Choosing the right UPS

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Despite the Indian UPS market being unorganised, it is growing at a rate of 15-20 per cent, and is also very competitive, with a large number of domestic and international UPS brands in the fray. In fact, this competition has given the buyers a number of manufacturers to choose from. Unfortunately, the selection is so large that buyers often get confused and misled into buying a UPS based on price alone. Instead, customers should fully understand what their requirements are and whether the product under review can meet all their needs. They should also study the market to know about the available options, in terms of the latest products and technologies. Before purchasing a UPS, the user must know about the various basic types of UPS designs as well.

By Srabani Sen

Monday, January 17, 2011: There are three basic UPS designs—offline, line interactive, and online. They provide three different levels of backup and power protection. Offline UPS can provide basic battery backup and limited surge protection only. In battery mode, they do not provide a true sinewave output and instead have a very distorted quasi sine and even square wave output.

Line interactive UPS are very similar to offline UPS, except that they have an internal automatic tap switching transformer circuit (automatic voltage regulation or AVR) that maintains some output voltage regulation in gross steps. Depending on the cost of the line interactive UPS, the battery mode output waveform could be quasi sinewave or true sinewave, in some cases.

An online UPS, when powered by the utility source, converts AC to a regulated DC, thereby removing most unwanted utility power problems. It then regenerates new, clean, true sinewave output power, whether operating in battery or utility modes.

Latest products and their USP

Now let’s look at the latest products in the market and review their unique selling propositions (USPs).

Socomec UPS India Pvt Ltd has a product range that ranges from 400 VA to 5400 kVA. “Given the present context, with soaring energy costs and urgent environmental issues, users are on the lookout for new, cost effective, efficient and adaptable technical solutions. Considering this, we recently introduced green power UPS with power outputs that range from 10 kVA to 1600 kVA. We are committed to green power to reduce electrical infrastructure costs by improving output, reducing equipment space, and ensuring better management and optimisation of the battery (energy saving),” says Socomec’s managing director, Jerome Rodriguez.

As a UPS specialist, Socomec regularly comes out with innovative solutions to meet the expectations and overcome the constraints of its customers in terms of efficiency, modularity and reliability. For instance, Socomec UPS have a unique 3N solution with automatic cross synchronisation (ACS). “Loading on UPS with the 2N system beyond 50 per cent is not possible; with our 3N system we can load up to 67 per cent of the UPS’ capacity in each cluster and all 3N will be synchronised with the ACS, further enhancing efficiency and reliability,” Rodriguez adds.

Emerson Network Power’s latest addition to its product basket is its solar UPS. “There is a healthy demand for solar UPS in India, especially in areas where load shedding is frequent. Moreover, solar UPS can be used for all kinds of loads. In the online double conversion UPS space, we have stretched the critical performance parameters to a new industry high. The Liebert NXr for instance, delivers more than 96 per cent AC/AC efficiency in double conversion mode through a 25 to 100 per cent load range. These offerings are irresistible for our customers as they unlock huge savings in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO) and hence, better business performance,” explains Venkat Rao, country manager for medium and large UPS, Emerson Network Power.

Emerson claims the USP of its UPS is higher efficiency ratings while maintaining higher system availability. “In response to the demands of new technologies, these UPS deliver enhanced availability even with increased densities, yet with minimal disruption to operations. They are sized to minimise capital equipment expenses and designed for optimum efficiency, so as to ensure the lowest cost of ownership. Their low footprint saves costly floor space. The UPS feature advanced monitoring and communication capabilities for improved visibility, control and user friendliness,” adds Venkat Rao.

Convergence Power System Pvt Ltd offers double conversion online UPS with power factor correctionr (PFC). “The AC-AC efficiency of these UPS is above 93 per cent, which is similar to those of the transformerless UPS (H/F), and thus, saves a lot of energy. These systems give a more complete protection to the connected load than H/F version UPS,” informs the company’s director, sales and marketing, Sree Kumar.

True Power International Ltd has a range of UPS of different capacities and ratings, to suit different applications. “Our lastest offering is the Softguard series. It is a microcomputer based digital pure sinewave UPS, designed using state of the art technology for high reliability, safety and better performance. Our digital pure sinewave technology (a US design) ensures longer life of appliances with highest safety, while increasing the life of the battery, too,” states Ravi Mundra, CEO, True Power International Ltd. This UPS automatically senses the type of battery attached to it and adjusts accordingly. The user doesn’t have to bother to select the charging mode for the battery. It is designed to run sophisticated appliances, servers, medical electronic equipment like dialysis machines, etc. It is also useful in signal and communication systems.

“The USP of this system is ‘SIGNATURE charging’, where ‘S’ stands for stratification and sulphation removal; ‘I’ for initial charge cycle (recommended for longer life of the battery); ‘G’ stands for gravity profile management (adjusts charging parameters according to the charge acceptance of the battery); ‘N’ for new age charging range (has a charging range from 100-300 V AC); ‘A’ for automatic (selects high and low charging, automatically); ‘T’ stands for temperature compensation (the battery temperature never exceeds the standard limit of the temperature); ‘U’ stands for universal (adaptable to any type of battery); ‘R’ for rapid charging (charges the battery faster); and ‘E’ stands for energy efficiency,” explains Ravi Mundra.

