FAQ

Why do I need a UPS?

The power that your electrical provider directs into your home or office is susceptible to many disturbances. Without a UPS protecting your devices, computer files may be corrupted, data lost, hard drives can crash or the power fluctuation can even shut down your entire operation.

What are the different disturbances and what are their causes?

Power Failure – Total loss of power caused by lightning strikes, downed power lines and accidents.
Power Sag – Short term low voltage caused by the startup of large loads, utility switching, or utility equipment failure. AS well as crashes, sags can damage hardware.
Power Surge – Short term high voltage caused by heavy equipment being turned off or by utility switching. This too can damage computer hardware.
Brownout

What are the different Uninterruptible Power Systems and how do they differ?

There are three distinctly different UPS systems that you can purchase. They are the Back-Up (stand-by) system, the Line Interactive system and the True Online Double Conversion System.
Backup systems provide a low level of power filtration but are installed primarily for battery backup in case of a power outage.
Line Interactive UPS’s apply automatic voltage regulation (AVR) which bucks and boosts the electrical signal so that it maintains a standard of +/- 240 volts. These UPS’s can apply this AVR to an input variance of 30 percent before sending it into battery backup. This means that it can manage dips and surges from 168 to 312 volts without the battery being employed. Once the voltage dips below or surges higher than this range, the battery will take over, promising cleaner power for your sensitive electronic systems.
The True Online Double Conversion UPS actually takes the AC current coming into the system, converts it to DC and then back to AC for the running of crucial electronic components. This True Online system is the best because it insures that the power entering your equipment is totally independent of the power that is entering the building. This is extremely important if information and reliability are crucial to the operation. This refers to businesses who trade online, medical equipment and crucial servers. The True Online Double Conversion UPSes present the highest degree of power filtration.

What electronic items should I protect?

All electronic products that either require long initialization times or must be accessible at all times would be better off with a UPS. This includes computers, medical equipment and routers for internet connections.

Can I connect a Laser Printer or Office Multifunction fax/printer to my UPS?

It is not recommended that you use a UPS on a laser printer. Laser printers have a large heating and sealing component that can draw up to 1000 watts. Therefore you must have a greater VA rated UPS to do the same job. This makes the UPS backup of Laser printers very uneconomical.

Can I add more batteries to my UPS?

The only Power Shield UPS’s that allow you to increase the battery backups are the True Online Double Conversion UPS’s. With the Line Interactive UPS’s, it is better just to get a bigger load UPS.

What size UPS do I need?

This all depends on the load of your system. There are two ways that you can compute your load:
Add the amps of all equipment intended to be backed up and multiple it by 220 to get a proper voltage amp or VA rating. The UPS rating must exceed the VA total.
Add the watts of all equipment intended to be backed up and divide it by 0.7 to get a true VA rating. Again the UPS VA rating must be greater than the comprised VA rating.

Do I need to maintain my UPS?

While the UPS itself can last over 5 years, Power Shield includes a 2 year warranty on all units (including batteries). We suggest that you have your UPS checked every 3 years to make sure that the batteries are still accepting a full charge. You can contact Power Shield from the retailer that sold you your Power Shield UPS unit.

Why do the UPS batteries last so long? What causes them to run down?

When the UPS is not on battery back-up mode it is constantly recharging the batteries. Once a battery is made, its longevity depends on the number of cycles (charge/discharge) it will engage in during its life. This depends on the batteries (and the whole UPS unit) being kept at a cool temperature.

Why is it important to keep the batteries at a low level?

Batteries must be kept at a temperature of under 26 degrees Celsius. For every 7 degrees centigrade above this temperature the battery life will decrease by 50 percent.

Why is there a need for power protection?

The last 25 years have seen major changes occur which have highlighted the importance of maintaining a continuous and high quality – clean – electrical supply. There has been a global explosion in demand for electricity, with national distribution systems struggling to meet demand. The second factor is the arrival of the computer revolution.

Computers, offices, telecommunications, industrial control systems, as well as many other key applications and services, are totally dependent on the quality of the power which feeds them. At any moment an AC mains supply can be subject to electrical noise and high energy spikes voltage or frequency variations total power loss or micro breaks and other interruptions. For example an unprotected computer can suffer greatly at the hands of raw AC mains supply. Typical problems which may be encountered include memory and data corruption or loss, unscheduled shutdowns, interruption to critical operations, disk drive malfunction or damage.

The effects of such butchery to systems are both harmful to business and costly in terms of time and money – not to mention the sheer inconvenience to all concerned. Power pollution will downgrade the performance and shorten the life of any system exposed to the raw mains supply.

