Power Protection – Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or Generator – Which?

Diesel Generators as part of an emergency power system have built in fuel tanks from 8-12 hours, depending on manufacturer. Some have additional external tanks that can extend their running time to 24 or 48 hours.

A Generator has less operating constraints than a UPS System. The generator can be installed outside in its own weatherproof acoustic container. It’s not prone to climate conditions and can run as long as you wish, as it can be refuelled whilst in operation with no requirement to turn it off.

To ensure cost-effective operation, the UPS-genset combination must be designed to ensure optimum economic conditions and compatibility of the technical characteristics. To determine the optimum combination in terms of purchase and operating costs you need to take a long term perspective of your site.

UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) and generator sets (Diesel Generators) are frequently combined to supply continuous power to sensitive applications such as computers, telecommunication centres, industrial processes, hospitals, airports, etc.

These two types of equipment offer complementary functions for the supply of critical loads.

A UPS provides quality power and isolates loads from upstream disturbances, in addition to supplying battery backup power that can last from a few minutes up to several hours, although in practice a UPS usually has no longer than a 30 minute battery backup, as longer than this it is far more cost-effective to have a backup power generator.

Beyond the battery backup time, a diesel generator (often referred to as a genset) steps in to provide longer protection.

These are the KEY questions to ask yourself before venturing into any power protection project:-

  • What is the kVA peak demand of your critical load to be power protected?
  • What is the kVA peak demand of your NON  critical load to be power protected?
  • What is the combined kVA peak demand of your total maximum load to be power protected?
  • Is your load likely to increase during the next 5-10 years?
  • Do you intend to remain in your building for the next 20 years?
  • Or are you likely to relocate?
  • If so do you prefer containerised power protection systems?
  • What autonomy would you prefer for your UPS systems in minutes?
  • What number of hours will you require the backup generators to run OFF Grid ?
  • Do you require N+1 for the power protection system? Or even N+2 or N+3?
  • Where will the UPS systems be located?
  • Where will the generator/s be located?

For total Power Protection we recommend N+1 Power Continuity as minimum.

Once these questions have been addressed then you’re ready to involve PowerContinuity Systems for a full site survey.

Remember – don’t spend anything until you are certain of your requirements.

In addition to installation and maintenance costs, remember to take into account fuel storage, special room conditions, servicing, and access.

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