Why do educational facilities need enhanced UPS power protection?

High-quality UPS power protection is essential to a huge variety of corporate, private and public sector installations, with responsibility for a wide range of critical applications within them. These include educational establishments, especially universities. Below, Alex Emms, Operations Director at Kohler Uninterruptible Power (KUP), looks at the challenge and some available solutions.

Varying environments and challenges

With universities’ large populations, power problems can threaten public safety. As well as multiple educational and administrative ICT systems. A power outage could take out campus lights, phones, computers, and even electrically-controlled door locks. Such results could create panic or disorder incidents.

Additionally, universities are increasingly embedding technology into education. Leicester University, for example, uses a ‘One iPad per student’ programme. Students bring their iPads to every class session to take notes, capture online resources, collaborate in group work sessions, and use multimedia learning materials. Other universities in the UK and worldwide are implementing similar ‘1:1’ policies.

This demands faster Internet and Wi-Fi. The associated wireless network infrastructures require UPS power protection allowing education to continue through any mains power problems. The power must be clean as well as uninterrupted, to prevent damage from surges or sags caused by, for example, air conditioning.

Most universities, particularly research-intensive facilities, conduct complex laboratory experiments. These may need to run for extended periods; power interruptions could destroy the experiment, data or both.

Alongside administrative data processing requirements, universities increasingly employ sophisticated communications networks for phones, group mailing, web conferencing, voting systems, reporting, and intranets. Edinburgh University also uses virtualisation technology for software delivery.

the-university-of-edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh

What type of power protection infrastructure is needed?

It’s clear that a lack of power protection can cause widespread safety and data issues. Robust IT and networking infrastructures are integral to smooth campus operation, with students and faculties reasonably expecting 24/7 access. So, what should an educational facility look for in a candidate for power protection suppliers of UPS systems?

Any contending UPS company must be competent to deliver comprehensive commercial power solutions comprising of a UPS power supply, back up generator and emergency lighting. Equally, they must have proven expertise in UPS commissioning, the installation of a generator and maintaining UPS systems equipment throughout its operational life.

UPS power solutions and stand by generators

A UPS power supply and back up generator complement one another perfectly. On mains power failure a true online UPS system continues delivering the seamless uninterrupted power essential to much ICT equipment. However, the UPS battery autonomy, however large, is always vulnerable to sufficiently prolonged blackouts. Conversely, a stand by generator cannot start quickly enough to avoid a power interruption intolerable to ICT loads, but once running, can continue indefinitely with sufficient fuel.

Uninterruptible power supply attributes

Maximum possible reliability and availability are essential to any UPS solution. Competitive purchase pricing must be complemented by an efficient operation. Both to control costs and to minimise the site’s carbon footprint. Compact UPS systems design, easy installation of a generator and UPS maintenance and monitoring are essential. As many university faculties can be housed in buildings possibly hundreds of years old with few specialised areas for power protection equipment. Above all, flexibility and scalability are required, allowing UPS capacity to grow with developing campus requirements.

Modern, modular UPS systems offer the attributes essential to resolving these issues.

Back up generator requirements

Any chosen stand by generator must accept an Automatic Mains Failure (AMF) detection signal. Alerting it to start up and handle any power problems that the UPS cannot. It must also start quickly and reliably on demand. Once running, supply an AC waveform stable in both amplitude and frequency.

Generator reliability comes from careful UPS generator maintenance, adequate fuel supply for the diesel engine, and a healthy starting battery. Generators may also benefit from a heating jacket. Voltage amplitude is set by the alternator windings, and stability is controlled by an Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR). Frequency stability, which is essential for uninterruptible power supply synchronisation, is best managed by electronic engine governors, which are superior to mechanical types.

Emergency lighting systems

A university campus is a diverse environment with many emergency lighting system demands. Safe evacuation provision is essential. While full sports facilities, gymnasium equipment, science laboratories, industrial-level machine shops, commercial catering, student union bars and other facilities may need to keep operating during a mains power outage.

These facilities need assessment for risks posed to their users. The BAFE SP203 part 4 third-party accreditation scheme can be used to provide written risk assessments. These comply with auditable documents contained within the latest BS 5266 part 1 2016 edition. Complete emergency lighting protection solutions should then comply with BS EN50171.

Ongoing maintenance

From the above, we can see that university campuses have large and complex power infrastructure requirements. With a critical need for power protection for not only their data, communications and other electrical/electronic services, but also their populations of students, staff and visitors.

To fulfill these requirements reliably and safely, it’s essential to work with one of the UK’s trusted UPS suppliers. One who offers sufficient experience, resources and product choice to provide an integrated, economical, future-proofed and reliable power systems.

References:

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/medicine/resources-for-staff/software-for-teaching
https://www.cultofmac.com/540583/maryville-university-gives-ipad-to-students-1-to-1/
https://nexus-ica.co.uk/study-with-us/ipad-programme/
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