What is electrical noise, what are the sources and what is the solution?

The AC utility mains supply is polluted with spikes, surges and other disturbances generally referred to as electrical noise. It is a natural by – product of the distribution and use of electric power.

As the demand for power increases and decreases, the power supply companies bring generator stations on and off line. This process is usually known as Grid Switching. As the power providers attempt to carry the process off smoothly it can result in a brief dropout in power, followed by a brief surge as nominal power is restored.

Lightning strikes are also a potential source of power line noise and high energy spikes. Even when the strike is miles away, surges and spikes measuring thousands of volts may be injected into the power supply.

In general, much more electrical noise is created right in your own building / local area by noisy electrical loads. The start / stop operations of heavy duty electrical machines, such as air conditioners, lifts or welding equipment, and also normal office items, such as fluorescent lights, copiers, coffee makers, vending machines and even computers can throw back noise into the electrical system from which they operate.

In such situations, where actual breaks in the power supply do not occur, the most cost efficient method of combating these problems is by the use of a Power Conditioner. Normally a Power Conditioner will also offer protection against general voltage fluctuations.

What is the difference between an Online and Offline / Standby UPS?

There are two main types of Uninterruptible Power Supplies – Online and Offline / Standby. The terms Online and Offline / Standby refer to the general state of the UPS’s internal inverter under normal mains conditions.

Offline UPS’s are the simplest and least expensive. When mains is present, it is routed straight through the UPS bypassing the inverter to the output. A degree of filtering is providing ensuring limited protection against spikes and other irregularities. The batteries are charged the whole time, but only in the event of a power failure will the load be fed by the inverter. The switching from mains to inverter supply ( generally referred to as Transfer Time ) usually takes a few milliseconds. However, a modern computer’s or office system’s internal power supply has sufficient power stored within it to survive this brief interruption of power – ensuring uninterrupted operation of the load equipment.
Lower Cost Offline UPS generally, when on inverter / battery backup, provide a square / pseudo sine wave output waveform. Given the nature in which switch mode power supplies used in modern computer / office systems draw power this type of output power waveform is usually more than adequate. In situations where a square / pseudo sine output waveform is not acceptable then true sine wave more expensive Offline or Online UPS are recommended.
Online UPS’s take the incoming AC mains supply and convert it to DC which feeds the battery and the load via the inverter. If the mains supply fails, then the batteries feed the load via the inverter with no interruption to the output supply at all. An Online system, by nature of the dual conversion design (AC-DC / DC- AC), ensures a far higher degree of isolation of the load from the irregularities on the mains supply. In general, Plug N Play Online systems are more expensive than similar Offline solutions because the inverter has to be rated for continuous operation.

What type of battery is generally fitted in a UPS?

A battery is an electrochemical device that stores energy at one time for use at another. The energy is stored in chemical form and converted to electrical form during discharge. Batteries come in all sizes and shapes and are used to power everything from flashlights to space probes and satellites. There are only a few types used for UPS battery banks.

The UPS battery may furnish power to the inverter for a few seconds, many minutes, or hours. The battery capacity is determined by the amount of power the inverter and its load require during that time.

The cell / block is the basic building brick for a battery. Combined cells / blocks in series sums their individual output voltage and delivers the same current as a single cell/ block at the increased voltage. Paralleling cells / blocks delivers the sum of their currents at the voltage of a single cell / block. UPS system battery banks are parallel – series combinations that deliver from a few amperes to several thousand amperes.

A cell contains a positive element, a negative element and a liquid / gel solution called electrolyte. The cell may be sealed or vented. Sealed cells are commonly referred to as maintenance free if periodic addition of water is not required. There are basically two types of batteries – Nickel Cadmium and Lead Acid – which can be utilised in a UPS system. The type refers to the plate material.

NICAD – The nickel cadmium cell or NICAD battery is best used in low voltage applications and / or applications which need the ability to withstand hostile environments. The NICAD battery is considerably more expensive than the Lead Acid battery and, in an environmentally conscious world, is costly to dispose of after use.
LEAD ACID – Lead Acid Batteries are by far the most common type of battery used in today’s modern UPS system. Lead Acid batteries can be categorised under three separate headings.
Wet Cell – This is the most basic lead acid battery. This type of battery vents gases during charging and discharging and requires periodic addition of water to the electrolyte.
Maintenance Free – This is a wet cell lead acid battery designed to eliminate the need to add water during its useful life.
Sealed Maintenance Free / Valve Regulated – This is, by far, the most common type of lead acid battery utilised in UPS systems. The term sealed is somewhat misleading, as it means that the battery vents only if the cell is abused by overcharging or high temperature operation. The vents open only under excessive internal pressure. By nature of the design a valve regulated battery effectively controls generation of gases and allows gas recombination within the battery of over 99% of the gases generated in normal usage. The batteries are provided with a safe low pressure venting system designed to release excess gas and reseal automatically. Normally this sealing technique should ensure that no electrolyte leakage can occur from the terminals / posts or case of the battery.

