With the winter months approaching, systems integration specialist Jasco Intelligent Technologies (Jasco) explains that, before companies invest in alternative power solutions, it is important to select the right solution for their needs.
Jasco renewable-energy consulting solutions architect Kevin Norris says that selecting the best uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system to meet the set-out requirements is not as simple as choosing one from a catalogue or going with the solution that works best for another company. He explains that each business has unique requirements and there are a lot of factors that go into planning the right solution.
“These requirements include calculating the exact power load and ensuring that there are not external problems which could impact on the functionality of the system. Incorrect planning could result in a system that is unequal to the task. Companies could end up overspending on a system that overcaters for your requirements,” he says.
Further, the price of a system has no impact on the suitability of a solution. A chosen solution could end up costing more in the long run, owing to damages caused by incompatibility or additional components required later. He explains that it is essential to ensure a proper site survey is carried out before investing in a UPS or generator solution.
Norris says that site surveys are often seen as unnecessary spending, however, UPS and generator power systems can be expensive and the costs of site surveys are often negligible when weighted against the overall solution. The benefits of conducting a proper site survey extend beyond saving money on your solution.
“Site surveys can help identify inefficiencies in a business’ power environment, the correction of which could save even more money. “Proper site surveys are more than simply visiting a site and quickly assessing what equipment requires power backup before proposing a solution. Quick surveys may be able to determine what the electrical load is, but will not be able to detect underlying power problems, invisible to the naked eye,” he explains.
Further, through site surveys, businesses can assess any events that may impact on power delivery. He highlights that an industrial machine may cause a large power drain when it is switched on and such activities need to be catered for in the event of a power outage.
“Typically, a quality site survey should include monitoring your business’s electrical environment for at least seven days, factoring in the parameters relevant to the equipment being catered for, which should be confirmed before starting,” Norris says.
This will give an overview of factors such as poor power factor (inductive) loads, voltage fluctuations, harmonics, transience and any patterns which may impact on a backup power system. He explains that a good power service provider will be able to provide a UPS solution that can operate easily and efficiently within the existing parameters of an organisation’s existing electrical environment.
He highlights further that the surveyor should inspect the electrical distribution within premises, tracing from the source of power to the load in order to check for any obvious flaws. These should be corrected before installing a UPS or taken into account with the proposed solution.
“Something as seemingly inconsequential as a bad power terminal can cause inefficiencies in the delivery of power to your entire organisation. It can also put unnecessary pressure on a UPS system,” he says.
Over and above examining the existing electrical environment, the survey should also inspect the proposed area where the UPS is to be installed. Norris explains that improper housing without the necessary cooling and filters can negatively impact on the life span of a UPS system and may well cause the system to fail before it even starts.
Once the evaluation is completed and the parameters of both the existing and proposed environments are confirmed, the service provider should be able to produce a report on the power status of your business. It highlights that this report should detail the requirements as well as suggest any recommended corrections to be done before a UPS is installed.
A site survey will also equip the service provider with all the information needed to specify the perfect solution options to meet your requirement.
Norris concludes that, by doing a site survey before installing a UPS or generator system, a business will know which solution will work the best and that accountability for an incorrectly specified solution rests with the service provider.