A UPS, like all electronic and electrical equipment, needs sufficient maintenance in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure optimal reliability. However, a UPS located in harsh environmental conditions can fail even if it is well-maintained.

With businesses becoming ever more reliant on their power supplies, a power failure is an unmitigated disaster, not only because of the inconvenience but also the potentially great loss of time and money. A UPS maintenance programme provides greater peace of mind that a UPS will protect the equipment that it is required for.

1 Preventing Failure-Induced Downtime

Whether a bank of computers in an office or machinery in a production line, a loss of power to a business’ critical infrastructure can result in thousands of pounds worth of downtime. If the UPS systems go offline or fail to switch over, they could compromise the equipment they have been installed to protect. Maintaining the UPS will help to alleviate the risk of this happening.

2 Preventing A Loss of Data

Extremely sensitive loads such as personal and confidential data held at data centres and records bureaus are subject to damaging lags or sags in a power supply. Regular maintenance will help to ensure that the UPS continues to provide instant power and that an instantaneous switchover from mains to UPS is achieved.

3 Ensure Optimum UPS Efficiency

To ensure maximum efficiency of a UPS over its lifespan, the capacitors within the UPS need to be maintained at the manufacturer’s recommended ambient temperature, humidity and cleanliness. Keeping the UPS in a dry, tidy, clean and well-lit area as well as checking that all alarms and indicators are recorded, logged and reported correctly will help to optimise its efficiency.

A carefully structured maintenance programme would include servicing to all the UPS installation’s major parts; the UPS itself, the battery and generator if present. During a maintenance visit, a full inspection of the UPS’s critical instruments should be carried out and checked for correct operation. Meter readings should also be checked, recorded and verified for accuracy and local and remote monitoring panel, communications channels and indicator lamps should be checked for correct status indication.

The environment surrounding the UPS should then be evaluated, removing any obstructions or debris from around the UPS, and checking for optimum operating temperature with a good air circulation while changing any air filters as required.

During a maintenance visit, the degradation of any critical component should be identified, allowing the repair or replacement of broken parts to be carried out before failure occurs.

4 Optimise Battery Health

When Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries (VRLA) are used in a UPS system they operate in ‘float mode’. In float mode, the batteries continuously trickle charge to ensure they maintain full charge. When the UPS requires the battery backup power in either frequent short or infrequent long cycles this results in the discharge of the batteries. Many deep discharges of a battery will shorten their life expectancy. They are designed as a standby battery, cycling them multiple times will weaken them.

It is recommended that batteries are inspected every 6-12 months to allow accurate prediction of the end of the battery’s working life. The inspection should include impedance and load testing to give a full report on the health of the batteries inside the UPS.

Battery impedance testing measures the resistance generated by a battery in an electrical circuit and is the most convenient and easy way to test the health of a UPS battery. This prevents any serious complications and ensures faults are rectified before they become a potential danger.

5 Conduct Emergency Repairs

No matter how well maintained the UPS equipment is, unforeseen failures may occasionally occur, which is why it is vital that an emergency-call out service is available. There are often different levels of emergency cover available at varying prices to suit all levels of cover and cost. 24/7/365 telephone support is often available, while a guaranteed time within which a service engineer arrives on site following a call-out can be negotiated. Similarly, levels of stock holding can be discussed and negotiated.

The critical nature of UPS systems means that they need to be serviced regularly to ensure that the internal workings of the units and their batteries are functioning correctly. A carefully structured UPS maintenance programme can safeguard your business against faults and expensive ad hoc repairs, whilst maximising the working life of the UPS.

For more information on our comprehensive maintenance plans email info@powercontrol.co.uk or call 01246 431431. Alternatively, visit our UPS maintenance page