The Secure Power knowledge base aims to give you the information you need to navigate the jargon and deliver straightforward advice around the terminology used within uninterruptible power systems.
UPS are capable of providing power protection but how do you keep and eye on things when you’re not there? Thats where communications come in, and there’s more than one way to achieve this.
Once your UPS is installed and proving protection, monitoring the UPS becomes the next requirement to be addressed. Luckily for you there are a multitude of communication method available to fulfill this need. As well as having built in interfaces out of the box, many UPS offer the ability to install interface cards to add additional methods of providing communication. In this article, we will cover some of the most common types of communication as well as touching on suitable applications in real-world scenarios.
Serial connections are the most basic connection available, connection to the serial port over RS232 will allow basic monitoring of the UPS it is connected to. The port does require configuration around the parameter for communication and is limited to a direct connection to a single device.
By far the most commonly used connection type for UPS, USB allows for plug and pay operation in most scenarios. The connection itself requires no configuration, once connected to a computer the UPS will be automatically detected and initiate shutdown in the event power failt and critical battery level is reached. This connection type can only be used to connect to a single device.
The relay connection is included as standard on many UPS, this connection type is very simple but also very effective. consisting of 1 or more volt free contacts. The contacts are used to indicate the presence of a fault or simply that the UPS is running from battery power. By alternating state from form their normally open or normally closed state they can be used with between 24 and 48V in most occasions. By alternating a light, claxon or potentiall being connected to a device capable of monitoring this state they can be used to generate alerts.
Many UPS feature and expansion slot which can be populated to add additional communication methods to the UPS. These expansion card are often designed to fulfil a particular requirement for specific scenarios.
Network management cards add the ability to communicate with the UPS over TCP/IP. Reporting of all the metrics around UPS operation the UPS is capable of providing. The ability to generate email notifications to alert of critical events is also a standard feature of many network management cards. these card also support SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) as well as allowing multiple clients to interface with the UPS simultaneously and trigger shutdown to many clients in the event of a power failure.
MODBUS card are commonly used to integrate with BMS (Building management systems). Integration with a BMS allows the UPS to amend the current state of he BMS for example preventing access to the lift in the event the power has failed.
The output of the UPS is the most important aspect to consider when selecting your UPS. Understanding the terminology around UPS output will ensure you know you have the right solution for your requirements.