Health Check Your Power Supply

Health Check Your Power Supply
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It is of critical importance that power is maintained in plants and office buildings. This can be achieved by regular health checks and providing backup. The consequences of power outages can be disastrous, not just to a company’s bottomline, but to safety as well. By Khoo Teng Seen, VP of sales, Eaton.

The importance of a reliable power supply has never been greater and our increasing reliance on technology means that any downtime will hit us harder, today. Last year, unplanned downtime caused by faulty data protection systems cost Singapore firms a staggering US$1 billion, with 8 out of 10 local companies using few, if any, modern data protection methods . Moreover, loss of power is also cited to be one of the top three causes of disruption.


Downtime Is Damaging

Budgeting for electricity, securing adequate supplies and finding ways to use less energy are common concerns amongst data centre operators. Ensuring that an organisations IT resource power is reliable, unfortunately, can sometimes be an afterthought. In truth, however, power sags, surges and outages are not only unavoidable but more than capable of bringing valuable IT equipment to a halt.

Downtime is known to carry an enormous price tag. Unplanned downtime can significantly impact business continuity due to loss of corrupted files and the inability to access critical information. The average cost per minute of unplanned downtime is now at US$7,900, a sharp increase of 41 percent from US$5,600 per minute in 2010.

That is why, planning and deploying a robust power protection solution is absolutely vital to ensuring essential applications remain continuously available. An effective preventive maintenance plan will save not only time and money, but will also enhance the overall return on investment by extending the lifespan of critical power equipment.

Choosing The Right UPS For The Job

Implementing a stable Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) should never be overlooked. Think of the UPS as the central component of any well-designed power protection architecture – simply put, a UPS is a device that provides backup power when utility power fails, either long enough for critical equipment to shut down gracefully so that no data is lost, or long enough to keep required loads operational until a generator comes online.

The majority of data centres today use static UPS systems. They typically consist of banks of lead-acid batteries that store energy to provide line conditioning and backup to network equipment during power disturbances.  If the disturbance progresses to an outage, diesel-fueled power generators are switched on. The advantages of this system are load isolation, relatively straightforward to maintain, and can give a range of ride-through times at the loss of utility power with different battery string configurations/sizes.

An alternative type of UPS is the rotary UPS, which uses a motor/generator to create output. Rotary UPSs are capable of providing high fault-clearing capabilities (peak/maximum current to blow a fuse) without going to bypass. This means that the unit is able to provide ‘short circuit current’ to blow fuse or trip a protection switch downstream instead of ‘protecting itself’ as static UPSs do. In terms of maintainability, rotary UPSs require periodic downtime for mechanical maintenance, while static UPSs may not if batteries can be hot-swapped.

With so much to consider, mission-critical facilities would as such have to select the most suited UPS, and also learn to tweak the system to fit their usage and needs.

Getting A Health Check

While choosing the right UPS is crucial for any application, a wellness check for the power system is equally vital. A well-managed power system is the foundation of any successful enterprise, delivering reliability, efficiency and safety. But as an organisation grows, demands on the power system increase, necessitating equipment additions or replacements.

Over time, the power system evolves into a disparate collection of equipment that does not always deliver the desired results. Eventually, it can become more complicated, inefficient and difficult to manage.  As such, it is essential to put in place holistic and effective preventative power monitoring and management capabilities to evaluate the system’s health consistently.

A comprehensive power monitoring software can address such issues and consists of visual inspections, electrical measurements, interviews with onsite personnel and review of utility bills and data. Specifically, it will analyse interruptions, voltage sags, harmonics, surge protection, ground, energy management and arc flash safety.

Achieving Optimum Energy Efficiency And Sustainability

A study by Research and Markets shows that the APAC region consumes 26.5 percent of the total energy used by data centres globally and this figure is steadily on the rise. To cope with rising energy costs, companies are increasingly investing in power management tools as well as seeking out greener and eco-friendly solutions to achieve better energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency and sustainability is a topic widely discussed amongst data centre managers. There are several energy-saving methods that are being utilised today. Particularly for the facility side – or the non-IT side – of data centres, server virtualisation and improved cooling strategies have demonstrated great energy efficiencies for companies.

However, the IT side consumes over half of the energy supplied to data centres. More focus needs to be placed on this area as many facilities still lack the insight into and control of the power states of data centre IT assets. Power management software monitors the facility at high-level, providing key information at a glance such as a holistic view of power consumption, environmental conditions and resource utilisation. All of which help facilities managers to make informed decisions so as to allocate resources effectively and prepare for contingencies.


Many companies are ill-prepared for the disruptions caused by power blackouts. As a result, they are often caught by surprise by the true costs and impact power failures can have on their operations. Power failures can cause serious damage and affect companies, big or small, equally. If you are questioning whether or not to take the next steps to improve your power supply and protection regime, it is probably time to do so – before a problem arises.

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