Important Features to Look for When Choosing the Right UPS

Looking for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to protect against untimely power outages and the dangers of a power surge? How do you identify the right UPS for your corporate deployment? We look at some of the most vital features below.

Man checking a UPS

Ensure Adequate Power

The first thing to figure out would be the power draw of the equipment that you are looking to protect. This is because the rating of the UPS cannot be exceeded by the appliance you are attempting to protect.

This isn’t a problem for most IT equipment such as laptops, servers, routers and wireless access points. However, it must be noted that modern hyperconverged infrastructure have substantial power demands, as would servers with multiple GPUs or specialised accelerators for machine learning and other AI-based applications.

It is also worth noting that the number printed on the power supply unit (PSU) of servers tend to lean towards the maximum power draw that isn’t typically reached under normal circumstances. Hence a simple summation of these figures could culminate with the purchase of more capacity than is needed.

If you are unsure and don’t have access to trusted experts, you can read more about the recommendations from this Schneider Electric white paper here (pdf), which delves into technical terms such as power factor to determine the UPS that you need.

Building powered by UPS

Other Features

With the size of the UPS out of the way, below are some other features that you should evaluate.

  • Surge protection: Modern UPS systems typically already incorporate some form of surge protection, which protects sensitive electronic equipment from extreme power events or fluctuations in the incoming power supply. However, it would be good to verify this.
  • Automatic diagnostic: Though the ability to perform an automatic self-test appears frivolous at first blush, it is vital for detecting faults that might impede the operation of the UPS. This includes checking if the battery is still capable of holding an adequate charge, or if a battery replacement is in order.
  • Remote Access: Support for remote access can let IT departments keep an eye on the UPS around-the-clock. Schneider Electric, for instance, offers cloud-based monitoring and management for some of its UPS models.
  • Number of Outlets: While not vital, having enough power outlets for your equipment can help keep things tidy. Some UPS models also offer the ability to review statistics on individual outlets and to either toggle or power cycle them through the network.
  • Built-in displays: The ability to review the status of the UPS such as its battery level and projected runtime on a physical display can be a lifesaver as IT workers scramble to power down systems during an extended power outage.
  • User-replaceable batteries: The ability for users to replace depleted batteries can have a big impact on the total cost of ownership (TCO). Newer UPS models with lithium-ion batteries also offer a substantially longer lifespan of up to 7 years which is especially suited for remote or retail installations.

It doesn’t take a power expert to select and purchase a suitable UPS for your organisation. With some research and an understanding of corporate IT requirements, it is possible to quickly narrow down the selection to a handful of suitable models. More information on how to make UPS selection easy and stress-free can be found here.