What constitutes a poor UPS environment?

Power Control
22 Feb 2019

When looking to invest in a new uninterruptible power supply naturally the focus is on the systems’ functional attributes such as battery autonomy, power factor, efficiency, reliability and the initial cost. Whilst these are of course essential, it is also important to remember that uninterruptible power supplies contain fragile electrical components requiring stable and precise environmental conditions, specified by each UPS manufacturer, to ensure maximum longevity.

Extreme temperatures are the most common causes of UPS battery degradation provoking behaviour that is incongruent to their normal specifications. Nearly all uninterruptible power supply manufacturers will quote a battery operating temperature tolerance typically between 20-25°C. Placing a UPS system in an environment which has a temperature not conducive to its specification, will cause the electrochemical reaction in the battery to quicken. On average, for every 8.3°C over the recommended temperature, the life of the battery reduces by 50%.

More often than not, heat and humidity go hand in hand. Moisture in a high voltage environment can have serious consequences, causing corrosion of UPS cabinets and internal components, or worse a fire. Again, most UPS manufacturers will specify the maximum relative humidity of an environment safe for the UPS, most commonly <95% (non-condensing). For this reason it is recommended that a UPS is not installed near open windows or areas containing high levels of moisture.

To prevent overheating, an uninterruptible power supply requires adequate ventilation and cooling. The powerful fans draw in air from the surrounding environment to cool the machine down, any dust or corrosive particles in the air will also be drawn in and sticking to the fan blades. A layer of dust could cause a significant blockage leading to overheating and ultimately the UPS system may be at risk of a consequential failure.

Businesses requiring UPS systems that are located near the coast should take extra precautions when installing. Similarly to the adverse effects caused by dust, UPS systems located near the cost are affected by the sea air. The fans draw in salty air which crystallises on the printed circuit boards (PCBs) inside the UPS causing them to corrode and potentially short circuit.

Installing UPS systems into such environments demands a detailed assessment of the surrounding conditions of the proposed location. We recommend that the UPS undergoes specialist treatment which includes the internal circuity on the UPS having a silicon based solution sprayed on them, providing a level of protection against harsh environments. It is also recommended that any UPS installed in an unsettled environment should have a minimum of two service visits per annum to remove any build-up of dust and closely monitor the resilience.

Ultimately we would always recommend that prior to installing a UPS and battery solution, that a room with temperature control, humidity monitoring, and that contains clean air is factored into a budget. Neglecting these criteria can have severe and disastrous consequences on UPS and battery infrastructure.

Power Control specialises in offering complete UPS solutions. In 2009 Power Control became an exclusive UK partner for renowned Italian UPS manufacturer, Borri Spa. Power Control is also a VAR and key service partner for leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider Huawei. The companies work closely together to deliver UPS systems, micro data centres and cooling solutions. Power Control’s single phase offering comes from global UPS manufacturer, CertaUPS.

For more information about Power Control’s product portfolio and service offering please call 01246 431431 or email info@powercontrol.co.uk