How much can UPS efficiency save you? Eaton has some answers.

I am growing increasingly fascinated by power distribution and regulating equipment. I know, sick admission.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

I am growing increasingly fascinated by power distribution and regulating equipment. I know, sick admission.

Eaton, one of the big uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and power distribution equipment vendors, is starting to talk up its new Energy Saver System as a tool that data center operators can use to more closely monitor and adjust how much power is consumed by connected equipment. But it doesn't sacrifice reliability to do so, according to Bernardo Mendez-Arista, three-phase UPS product manager for the Eaton Power Quality Division. "You set the stage for when you want to save energy, not only when you want to apply it but what conditions might trigger it. We aren't dictating the conditions," he says.

The Eaton Energy Saver System works by maintaining a consistent high-efficiency level across all load ranges. Under normal utility conditions, it focuses on delivering clean energy to IT equipment. If the power supply is erratic or subject to disturbances, however, the UPS will cycle the power through a rectifier and an inverter in order to ensure that the load to the equipment isn't affected. If the power goes out altogether, the UPS will serve the equipment appropriated until adequate levels are restored.

All the sounds pretty basic, no?

Eaton says that the Energy Saving System strives to provide an efficiency level of 99 percent, which translates into a savings in power consumption, especially when the UPS isn't being used at full load. Eaton claims that UPSes with the Energy Saver System are up to 15 percentage points more efficient even when lightly loaded.

How does this translate into reality?

Eaton actually has a customer, data center operator NetRiver, that recently began using three Eaton 9395 units, each rated for 550kVA, at its facility in Lynnwood, Wash. The technology was bought in order to help NetRiver deliver up to 1.5 megawatts of clean power to match its business growth. NetRiver also is using three Eaton Power Distribution Units (for converting the 480V UPS output to 208V) and five Eaton Rack Power Panels (which brings the power closer to the IT enclosures).

According to an Eaton case study about the installation, NetRiver estimates it is saving about $27,000 in electricity costs per year, using the Easton Energy Saver mode. (It will also see some energy rebates on top of that). The size of the Eaton units was also a big deal for this cramped co-location facility: NetRiver believes it saved about $57,000 in real estate costs based on Eaton's product footprint.

The Energy Saver System technology, which is part of Eaton's larger Energy Advantage Architecture branding push, is currently available as an option on the company's Eaton 9395 and 9390 UPS products. You can research Eaton Energy Saver System specifications on this dedicated Web site. You'll also find a technology white paper and a calculator that will estimate the impact that using the Energy Saver System might have on your company's infrastructure.

Overall, Eaton estimates that the Energy Saver System will save the typical business about $4,000 per percentage point of efficiency gain in utility costs. That would provide a return on investment against the UPS cost in three to five years.

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