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RUNTIME PERFORMANCE EVALUATION OF UPS AVAILABLE

IN NIGERIAN MARKET
BY
FACHE, V. O. and UDOH, B. E.
Department of Electrical/Electronic Engineering
Federal Polytechnic, Mubi
Adamawa State
070-63221600
fachevo@gmail.com

ABSTRACT
The runtime performance of different uninterruptible power supply (UPS) sold to the Nigerian market was
investigated. The same ratings of UPS from different manufacturers were selected to ensure uniformity of
analysis. These makes are APC, AMAX, Bluegate, Maxtron, Mercury, Konerstone, QLINK, and VSONIC
UPS. The runtime response of each UPS on varied load with no electrical input was measured and the
output waveforms were also observed. The results obtained showed that though Maxtron had the highest
runtime of 61.3 minutes for a 60 watts load, this drops off very rapidly as the load was gradually increased.
Similar results were obtained for QLINK, VSONIC and Konerstone. Meanwhile APC followed with 49.2
minutes for the same load rating but, there was a gradual decay in runtime as the load was increased which
is similar to the results obtained for Mercury, Bluegate and AMAX UPSs. VSONIC had the least runtime of
32.7 minutes.
Keywords: backup, capacity, inverter, load, runtime
INTRODUCTION
1. Background
For most business and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) centers, the information
contained in the computer is often more valuable than the computer system itself. Serious power
interruptions can damage a computer, but even more important is the loss of vital data from the memory or
the hard drive (Mueller, 2009). In order to effectively protect the PC from this hazard, ICT managers have
resulted to the use of backup power protection devices. These units provide reliable power in case of a
complete blackout or even when the quality of AC supply is poor thereby providing the time necessary for
an orderly system shutdown or at least sufficient time to bring an auxiliary power source on line.
The basic electronics of a backup power protection consist of an electronic device connected between
the utility power source (power socket) and the PC, comprising generally of filters, rectifier, battery, DC/AC
inverter, transfer switch and associated circuits. The system is intended to provide: clean undisturbed
stabilized AC voltage within strict amplitude and frequency limits; protect the PC from any utility power
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disturbances and irregularities, including outages for a limited time dictated by the capacity of the Battery
Bank (Powerstream, 2010). There are two basic types available: the standby power supply (SPS) and the
uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
A Standby Power Supply (SPS) is an offline backup power system that provides power to the PC only
when the main AC power fails. Power is supplied from a series of batteries that are kept charged while AC
power is available. When there is power failure, a sensor detects a loss of power on the line and immediately
switches over to a standby battery and power inverter. The power inverter converts the battery power to
220V AC power, which is then supplied to the computer system. The major problem with SPS units is the
switching time. It may take several milliseconds to detect the loss of power and actually initiate the switchover to battery power. In that few milliseconds, a PC may brownout or reboot thereby defeat the point of
having backup power in the first place (Figure 1) (APC, 2011).

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is one of the most popular and reliable backup power protection
systems. They are known as online systems because they are designed to provide AC continuously the PC
runs from battery power all the time. AC keeps the batteries charged, but line AC does not power the PC
directly. As a result, the PC is isolated from even the worse line power anomalies (APC, 2011). Like SPS, a
UPS provides power only for a limited time after AC fails (depending on the attached load) allowing the
user to save data and shut down. However there is no switching problem to contend with. This paper focuses
on uninterruptible power supplies.

