Backup Power Protects Businesses, Computer Equipment

April 28, 2017

By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC

Animals such as squirrels have been known to chew through power equipment, interrupting the flow of energy. Birds and snakes sometimes fly or slither into gear and create disconnections. Construction equipment can sever in-ground cables. Storms can bring down aerial lines. Software or other updates by the power company don’t always go as planned and can adversely affect customers. And hackers can use network connections to pull the virtual plug on the power grid.

But whatever the cause, power outages are not only an inconvenience, they can actually result in loss. People can get hurt. Businesses can suffer from lost revenues. And those losses can be compounded by damaged equipment.

The good news is that power protection systems can help keep businesses running and keep their equipment safe at the moment of outage.

“Depending on the type of disturbance and the equipment involved, the effect of power disturbances may range from instant breakdown to more gradual deterioration over time. Either way, electrical disturbances can eventually put your valuable equipment out of commission as surely as any lightning bolt,” says FirstEnergy Company. “Electronic devices don't even need to be in use to be vulnerable to damage. Many have built-in timers, internal clocks, remote controls or other systems that are always running, even when the item itself is turned off.”

UPS units can be used with computers and related equipment and operate online to filter out an array of power problems and provide disturbance-free electricity, FirstEnergy Company adds.

“In case of a power outage, the UPS special battery back-up systems supply 15 to 20 minutes of reserve power (depending on the protected load and assuming all sizing instructions have been followed), allowing you time to save your data and shut down your equipment safely,” the electric utility out of Akron, Ohio, says.

Consulting and research company E Source (News - Alert) last year estimated that power outages cost U.S. businesses in eight key market segments $27 billion. Those segments include batch manufacturing, continuous manufacturing, financial services/digital economy, offices, health care/hospitals, government/education, grocery/food stores, and retail. Batch manufacturing had the largest annual losses, at nearly $150,000 per facility. Government/education fared the best of the groups, with $5,000 per facility.

But even at $5,000 per facility, the price of a power outage is high. That helps explain why almost 80 percent of the 800 energy decision-makers at midsize and large businesses in North America that were surveyed by E source said they will or may invest in the next few years in backup generation, facility-level batteries, outage insurance, and/or uninterruptible power supplies.

Edited by Alicia Young

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