Built Environment (bE): UPS Overhaul Or Replace With New?

Uninterruptible power supplies play a crucial role in the data centre industry. But no UPS can last forever. When should operators opt for a UPS overhaul and when is it best to replace with new?

Data centres in Ireland attract €1.3 billion investment a year, making it one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.

In the next five years or so, the number of data centres in Ireland is set to grow from its current figure of 53 to nearly 90.

Dublin Metro is now the biggest data centre cluster in London, overtaking London, thanks to its three million square foot of server room space. The tech behemoths Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft all have sizeable facilities on the island.

As we explain to Built Environment (bE) magazine, these mission-critical facilities depend on a constant supply of clean electricity. Uninterruptible power supplies play a crucial part in maintaining a disruption-free flow.

But every UPS has a natural lifespan. This poses a conundrum for IT administrations about whether to stick or twist.

Should they try to squeeze as much life out of an ageing UPS? Or is there a business case for replacing with a new unit?

Keep On Running (With A UPS Overhaul)

There may be circumstances where you don’t even get that choice. If manufacturer support for the UPS model has ended or spare parts are out of circulation, operators have no option but to buy new.

There are two choices for those who opt to run a legacy UPS. To start, there’s “run to fail”. This is something of a misconception as the UPS will still be subject to regular UPS maintenance service visits.

The alternative is for a UPS overhaul. This proactively replaces key components like capacitors and fans before their end of service life.

Not only does this reduce the risk of major system failures, it helps to optimise performance.

UPS overhauls certainly have their place, but at some point you’re just delaying the inevitable.

A UPS will only last for so long and will at some point need upgrading with a new unit.

Long-Term Benefits Of Replacing With New

Buying a new UPS system obviously requires a significant financial investment. And there’s also an increased threat of disruption during the swap-out and changeover period.

There are several advantages though.

Firstly, modern UPS are far more efficient than legacy units aged around 10 years old. They’re likely to be transformerless, lighter, and require less air conditioning.

This offers data centre operators significant efficiency improvements, which in turn will translate to lower electricity bills. Newer UPS are also far easier to right-size at initial installation, which again cuts wasted energy.

Another benefit is the flexibility offered so operators can “pay as they grow” when the time comes to expand. With modular UPS this is done by adding extra power modules. With non-modular systems, this is achieved by paralleling several units together.

Such scalability provides much greater control of the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Finally, there are the space savings to consider. Transformerless and modular UPS have a compact footprint in comparison with the old-style, transformer-based towers.

This frees up floor space that would otherwise be used for power protection for other purposes, for example, to install extra revenue-generating server racks.