Scalability is a word that often gets highlighted in conversations about growth and expansion. But what does scalability actually mean when talking about UPS systems? As organizations grow, merge or gain efficiencies, UPS scalability becomes a critical discussion point. There are several ways scalability can apply to a UPS. It can apply to scalability within a single unit or multiple systems. For this discussion, we will examine both why scaling your UPS system may become necessary for certain businesses, and the three main ways to scale a UPS.
Business growth can be difficult to predict. In addition, most organizations are constantly changing through growth, acquisition or even decline, either through marketplace contraction or gained efficiency through technology. Here are a few reasons why businesses look to incorporate scalability into their critical power equipment.
- If the future loads on the UPS are unknown and the business feels there may be change in load demand.
- If the business has a limited budget, but yet needs to plan for future capacity.
- If the business needs to maximize the efficiency of the current UPS.
Once your business determines the main reason for considering scalability, you can take a look at the best ways to scale your UPS. UPS scaling can be done several ways:
- Scaling at the software level
- Scaling through internal modularity
- Scaling at the hardware level for capacity or redundancy
Software level scaling in a UPS essentially means that the UPS has the ability to handle additional capacity (load), while still operating efficiently. For instance, a single UPS unit may be built for a maximum specified capacity, such as 200 kVA. However, currently your business only needs an output of 100kVA currently. The software can be scaled to allow the UPS to operate at 100kVA now, but can later be scaled up to its full capacity of 200kVA as your business needs for additional capacity growth.
Internal Modularity is another way to effectively scale, and can increase efficiencies and reduce capital expediture. One such system is the Gamatronic line of UPS systems. They offer a single chassis, that is comprised of individual UPS Modules. The frame is installed for the maximum capacity, but the number of modules can change over time, allowing the end user to control initial capital costs, as well as increase or decrease capacity based on current load requirement. A video showing this concept is here. Most modular systems are comprised of hot-swappable power modules and may also be user replaceable.
Hardware Scalability is used where there is a significant need for either large capacity increases, or when full equipment redundancy is required. With this configuration. UPS systems are paralleled together and often synced via a common buss. These system can be designed to scale for additional load (capacity) or for redundancy. UPS systems or modules, running in parallel may be known as N+X . In this configuration, one or more UPS modules or units are installed in the same chassis or configuration, but designed to provide redundancy. “N”, in this case, is the power capacity required by the connected loads, and “X” is the number modules added in addition to that capacity. This is normally used as a safeguard to ensure load availability.
Scaling a UPS at the software or hardware level can be confusing if you are not familiar with the process to determine proper load for a specific environment. This type of work often falls within the realm of a qualified electrical team. The technical experts at QPS can assist you with properly assessing your environment and matching that environment with the correctly scaled UPS solution. Contact QPS today and let us collaborate with you on your next critical power project.