Modular UPS systems have been gaining popularity recently as an attractive concept for meeting power needs as a company grows. The concept allows you to increase UPS capacity or redundancy as needed with small, lightweight, compact, hot-swappable, and cost-effective modules without the need for additional floor space. However, the advantages also have certain disadvantages, which are discussed in this article.
The modular approach to UPS has the following advantages over standard UPS solutions:
1) Smaller footprint.
Most modern three-phase UPS systems are scalable, allowing additional units to be added to parallel units for additional power or redundancy. Modular systems are based on a rack-like enclosure with a battery cabinet at the bottom and small, lightweight, interchangeable modules that can be added as needed. This vertical scaling approach takes up about 25% of the footprint of a standard UPS with the same total capacity.
2. Highest power availability.
The availability of a UPS system is defined as the percentage of time that conditioned power is available. If the UPS never failed, availability would be 100%. Unfortunately, UPS systems or their backup batteries fail and conditioned power is not available to protect the load during repairs. The modular approach reduces the repair time to a few hours for a technician to replace a faulty module, compared to 24 hours or more for a service engineer to repair the system.
3. higher efficiency.
UPS efficiency peaks when the load reaches its maximum capacity. The ability to increase UPS power by adding small modules as needed, while maintaining a high ratio of the total load to total UPS power, makes this the most efficient solution. Visit also: UPS Systems for Industry
4. The lowest probability of UPS failure during maintenance.
Studies show that 30% of UPS failures are due to human error during UPS repair or maintenance. The modular approach allows a faulty module to be replaced and isolated on-site, which is then sent to a service center for repair, reducing the likelihood of a UPS failure during maintenance.
The modular approach to UPS has the following disadvantages compared to standard UPS solutions:
1. limited output power.
The modular approach requires a relatively large number of small, lightweight, parallel power modules. Most UPS systems are based on modules that can be housed by one person in a 19-inch rack. Manufacturers recommend adding more racks in parallel for additional power. The likelihood of failure when more modules are plugged in reduces the availability advantage. In addition, failure rates and high maintenance costs increase with more modules, making the modular approach impractical for systems with more than 4-5 modules connected in parallel.
2. High probability of failure (single point of failure, SOP).
Unlike conventional stand-alone UPS systems, each is equipped with all the necessary UPS functional units. A single failure of certain functional components common to all modules in a rack, such as a common battery pack, switch, control, and display units, can result in a complete loss of power.
3. higher initial investment.
Typically, the initial installation of a modular UPS includes the rack and all common components. However, this investment can be recouped in the future. Through higher efficiency and lower operating costs, as well as the lower financial costs associated with the “grow as you grow” approach. That a modular UPS architecture offers.
In conclusion, the modular approach to UPS is not always the best solution for all scalable UPS requirements. But it should be considered as part of the overall UPS strategy. In addition, choosing a modular approach requires in-depth knowledge of UPS design. Including detailed information on common components, which is not always provided by UPS manufacturers to see the big picture.
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