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UPS systems and selecting and acquiring backup power systems

Did you know that, in addition to traditional technical building systems, we at Are also have strong expertise in backup power and UPS systems? In this blog, we want to share our expertise regarding acquiring, installing, maintaining and the price of backup power systems to be installed in a client’s premises.

Acquiring a backup power system

A backup power system is quite often acquired to protect from critical loads or because official regulations obligate acquiring one. In an ideal situation, the process of acquiring a backup power system is started already at the construction’s planning stage. In these circumstances, it is advisable to contact the local authority to identify all the environmental and technical construction requirements related to the system. However, acquiring a backup power system in a completed building can also be easily done, provided that certain elements are considered.

 Selecting a backup power system – things to consider

When planning a backup power system, a good basic principle is that it should be a system completely independent of other systems. Cooling, controlling, fuel intake and alarm systems should work autonomously, independent of other devices or power supply.

Backup power systems are typically used by hospitals, data centres, large shopping centres, industrial plants and farms, telecommunications rooms and fire stations, for example. The level of backup power availability is often dictated by official regulations. When planning the backup power system’s functionalities, it must be considered that for how long the device is required or wanted to produce energy. This has an impact on, for instance, the size of the backup power station’s fuel tank.

Some premises and systems require an uninterruptible power supply network. An operating room provides a good example of a space in which a power outage can cause serious consequences. Another good example is the cash register of a store, in which a power outage can cause significant financial damages. In these circumstances, a UPS system is required in addition to a backup power system, which we will get to know better below.

Usually, the supplier of the equipment will install a backup power system and ensure that it is deployed.

Typical pitfalls

A typical pitfall in acquiring a backup power station is that insufficient space has been reserved for it. The space should be large enough to have the machinery transported and installed in it and to have sufficient room to maintain the entire machinery.

The machinery’s exhaust pipe can become heated, depending on the load, up to 550°C. In a narrow space, it can become a fire safety and health risk. The exhaust pipe should be isolated for its length where there is a risk of safety hazards. Exhaust pipes are usually isolated with wool. Make sure that there is a sufficient amount of wool and that it is installed tightly around the exhaust pipe.

Deciding a location for the backup power station

The building permit application process includes an investigation by the municipal authorities who will approve the backup power station’s location. Suggested locations are either in the basement or ground level. An optimal location could be near the sound of traffic, which will cover the noise generated by the machinery. Backup power stations also require installing shock absorbers that minimise the vibration in the surrounding structures. Exhaust emissions are directed as upward as possible and sufficiently far from fresh air intake pipes (see duct regulations).

It is vital that the backup power station’s space is sufficiently ventilated. If the space’s temperature rises too high, the station’s power needs to be limited. In ideal circumstances, the ventilation of the backup power station space is already considered when planning the construction of the building, as large air ducts require lots of space in the structures; the area required by the ducts can be several square metres. 

UPS systems guarantee uninterrupted power supply

There are approximately 15–20 seconds of downtime after a power outage and before the backup power system is activated. As mentioned above, this can cause severe consequences, for example, in an operating room. Similarly, losing power to telecommunication devices can cause massive troubles and financial losses to a company.

A backup power system with no downtime can be created with a UPS system. The UPS system will supply power from its batteries while the backup power station starts itself. The UPS device is typically chosen according to the size of the backup power station and the required load of uninterrupted power. The backup power station’s power output should be designed with the UPS system and its technical properties in mind.

Acquiring a UPS system includes the same aspects as acquiring a backup power station. The space needs to be clean, dry and with sufficient maintenance room. In addition, the temperature of the surrounding air should be approximately 20–25°C. It is common to use mechanical refrigeration in the space to keep the UPS system’s and its batteries at optimal temperature. A too high temperature can shorten the batteries’ lifespan significantly.

Summary

•     The backup power station needs to be a completely autonomous system, independent of other systems.

•     If you require a completely uninterrupted power supply, you need to acquire an additional UPS system.

•     It is vital that the backup power station’s space is sufficiently ventilated. Large air ducts require lots of space in the structures.

•     The fuel tank’s capacity is selected according to how long power is required to be supplied. Take any possible official regulations into account as well.

•     Make sure that the station has sufficient room for maintenance.

•     The backup power station is preferably installed at ground level.

•     The exhaust emissions, noise and vibration shouldn’t cause any harm to the environment.  

Kirjoittaja:
Markku Saarinen and Kimmo Impiö

The authors are Are experts of backup power and UPS systems who commonly collaborate in practical work as well.

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