IT Pro Portal: How To Stop Winter Power Cuts Causing IT Chaos

How can businesses reduce the risk of damaging IT downtime prompted by winter power cuts?

As we head into the long, dark winter, IT managers and data centre operators need to be prepared for the increased threat of power disruptions.

ITProPortal website logoWhen temperatures plummet, demand for electricity rockets as everyone fires up their heaters.

Renewables contribute less to the energy mix than the sunny summers. So the National Grid struggles to cope.

Add in the problems posed by blizzards and high winds which can knock out power transmission lines and it should come as little surprise that we experience more blackouts and power disruptions during the winter months.

Such a trend highlights the importance of a reliable uninterruptible power supply to keep crucial infrastructure up and running.

But what other threats do winter power cuts create? And how do we minimise the threat of damaging downtime to IT systems and other critical infrastructure?

Empty road covered in snow and ice during winter blizzard
WINTER WARNING: The knock-on effect of snow, ice, and freezing winter temperatures make power problems and blackouts far more likely to happen

How Do Cold Temperatures Impact On IT Equipment?

In some respects, freezing temperatures should be good news for computers and electrical equipment.

Problems with such equipment tend to be caused by overheating, so naturally cool environments are a benefit.

But if the thermometer drops too low, it can negatively impact on materials such as metals, plastics, and wiring. Low temperatures can also lead to condensation developing on the electronic components too.

The major area of concern with a UPS during prolonged cold snaps is their batteries. Traditional sealed lead-acid (SLA) cells need a temperature of 20-25oC to perform at their best.

When the mercury drops, impedance increases, meaning a significantly shorter battery runtime.

Steps To Stop Your Systems Freezing To A Standstill

We share our top tips to ensure computer systems can still operate effectively in cold weather with IT Pro Portal. Step number one is to consider building in redundancy to any UPS installation to mitigate against system failure.

The second piece of advice is to follow a robust preventive UPS maintenance regime. Regular UPS maintenance and servicing reduces the risk of components like capacitors or batteries experiencing a fault.

You should also consider where you’re installing the UPS. In an ideal world, a secure, temperature-controlled environment will be available. If not, don’t set up a UPS in a room where arctic winds and snow can get in.

Read the rest of our advice about overcoming the challenges of cold temperatures over at IT Pro Portal

And click here for some top tips on avoiding an IT meltdown during warm weather