In my last post, I tried to make the case that, given how important online resources are to schools, they should invest in a UPS to keep the IT equipment that supplies their Internet connections up and running in the face of a power disruption. If you didn’t already have them, probably you all rushed out and bought some UPSs, which is great – you’ll sleep better. But there is a bit more to the story: now you should put those UPSs on a maintenance program.
UPSs, or uninterruptible power supplies, are not unlike cars in that they need maintenance over their lifetime to operate reliably and efficiently. In fact, the UPS lifecycle has a lot in common with that of a car. You have to carefully consider which model is best for you, install it in an environmentally friendly environment (akin to a garage), perform maintenance at regular intervals, tune it up occasionally, and replace it when it gets old and can no longer be considered reliable.
The exact life expectancy of a UPS will depend on a number of factors, beginning with the environment in which it lives. UPSs have batteries, which are susceptible to conditions such as excessive cold, heat, humidity and dust. They work best in a clean environment at a temperature of 77°F (25°C). While the UPS will certainly operate at lower or higher temperatures, a rule of thumb is that for every 15°F (8.3°C) above that temperature, the UPS battery life is reduced by 50%.
Beyond installing it in a friendly environment, there’s always some sort of attention you can and should be paying to your UPS, just as with your car (as this infographic nicely illustrates).
For UPSs that are less than 3 years old, an extended warranty likely makes sense to protect your UPS investment. While details will vary, in general the warranty should get you 24×7 technical support and a free replacement if the battery happens to die prematurely. It may also cover free shipping on any required replacement parts.
At 3 to 7 years old, you should consider replacing the UPS battery, as that’s right in the wheelhouse for expected battery lifespan – again, not unlike a car battery. Your UPS vendor should be able to provide a battery that’s fully assembled with instructions for how to hot-swap it, so you don’t have shut down the UPS or any attached equipment. Ask for postage-paid packaging so you can recycle your old batteries.
If your UPS is more than 7 years old, it’s time to think about replacing it. Newer UPSs come with advanced features, such as remote monitoring and management capabilities, extended run-time, and more. It’s also a matter of reliability as well as efficiency; because new UPSs are far more energy efficient than older models, many of them having regionally sought-after efficiency ratings (such as EnergyStar in the U.S.) you’ll save on operating costs. To further ease the cost burden, some vendors (including APC by Schneider Electric in certain countries) offer discounted pricing on new UPSs with your trade-in.
APC also has online tools to guide you through decisions at each phase of the UPS lifecycle. The Service Selector helps customers with newer UPSs find the most appropriate maintenance package while those with somewhat older models can use the Upgrade Selector to find a new battery. When it’s time for a new UPS, the UPS Selector can help you find the right model. You can use the tools yourself or call on an APC partner to walk you through the options.
You know you need your Internet connection to stay up so your teachers and students can access the resources they need. Don’t let a UPS failure put that connection in danger of failing in the face of a power disruption. Give your UPSs the attention they deserve throughout their lifecycle and they won’t let you down.
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