“The power audit market has grown to accommodate the newest technologies. The latest advancements have enabled us to cater to customised solutions for our customers’ power management challenges,” says Anoop Nanda, managing director, South Asia, South East Asia and Japan, Eaton Corporation, electrical sector. Some of the new types of UPS that Eaton offers are transformer free UPS, which help in reducing operating costs, weight, footprint, heat output, while increasing efficiency. These UPS have improved battery management, advances in power density, smaller footprint, robust software and monitoring services, and green technology.

“Delta aims to provide the best and the latest technologies to its customers. Business critical power (which Delta UPS provide) is a must for critical equipment, machines and processes. The new UPS that we are offering have clean rectifiers and are modular in structure. Delta’s latest model in the UPS lineup is the NH Plus, a new DSP based true online double conversion UPS. Delta has designed the NH Plus series to assist customers in reducing waste and conserving energy, as well as reduce the cost of running their businesses. The product caters to the challenges faced in implementing IT setups and data centres, namely, scalability, flexibility, manageability, maintainability and availability.

This UPS model is equipped with IGBT based PFC + boosters to achieve the lowest THDi and input PF almost equal to 1, and the highest efficiency for a whole range of loads,” informs Deepak Sharma, director, UPS business, Delta, India.

Luminous offers a wide range of line interactive UPS and online UPS. “In the line interactive UPS category, we have solo and prima models which come in 600 VA, 800 VA and 1000 VA variants. As far as the online UPS are concerned, we have the Neo series with 1, 2, 3 and 6 kVA variants. Luminous’ range of UPS comes with the latest technology for high efficiency and high input power factor. They also have the smart charge feature plus intelligent continuous battery charging profile adjustments for longer life and faster charging,” says Rakesh Malhotra, founder and CEO, Luminous Power Technologies Pvt Ltd.

Among all the conventional existing UPS technologies, the triple conversion online UPS provides an edge. It increases the input power factor and also increases the overall efficiency of the system with increased reliability. The system works on high frequency and it doesn’t provide galvanic isolation, which reduces its cost and weight. The batteries are also inbuilt, which further reduces the space required for warehousing, making handling and transportation affordable.

“At Su-Kam, we not only provide triple conversion online UPS but also double conversion online UPS with galvanic isolation transformers,” says Kunwer Sachdev, CEO, Su-Kam Power Systems Ltd. The company currently offers products like the Sinclair-I series (1 kVA-10 kVA single phase), with internal as well as external batteries and without isolation transformers; and Intelli Q series (1 kVA-10 kVA single phase) with isolation transformers and the external battery (5 kVA-50 kVA three phase with isolation transformer). The primary purpose of the IntelliQ online UPS is to protect critical and sensitive equipment from abnormal grid conditions such as grid failures, mini blackouts, high and low voltage fluctuations, lightning and electrostatic discharge. Sudden occurrences of such abnormal conditions will damage hardware and can cause loss of data. When the grid supply is available, the rectifier converts the mains to DC and charges the battery. At the same time, it also delivers the output AC load. As soon as the mains fail, the DC from the battery is converted into output AC through the inverter section of the UPS.

“With Su-Kam’s online UPS, one can actually control and monitor the system’s performance. This can be done through simple communication software called the ‘power manager’, which allows you to program all the commands so that the system performs automatically. This ensures maximum safety for high risk applications like satellite systems, air traffic control systems, Internet nodes, bank transactions, etc,” adds Kunwer Sachdev.

How to choose a UPS brand

Today, mission critical applications and demanding business processes not only require UPS for clean and continuous power but also for low TCO (total cost of ownership), high system availability in terms of process uptime, and extreme flexibility for growth and local/remote manageability. Customers should look for the following features in the product before making a buying decision:

• The UPS should have low THDi, so that your mains are not polluted

• UPS with a low footprint will help in saving space in the server room

• Low initial investments (high efficiency even for the lowest load demands, the smallest footprint, the lowest input THDi, high input PF almost equal to 1, compatibility with DG)

• Highly scalable to meet current and future power demands

• High reliability (the highest MTBF)

• Designs with at least N+1 UPS configuration for high availability of the system

• Load of equipment and servers should be rightly calculated to arrive at the optimum UPS rating

• It is important that a UPS with a lower rating than required is not chosen

• It should be able to handle all kinds of power problems that the utility power supply can throw at it

• The technology of the UPS should not be obsolete. In fact, choose a model that is of an advanced and superior technology

• A model with transformer free technology saves on space, is energy efficient and has a reduced heat output

• Look for UPS that result in lowering operating costs. There is a big difference in costs when operating high technology, transformer free UPS, compared to other models

• Battery charging technologies should ensure maximisation of battery life with little or no maintenance

• Galvanic isolation is required as per application requirement

• Look for the aesthetic quality of the product

• The UPS should have the possibility of future upgradation

• Easy maintenance

Choosing the right brand also depends on many factors

• The UPS should be of a proven brand which adheres to all quality standards

• Look for the vendor’s credentials and strong after sales record/service capabilities

• Look for company background and credibility

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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