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How to Check Status of Uninterruptible Power Supply

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a battery backup that will provide backup power in the case that your primary power source is down.

Knowing how to check the status of your uninterruptible power supply should be one of your first steps toward quality remote monitoring. You have to know how your backup power system is working to ensure network uptime at all times.

Deploying an RTU to Monitor UPS Status

In order to be able to check the status of your UPS at any moment you need, your UPS system should always be fully monitored.

So, for that, you need to deploy a remote telemetry unit (RTU) to measure battery voltages at your remote sites. With an RTU, you can set thresholds alarms for each individual battery in the backup string. This means that if a voltage goes over or under the set limits, the RTU will trigger an alarm. Also, if any battery in the string falls outside the normal range defined, an alarm will be set as well.

In some cases, battery backups have their own internal performance monitoring systems. Keep in mind, however, that is the UPS fails their embedded monitoring system will fail too. You can't blindly trust these embedded monitoring systems to alert you when a serious issue happens.

The best practice is to deploy a high-quality RTU device.

Monitoring uninterruptible power supply
Make sure your live analog values and threshold alarms can be accessed via SNMP, via a master station, via your RTU's built-in web interface, and via SMS/email alerts.

Critical Features Your RTU Should Have to Monitor UPS

What should you search for in an RTU that will support your battery backup? There are important features that you look for, so your device is able to give you visibility for all the equipment at your remote sites. Some of these features are:

Voltage tracking

A single bad battery jar can deteriorate the performance and lifespan of your array of batteries, so it's important that you deploy a high-end battery monitoring system. Keeping an eye in the entire string is better than not doing anything at all. However, this won't tell you how many cells have degraded and the extent of the damage. This means that this method will not improve the reliability of your network 100%.

Many systems have only one sensor for the entire string of batteries. This will alert you about a problem, but you won't be able to know which battery is actually causing the issue.

In most cases, though, one battery will die but the others on the string will compensate for that one. Which exerts the remaining batteries. But you won't be notified of that because the sensor can only read that everything is still working.

So, a best practice when monitoring the voltage of your UPS is to have sensors monitoring each of your cells individually. These sensors will look at not only low voltages but at the difference between the cells and the average of all the cells. This method will not only avoid network downtime but also extends the operational life of your batteries.

Battery temperature

Your UPS will protect your mission-critical operations when commercial power failures happen. It's very important that you know how much power you have left.

For that, monitoring the voltage is critical. But it's not the only thing you can do. The temperature of your batteries is also a good measure to determine your battery string health.

If the temperature climbs too high then you will know that something is probably wrong. So, a pair of analog inputs (one for voltage and one for temperature) is a good monitoring method that you can put into practice.

Immediate notifications

One of the main advantages of deploying a high-quality RTU to monitor your UPS status is that it should give you many notification options for up-to-the-minute alarm reporting. Some of these options are:

  • via SNMP to a master station

  • directly to you via text messages or emails

When it comes to maintaining visibility over your UPS system, it's critical to be able to receive notifications 24x7. This can represent the difference between a power outage and uptime.

With flexible, detailed and immediate notifications, you won't be left in the dark not knowing that your mission-critical equipment is down. And the right people will find out about alarms at the right times.

We Have The Solution For You

Monitoring and checking the status of your UPS system is an important part of having a truly reliable network.

When we work with our clients, the first thing we recommend is a simple string voltage measurement. An RTU analog input can generally handle any common DC voltage (-48vdc, +24vdc, +12vdc). A NetGuardian's analog inputs, for example, can measure any voltage from -90 volts DC to +90 volts DC.

If you already have an RTU with general-purpose analog input, you can just wire your battery string to it to measure voltage (and, by proxy, the remaining battery life).

A more elegant option that you can order on NetGuardian RTUs is an internally wired analog channel. With this option, any power you feed into the A or B (or both) feed on the NetGuardian will be monitored by the analog channel. You won't have to do any additional wiring.

If you want to get more information about how to monitor your UPS system or want to speak with our monitoring experts about designing a monitoring solution for your network, simply send us a message.