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UPS Maintenance – WHY?
UPS maintenance is all too often ignored, both when deciding on a new system and when operating a system already installed. This is a critical piece of equipment vital to your operation. Don’t leave it to chance.
The 6 Common Assumptions
1. It’s under warranty so I don’t need maintenance.
Actually maintenance checks are required to maintain your warranty. (If you had a car with a five year warranty you would still have it serviced at least once a year)
Also, the guaranteed emergency callout response is usually linked to a maintenance contract
2. There’s nothing in there to go wrong. I’ll leave it and save money.
Plenty can happen!
Fans are moving parts and bearings do wear out. Fan failure can result in the unit going offline due to high temperature.
Many internal components such as capacitors age when in use, and require replacement every five or ten years.
Also, failed fans cause an increase in temperature which affects all the internal components. It speeds up component aging and can cause capacitors to fail prematurely. Exploded capacitors can even result in the system being so severely damaged it is beyond economic repair.
3. Rechargeable batteries last forever.
Wrong again. Batteries have a finite design life due to the chemical reactions taking place inside. This life is shortened by high temperatures or frequent deep discharges.
It also depends on the make of the battery. Stated design life can vary from 3 years to 12 years.
Remember, if the ambient temperature is high then battery life is reduced.
The battery is possibly the most important part of the system. Without it, the system will just shut down when the power fails.
Battery condition should be regularly checked.
4. I have a maintenance contract, but the engineer is not allowed to switch anything
If the engineer cannot make the system safe, they cannot access the internal assemblies and carry out a proper maintenance. (To go back to the car analogy, you can’t go for a service where you leave the engine running and tell the mechanic he can’t look under the bonnet).
If necessary, have your maintenance booked for non-critical hours. And if you can’t risk being on maintenance bypass at any time, then consider a modular or parallel redundant UPS solution.
5. Maintenance costs are low.
Depends on the manufacturer. If you are considering a new UPS, always obtain a quotation for the ongoing maintenance – preferably for two or three years, and especially for when it comes out of warranty. This will make sure you will not be paying extortionate fees every year for the entire life of the UPS.
6. Anyone can do the maintenance. I can always go elsewhere.
This is a tricky one, and covers several areas.
Firstly, make sure the maintainer will carry out a proper worthwhile maintenance regime. Ask for a full maintenance scope of works and a method statement. Don’t settle for a ‘look and dust’ maintenance.
Secondly, ensure there is sufficient technical backup to support you, especially in the event of a fault call out – is there a strong team of trained field engineers backing it up?
Thirdly, are the engineers all direct employees of the maintainer? Subcontracted freelance engineers may not always be available and operate outside the control of maintainer. Test equipment calibration would also be uncontrolled.