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The ability to contain costs is important for any business. For data centers, creating efficiencies in daily operations, starting with your uninterruptible power supply, can keep energy loss low and improve not only your performance, but also your bottom line.
Data center owners know costs extend beyond the initial capital investment in real estate, construction and equipment into ongoing expenses, including utilities. It’s essential to keep recurring expenses low if a data center wants to maintain profitability, and equipment efficiency plays a large role in minimizing utility costs.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) systems are one of the core components of mission-critical infrastructure in a data center and have also been regarded as one of the biggest offenders of energy loss in power distribution. Maximizing data center efficiency starts with utilizing the most efficient UPS system available.
In the past, uninterruptible power supply systems were most efficient at peak loads. Since data center loads can swing wildly based on fluctuating clientele needs, recent design efforts have resulted in the introduction of a UPS with a relatively flat efficiency curve. The aim for this new generation of UPS is to be highly efficient regardless of the load, trimming data center operating costs.
In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated an ENERGY STAR* UPS specification specifically for data centers, establishing minimum average efficiencies and stating certified UPS can reduce energy losses by 30% to 55%. ENERGY STAR certified UPS will help reduce data center energy costs while protecting the environment.
Mitsubishi Electric's SUMMIT Series® UPS
The power factor of an AC electrical system is defined as "the ratio of the real power flowing to the load to the apparent power in the circuit" and is dimensionless.
In other words, the power factor asks: "Does a UPS rated for 750 kVA actually deliver 750 KW of power?"
The closer the power factor is to 1.0 (or equal kVA to KW), the better. Otherwise, you’ll need multiple UPS units to deliver the desired KW. The more a data center is able to maximize its kilowatt power, the more clients it can support. And, the more power you can pack in a smaller footprint, the more space you can use for critical operations, enhancing your bottom line.
So, data center owners want a UPS with a kVA and power factor that gets as close to power operating requirements as possible:
Look for a UPS with a high power factor and a kVA that matches your KW requirement. You may want to consider a kVA slightly higher than your requirement to provide room for growth, or add UPS modules as you grow.
Consider the physical size and weight of a UPS as increased white space leads to increased data center efficiency. Mitsubishi offers modules with elevated power, but a smaller and lighter footprint for an easier installation process and minimal floor space requirements. Plus, there are now UPS models that are truly expandable and can grow as the data center grows.
Opting for a modular UPS plan allows you to bring in (and pay for) just what power you need, while providing opportunities to grow and take advantage of future UPS technologies. When the next generation of power modules arrives to take performance and efficiencies to unprecedented levels, you’ll have the flexibility to integrate the advanced technology into your data center power.
When choosing a new UPS for your data center, compare expected efficiencies of various models across all load levels. Facility managers should ask for a factory witness test to see how a UPS performs under realistic operating conditions and if it can give your data center the energy efficiency you require.
Alternatively, a reputable UPS manufacturer should be able to supply case studies and/or client contact information to support their performance claims. Mitsubishi Electric goes a step further and offers a performance guarantee that the efficiency of a UPS will not be less than 1% below the efficiency published in the Mitsubishi Electric factory specification.
Selecting a UPS that is merely 1% more efficient than your current model can lead to huge savings in power consumption over the lifetime of the UPS, which is typically 15 years. The actual savings possible is a factor of the utility rate and the load being supported, but conservative calculations estimate these savings to amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, a more efficient UPS means that it is giving off less heat, which requires less cooling. An decrease in cooling requirements lowers operating costs even further.
* ENERGY STAR products are independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality.