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Education - The public sector and backup power

Published by Lee Kelly on 02 March 2020

What emergency precautions do you have in place in case you have a power outage? Do you have backup systems in place to prevent loss of critical data or life saving equipment?

A lot of public sector buildings and areas don’t have a sufficient backup or are using equipment that is 5 or older than 10 years old which is potential past the original life span of the unit and if it's not been serviced may never function when required - creating costly downtime issues and lost data for students / postponed operations. Keeping on top of your backup, maintaining it or even getting a system installed is critical!

What are the potential backup systems?

There are a few different types of system that can be put in place and even potentially have your self run off the grid in some cases. A lot of these systems do much more than just keep you running and can even help prolong the life of your electrical equipment.

Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Critical Power Supplies - UPS System APC Easy 3

This is one of the main systems that companies install to protect them for a power outage and let them save and stop their electrical equipment down safely preventing data loss and damage to equipment. An uninterruptible power supply or UPS (Yes like the delivery company) for short is able to provide short power backup times (typically 5 - 30 minutes or up to several hours). This short backup time allows time to let your staff save any work they are doing and shut down your computers, machinery and servers preventing a sudden loss in power to these sensitive devices.

What a UPS can do:

  • Provide a short backup time to save and shut down equipment.
  • Provide a clean power stream to your devices.
  • Protect you from a multitude of power issues, not just power cuts. (9 Power Problems Visualised).
  • Help you manage onsite or remotely your “power event” giving you vital time to safely shutdown systems.

What a UPS can’t do:

  • It can’t keep you running forever during a power outage.
  • A UPS doesn’t last forever.
  • Can’t provide more power than the unit is rated for.
  • There isn’t a one size fits all.
  • They cannot produce energy out of thin air, as Graphene Batteries are some way off yet,

If you would like to learn more about UPS systems then have a look at some of the links below.

How does a UPS work?

How to size a UPS

UPS applications

Standby Generators

Critical Power Supplies - Standby generator indoors with ducting

A generator is a way of generating power on-site from a fuel source such as diesel or gas whether its raining or the sun shining, as long as they have fuel to burn, air to burn and air to cool they will work. Generators are extremely reliable and can offer runtimes of power far greater than any UPS with the same footprint. Generators usually have around an 8 hour backup time on inbuilt tanks (Portable generators backup vary). Generators can come in a range of specifications to suit the site and client from, colour, footprint, noise-reducing hoods and weatherproof enclosures. All generators will have a startup time that can range from 60 seconds to a few minutes depending on the system this means if you have an outage you will be without power for that amount of time as the generator stabilises the power output. Most backup systems will use both a UPS and generator in conjunction to have a fully uninterrupted power stream.

It is worth noting that generators should not start with more than 60% load and they should never have less than 40% load to prevent wet stacking, which is unburnt fuel collecting in the exhaust system. Note that car engines are very different to Generators and their functions are completing different, therefore it’s important to understand all aspects of owning a generator including the monthly testing, annual servicing and how to prolong their field life.

What a generator can do:

  • Backup your buildings for a long duration of time and include essential and non-essential circuits. (i.e. critical IT, security, lighting, canteens)
  • Keep your power on until the restoration of power.
  • Generator fuel tanks can be topped up while the generator is being used.
  • Generators can have separate fuel tanks, but the fuel tank should not be higher than the generator set itself.

What a generator can’t do:

  • Keep you running indefinitely (Unless using a prime generator).
  • Startup instantaneously without an ATS panel and both items configured to automatic startup.
  • Start, if the Emergency Power off Button has been pushed in.
  • Used for more than 350hours between services.
  • Operate in temperatures more than 40’C (consistently) unless they were designed for this from the start.

If you would like to learn more about generator systems then have a look at some of the links below.

How do generators work?

How to size a generator system

How to ensure UPS systems work with generators

Demand Response Module

Critical Power Supplies - DRM Containerised solutions

A demand response module or DRM for short is a containerised solution for energy storage and generation depending on your needs and requirements. The main container usually is configured with multiple battery strings, air conditioning, emergency fire systems and more. The demand response modules are made to be an all in one system and are made to be easily installed but do require annual maintenance carried out. DRM systems are great as stand-alone units for storing unused energy but can also have renewable energy attached to them to essentially become a self-sufficient microgrid. Without renewables, your system is configured to charge from the grid during low energy cost periods when the grid isn’t in demand and if you were to opt-in you can sell some power back to the grid during peak periods it is worth noting such contracts come with penalties.

What a demand response module can do:

  • Provide cheap and long duration power backup.
  • The ability to have a microgrid.
  • A way to cut energy costs.
  • Allows you to benefit from on-site renewables.
  • Helps demonstrate your green credentials and can be paid for through leasing or bought outright.

What a demand response module can’t do:

  • Provide power unless the energy has been stored in the first instance.
  • Provide unlimited power.
  • Operate without cooling in place.
  • Operate as a standalone power system, it needs to be integrated into your electrical network.

If you would like to learn more about generator systems then have a look at some of the links below.

How a DRM will benefit your business?

Backup power in the public sector

There are a lot of reasons to invest in backup power solutions within the public sector. But selecting the right choice can be a hard decision and the internet can make trusting new suppliers a challenge but at Critical Power Supplies we believe even if you don’t end up using us, hopefully, we helped move your project forward in the right way. Our Professionalism helps build your peace of mind. Give them a call today on 0808 164 0608 or drop our team an email here.

Above all, remember that power can be controlled, and it can be managed and it does not have to cause significant damage to your organisation or cause havoc in your IT Team when the expected does happen. For domestic applications UK power networks produce the following helpful guide and compensation of £75 depending on the event, however, organisations and businesses in the UK need to manage their site power on their own as UK networks will not compensate such users.

If you would like to learn more about backup systems we are releasing more informative information constantly and you can sign up to our new educational email hub to stay informed here.