Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to some of the most popular enquiries regarding UPS systems, maintenance and power protection.

What are the main benefits of an annual maintenance contract from Power Control?

Power Control provides the most comprehensive care available in the UK, offering the widest range of support services from entry level to all-inclusive contracts.

We guarantee response times within as little as 4 hours and there is no need to worry about raising paperwork in an emergency. We provide our customers with the flexibility to add/remove services to cover plans and all works are backed-up by our in-house team of highly skilled engineers.

Why do UPS systems need regular servicing?

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.

Does a generator need regular servicing?

Even if a generator is inactive, frequent servicing is strongly recommended to guarantee that it will start up when required. When a generator is left to sit, impurities can build up and stop it from working.

A regular service, maintenance and test of the generator will identify any contamination or faults and allow for filters, oils, liquids, belts or hoses to be replaced as required. This will give peace of mind that the generator will always be in full working order.

What is the 'design life' of a battery?

Battery ‘design life’ is typically between 5-12 years for VRLA batteries depending on the type. Smaller batteries tend to have a 3-5 year design life but anything over 20ah that Power Control supply usually has around a 10 year design life.

When referring to ‘design life’ this does not mean life expectancy of the battery and will not guarantee how long a battery will last. Life expectancy relies on several factors including environment, temperature, maintenance, number of discharge cycles, charging regime etc. A good quality battery will usually have a 10 year design life and would generally need replacement in approximately 6-8 years.

Design life and life expectancy should not be confused. batteries need to be housed in a clean, climate controlled environment, in perfect operating conditions to enable them to fulfil their declared design life.

How should batteries be maintained?

We recommend that batteries are inspected every 6-12 months. We can offer an extensive battery test including impedance and load testing to give us a full report on the health of the batteries in your UPS system.

This allows us to prevent any serious complications and ensures faults are rectified before they become a potential danger. Any individual bad battery blocs can be identified early and this allows for single batteries to be replaced instead of a full string.

Why does a battery weaken?

When Valve Regulated Lead Acid batteries (VRLA) are used in a UPS system they operate in what we call ‘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 battery's.

Many deep discharges will shorten the batteries life expectancy. They are designed as a standby battery, cycling them (charging/discharging) multiple times will weaken them. When a UPS experiences frequent ‘power outages’ or ‘brownouts’ due to the environment it is operating in, then this can greatly reduce the life expectancy. If you frequently experience these difficulties then please contact us and one of our experts will explore possible solutions.

What are the influencing factors in the reduction of battery life expectancy?

Environmental – Optimum operating temperature of 20℃ with good air circulation noting that every degree over will reduce the batteries life expectancy significantly.

Correct charging parameters – Ensuring that the UPS is charging the batteries within the recommended limits allowing compensation for temperature fluctuations.

Ripple voltage and current – A UPS that has older DC capacitors will allow more ripple voltage to pass through the batteries causing deterioration. A good preventative maintenance schedule will allow for these capacitors to be changed before negative effects become apparent.

What is a capacitor?

A capacitor is an electronic component that stores electric charge. It consists of two conductive plates separated by an insulator/dielectric. They are used in all electronic pieces of equipment. The primary use for a capacitor is to smooth out fluctuations in voltage by storing electrical charge.

When do UPS batteries need replacing?

The most common sign of when batteries need replacing is when there is a reduced level of runtime. Other indications are when they start to swell, leak or smell.

All of Power Control’s UPS systems come with battery monitoring software, which allows users to test the batteries through the UPS. Batteries can also be tested automatically where the UPS will highlight any faults in battery condition. Even a single battery can be a detriment to the whole string. Battery set, string, individual cell and load bank tests are all included within Power Control’s maintenance contracts.

Why is it important to change capacitors?

Capacitors, like batteries, degrade over time. When a capacitor fails, you may not see any visible effects but if one capacitor fails, the others may have to work overtime, which in effect reduces the overall life of all the capacitors.

The rate of degradation of a capacitor is governed by many things, however, the operating temperature and the capacity usage percentage will have the greatest effects.

Capacitors operating towards the high end of their voltage rating will degrade faster than if the same capacitor is operating at half of its nominal voltage rating.

In many cases a capacitor that fails may encourage the UPS to switch to bypass, putting the load in danger. To maximise the performance of your UPS, ensure you take care of these components and aim to change them at or near their rated lifespan of between 5 and 7 years.

Power Control can diagnose the problem early and our engineers can replace part or all of the capacitor banks to ensure maximum performance. A UPS operating at over 80% loading will usually require replacement components sooner than one operating at 75% and under.

Can I help maximise lifespan of my UPS capacitors?

To ensure maximum longevity, the capacitors need to be maintained at the recommended ambient temperature, humidity and cleanliness. Ensure air flows freely around the UPS and ensure you keep up to date with your preventative maintenance arrangements.

Power Control has comprehensive maintenance packages available to ensure your UPS system is always running at its most optimum. Please ring and speak to our maintenance engineers to get all the technical help you need.

If you are reaching capacity it may be worth considering reducing the load; if that is not possible, upgrading the UPS to a larger capacity or where feasible connecting additional UPS in parallel will not only allow for further expansion but will also lengthen the UPS lifespan.

What are the benefits of an external maintenance bypass switch?

Having an external bypass switch means there is the capability for total isolation for UPS maintenance, with no disturbance to the load. This means that regular maintenance, complete testing and a complete unit change can be carried out without disruption.

This can be important when protecting critical data that would not allow having any downtime. We would consider this to be best practice to ensure the UPS can be maintained without disturbance to the load.

Once the UPS is in situ without this switch, the load can suffer interruption during regular maintenance and replacement of the unit.

If your UPS does not have an external maintenance bypass switch it is recommended that you consider getting one fitted during your next scheduled downtime.

When is it time to replace a UPS?

A UPS system should be replaced when it is at the end of its lifespan and beyond economical repair or when the efficiency savings demonstrated by a new unit outweigh the existing running costs.

The typical lifespan of a UPS unit is 10years, during which its internal batteries will need to be replaced up to three times. Power Control provides comprehensive efficiency reports to highlight what a new UPS system with up-to-date technology could provide. The figures speak for themselves!