Beyond the Data Center – UPS for K-12 Schools, Universities

When the phrase ‘mission-critical environment’ is used, it’s most often referring to a data center. But the reality is that there are many other environments out there that can be considered just as critical. Academic institutions are excellent examples of this.

K-12 schools, colleges and universities have numerous systems powered by electricity. Most, if not all, of these institutions have some type of backup system in the event of a power loss – typically a diesel generator. A generator is a must-have for ensuring student safety and keeping critical systems going in the event of an outage. But what happens if backup power doesn’t kick on for minutes, hours, or not at all?

The switchover to a generator is neither instantaneous nor seamless. It only takes a momentary disruption of power, or even a surge or spike, to cause major problems – important data may vanish, vital equipment could be damaged, emergency services could be compromised. As an added layer of protection, many schools and school districts are supplementing backup systems with Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS).

How the Uninterrupted Power Supply Works

When regular power is interrupted and generator power is not immediately available, your UPS takes over and provides temporary backup power from a stored source such as batteries or a flywheel. Just as important, they also provide “clean” power, taking care of any power surges, jitter and such, which can damage sensitive IT equipment. Such anomalies are not uncommon in a large building such as a school. If the school has air conditioning, for example, whenever it kicks on that is likely to cause a rather dramatic power fluctuation. The UPS will make sure switches and routers are protected and available.

Advantages of Using a UPS

  • Continuity: Experience no outages to critical systems or equipment. Classrooms, research facilities, IT infrastructure will remain operational.
  • Consistency: Electronics within a UPS tells it when it needs to work and kicks in alternate power as needed. This capability eliminates glitches or surges and allows time to safely shut down main systems if needed.
  • Protection: A UPS safeguards against all the oddities of electricity such as surges, spikes, dips and failure. It essentially senses those things and switches to alternate power before the anomalies cause damage.


UPS Selection Considerations

There are two types of UPS systems – battery UPS and flywheel UPS. A battery UPS stores energy and converts it to electrical power through a chemical reaction. Conversely, a flywheel UPS is battery-free, using kinetic energy to produce stored DC power. Both systems condition power and provide reliable backup in the event of a utility failure. The key functional differences between the two systems involve the space requirements, environmental impacts, the runtime, and the costs.

CEG is helping schools and universities across the country incorporate UPS systems into their backup power plans. From configuration to procurement, our experts can assist you with all your power and infrastructure needs. CONTACT US today.