Monthly Archives

June 2017

Sizing A UPS Unit

By | Backup power, Uninterrupted Power supply

Whether you are adding a new UPS unit to your facility or replacing an old one, one of the first things you’ll need to determine is the needed UPS capacity. Units range in size from small enough to protect a single computer to large enough to protect an entire city – that’s not much help when you’re trying to find the right size for your facility; there’s too much choice!

So how can you narrow your choices down and select an appropriately sized unit?

How To Factor Your UPS Needs

  • Make a list of every piece of equipment that needs to be protected by the UPS. It’s easy to jot down the big pieces, but remember, even a monitor needs power. Include everything to make sure you have appropriate power when you need it.
  • Determine the amps and volts for each piece listed. Find these ratings on the labels on the backs of the equipment. Determine VoltAmps (VA) by multiplying amps x volts. If the power ratings are listed in watts, you can convert watts to VA by dividing watts by the Power Factor (PF).
  • Multiply the VA by the number of pieces of equipment to get the VA subtotals.
  • Add the VA subtotals together.
  • Multiply the total by 1.2 to get the grand total. (This step accounts for future expansion).
  • Use the grand total to select your new UPS. Choose a UPS with a VA rating that is higher than your total VA requirements.

A Word About kW And kVA

The fact that UPS systems don’t have a standard rating system doesn’t make it any easier to appropriately size a UPS. Some UPS units are rated in in kilowatts (kW) and others are rated in kilo-volt-amperes (kVA). Kilowatts, represents the useful power available while kilovolt-amperes represents the apparent power. Learn more about kW and kVA, here.

The important thing to note is that neither the kW nor the kVA capacity of the UPS can be exceeded or the unit will fail and you won’t have power. That’s why it’s so important to account for the power needs of every piece of equipment that is to be protected by the UPS. A general rule of thumb is to plan to run the UPS at 80% of tis actual rated capacity. That will give you enough wiggle room to accommodate peak loads and handle growth before you need to upgrade your unit again.

One Last Consideration

One last consideration comes into play if you plan to use the UPS with a generator. Some UPS designs have different electrical characteristics from generators. You’ll need to have an electrical engineer double check both the UPS and the generator to make sure the generator won’t stall when the UPS kicks on in an emergency.

Yikes! Wind Turbine Fire Under Investigation, Reinforces Necessity Of Routine Inspections

By | Critical Power Products & Services, Emergency Preparedness, Green

In early June a wind turbine caught fire in Iowa. The fire caused the blades to disconnect and fall to the ground. While the cause of the fire was still unknown at the time of this post, it looks like mechanical failure is to blame. The fire started in the nacelle of the turbine, which is where the generator and equipment is housed.

While we don’t know for sure what caused the fire, if the turbine had undergone recent repairs, or what its inspection schedule looked like, the incident is a stark reminder that routine machinery inspections are a necessary part of doing business.

Head Off Problems Before They Start

Routine inspections and regular maintenance can help prevent large-scale disasters, but just as importantly, they help prevent small problems from becoming big problems. Not only are smaller problems faster and easier to resolve, they’re often cheaper too.

A routine maintenance program will keep you informed of the overall health and performance of your machinery. You will be able to track which pieces are racking up more and more downtime or requiring repairs more frequently. Use this information to help plan out a replacement timeframe and develop your capital equipment budgets.

As you begin to invest more and more time and money into maintaining old equipment, eventually the costs will outweigh the benefits and you will have a solid case for selling old equipment and purchasing new.

Is It Time To Revisit Your Maintenance Plan?

When was the last time your maintenance program was revised? Do you even have a plan in place? Developing an equipment maintenance plan (EMP) takes work at the outset, but once the plan has been developed, it simplifies processes and procedures and reduces your business’ risk exposure.

EMPs don’t have to be complex. At their most basic, EMPs are simple tables that list the piece of equipment and its’ routine maintenance tasks. You’ll also want to include the frequency of each task and if any special tools or considerations are required to perform the task. Special considerations might be whether the unit must be shut down or if it remains running during the task. More complex EMPs include the amount of time spent on each task so you can track how much time you are devoting to maintenance.

