Outage

Video: Five practical tips for choosing the right UPS

On the surface, choosing a UPS for your organization's server room may seem like a simple task, but like many IT tasks, the devil is in the details. In this IT Dojo video, Bill gives you five tips to help you choose the right uninterruptible power supply for your environment.

On the surface, choosing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your organization's server room may seem like a simple task, but like many IT tasks, the devil is in the details. In this I-T Dojo video, I discuss the following five tips that will help you choose the right uninterruptible power supply for your environment:

  1. Count your output connections.
  2. Consider using battery packs instead of moving to a higher-end UPS unit.
  3. Make sure you measure.
  4. Create a separate power circuit or branch.
  5. Plan for an outage.

After watching the video, you can learn more about how to choose a UPS by reading Paul Mah's article, "Practical tips for setting up a UPS"--the basis for this video.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

18 comments
pjmorton
pjmorton

I find that the UPS units I can buy these days always stop working and need to be replaced after 2-3 years use. The ones I bought back in the 1990's lasted five years or more. What gives?

Kingbackwards
Kingbackwards

In tip 4 it is good to have the "server room" on its own power circuit. But one of the important things that gets over looked is putting a lock on the breaker box(s). Or giving the server room it's own locked breaker box. Because not all breakers are labeled like they should and you don't want the goof ball co-worker who plugged in that "faulty microwave" going in and just trying to flip breakers without you there. Or an rouge employee being "funny/malicious". Also making sure that you have 3 phase power coming in not 1 phase as its cleaner and better for the electric motors in your air condition systems. This is obviously something a competent electrician would know. And finding a good electrical person/team is key.

DonWagner
DonWagner

Those are good SPS/UPS basics. My comment is regarding the term we hear every day - "The devil is in the details." I beg to differ. "The devil is in the lack of details and inaccurate details." One wrong piece of information can cancel 99 pieces of absolute truth. That's why I prefer to say, "God is in the details. The Devil is the father of deception." In marketing, it is known as the 'FUD' factor - fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Mick_obrien685
Mick_obrien685

A 24/7 working life of sealed lead/acid battery in a UPS,is, as a example, 4 years (replacement cycle), if it's going/gone bad the brown side of the system will overcome it's high current usage, when you have an outage and are reliant totally on the white side, your uptime predictions could be seriously killed.If it works, why not do a planned test. If it doesn't, you found out in a controlled environment

Cynyster
Cynyster

Great tips, But have you ever wondered why the most important appliances such a routers, switches, etc only have one power connection. Servers have multiple power supplies so you can have one connected to the UPS and the other to the main (supposedly generator backed up power) The more important equipment that allows those servers to talk do not. So if you have a UPS failure you can be down in a flash. Battery Backup units are very rough on a back up generator and vice-versa.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

All good tips, but none of it will matter if the UPS is not sized properly. I would have thought choosing the right UPS would have started with getting the proper KVA, then get into the battery capacity, then you can start worrying about whether or not you have enough output connections etc. . . .

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

In this IT Dojo video, I discuss five tips to help you choose the right uninterruptible power supply for your environment. Original blog post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=181 In the last tip, I explain how important it is to plan for an extended power outage. If you were picking a UPS solution, how long would you need the batteries to last? How does the equipment connected to the UPS determine this length of time?

Mick_obrien685
Mick_obrien685

Never, how can you quickly isolate equipments in event of a fire! Put a recorded tamperproof seal on the box instead.

Junecore
Junecore

Hey Cynyster, To answer your question on: "if network is down, servers on UPS does not matter." This is true. But thats why you should have connected the only output of switches (that connected to critical servers) and other traffic routing equipments to a UPS, too. UPS will only supply power; its up to the individual to figure out what needs that unavailable power supplied to during an outage. Comments welcome, Junecore

Mick_obrien685
Mick_obrien685

Anybody can be down in a flash, it's called tripping the fuse, why not do it deliberately, and see what went wrong. Then create a power plan. everything important (this actually excludes the kettle) should be on the white side. Battery backups are not rough on generators, it's a current thing.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

We have a UPS hooked up to each power supply in a dual-power supply server (actually we have two 5KVA units, with 8 servers, but the two power supplies on each server are hooked to different UPSs) only needing to supply power until the building generator (.75 megawatt) kicks on. That way we can have a UPS failure, or change batteries, on one UPS at a time without interrupting power to the servers.

