Defining an Uninterruptible Power Supply

In some situations, the main power source can fail and in such cases, it’s important to have some type of back up option. This is where the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) acts as an electrical power source in emergency scenarios. It’s important to note that this is different to a regular standby generator or emergency power system, because it works immediately during those short input power interruptions with the help of flywheels, batteries, and supercapacitors. However, this also means the on-time is shorter and works in small bursts (2-3 minutes) compared to a regular standby power source. It is simply a way to keep your equipment safe once the power goes down.

A UPS is often seen alongside telecommunications equipment, computers, and data storage solutions to make sure power disruptions don’t cause issues with the underlying systems.

For example, electric drum pumps will need uninterrupted power and may cause huge inconvenience if UPS isn’t present whilst materials are being transferred from one container to another. Each UPS unit is designed to work with a specific device and that can include a regular computer. In general, the idea is to have this system in place to make sure the short-term power-related issues don’t cause massive damages.

Types of UPS

There are modern advancements seen in how the UPS setup works. It can include line-interactive, standby, or on-line solutions. With the on-line UPS, it is going to make use of a method called “double-conversion” where an AC input is used with the help of a rechargeable battery. This ensures it is able to revert back to the 120 V setup as soon as the power goes down. This is done to keep all of the equipment safe. With the line-interactive UPS, it looks to make use of a battery by changing its DC current path. This helps keep the inverter safe and ensures it is able to charge despite the loss of power. While in the standby system, you are looking at power coming straight from the backup power circuit that has to be triggered by the main system going down. This is an “off-line” solution. Please note, the off-line option is often the most costly among the three.

Other advancements have seen the use of DUPS or “Dynamic Uninterruptible Power Supplies.” In this case, a separate alternator is hooked to the main energy source. This ensures a flywheel can be used to manage energy. As soon as the main power source goes down, the flywheel is able to make sure everything runs as it is supposed to. This can make it easier to eliminate delays and keep things flowing as needed. In diesel systems, you can also hook it up to a diesel generator and have a DRUPS or “diesel rotary uninterruptible power supply.”

In recent years, innovators have also taken the time to build a fuel cell UPS, which makes use of hydrogen and a separate fuel cell to provide long-term backup power.

Applications of UPS

N+1

One of the main requirements for a business is runtime or reliability. It’s important to have a proper UPS in place to make sure a single failure does not break down everything else. Any disruption can harm their ability to remain reliable, which is unacceptable. This is why smaller UPS solutions are set up and integrated into the overarching system. This makes sure the power protection is consistent throughout the day. This is where the N+1 comes into play, meaning a single load that is able to power additional UPS modules. This ensures if one module goes down, the others detect it immediately.

Multiple Redundancy

With computer servers, there are many setups with redundant power supplies ensuring everything is backed up if a single unit fails. The other units are able to pick up the power load in seconds. To make sure this is safe, each UPS is able to handle the power load of an entire server.

To make this even stronger, it’s possible to connect different units into their own UPS. This is a double protection to protect from multiple failures at the same time.

Outdoor Usage

A UPS system has to be weather-resistant for outdoor use. The manufacturer makes sure to look into these qualities while building a modern system including details such as weather, humidity, temperature, and snow/rain.

These systems can be set up on a mount, pole, or near the ground. They are able to handle any type of weather condition including the cold or heat. Some systems will have a heater or AC attached to them based on the conditions.