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Power Protection Featured Article

October 31, 2012

Power Protection 101: Generators vs. Extended Battery Backup

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

It’s one thing to lose the power in your house and be forced to pass the time by playing board games by candlelight, but it’s a much more severe case when emergency facilities such as hospitals lose power with hundreds of patients heavily relying on their services. Consider New York University Langone Medical Center; its basement and lower levels experienced 10-12 feet of flooding and had to actually evacuate patients during Hurricane Sandy due to a generator malfunction.

“As a result, we…had to transfer 215 patients to neighboring hospitals and they are still in the process of doing that now. The staff is working admirably and they are exhausted,” explains NYU Langone Medical Center spokesperson, Lorinda Klein.

Klein claims that the hospital took all of the necessary disaster precautions and that its generators were functioning properly prior to the storm, but it seems that if something were simply done different beforehand, the facility may not have had to endure such a disaster – and more importantly – risk its patients’ health and safety.

While some companies who are looking for the best solution will combine a UPS with a generator, this can cause distinct problems of its own. Yes, the UPS can be used to keep critical equipment up and running while the generator starts it up, but this can take several minutes to happen, and we all know that every millisecond counts when it comes to power protection. Additionally, this can create some unneeded maintenance expenses to fuel supply to the generator as well as overall maintenance fees.

“If a power problem does occur, the user must make sure the generator is in optimum running condition, or at least close to what is considered reliable for a backup solution, or the contingency plan will fall short,” explains a recent related Minuteman UPS/Para Systems (News - Alert) whitepaper.

A much more efficient alternative to achieving extended runtime and avoiding such severe situations is to invest in external battery packs, which can provide IT managers with the peace of mind they are seeking. In light of this, Minuteman points out three distinct reasons why this is your company’s best bet.

1.) External Battery Packs are much more reliable than generators: Mechanical generators are not fail-safe, and although a UPS with battery packs does require some extra testing maintenance, it is seemingly nothing when compared to that required for a generator – not to mention the mess you’ll have to deal with if or when it fails you.

2.) A UPS with battery packs can provide an added level of protection when combined with a generator: This way, you can use a UPS with additional battery packs as a bridge of sorts until the generator kicks in; think of it as the generator getting a smooth piggy back ride. “This scenario provides an additional level of system uptime assurance in case the generator does fail to provide clean, adequate power. The external battery packs provide the necessary power through an extended power outage if the generator does not perform properly to specification,” the company further explains in the whitepaper.

3.) External Battery Packs Come at a Fraction of the Cost: Why achieve long runtimes with generators when you can do exactly that without making as big a dent in your wallet? “While UPS batteries need to be replaced every three to five years, and testing should be performed periodically, there is still a large difference between the amount of maintenance required for a UPS versus a generator,” the company notes. “An extended runtime UPS is a much more cost-effective solution and can provide the long runtimes that are required for mission-critical applications.”

Bottom line: It’s inevitable that every business experiences power problems; it’s more so “when” it will happen rather than “if.” When you eventually do experience an outage, a UPS with external battery packs will provide the most reliable, cost-efficient and maintenance-fee solution for handling extended power outages.

To learn more about Minuteman UPS/Para Systems’ offerings, visit www.minutemanups.com.


Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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