As companies increasingly adopt distributed IT strategies, putting digital technology in more and more locations, they need to consider the risks their organization may face should these devices fail – and how to mitigate those risks.
Much of the distributed technology supports Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which drives the need for edge computing. That involves myriad computing and networking devices installed in all sorts of areas outside traditional data centers: branch and home offices, retail locations, factory floors, even outdoor sites such as wind and solar installations, to name a few.
This infrastructure is critical to company efforts at improving agility and making the most of real-time data. In that sense, there’s great risk should any component in the chain fail, such as due to power irregularities or outages.
In such instances, uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) are required to power devices when utility power falters or fails. The good news is, UPSs are now increasingly up to the task.
For decades, most UPSs relied on valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries, also known as sealed lead-acid batteries. While they did the job, Lithium Ion or Li-ion offers improvements in a number of areas.
For starters, Li-ion batteries are about 30% lighter than VRLA batteries and significantly smaller. That’s important especially for longer run-time applications because it means more energy can be stored in the same space; or the same energy in a smaller space. What’s more, Li-ion batteries can withstand temperature fluctuations better than VRLA batteries, making them better-suited to locations with higher temperatures.
All of these advantages add up to expand the realm of possibility for where UPSs based on Li-ion batteries may be used, which is a good thing for any company with an expanding digital footprint.
The possibilities are nearly endless but to get a sense of the sorts of applications where UPSs would be a good idea, consider these:
- Retail point-of-sale and back-office systems: We’ve all probably been in a store when the cash register or credit card verification system wasn’t working quite right. It adds up to irritated customers and, probably, lost sales. A UPS can eliminate failures due to utility power issues, including brownouts, voltage spikes and outages.
- Automated teller machines (ATMs): We’ve all likewise likely had the experience of going to an ATM, probably in a hurry to get some cash, only to find it’s not working. It’s frustrating to say the least. While UPSs won’t help ensure there’s always cash in the machine, it can protect it from outages due to power disruptions or failures.
- Embedded products: Sensors can live inside just about anything today, sending all sorts of valuable information – so long as the power doesn’t go out. While high-value applications such as medical diagnostic equipment and factory floor process controllers are likely already protected by UPSs, Li-ion can extend protection to something as simple as a vending machine.
To date companies have often been challenged to have UPS protection for these and many other applications due to factors such as a lack of space on wall-mount racks, in shared IT spaces or in mixed-use areas such as branch offices. Sealed lead-acid battery-based UPSs also require occasional maintenance, which can be a problem if access is an issue, or appropriate personnel aren’t available.
Li-ion batteries help address each of these issues with their smaller size and reduced maintenance. Indeed, in some cases, the Li-ion battery will last as long as the UPS itself, eliminating the need for maintenance altogether.
Not all li-ion batteries are created equal of course. To ensure safety, make sure your UPS uses a li-ion battery that complies with UL safety requirements (UL 1973), with features such as high voltage and temperature protection. A dedicated battery management system is also helpful to continually monitor and control energy flow in the battery pack.
Don’t let a power disruption put your distributed IT infrastructure at risk. Learn how Li-ion UPSs can offer the protection you need – even in places you may not have thought of before–bringing you Certainty in a Connected World.