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation where a piece of equipment catches fire and is destroyed like the wind turbine in Iowa, but if you do, a look back at your maintenance plan can help prove to insurance adjusters that you were doing everything possible to avoid such a catastrophe.

Keeping The Green Growing: Backup Power For Marijuana Operations

By | Backup power, Emergency Preparedness

As of 2017, 26 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use. Pot has become a $6.7 billion industry in the U.S. and Canada – and one of the most energy intensive.

Marijuana farms require 24/7 power to provide the growing conditions necessary to keep up with demand. Lighting, heating, ventilation, and A/C, sometimes in multiple facilities at multiple sites, push a demand for power that could soon strain the electrical grid and, in some cases, already does. Some growers are taking matters into their own hands and installing backup power systems at their farms. 

Benefitting From Backup Power

Marijuana growers have perfected their farming techniques to maximize growth (and income) year-round – and that requires constant power. Since many operations are indoors, power is needed to ensure plants receive the light they need. Even one day without light can harm marijuana plants. For facilities without windows or access to natural light, a power outage spells certain doom.

Another concern is keeping the ambient air temperature stable. Once the weather turns chilly, you’ll need to crank up the heat lamps or turn up the thermostat. Anything under 50 degrees can harm plants and freezing temps can kill them!

The very best way to ensure your marijuana growing operation always has the power it needs is to install a backup power system like a standby generator. Standby generators run on natural gas, propane or diesel fuel and can be hooked right in to the building’s electrical system. As soon as there’s a dip in power, the system can be set up to automatically kick on and keep all of your electrical systems operating as normal.

Standby or backup power generators operate completely independent of the local power grid. They only turn on when the main power supply stops for some reason. They can be customized to meet just about any power demand and can be wired to turn on automatically or manually. 

Can You Afford To Protect Your Crop?

There’s a preconceived notion that backup generators and power systems are prohibitively expensive. Many marijuana farmers then think that there is no way they can afford to install a backup power system, but, for certain areas of the country, that’s a very risky assumption. A better question to ask is if you can afford NOT to install backup power. How much do you stand to lose if a crop goes bad? Compare than to the cost of a new, used, or surplus generator to get an idea of whether or not the investment will pay off.   

Remote Monitoring: A Must For Today’s Farmers

By | Emergency Preparedness, Remote monitoring

Today’s heavily automated farming practices require a constant supply of power. Power continuity is no longer a “nice to have”, but a “must have”. Without electricity, farming operations can grind to a halt and, depending on the time of year, can have devastating consequences for your bottom line and even the farm’s viability.

One ways farmers and ranchers get around this problem is to have a backup power system installed. Generators that are not connected to the local electrical grid are the solution of choice. When installed properly, a simple flip of the switch has electricity flowing and operations moving along. But what about when no one is around to flip that switch? Will the cows get milked on time? Will the loss of light affect egg production? Will the barns remain cool and ventilated? Will the crop irrigation system still work?

Remote Monitoring Is Essential

Often overlooked, but vitally important, are the remote monitoring and control systems of backup generators and power continuity systems. These components monitor power operations 24/7, alert you when the power dips or cuts out, and automatically start the backup power system up shortly after the power goes out.

Not only is remote monitoring a lifesaver for emergency power loss situations, but it can keep you apprised of any off goings-on with your electrical system in general. If your power is dipping or cutting in and out regularly, you may not notice it yourself, but the monitoring system will and it will alert you. This can help you become aware of and identify areas of concern so you can get them fixed before they become problematic.

Power Must Be A Part Of The Business Continuity Plan

We hope you have a business continuity plan in place for your farm, but if you don’t, don’t delay any longer – and make sure it has a power continuity component. Whether the power outage is a few hours or a few days, a continuity plan will help you weather the storm.

Thinking Outside The Box: Unique Data Center Locations

By | Data Centers

Think outside the box bContrary to what you may see, data centers come in all shapes and sizes. Most of us picture a large, windowless room filled with rows and racks of servers and cooling equipment, but some companies are thinking outside that stereotypical data center box and putting their own unique spin on data centers.

