Volts. Watts. VA. Runtime. Connectivity. Even if you have been in IT for years, the terms tossed around during an equipment purchase request can seem daunting. The last thing you want to discover is that you purchased the wrong gear--that it’s too small or too large, or that it isn’t compatible with your infrastructure.
In this second installment of our three-part series, we highlight six critical steps to making an informed and self-assured decision when buying a comprehensive backup power solution.
1. Take inventory: Before deciding what to purchase, you need to know what you already have. Count beyond the obvious. For example, you know that you need to keep your servers safe, but what else needs to continue running in the event of a power outage? Don’t forget about the switches, routers, firewalls, and other networking gear that you and your customers depend on. And what about the desktop computer that you will need to manage the servers during the outage? If your employees use an electronic badge to gain access to the building, you’ll want to keep that system powered on, as well.
2. Focus on watts: While you are creating a spreadsheet with the makes, models and exact counts of your equipment, add notes on the wattage that the equipment draws.
3. Know your volts: It is essential to purchase an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that can not only use the power it is fed but can also supply the correct power to the equipment in your shop. In the United States and Canada, power at the wall is supplied at either 120V, 208V or 240V at 60Hz. In England, it’s 230V at 50Hz, and in Japan, it’s 100V--the lowest volts in the world. Older equipment may need to be configured for the supplied power, while newer equipment may be able to accept what is given and adjust itself accordingly. (You can find a complete list of voltage by country here.)
4. Look at your plug: You don’t need to think too much about the electrical receptacle when buying a coffee maker in a local store or online; it will almost certainly work with the outlets in your house. But servers and networking equipment can operate at varying voltages, and they may require a different wall socket. The same can be true for a UPS. While UPSs rated at 1500VA and below typically can be used in a standard receptacle, larger units may require a specialized plug that an electrician will need to install. Understanding how the UPS and associated equipment connect--and ensuring that everything fits together properly--will save you valuable time moving forward.
5. Identify the form factor: UPS comes in many shapes and sizes. Some are designed to fit under a desk, while others have specialized form factors designed for specific purposes. For server rooms, consider if you will need to mount the UPS in the rack alongside the equipment it will protect. If your facility is dynamic and still growing, you may want to consider a scalable solution that lets your UPS system grow with you. These solutions typically allow for additional batteries to increase capacity.
6. Make a decision: Most manufacturers understand that selecting the right UPS solution can be difficult, so they provide a sizing tool to help ease the burden of your decision. Using all the information that you’ve already gathered, enter the details of your networking environment into the sizing tool--then sit back, relax and know with confidence that you have chosen the right solution. If you have criteria to consider that an online tool can’t quite capture, consider requesting an onsite power assessment.
Now that you understand how to select the correct backup power solution and how to connect your UPSs to infrastructure and equipment, it’s time to expand the conversation. In the third and final installment of our series, we’ll explore how a network card can help save countless hours of troubleshooting and repair; what happens to IT equipment in extreme temperatures or humidity; and how these solutions will be managed once they’re all in place.