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Are you ready for the dark?

15th, August 2019

The story of the light bulb begins long before Edison patented the first commercially successful bulb in 1879. In 1800, Italian inventor Alessandro Volta developed the first practical method of generating electricity, the voltaic pile. Ever since then we have principally taken electricity for granted every time we turn on a light switch or electrical appliance.

Some of us will remember our parents, or even grandparents, having a stash of candles on hand should a power cut occur which most often did especially during a thunderstorm. Nowadays we may be able to locate a tealight bought from a trip to a famous Swedish store, but we are most definitely less prepared for an unexpected power outage.
Not being able to use the microwave or toaster is not the end of the world, but imagine if it meant that your data centre went down – what impact would this have on your business, customers and in some cases human life?

June 2019 saw Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay being plunged into darkness leaving nearly 50 million people without electricity. You may be thinking that the UK is more advanced in their electrical infrastructure, but its that kind of complacency that will result in disaster. Our supply partner Riello UPS undertook an investigation that revealed that official government risk assessments state that there is a 1 in 200 chance of the UK’s power grid experiencing a similar complete power down within the next five years. They weren’t far wrong, with the UK experiencing a major power failure this month!

As mentioned earlier storms played a prominent part in power outages in years gone by, and with the change in climate it is predicted that the number of faults that will be caused by lightning alone could rise by 36% by 2080s according to the Committee of Climate Change. Of course, it is not just the change in weather that will have an effect but also the increase in cyber-attacks targeting power substations.

Both potential damaging causes are beyond our control as data centre managers, but there is still something that can be done to lessen the impact. By ensuring that you have an adequate uninterruptible power supply in the form of a UPS system will provide emergency power to a load when the input power source or mains power fails. A UPS differs from a standby generator in that it will provide near-instantaneous protection from input power interruptions, by supplying energy stored in batteries, supercapacitors, or flywheels. To provide greater reliability, multiple smaller UPS modules and batteries can be integrated together to provide redundant power protection equivalent to one very large UPS.

Having a standby generator onsite will also provide power when the mains fail. A standby generator is designed to automatically provide electricity during a power outage. It constantly monitors utility power 24/7/365. The automatic transfer switch (ATS) will detect a power failure and will send a signal that automatically disconnects from utility feed wires, connects generator feed wires, and starts the generator engine. When utility power is restored, the ATS will switch back to utility feed wires and return itself to standby mode.

So, are you ready for the dark? When the power outage happens will you be stressing by the light of a candle or grinning smugly from your fully operational data centre? Workspace Technology offer a range of UPS systems and standby generators and are on had to offer expert advice on finding the correct solution for you.

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