With the recent hurricanes hitting many parts of the country, it’s time to think about something we often overlook: the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that powers our phone system.
What does UPS maintenance mean?
Most businesses power their phone systems with UPSs, often called backup power systems. The purpose of these systems is to keep the phone system running during a building power outage and to protect it from outages, voltage spikes, and power surges. How long the system will operate during a power outage depends on several factors:
– The battery capacity of your UPS
– The size of the load connected to the UPS.
– The age of the batteries
Pay particular attention to the age of your batteries. The batteries in your UPS system are consumable items. This means that they wear out. The older the battery, the less load it can handle. Therefore, a backup generator that could support your system for an hour in the event of a power outage will only work for a few minutes, or sometimes not at all. The worst time to find out is when you need it most: during a power outage.
Causes to batteries wear out
According to John Ruffing, several factors cause batteries to wear out quickly:
– Use. The frequency with which batteries discharge – even if only partially.
– The cleanliness of the UPS power supply. If the current used to charge the batteries is “noisy” or has many small spikes, drops, or dips in voltage, the batteries will wear out faster.
– Heat. It’s not usually thought of, but if the room where the backup battery is located is hot, its life can be reduced by up to two-thirds. Conversely, a UPS in a cooler room can last up to five years.
He also points out that the UPS and batteries should be checked regularly. The UPS electronics are designed to absorb surges and spikes in the power grid that feeds the UPS. Over time, these components can wear out not only the batteries but also the UPS itself.
If the electronics fail, your equipment will no longer be protected and the batteries can’t be recharged, which can result in a power outage for all equipment connected to the UPS.
“Better yet,” he says, “if your UPS can be connected to the mains, be sure to set it up to notify you of maintenance via email. The APC SmartUPS and Symmetra product lines can be monitored remotely, but customers often don’t take the time to configure them. The cost of the management card is negligible, but it provides valuable information on when to replace batteries and when to service the UPS.”
Load on UPS
Another point to consider when analyzing a redundant power system is what is connected to the system. When you first installed the system, you may have only had a phone system and a few servers connected to the UPS, but since then, other equipment may have been added, such as a new server or two, a new router, or a firewall.
While it’s always a good idea to make sure all your servers and routers are connected to the UPS, keep in mind that the more load connected to the UPS, the shorter the uptime during a power outage.
If you don’t know how to check the battery backup or UPS, we recommend that you contact your dealer.