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In an effort to keep you always running, I’d like to share my thoughts on the often-overlooked opportunity to dial in your business and save precious operating resources like money, real estate, and uptime.

There is a chance you have an older legacy Uninterruptible Power System (UPS) somewhere in your business. It’s like a workhorse- still runs, is serviceable, and problem-free… There is also a very good chance it has magnetics (transformers) and is grossly oversized.

As businesses move many of their applications to the cloud and hosted environments, on-premise UPS has been unloaded often to single-digit percentages. My team sees it every day- a 300 kVA Liebert series 610- the industry standard in reliability circa 2004. This robust and durable piece of equipment was designed for 85% loading, lagging (.8) power factor loads, with little consideration to efficiency for loads below 20%.

Let us take a look at a customer’s real-world example:

  • Early 2000s Liebert Series 610 300 kVA/240kW UPS- Monolithic design
  • 480V 3 wire input, 480V 3 wire output to a PDU
  • 3-breaker bypass cabinet
  • 13kW load (4.3%)
  • 10 minutes of battery @240kW (EOL) in cabinets
  • 4-year replacement schedule
  • Annual service 1 PM UPS, 4 PM batteries 7×24 PM and emergency service, all parts labor travel included

At its measured output load of 13kW, the legacy UPS needed to draw about 87kW from the input feed – an efficiency of only 15%.

So here we sit with this aging equipment from a different time in our IT evolution, loaded at a very low level (4-5%), and running at very low efficiency. Moreover, maintenance on a box and battery system of this size is deep into the 5 figures. As new technologies emerge, new parts become more expensive to procure by the OEM service providers further driving up maintenance costs.

This is just on the UPS side! Heat is the byproduct of inefficient operation and you are probably running a good-sized Liebert Precision Cooling unit just to keep the UPS and Battery system running optimally.

Hundreds of our customers have made the move to right-size their UPS. With the help of our field engineers, we can direct our clients to a modern UPS such as the excellent Liebert EXM- sized perfectly to match their load. With higher utilization and more efficient design, electrical operating efficiency can increase into the 97%+ range. In the real-world example above, the customer replaced the aging 300kVA UPS with a modern 50kVA EXM. Even at a fairly low load of 13kW (26%), the input draw was only 13.5kW – a new efficiency of 96.3%. This dropped their annual Cost of Operation by 99.3% and got them a rebate from their utility company for making the upgrade!

What is more, with the addition of Lithium chemistry batteries, the UPS footprint can shrink by 80%. The design of this technology allows a 15-year expected life, removing the need for at least 2 battery replacements that are common with traditional VRLA. To round out the benefits, the 2 to 4 preventive maintenance visits per year can be reduced to just one, taking advantage of the technology’s inherent monitoring capabilities to identify any potential issues.

When accounting for the higher operating efficiency, and the Lithium’s innate ability to handle higher temperatures, you can scale back cooling to a simple 1-ton Liebert Datamate wall unit saving even more space and energy.

By utilizing a bypass transformation cabinet directly connected to output Busway the footprint continues to shrink, reliability increases, and serviceability increases too!

For higher reliability applications, redundant UPS modules and batteries can be added, and if the front end is cabled for it, these UPS systems can also scale to accommodate unforeseen increased demand.

So, to recap… In low utilization applications, the modern Liebert EXM offers:

  • Flexible electrical configurations
  • High efficiency and load matching capabilities
  • 15-year low maintenance Lithium batteries
  • Smaller footprint
  • Lower cooling costs and requirements
  • More reliability
  • Lower overall maintenance costs

We have yet to see an instance where right-sizing a UPS did not provide a better overall ownership experience and a prompt payback for the user.

Christian Massetti
President and Owner
Donwil Company
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