Published In August 2000
In this age of fast food, cellular phones, and instant lottery tickets, people want action, and they want it now. So why should power conditioning for computer networks be any different? In the typical power protection scheme, if there is a surge or a sag in power, the power protection system kicks in; the process takes merely microseconds between the spike and the protection. In most cases, that is sufficient to protect the network from damage…but not always. For those who want instant gratification all of the time (and, really, is that too much to ask when dealing with a network cost that might run six figures?) there is a new technology which provides remote power monitoring all of the time. There is no ramp-up, no delay. It happens now. Called Remote Monitoring Service (RMS), it comes from American Power Conversion (APC), West Kingston, R.I. (www.apcc.com). It offers the industry’s first outsourced 24x7 remote monitoring solution with Web-based profiling to enhance system availability. The RMS system is targeted at large, centralized uninterruptable power supplies (UPSs) in data centers. A facilities manager can use the Web to customize specific procedures for UPS event escalation on APC’s Silcon DP300E, Symmetra Power Array, Matrix-UPS, or Smart-UPS units. Multi-site operations can customize profiles for each location. Escalation options include paging, telephoning, or e-mailing the customer, in addition to automatic dispatch of an APC service representative or replacement parts for customers with a service contract. APC’s Delta Conversion On-line technology has been upgraded with the latest generation of three-phase technology. The 240 and 320 kW products have been available since the end of 1999 and two new models—at 400 and 500 kW—are available as part of APC’s Silcon DP300E line. No matter what happens on the power-in side, there always is a perfect sine wave on the scope of the power-out side of these units. There are ancillary benefits, too. Because the units are about 97 percent efficient, they require less power than a double-conversion unit. Keep in mind that a 100 kVA UPS dissipates about 20 percent heat. Air conditioning units must be sized twice as big with a traditional unit than with the new Silcon Delta system. Most standard industrial configurations will have a generator behind the UPS. The UPS provides a 10-minute bridge and then the backup kicks in. Traditionally, that diesel generator was sized at three to five times the size of the UPS. So, a 100 kVA UPS would have a 300-500 kVA generator behind it. The more efficient Silcon Delta system requires a generator 11/2 times the size of the UPS. In addition to the 100 kVA system, 400 kVA and 500 kVA versions also are available. Another “all and now” solution comes from Best Power Technology, Necedah, Wis. Its Unity/I three-phase power systems use as little as three percent of the incoming power, as opposed to 10 or 15 percent with similar systems. The power these efficient units save is enough so they can pay for themselves in a few years. Typical three-phase UPSs continuously convert their power twice. First, from AC to DC, then back from DC to AC. The power modules run constantly, and this eats up energy. Both the APC Delta technology and the Best Unity/I units perform only a single power conversion. Built to protect large mainframe-oriented data centers, mini computers, centralized or clustered servers, and other mission-critical equipment, this style of protection can be run in parallel or “daisy-chained” to protect larger loads. In Best’s case, for example, the system can be engineered to handle loads up to 1980 kW by linking as many as nine units together. There is another way to protect units. Companies like Citel Surge Protection, Miami, Fla., (www.citelprotection.com) sell surge protection devices such as MJ8-2D-ETH for Ethernet networks and the MJ8-2D-TOK for token ring networks. According to Alex Gorosito, applications manager for Citel, they are available with a wide range of adapters, from screw-in to RJ-45. Similarly, their ICS-480 is designed for installation on cabling that enters and leaves a building to protect IBM Token Ring networks. They have sub-nanosecond response times. These units would cross-reference with products such as the IBM 6091063 surge protector. Whichever route one takes, he or she must be sure to check the payback period. Both Best and APC agree that the payback period for their technology is about five years in a normal commercial installation. That not only makes the people in the data center’s glass house happy, but should provide near-instant gratification for the accounting department, as well. HARLER, a contributing editor to Electrical Contractor, is based in Strongsville, Ohio. He can be reached at (440) 238-4556 or email@example.com.