ups power supply
ups power supply

Oh, it is what I find for a long time. Thanks very much for sharing it with us.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I have sol dquite a few brands of UPS devices, it seems that just about every company I work for or with has soem other brand of UPS device. Experience has shown me that there is little diffeference between manufacturers, though some use better materials and quality assurance. Evefryone knows the regilars, APC etc. but TrippLite is worth looking at (no I don't sell them or have any relation to them any mroe but I do recommend them for several reasons including customer service and support. Tripp Lit ealso has a great system on their site for helping determine which UPS is best for your application: http://www.tripplite.com/EN/products/selectors/ups/index.cfm It allows you to select the exact manufacturer, device, number of drives and PCI cards, even the typ eof plug used. From those specs it will offer the recommended UPS, whether for a whole network (server by server, PC by PC) or an individual desktop. Makes life easier anyway.

wogglebug
wogglebug

I seem to get about 2-3 years from a set of batteries. If I was able to keep the environment cooler, then I suspect the batteries would last a bit longer. I note frequently that when batteries are replaced, they have swelled some. This can make removing them from the battery compartment of some UPS units (all my experience is with APC units) a challenge at times.

hamads
hamads

By including a small 555 Desulphator circuit into your UPS after the UPS warranty expires, you can extend the life of the Lead Acid batteries by around 300%. e.g. if the batteries usually last 2 years, they can now potentially last 6 years. You need a little electronics know-how to build this circuit or can simply purchase one. I made my own and it worked great. This circuit pulses the battery with a voltage spike so short that it does not harm equipment but breaks down the sulphur that starts forming on the lead plates in the lead-acid battery. Also, it is advisable to use deep-cycle batteries for your UPS. These will easily last over 10 years.

flausher
flausher

...you can't have hundreds of servers running off your UPS for large amounts of time (I mean obviously this depends on the size of your UPS and so on, but as a general rule). I suppose this is where disaster recovery comes in. When power goes down, you should have allocated which servers and so on are needed most, and therefore correctly and safely shut down the ones that aren't needed during this power outage. Obviously this means the less hooked up to your UPS, the longer it can sustain the more vital servers and systems. -MAKE SURE AIR CON IS HOOKED UP AS WELL. incidents I've heard of involving servers with a UPS, but air con with no power, meaning a nice cooking temperature. bye bye server... =(

Kingbackwards
Kingbackwards

Under the assumption that your recommending a cable or bolt based tamper proof seal and not plastic, or a worthless sticker. (which the bolt and cable style are on most power company transformer boxes I've seen) You'd still need to go get heavy duty scissors, or bolt cutters to remove the tamper proof seal as apposed to going and getting the key. Not counting the cost to replace it if you remove one. Even in Lockout Tagout situations you do use locks, now granted the lock body is usually plastic so it can be removed with out destroying the lock. (Even then you have to fill out paperwork to bust off the lock) But the premise is the same, you need some kind of access control. Which is what I'm describing if your breaker box is in an open area and not in a secure room or closet. And to be honest, I don't want even a secretary flipping breakers if there is an electrical fire. I want him/her to get out of their office, call the fire department, and send out info over the intercom system to notify others. And besides that, if your electrical wiring starts a fire instead of tripping the breaker, that signifies there something wrong with your electrical system in the building and it needs to be inspected or repaired. Plus the fire has already started and assuming it was the device and not the wiring a standard ABC extinguisher will put it out no problem (the user may still feel a jolt from the live circuit, but its not too painful and not usually lethal, at least on a US standard 110V. and if the voltage higher you should be using a dedicated C class extinguisher to prevent this but I digress) Besides your mains should be separate from your breaker boxes and can be flipped if necessary or the fire department can kill the electricity from the street. But your point is sound and I failed to flush out, is that if you do put access control you need to make sure all necessary people are aware how to open it. And that it's not so heavy duty that it can not be removed with anything less than the "jaws of life" And if a sticker is all it takes Great! But if you need something more secure make sure its quickly removable.

Mick_obrien685
Mick_obrien685

Belts and braces.But a little too heavy duty for most of our readers. Mick.

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