For all types maintenance consists primarily of equalising charging and water replenishment. As the name implies Maintenance Free Batteries require no water be added during their operational life. However, today battery manufacturers prefer to describe this type of battery as Low Maintenance as to ensure battery design life is achieved batteries should be checked periodically to ensure that an equal charge is being applied across the battery pack and battery interconnects are tight.

What are the advantages of a Centralised UPS solution when compared against a Distributed UPS Solution?

A centralised UPS solution is where a single UPS is utilised to feed a dedicated ring main which supports numerous items of critical load. The alternative solution is a distributed / decentralised one, where each piece of equipment is powered by a smaller individual UPS.

A centralised UPS system is normally, in terms of utilisation of load and battery capacity, far more versatile and cost efficient. However, the installation of a dedicated ring main can be expensive – especially if the items of load are widely spread throughout a building.

While a distributed / decentralised solution may not optimise load capacity and hold up time, the effects of UPS failure are reduced when compared against the effects of the failure of the centralised UPS.

What safeguard exist within an Online UPS to protect against the loss of power in the unlikely event of an inverter failure or overload?

Online UPS systems usually incorporate a Static / Electronic Bypass Switch. This facility improves the reliability of the installation as it ensures that in the unlikely event of an inverter failure / UPS malfunction , or overload, the load is automatically transferred, without interruption, back to the mains supply. Once the event has been cleared the Bypass switch should then re-engage inverter output online.

Most larger online UPS also incorporate a second Bypass facility – The Manual Bypass Switch. This switch allows the load, without interruption, to be manually transferred to mains so that the UPS system may have maintenance and repair work carried out without requiring the machine to be powered down.

Why is maintenance on a UPS necessary?

Experience shows that with structured service maintenance procedures, possible problems and faults can be detected much earlier before they develop into costly repairs or unplanned shutdowns.

While most UPS products are supplied with a standard 12 month parts and labour warranty this does not mean that the equipment does not require routine maintenance to ensure it is maintained at the optimum level of performance and reliability.

With small inexpensive Plug’n’Play solutions the cost of maintenance is usually considered disproportionate against the cost of a new system. It is difficult to argue against this statement, but it is worth considering what your potential TOTAL cost in terms of money, and perhaps more importantly time, if the UPS failed just when you needed it most!

How do I upgrade my drivers for Windows Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003?

Uninstall Upsilon 2000 Version 3.3
Upgrade to Upsilon v3.4 driver
Go to:
Control Panel »» System Management Tools »» Service
Disable USBMATE and stop the RUPSMON service
Download USBmate driver and copy it under Upsilon’s Menu to replace the previous USBMate file (C:\Program Files\Megatec\UPSilon 2000)
Go to:
Control Panel »» System Management Tools »» Service
change the startup type of USBMATE to automatic and start the service.
Double Click the Upsilon icon and when asked to start service select yes
Shutdown and Restart and all should be working ok

I am having trouble installing/running UPSilon on Windows Vista, what should I do?

Check which version of UPSilon you have (see next answer)

If you have PowerShield UPSilon then download and install PowerShield UPSilon V3.5 for Vista driver

If you have regular UPSilon the download and install Regular UPSilon V3.5 for Vista driver

How do I check which version of UPSilon I have?

Either:

Open the program and click the ABOUT tab to confirm which version you have (you should record your serial number to enter into the updated version)
Check your CD cover – one has PowerShield UPSilon on it and the other has just UPSilon

After connecting my PowerShield UPS via USB and installing UPSilon the Icon in the taskbar has a red cross through it and when I click on the Icon “Not Communicating With UPS” is shown. What do I need to do?

Double click on the UPSilon icon in the task bar, this will open UPSilon in a window. Go to Settings > Communication Type > and select MEGA (USB) > Select OK to close the settings window and your UPS should now be communicating.

Do Power Shield UPSs protect against brownouts?

All Power Shield UPSs have automatic voltage regulation which prohibits brownouts from affecting your Power Shield protected equipment.

How do I get PowerShield UPSilon to work with Windows 7 – 64 Bit?

Load UPSilon using Windows XP compatibility mode and choose SP3 (Service Pack 3).