With scientists predicting one of the coldest winters in 30 years, Riello UPS General WINTER SHOCK

Manager Leo Craig urges facilities managers to prepare for power problems over the coming months.

Winter poses a challenge for even the most experienced estates professionals. But with researchers from University College London forecasting upcoming conditions comparable to the infamous ‘Beast from the East’, 2019-20 may send a shiver down their spines for reasons aside from the plummeting temperatures.

Cold weather puts greater stress on the electricity network. There’s less generation from renewables. Snow, ice, and high winds cause overhead power lines to break or fell trees that knock out vital transmission infrastructure. Then there’s the danger of flooding when all that snow melts.

Major power disruptions are far more likely during such extreme weather, which threatens to put essential machinery, IT equipment, and other electrical devices into a deep freeze of downtime.

In situations like this, a dependable uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a facilities manager’s best friend. A UPS offers emergency battery backup when there’s a power problem. It keeps equipment running until the mains supply returns or provides enough breathing room for the standby generators to take over.

A UPS is a complicated machine in its own right though, full of components that can succumb to natural wear and tear. Capacitors and fans will need replacement over time. Also batteries, which operate best at a controlled temperature of 20-25°C, rather than the sub-zero levels of a winter cold snap.

Why maintenance matters New UPS systems come with multi-year warranties. Indeed, much of the Riello UPS range has a five-year extended warranty as standard.

However, warranties aren’t guarantees. They’re only a best endeavour response. For proper peace of mind, you can’t beat an ongoing UPS maintenance contract clearly spelling out the timescales to get you back up and running if the worst happens.


Proactive maintenance also reduces the risk of downtime happening in the first place. Look at your Preventive Maintenance Visits (PMVs) in the same way as an annual service on your car. As the age-old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

Engineers upgrade software, make efficiency tweaks, and identify parts approaching their end of service life that might need replacing.

Not only does this cut the chance of your UPS breaking down, but it also helps to optimise system performance. This delivers both environmental (reduced energy waste) and economic (lower electricity bills) benefits.

Do your due diligence Sadly all UPS maintenance contracts aren’t created equally. Many are full of legalese, prohibitive get-out clauses, or terms slanted in favour of the supplier, not the customer.

Clarity is key before you sign on the dotted line. Most maintenance providers offer a choice of emergency response times, from 12 working down to four clock hours. But what does their “response” actually mean?

There’s a world of difference between an automated message acknowledging the issue or even speaking to tech support compared to a competent engineer onsite repairing the fault.

On a similar theme, how fast can you get spare parts? It’s no good for you if your supplier has replacements in stock but they’re hundreds of miles away.

Other important questions to ask include, “which consumables are covered under the contract and which will you be charged for?” and “what about labour costs?”.

Even conservative estimates reveal equipment downtime costs facilities managers a minimum of £5,000 a minute.

With the stakes so high, a reliable UPS reinforced by a proactive maintenance regime will pay for itself over time and make it less likely you’ll catch a cold when the big freeze strikes.

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