Connecting a Building Management System (BMS) to a UPS through BACnet Makes Good Business Sense

Building management systems (BMS) are becoming increasingly common in modern buildings such as hotels, apartment and office buildings – and even individual homes. Also known as a building automation system, the BMS is a computer-based environment that manages a building’s electrical systems such as HVAC, ventilation, lighting, fire detection and security systems.

UPS

Naturally, the data flowing through the BMS is only as good as the information that comes into the system. That is why the critical devices feeding the BMS should be supported by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that ensures continued operation in case of a power outage. Ideally, those UPS units should be remotely managed to ensure the best performance possible, but differing communication standards between systems have created some challenges for building system managers. While a BMS supports multiple data link layers, it can communicate through BACnet/IP (Building Automation and Control/Internet Protocol).  IT infrastructure and devices such as workstations, servers, network and storage, on the other hand, uses SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) as the default means of communication.

This communication “incompatibility” often results in a forced separation of important data, with a building automation system being monitored from a central console that is completely independent from the SNMP dashboard that displays the UPS status. This data division leaves the person responsible for the overall management of a building/campus in the uncomfortable and often impractical position of continuously monitoring two different screens.

This setup can be especially tough in SMEs (small and medium enterprises), where the technician responsible for IT is the same person in charge of vital building systems such as air conditioning and fire detection. Because the UPS hasn’t been integrated with the BMS, the technician has treated the UPS as an IT component, which means jumping back and forth between screens for monitoring and management purposes.

BACnet UPS Integration Considerations

To make it easier to remotely manage UPS systems, it is important to choose a solution that will easily connect to a BMS. This connection provides building system managers with a complete view of their UPS status and performance data directly within their BMS management console. This integration provides a new level of oversight which can greatly reduce the risk of unplanned downtime and provide additional peace-of-mind.

In this increasingly connected environment, another important UPS buying criterion is to find a solution with Network Management option that is BACnet certified in accordance with the BACnet Testing Laboratories (BTL) requirements. BTL is the third-party authority responsible for testing and certifying BACnet compliance, and BACnet certification ensures interoperability with the devices and systems of other vendors operating in BACnet environments.

Those working in a Modbus environment, which is prevalent in industrial automation networks, should also consider a UPS that provides Modbus protocol support. Modbus allows communication between many devices connected to the same network, and choosing a UPS that offers this capability enables smoother information flow and faster decision making.

Practical Solutions for Connected UPS Management 

Building system managers need full visibility into the status of their UPSs. That is why it is important to choose a properly enabled UPS and then ensure that access is supported with the latest technology updates.

To leverage the integration with BACnet, first choose a UPS with a network management option supporting BACnet, then optimize your connection by using the latest available software and firmware. APC by Schneider Electric single-phase Smart-UPS or Symmetra UPS customers with UPS Network Management Card (AP9630/AP9631/AP9635) can ensure their connection remains current by accessing one of these two free and simple options:

You can also review APC’s BTL certification showing the latest firmware update (v6.6.4 and above) and supporting BACnet/IP solutions. Providing support for both BACnet and Modbus protocols demonstrates our commitment to delivering solutions that provide our customers with Certainty in a Connected World. Look for more upgrades soon to enhance the visibility and value of connected buildings and IT assets.

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