UPS Monitoring: Why bother with it, and what can it do for you?

Welcome to the third article on preventative maintenance and the benefits it can bring to your critical power protection devices; uninterruptible power supplies, emergency lighting and UPS battery solutions.

Kohler Uninterruptible Power pride themselves on service excellence, making UPS maintenance and response for your critical power system a priority. With a +90% first-time fix rate and best-in-class customer NPS rating, you can rest easy knowing you are in the best hands.

The components within KUP’s UPS power protection devices are of high quality to help ensure many years of trouble-free operation. In this third article, we will discuss different approaches to UPS monitoring and what it can do for you.

UPS monitoring is very important indeed. In fact, under some circumstances, an uninterruptible power supply without monitoring or communications capability would be pointless. Suppose, for example, the mains power to the UPS system failed, but it couldn’t inform its critical load of the event. At first, the UPS batteries would maintain power, but if the blackout exceeded the UPS battery autonomy the load would experience a sudden power loss and disastrous system crash – just as if the UPS power supply had never been there at all.

This is an extreme example, but it highlights how the role of uninterruptible power supplies is to protect their load under all circumstances, and that a UPS monitoring strategy is essential in ensuring that it can always fulfil that role.

So what are the available UPS monitoring options, and how can they enhance the UPS power supply’s performance as a power protection device?

Keeping things simple

If appropriate, it’s possible to keep things simple by using volt-free contacts. These can signal events like ‘mains power failure’, ‘battery low/ok’ and ‘load on inverter/mains’. Their advantages are their reliability and simplicity of setup, but they are limited to providing simple True/Not True information which they can only deliver to recipients on-site. Nevertheless, they can be used to initiate an orderly shutdown of computer hardware and of most network operating systems.

More sophisticated UPS monitoring solutions involve RS-232, RS-422 or RS-485 serial ports, or increasingly, network interfaces. Serial data can carry much more detailed information than volt-free connections. For example, a remote terminal could display voltage, frequency, current, kVA and KW for both the UPS inverter and bypass output. UPS battery voltage, charge/discharge current and remaining UPS battery backup life could also be displayed, as could statistics regarding mains failures and UPS operation.

A network-based approach

However network strategies, using Ethernet topology within sites and the Internet over wider areas, are becoming increasingly favoured. One advantage is that a single scheme can allow a network manager to monitor and control a large number of UPS systems across many sites, some of which may be unmanned. This breadth of communication, as well as an ability to interface with major network management systems from suppliers such as HP or IBM, is enabled by standardising on Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), which is vendor and platform-independent. An uninterruptible power supply with an SNMP adaptor becomes a network peripheral device.

SNMP monitoring and control functionality depends on the SNMP software supplied with the UPS power supply, but at a minimum it should offer:

  • Remote control and rebooting of UPS power protected devices over the network or internet
  • Protection of information through the automatic and graceful shutdown of multiple UPS-protected devices during an extended power outage
  • Real-time email, mobile phone or SMS alarm notification capability
  • SSL and SSH data encryption and authentication
  • Web pages served automatically in the selected local language
  • Activity and alarm logging
powerreporter-ups-monitoring

Third-party UPS monitoring

While network type  UPS monitoring and control can be managed by the user within their enterprise network, it is also possible to give network access to the UPS supplier, allowing them to exercise UPS management from their control centre. KUP’s remote UPS monitoring service, PowerREPORTER, for example, communicates constantly with client UPS systems, automatically detecting any error or alarm messages. KUP control centre staff can respond to any incidents by liaising with the company’s field service team. They, in turn, can manage the UPS remotely, or visit it on site if appropriate.

This strategy is useful in detecting potential as well as actual faults and can form part of an overall UPS maintenance scheme that acts to maximise UPS availability – the underlying objective of all UPS monitoring strategies.

If you have any questions about the health of your UPS power protection device or for more information about our remote UPS monitoring services, get in touch with our UPS Service Department: [email protected] or call 01256 386700

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