Facebook’s Luleå Data Center

Facebook is hot, hot, hot, both literally and figuratively. The social media giant opened a data center in Luleå, Sweden, less than 100 miles south of the Artic Circle, specifically because of the cold climate. The Luleå data center draws in the area’s cold air to cool down the 290,000 square foot facility, reducing demand on the massive building’s hydropower system.

Google’s Facility in Hamina, Finland

Another server powerhouse, Google, looked north to open a data center too. Google chose Hamina, Finland, which is located directly on the Gulf of Finland. The facility uses the Gulf’s ice cold water to cool the thousands of servers located inside.

Googles data center

SIAG Switzerland

Swiss company SIAG Secure Infostore looked within the country’s own borders for data center locales. The company has two data centers located under the Swiss Alps. The facilities are former military bunkers and are often referred to as the Swiss Fort Knox. The difference is, they protect digital treasures instead of gold.

Microsoft Goes Deep

Microsoft is experimenting with an underwater data center. Though, not live yet, the company is hoping to build a data center deep underwater where it can use cold ocean water to keep the facility cool.

Floating Data

California may soon see a floating data center off the Port of Stockton. Nautilus Data Technologies is working hard to try and open a floating data center on a barge to, again, use seawater to keep servers running cool and save money on energy costs.

There’s Always Room For Innovation

We think this sort of innovation is exciting to see! Not only are these companies looking out for their bottom lines, many of them are reusing existing infrastructure or facilities to meet today’s tech needs. Not only that, they are working with the environment, instead of against it, to do so. For these businesses, it’s not so much a matter of bending the environment to their will as it is blending the environment with their will.

How Much Do You Stand To Lose In A Power Outage?

By | Critical Power Products & Services, Emergency Preparedness, Uninterrupted Power supply

You know power outages happen. You know emergencies and natural disasters happen. You know a power outage means your business will grind to a halt until power can be restored. Yet, you’re still gambling with the chance that the outage won’t happen to your business. After all, backup power systems cost money, sometimes a lot of money, and you just can’t justify the expense. Or can you?

Have you ever actually calculated how much money you stand to lose in a power outage? Chances are very good that the money you spend on a backup generator or power system will be recouped with just one extended power outage. But, see for yourself. Use this calculator to determine you actual costs during a power outage, then compare that number with the cost of installing a backup power system. 

Calculating Power Outage Costs

At its most basic, a power outage will cost you in terms of revenue, but that is not the full picture. Outages will also cost you in the areas of labor and service.

  • Labor Costs = E x P x R x H
    • E = number of employees affected
    • P = average percentage of workforce that is affected
    • R = average employee cost/rate per hour
    • H = number of hours of outage (If you have experienced outages in the past, use those durations to start calculating your losses)
  • Revenue Loss = (GR/TH) x P x H
    • GR = gross yearly revenue
    • TH = total yearly business hours
    • P = percentage impact
    • H = number of hours of outage
  • Service costs
    • Service costs are more intangible. They may be things like late delivery surcharges, overtime costs to make up for lost productivity, or missing critical due dates and having to pay fines and penalties associated with them. In severe cases, you might even include the loss of an important customer account due to being unavailable during the outage.
    • Your accounting or financial team should be able to help you identify service costs associated with an outage. Divide these costs by the number of hours the business was closed or systems were down to determine the cost per hour.

Once you have these three areas of loss, total them up. This will give you an idea of the total amount of loss you can expect to have during a power outage of a certain duration.

The numbers are kind of shocking, aren’t they?

Plenty Of System Options For Multiple Needs

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to backup power systems – and that’s a good thing! That means you can customize your backup power solution to your needs. Features like kW hours, amps, fuel sources, age of machine, new vs. used machines, where the unit will be located, how often you plan to run it, and more can all affect the final price.

To find the right backup power system for your needs, contact Critical Power Products & Services. We will work with you to determine your power demands, discuss when and how you expect to use your backup solution, and provide recommendations that fit your needs and your budget.

Call CPP&S at 877-315-4176 or contact us online to learn more.