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Optimize your UPS with LED lighting

In an ideal world, your wall socket would provide an endless stream of perfect power, at constant voltage and cycling at exactly the same number of times per second.

Don’t count on it.

A number of hazards can disrupt the flow of electricity, from squirrels with a taste for copper wires to equipment malfunctions, storms and planned outages for upgrades or repairs. Every day, electrical service is interrupted in homes, businesses and the public sector. Losses can be significant, and costs can be high. That is why so many companies rely on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to provide continuous, reliable power to critical systems, such as emergency lighting, data servers and hospital units.

But over the past decade, overall efficiency gains have failed to keep pace with growing electricity demands from power-hungry servers and other sophisticated equipment. Even small increases in efficiency can provide peace of mind and significant cost savings.

Many have turned to LEDs.

“Efficient lighting solutions reduce the load on the UPS,” said Amie Fish, UPS product manager for Eaton. “By incorporating energy-efficient LEDs, you can lessen your lighting load, reduce the size of your UPS and lower your energy costs.”

The power load (VA or watts) is one of the most important factors in choosing a UPS. Reducing the load on a system–e.g. by using efficient lighting–provides a huge advantage, because the system loads determine the size of the UPS.

LED lighting can be added to an existing UPS or incorporated into new build construction in order to reduce energy consumption. "Inefficient lamps can be replaced with LEDs as part of a UPS retrofit,” said Fish. “Because LEDs provide better light for fewer watts and therefore require less power, the number of lights can actually be increased without changing the load.”

As for new builds, efficient lighting solutions allow for fewer batteries and a smaller physical footprint. “UL 924 requires a minimum of 90 minutes of backup for emergency lighting, giving occupants time to safely exit the building,” Fish said. “Take, for instance, an 80 kVA system that requires three battery cabinets. By reducing the lighting load to 60 kVA, we can eliminate one of those battery cabinets or reduce the size of our UPS. That’s the power of efficient lighting.”

These small improvements can quickly translate to thousands of dollars in savings. For example:

  • If the utility rate is 10 cents per kWh, a 60 kVA N+1 redundant configuration would save more than $30,000 over five years.
  • High UPS efficiency extends battery runtimes and produces cooler operating conditions, resulting in lower utility bills.
  • Smaller batteries allow for smaller HVAC systems, reducing energy costs.
  • If an inefficient light such as a ceiling fluorescent fixture is replaced with an LED lamp, heat loss is reduced – cutting heat load on the HVAC system and lowering energy usage.
  • Incorporating LED lighting to save energy can help make companies eligible for utility rebate programs.

In addition to the inherent benefits of efficient LED lighting, customers can increase their energy savings by tapping into technology like Eaton’s Energy Saver System (ESS). The ESS enables a UPS to attain an industry-leading efficiency level of 99 percent. In contrast, a typical UPS operating without ESS normally tops out at a 94 percent efficiency level. Using ESS, a UPS intelligently adapts to utility power conditions while supplying clean power to connected equipment to achieve huge gains.

Businesses are realizing the value of a better UPS design and more efficiency across all loads, including lighting.

“We’re seeing a growing demand for LEDs in a variety of industries,” said Mike DeCamp, Eaton’s senior communications manager for power quality and backup power. “Hospitals, government buildings, data centers, hotels, parking garages and schools are all recognizing the benefit of incorporating efficient lighting solutions into UPS. When you can get better lighting that requires less backup power and a smaller footprint, that makes for an easy decision at the end of the day.”