experiences an internal fault and is interrupted with no warning. The emergency source may still kick in and continue to support the hardware, but only while its battery retains sufficient power. Beyond that point, the computer will crash and crucial data may become corrupted. One way in which to achieve the necessary oversight might be simply to delegate a member of staff to keep an eye on it. It would, however, be both more efficient and less of a drain on manpower to employ an automated UPS monitoring solution.

For this purpose, there are a number of possible options, the simplest of which is to employ so-called volt-free contacts. These are simple binary switches and so they are limited to relaying equally on simple information, such as the battery is LOW or OK and load is on INVERTER or MAINS. These parameters are then transmitted to someone onsite who will need to intervene where appropriate. That said, volt-free switches are quite adequate to initiate a safe shutdown of computers, as well as the majority of network systems in use. The system is, however, rather less informative than some of the more advanced UPS monitoring options.

Widely known as a source of emergency battery power to protect computers in offices, data centres, universities and even in the home, their use has since been extended to support the more heavy-duty operations required by the military, mining companies and others who utilise electricity on an industrial scale. Instead of stored power from batteries, these larger heavy-duty units employ an inverter connected to the back-up batteries and include models that can deliver single- or three-phase power. Also, rather than being dependent upon on simple relays, they employ sophisticated software programs in order to manage the all-important UPS monitoring function and may be bundled with the hardware by some manufacturers.

These devices can be divided into three main types of which the simplest and cheapest is the offline standby type. With the addition of some anti-surge protection and battery back-up, it is the ideal choice for use in the home or for a small business. Slightly more efficient is the line-interactive type which comes with a variable voltage transformer as standard. It works much like the cheaper standby units, but includes built-in surge protection and backup.

For those who require the ultimate UPS backup and monitoring installation, the online double conversion type will be the one to go for. Because its batteries remain connected to the inverter at all times, the need for power transfer switches is eliminated. It is the costliest option of the three, but will guarantee safe and efficient continuity of supply and is this invaluable for use in mission-critical applications.

Incidentally, for those you may not wish to conduct the system oversight in-house, there are now some third-party organisations that offer around-the-clock UPS monitoring service. Monitored or otherwise, if an uninterrupted supply of electricity is crucial to your business, the PacB Group is a leading supplier of custom-built solutions, including backup generators and control panels.

Contact us today for more information.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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