As might be expected, the batteries in a backup power protection device cannot power a load forever.
This means a UPS or SPS can only power certain pieces of equipment for a limited amount of time. The
time a UPS energizes the load from batteries with no electrical input is known as runtime, backup time or
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autonomy time (Powerstream, 2010). According to Powerstream (2010), the exact amount of time depends
on the type, size of batteries, rate of discharge and the efficiency of the inverter. For a UPS of any given
capacity, a higher load will result in shorter running time. Lightening the load (or using a larger-capacity
UPS) will increase the runtime time. The runtime is critically important because it reveals the amount time
available to save data and execute an orderly system shutdown or to bring an auxiliary power supply on line.
2. Problem Statement
Until only a few years ago, the types of UPS sold to the Nigerian market were limited to possibly two or
three. This made the selection rather simple. Over the past few years, a large number of UPS have appeared
on the Nigerian market produced by different manufacturers. They exhibit varied specifications, wide price
range, require varying degrees of maintenance and have different warranty periods and life expectancies.
Choosing the proper UPS for the desired application then becomes one of examining critical parameters and
choosing the one most suitable for the particular application.
Most UPS manufacturers specifications will provide tables that show the typical runtime for a model
based on the load it has to handle at either half or full load but the runtime obtainable usually does not
correspond to this value and it is also dependent on the specific application. There is therefore a need to
investigate the runtime performance of these UPSs to ensure their suitability for use in Nigeria.
METHODOLOGY
In this work, eight different brands of UPS of the same ratings were investigated. All the UPS were rated
650VA at 50Hz. The investigations were done in stages. To observe their output waveforms on no-load, this
was realized by using the circuit configuration in Figure 3. The following apparatus were used; the various
UPS, an attenuator pad (voltage divider), and an oscilloscope (Allan, 1988). To investigate the effect of load
on runtime performance; the circuit configuration shown in Figure 4 was used, All measurements were taken
with new, fully charged batteries, at typical environmental conditions, with no electrical input and balanced
resistive load (P.F = 0.98) at the output.

RESULTS
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The waveforms obtained from these UPSs on no-load are shown in Figures 4 and 5. Table 1 shows the
rated characteristics of each of the selected UPS. The results presented in Tables 2 9 represent the time
required to discharge a fully charged UPS at any given load. A power factor of 0.98 was assumed for the
load. Figures 7 14 shows the various plots of runtime versus load for the data presented on Tables 2 9.

INVERTER MODE

DEMOAC

Table 1: Rated characteristics of the selected UPSs


MODEL:
Input
voltage
(V)
Input
frequency
(Hz)
Output
Waveform
Output
voltage
(V)
Output
power
(VA)
Battery
Rating
Battery
Type
Output
Waveform
Output
voltage
(V)
Output
power
(VA)
Output
Power (W)
Output
frequency
(Hz)
Backup
time @FL
(mins)

APC

Maxtron

Bluegate

Mercury

Qlink

Vsonic

Konerstone

AMAX

220

220

220

220

220

220

220

220

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

Sine
Wave

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

650

650

650

650

650

650

650

650

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

12V/7Ah

Lead-acid

Lead-acid

Lead acid

Lead acid

Lead acid

Lead acid

Lead acid

Lead acid

Simulated
Sine Wave

Simulated
Sine Wave

Simulated
Sine Wave

Simulated
Sine
Wave

Simulated
Sine
Wave

Simulated
Sine
Wave

Simulated
Sine Wave

Simulated
Sine
Wave

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

220 -230

650

650

650

650

650

650

650

650

390

390

390

390

390

390

390

390

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

50

12

15

10

11

12

Mean Runtime Performance for the Selected UPSs


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Mean Runtime Response Charts

