by December 4, 2001 0 comments

Nobody, at least in India, will argue that you don’t need a power backup system for your workplace. In fact, many new building complexes have full power backup facilities. What do you do if you are looking to setting up operations in a building that doesn’t have an existing power backup?

Backup normally involves two things: power generators and UPSs (conditioners). In small setups, generators power only electrical equipment like lights and fans, while the UPS powers only computers. But in larger ones, both power not only computers and servers, but also communication equipment, backbone equipment like routers, and so on. So, ideally you should take both generators and UPSs into account.

Calculate load

First, get an experienced power engineer to calculate the total expected load of your organization. Equipment includes servers, workstations, printers, fax machines, EPABX, lighting, and air conditioning. All of these will have to be accommodated in the capacity of the generator for a large organization, (while some, like lighting and air conditioning, are not subject to UPS support). In most cases, the specs plate of an electrical device states its power rating. The power consumption is mentioned in watts. Or, you can multiply the amperage of the device and multiply it with the input voltage to get the power consumption.

Add the power consumed by each device to get your total load. You also need to add a design factor to the total calculated load to compensate for any extra loads and future expansions.

Choose equipment

The conditioning equipment should compensate for any problems in the condition and quality of the power that you are getting from the utility supply, and should synchronize with your generator and vice-versa. For instance, if you’re located in an industrial area, then chances are that there will be disturbance in the mains voltage caused by the operation of heavy machinery. There could be frequent voltage surges or spikes. A surge, which is a sudden rise in voltage for a fractional time that can attain very high values, calls for installation of special surge-protection equipment. Then there are brownouts and blackouts. Brownouts–low power supply voltage–call for step-up transformers or most likely, switch over to backup power supply. Blackouts mean switching to a backup, a in-house power source.

Options are centralized, distributed, or a combination of both. Simply put, whether you should have one monolitic backup unit, or whether the total need should be split up into different units, maybe, at different locations, like different floors. In the case of power generators, the choice is always to go in for a centralized setup. When it comes to UPSs, a distributed system is easier to deploy and build up, it is not as economical or easy to manage as the organization becomes large. Centralizes UPSs are becoming popular because of management features.

The latter is not really used in an IT organization. UPSs can be offline, online or line-interactive. When you are talking of backups above 1 KVA, you are talking of online backup only.

Use efficiently

Some simple practices can go a long way in reducing your electricity bills. As simple a thing as putting lights off after office hours can save you quite a bit every year. So can shutting down workstations and keeping only critical PCs and servers running during off hours.

Ashish Sharma

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