The invisible catalyst of UPS component failure

Power Control
30 Jul 2020

The environment in which a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is situated is critical to its overall performance and lifespan. This does not only relate to temperature and humidity but also to dust particles, which can be the most problematic of all the atmospheric elements.

Airborne dust can get into almost every part of a UPS system and a build up of dust can cause significant degradation. This often occurs due to poor airflow, where there is either too much ‘dusty’ air or not enough air passing through, which allows the dust to settle. Where dust is allowed to land, added moisture in the air will cause dust fibres to bind. The benefit of this is that the particles will then be localised so minimises reach, the downside is that the dust will be harder to remove.

For UPS solutions that are deployed in high dust environments such as food processing, manufacturing and water treatment, it is recommended that the UPS system is housed within a dedicated IP rated enclosure to protect it from dust particles. To further combat the affects of dust good quality air filtering is required. This will help to maintain clean air circulation and ensure the performance of UPS systems.

Dust is defined as solid particles that are less that 500 micrometres in size. Within a workplace environment there are five types of dust to be aware of.

  • Vegetable and organic dust such as pollens, wood, flour and cotton stem from dry material handling and are most common in food processing
  • Natural biohazards, which includes moulds and spores mostly affect industries such as water treatment and agriculture
  • Chemical dusts and pesticides are expected within the processing environments and sector and agronomy industries
  • Metallic dusts from metal compounds including nickel, lead and cadmium will impact engineering and construction businesses
  • Mineral dusts, which can be dangerous and are usually from the extraction and processing of minerals such as coal, cement and others that include crystalline silica

UPS systems are made up of a multitude of critical components, which all need to be regularly maintained to guarantee the resilience of the UPS solution. Dust can cause significant problems if allowed to get out of hand. Printed Circuit Boards (PCB’s) are at particular risk from metallic dust which can be electrically conductive. Where PCB’s are exposed, extra care needs to be taken to remove all dry dust to mitigate the risk of short circuits, which can lead to fire and component failure

When considering the best environment for a UPS system, other airborne elements such as salt and oil should also be accounted for. Salty sea air can crystallise on internal UPS components causing them to corrode and can increase the risk of short circuit. Likewise, a build up of oil can leave a layer of grease preventing circulation and further risk of fire. A professional UPS service will not only ensure that the system is running properly but will also check that UPS components are uncontaminated.


A detailed cleaning service for UPS components is absolutely critical to the performance of the system and should be carried out on a regular basis. Book a free site survey and have your system assessed now.