Understanding Power Protection: Is your business equipment and data at risk?

Power Protection 101: Is your business equipment and data at risk?

We all know that power surges are the enemy of sophisticated electronics like those we really on in the office every day, but how much do we know about protecting our computers, servers, and even our telephone systems? Well, if you are like me, not very much.

I recently took part in a webinar put on by our partner Eaton, that went into detail about what power protection is, and how we can best protect our electronics. I thought it was fascinating, so I decided to break it down. There’s a link at the end of this post to reach out to us if you would like more information about anything you read here.

Just popping a replacement battery into an old UPS (uninterruptible power supply) unit or buying a new UPS entirely doesn’t mean much in terms of making sure your equipment, and by extension, your business data, is protected from power interruption or irregularities. So here are three reasons why that is, along with some advice about exactly how to make sure you are covered:

Reason #1: Utility companies

Utility power isn’t clean.
Mainly because it doesn’t have to be. By law, it can vary widely enough to cause significant problems for your equipment.

Utility power isn’t 100% reliable.
In the U.S., it’s 99.9 percent reliable, which translates into a likely nine hours of total downtime every year. Just from issues at the power company.

Even short outages can be trouble.
Losing power for just 10 seconds can trigger events that may require 15 minutes or possibly hours to get equipment back online.

Reason #2: The problems and risks are intensifying

High-tech equipment is highly sensitive.
Computing and networking components are more vulnerable than ever to power problems. As technology improves, high-density servers are doing more, which puts more at risk.

Availability is everything.
If IT systems go down, the entire business can’t function.

Downtime is costly.
Some industry estimates believe the U.S. economy loses between $200 billion and $570 billion a year as a result of outages and other disturbances.

Reason #3: Generators and surge suppressors are not enough

Generators only work when the power’s off.
Backup generators address outages but provide no protection from the other power disturbances.

You need more than a surge protector.
Surge suppressors take care of power surges but provide no protection from under-voltage, variance conditions and other power problems.

What does a UPS do?

A UPS performs three primary functions:
First, a line-interactive or double-conversion UPS conditions the incoming dirty power from the utility company. It filters out the irregularities and gives you clean, uninterruptible power. (We define both line-interactive and double-conversion UPS below.)

Second, it provides ride-through power to cover for sags or short-term outages (3 minutes to several hours, depending on what you need).

Finally, it enables seamless system shutdown during a complete power outage.

How do I choose the right UPS?

There are four different kinds of UPSs:

Standby UPSs — These smaller UPSs provide an economical source of protection from power outages, surges and sags. If you just need basic protection for small systems like desktops and cash registers, a small standby UPS like the Eaton 3105 is your best choice.

Line-interactive UPSs — If you need voltage regulation and power protection for moderate loads (500VA to 6 kVA), particularly for commercial or office applications, a line-interactive UPS like the Eaton 5125 or Eaton Evolution/S is your best bet.

Double-conversion UPSs — These UPSs convert raw power coming in to refined power through a process of double conversion. They change it from dirty AC to DC, clean it and then convert it back to AC. For very sensitive, expensive equipment that needs clean, true sine-wave power, a double-conversion UPS like the Eaton 9355 or Eaton MX is the smart pick.

Double-conversion On Demand — If you must have clean power for high-density data centers, and energy efficiency and flexible configuration are top priorities then Eaton’s innovative, hybrid Double-Conversion On-Demand (exclusive to the Eaton BladeUPS) would be the only choice. It combines line-interactive and online modes.

What is the difference between a decentralized configuration and a centralized configuration?

In a centralized UPS configuration, a larger UPS supports multiple locations or a group of equipment from a single point. Centralized UPSs are often hardwired into an electrical panel board.

A decentralized configuration allows each UPS to protect a handful of devices or a single piece of equipment. Decentralized UPSs are usually plug and play using plugs and receptacles.

Office Essentials can help.

This topic can get pretty technical. Office Essentials partners with all the major UPS manufacturers, like Eaton, the industry leader in power protection. If you have questions, from choosing the right replacement UPS battery to consulting on a full centralized configuration, we can help. For more information, please email an Office Essentials representative today.

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Greg Bussmann
About Greg Bussmann 339 Articles
Greg Bussmann is a Marketing Specialist at Office Essentials. He is a lifelong, proud St. Louisan, a technology enthusiast, and father to four teenage daughters. He spends his spare time providing rides, chaperoning dates and trying to keep track of his credit cards. He also enjoys watching the St. Louis Cardinals when it's his turn to use the remote. Email Greg anytime.