New Trends in Uninterruptible Power Supply Systems
Editor’s Note: Our March 2006 M/E Roundtable, “ Power Continuity ,” features industry experts in a wide-ranging discussion of the latest trends in UPS technology and system deployment. The article below draws on additional, previously unpublished materials from the roundtable.
Significant trends in the development of UPS technology include not only increased use of web-enabled systems, but also the ability of manufacturers to
build UPS with a smaller footprint.
“Most UPS systems can now be web-enabled for remote monitoring,” says Herve Tardy, vice president of marketing, MGE UPS, Costa Mesa, Calif. “This is a cost-effective alternative to SNMP, as a simple PC with a browser can do the job of an expensive network management system.”
Thomas Reed, P.E., senior director of critical technology at Kling, Philadelphia, agrees that web-enabled access is the rage in power quality monitoring, metering and sometimes control. “It allows a universal, portable platform to interface from any Internet capable computer and see into the electrical power system,” says Reed. “Web-enabled access has the potential to greatly reduce the custom programming costs typically associated with critical power SCADA systems.
But what about the issue of smaller footprints? Are UPS footprints really continuing to get smaller?
Tardy isn’t so sure. “The trend toward modular will actually cause UPS to become larger in order to accommodate future extensions,” he says. “At the same time, their footprint will be similar to self-contained UPS, only the height will increase to make provisions for future needs.”
But some experts disagree. “UPS footprints are getting smaller, with higher energy capacity,” says Suzette Albert, product marketing manager with Sola/Hevi-Duty, Rosemont, Ill. “Advanced component technologies offer higher reliability and smaller design, such as digital signal processors (DSP).”
Albert explains that DSP controllers manage many functions including battery charger, rectifier setting for input power factor correction and inverter DC voltage regulation. That decreases the number of components in the UPS. Furthermore, she adds, alternative energy storage is being looked at, such as fuel cell and ultracapacitors.
“Some UPS systems are getting smaller,” says Kevin McCalla, director of marketing, Liebert Corp., Columbus, Ohio. “This is primarily driven by designs that do not require transformers.”
McCalla goes on to explain that for some, footprint is an issue, but for others, it is not. “Many locate the UPS system outside the critical facility and are focused on system reliability rather than footprint. At the same time, footprint is becoming more important in rack-based systems where higher-powered systems need to be protected without consuming too much rack space,” he says.
Finally, Reed points out that in addition to flywheel technology enabling smaller UPS footprints, static UPS systems electronics have been getting smaller due to higher power transistors.
“But, the requirements for higher power densities on the floor are requiring more batteries and larger UPS KW capacities. Consequently, we are still seeing a 50/50 ratio between raised floor and M/E/P space,” says Reed.