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Part 3: Commission UPS Before Operations Begin To Ensure Performance Meets Expectations
By John Yoon
February 2014 -
Once the design has been executed and the UPS equipment has been installed appropriately, the most important thing before beginning full data center operations is to make sure the UPS functions properly. Often overlooked because of budget constraints, commissioning a UPS system on site before operations begin will ensure that it is operating as originally intended per the design.
8. Holding the load. Because data centers are often designed years before the facility is actually built out and populated with equipment, commissioning the UPS system can be especially crucial to confirming that it can actually hold the data center's load. Additionally, while most UPS manufacturers are diligent in their quality assurance, there's no guarantee that the contractor installed it properly or that it didn't get damaged in transit. As a UPS system design becomes more complex with additional levels of redundancy, it becomes more important to go beyond generic factory startup services and properly commission the system. An artificial load equal to ultimate data center design load is used to simulate the conditions under which the UPS will be expected to operate (called the load bank test). Because the load may vary from moment to moment (i.e., ramping up from idle first thing on a Monday morning, etc.), the tests should include step load testing for various scenarios that the UPS may be expected to accommodate without failure.
9. Simulate system failures. A UPS can fail in many ways: overload, battery failure, fan failure, overheating, EPO activation, etc. These are common failure modes that the UPS manufacturer has theoretically anticipated in its design, so don't be afraid to incorporate tests for worst-case scenarios. It's better to understand how a system will perform ahead of time in a controlled environment rather than guess what will happen when it's supporting a critical load. With redundant N+1 and 2(N+1) configurations, it is expected that if there is a fault in the system, the system will be able to automatically compensate for that failure. But with that additional redundancy also comes additional complexity, and associated test scripts should be expanded to account for additional possible failure scenarios. Having facilities personnel witness these tests is also an ideal way to get a head start on training for when things go wrong.
10. Make sure the UPS can talk to the outside world. If a remote monitoring system was specified, these simulated system failures are the perfect opportunity to ensure that the monitoring system is working as intended. It should be confirmed that each failure is generating alarms as anticipated.
Part 1: UPS's Key Role In Data Centers Demands Close Attention To Preventing Problems
Part 2: UPS Design Concerns: Cooling, Surge Protection, Maintenance and Batteries
Part 4: Tips For Operating UPS In Data Centers