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Value-added UPS: Giving businesses more power

Tue, 04/02/2013 - 18:36 -- Ruth Williams

When UK website host Host-it purchased a 48,000 sq. ft. property in the heart of England to house a new data centre to further company growth and support ever-increasing consumer demands, the need for a robust, reliable and energy efficient power supply was obvious.

What was less obvious was whether the property’s existing power distribution panels could successfully be modified to accommodate the first phase of the project. Host-it had invested in this exciting project with the aim to not only drive business growth but to design a data centre in Milton Keynes that would be more efficient in terms of space, power and energy consumption.

The components of the existing power distribution system, which comprised two large low voltage (LV) panels, five UPS systems, two generators and many distribution boards, were in varying degrees of repair. It was difficult to ascertain whether a completely new system would be required to achieve the company’s objectives.

Having worked together previously, Host-it contracted UPS engineering experts, Carter Sullivan to design and install a critical power infrastructure that could deliver resilient power. Carter Sullivan was asked to design a system that would provide power protection to the server racks, cooling and security systems. 

The provision of continuous clean power to the servers and security systems was required and the installation had to ensure generator power to all other services, which had to be operational within two minutes of a mains failure.

Rather than designing a completely new system, Carter Sullivan spent time assessing the existing equipment to determine what could be saved to reduce unnecessary expenditure.  The existing UPS equipment had been switched off and isolated prior to Host-it taking ownership of the facility. 

The original UPS systems were end of life, legacy equipment and, after contacting the manufacturers, it was clear continued service and maintenance would be expensive, provide little peace of mind and acquiring spare parts would prove challenging. 

Carter Sullivan then checked the batteries. It was immediately apparent they could not be salvaged; both age and the lack of charging resulted in them being at the end of their serviceable life.

One of the UPS systems that comprised two 200 kVA, a bypass panel and four battery cabinets, was located in the basement LV room that had single-access via a steel staircase. The old equipment was disconnected and made electrically safe, including full dismantling of the battery cabinets to allow removal. Carter Sullivan contracted a specialist transport company to remove the old equipment from the site.

The equipment was disposed of in accordance with current legislation. Although the removal of the redundant UPS was costly, the value of the scrap batteries more than covered the expense. The scrap value of the batteries was realised and credited to Host-it.

In contrast, following extensive load bank testing and a comprehensive refurbishment, the generators were all fully operational and compliant with latest standards. Specialist contractors carried out the servicing and repair of these components.

The site had two main LV panels that supplied separate parts of the building. Both panels were surveyed and identified as being suitable for supporting the new UPS system and supported distribution. 

Host-it required full N+N, so Carter Sullivan designed a system that would utilise the existing generators and LV distribution. The proposed design required new switchgear servicing to the existing system. Carter Sullivan designed and built two new generator ‘splitter’ cabinets and a new Form 4 Type 2 external maintenance bypass switch.

The new design also required two new generator control panels. Carter Sullivan commissioned its generator specialists to design and build these. The new system was designed so that in the event of a mains failure, one of the generators would start and support both LV panels. In the event of the first generator not starting, the second system would start automatically, with the entire process taking less than 90 seconds.

After consultation with the client, it was decided the Eaton 9395 UPS system was the most appropriate system for this installation, both in terms of efficiency and technological capability. The UPS system was supplied with a synchronisation panel so that at the point of distribution, the power supply at the two outlets was identical.

Carter Sullivan performed the full electrical installation of the generators and UPS systems, including new signalling and alarm cabling along with the battery builds.

The cost-effective design and on-going maintenance of this critical power infrastructure assures Host-it that should a generator, UPS or even a LV panel fail, the data centre will remain fully operational. The Company can now operate a data centre that allows for future expansion without the threat of downtime.