How to get long term value from a modular single-phase UPS
Jul 03 2024 John Letkey

How to get long term value from a modular single-phase UPS

Michael Mahan, July 20, 2024

When purchasing a single-phase uninterruptible power supply (UPS), you may be tempted to make a decision based on unit price, but spending less upfront can cost you more in the long run. Total cost of ownership is the calculation that ultimately matters most. The type of UPS you invest in can really impact TCO. You can choose between buying UPSs with lead-acid batteries or modular units that use lithium-ion batteries.

Modular single-phase UPSs with lithium-ion batteries can cost at least twice as much upfront, but they save you money in the long run because of several factors. These units are smaller, more power-dense, easier to install, and require much less maintenance than traditional devices. As a result, this translates to lower TCO over a 10-year life cycle. Let’s review the top selection criteria in selecting a UPS with TCO in mind.

Six factors to consider to lower UPS total cost of ownership

1. Efficiency

Modular UPSs with lithium-ion batteries are much more efficient and last considerably longer than traditional lead-acid batteries. The units also feature next-generation semiconductors designed to emit far less heat than traditional units, requiring less cooling when placed on a rack. That translates to energy savings. The semiconductors also help increase efficiency due to wide bandgap technology that boosts power density. The semiconductors and the lithium-ion batteries require less space than older technology, enabling a 50% reduction in overall unit size.

2. Battery Replacement

Under normal conditions, you may never have to replace a battery throughout the lifecycle of a modular UPS. This is because the units are designed for a 10-year lifecycle; in many cases, lithium-ion batteries will last longer than that. With traditional lead-acid batteries, replacements are necessary about every three years. No replacements mean not paying for new batteries or the associated labor costs.

3. Unit Size

Because modular UPSs with lithium-ion batteries are denser, they take much less space when inserted in a rack. Their U height is about 50% less, which means you can get more use out of a rack for servers, storage, or switches. Any reduction in IT infrastructure footprint translates to cost savings because you need less real estate for equipment.

4. Labor Cost

It costs money to install and maintain UPSs. Modular units reduce labor costs in a couple of ways. They require fewer people for installation – usually two as opposed to four technicians – because they are smaller and lighter. There is also a cost incurred in battery replacement. Technicians typically charge anywhere from $200 to $400, and in places with a higher cost of living, the rate is as high as $500.

5. Wiring

One of the benefits of the new technologies used in modular UPSs is related to the units’ capacity. Until now, you’d have to buy a three-phase device to support 20kW capacity, which requires special electrical wiring to accommodate the 3-phase devices. Smart-UPS Modular Ultra is a single-phase UPS offering capacity of up to 20kW, eliminating the need for a special 3-phase power supply or the associated extra cost.

6. Warranty

TCO savings from modular UPSs also come from the warranty. While warranties for traditional units typically cover two years, these newer devices can carry up to a five-year warranty depending on the vendor. So, there is less of a chance of paying for a repair should anything ever go wrong with a unit.

Discover more savings

There are many considerations when evaluating the long-term value of UPS purchases for your business. An example of a UPS solution that meets all of this TCO saving criteria is Schneider Electric’s APC Smart-UPS Modular Ultra series. It delivers a lower TCO when compared to units from competitors, as well as APC’s traditional lead-acid battery units. This Smart-UPS Modular Ultra will yield long term savings, decrease operational costs, and increase peace of mind that a reliable solution is in place to prevent downtime. Check out the TCO savings delivered by modular units and see for yourself.

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