DISCUSSION
All the output waveforms for APC, Mercury, Bluegate and AMAX UPS in Figure 5 were almost pure
sinusoidal in nature, with minimal distortions. Figure 6 shows the waveforms for Maxtron, VSONIC, Qlink
and Konerstone UPS. This waveform is not a pure sine wave but a compromise between the sine wave and
square wave (modified square wave); the peak voltages are flattened and lower than a pure sine wave with
minimal distortions. According to ACRELab (2002) most commercial UPSs produce waveform that is a
large departure from a sine wave. This was also observed in laboratory tests performed by Alowolodu et al
(2003) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. Also according to Alexander and William, (2002),
the quality and cost of the inverter that is within the UPS is the primary determinant of the shape of the AC
signal that is produced by most UPSs. The waveform should theoretically be a sinusoidal wave, but this is
not always the case. Cheaper inverters are designed to produce an approximate sine wave (or modified
square wave) output primarily because the components required to do this are cheap (ACRELab, 2002).
Modified square wave power does not work efficiently with most ICT equipments because its peak voltage
is substantially lower than the peak voltage of a sine wave and it also contains harmonics which can cause
buzzing or other problems with these equipments, therefore it cannot supply enough power to sustain high
loads for a long period as observed by the rapid decay in the graphs of figures 8, 11, 12, and 13.
With reference to the rated characteristics of these UPSs on Table 1, figures 8, 11, 12, and 13 reveal that
Maxtron, VSONIC, Qlink and Konerstone UPS cannot work at the rated maximum load. At 650VA (390W)
load they trip off. This could be as a result of the inability of the lead acid battery, inverter and circuitry or
even its wires to handle this particular size of load. Hence they can only be used for applications below the
rated maximum capacity. According to Bigelow (2001), to select a UPS for any application involves
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determination of the power requirements. Undefined power requirements or oversight of a system could
result in selection of a system that is not capable of meeting the needs of the facility.
Tables 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and Figures 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 shows the runtime responses of the eight
selected UPSs common in the Nigerian market. A study of the tables shows that Maxtron recorded the
highest runtime of 61.3 minutes, followed by APC with 49.2 mins, then Mercury (47.2 mins), Bluegate (43.4
mins) and Amax (44.2 mins), Qlink (41.6 mins), Konerstone (34.3 mins), and Vsonic (32.7 mins) all
measured at 60 Watts load respectively. But looking at their responses to varied load it will be observed that
though Maxtron has the highest runtime, it drops very rapidly compared with APC, Bluegate, Mercury and
Amax which showed a gradual decay in their runtimes with increasing load. Many factors can cause a UPS
to discharge very quickly, according to Alexander and Williams (2002), the runtime of a UPS depends on the
type and size of UPS batteries, rate of discharge, efficiency of the inverter and ambient temperature. Since
all the UPS used had similar features (see Table 1), the factors that could be responsible for this are the
efficiency of the inverter and the ambient temperature. According to ACRELab (2002), inverters that
produce square wave outputs draw more current than the sine wave counterpart (see Fig.1). This explains
why though Maxtron had the highest runtime, this value falls rapidly with increasing load as compared with
APC, Bluegate, Mercury and Amax.
Temperatures higher than 77oF (25oC) will cause a battery to age faster. Batteries also have a short shelf
life. Unless the batteries are charged, the batteries will self-discharge to the point where they loose some of
their capacity, though still new. This may only be a couple of months in a hot environment or as long as long
as a year with proper temperature control. UPS bought from retail stores are especially prone to this type of
damage (APC, 2011).
CONCLUSION
This study has attempted to examine the runtime performance of several brands of UPS in the Nigerian
market. UPSs are backup power-protection devices which apart from protecting the PC from damage due to
power supply anomalies it ought to provide the system with enough backup power for some specific amount
of time at least for the system to be shut down safely or to bring an auxiliary power source on line. Although
this is difficult in practice some factors may be responsible; the load sizes, output waveform, efficiency of
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the inverter and storage temperature have a direct bearing on the UPS runtime.
It is evident from the study that for a given size of load, the runtime for the different brands of UPS are
not the same. Therefore, it is important to estimate the total load size before a UPS procured. It is also
important to look at the specifications of the UPS to confirm that it will be able to deliver the required power
optimally and reliably. While it is not a must to buy a higher rated UPS it is important to buy a UPS whose
VA and Watts ratings are higher than the required power.

REFERENCES
ACRELab (2002). Stand Alone Inverter Testing. Australia: Australias Renewable Energy Systems Testing
Laboratory. PP.121-125.
Alexander, K. & William, K. (2002). Uninterruptible Power Supplies and Standby Power Systems.
Brookfield: Pothstein Associates. pp. 235-239.
Allan, S. (1988). Electrical Power Equipment and Measurement. McGraw Hill. pp.98-104.
Alowolodu, K.E., Oyetunji, S.A., Olasoji, Y.O. (2005). Critical Issues in Selecting Uninterruptible Power
Supplies. FUTAJEET Vol.4, No.2. pp.151-156.
APC (2011). The Different Types of UPS Systems. American Power Conversion. Retrieved on 24
September, 2011 from http://www.apc.com.
Bigelow, S.J. (2001). Troubleshooting, Maintaining and Repairing PCs. 5th Edition. New York, USA:
McGraw Hill. pp. 1131-1139.
How to Calculate Battery Runtime. PowerStream Technologies (n.d). http://www.powerstream.com/batterycapacity-calculations.htm. Retrieved on 26 April, 2011.
Mueller, S. (2009). Upgrading and Repairing PCs. USA: Que Publishers. pp. 1202-1206.