Why do educational facilities need enhanced power protection?

High quality power protection is essential to a huge variety of corporate, private and public sector installations, with responsibility for a wide range of critical applications within them. These include educational establishments, especially universities. Here, Alex Emms, operations director at Kohler Uninterruptible Power (KUP), looks at the challenge and some available solutions


ith universities’ large populations, power problems can threaten public

safety as well as multiple educational and administrative ICT systems. A power failure could take out campus lights, phones, computers, and even electrically controlled door locks. Such results could create panic or disorder incidents. Additionally, universities are increasingly

embedding technology into education. Leicester University, for example, uses a ‘One iPad per student’ programme. Students bring their iPads to every class session to take notes, capture online resources, collaborate in groupwork sessions, and use multimedia learning materials. Other universities in the UK and worldwide are implementing similar ‘1:1’ policies. This demands faster internet and Wi-Fi.

The associated wireless network infrastructures require power protection, allowing education to continue through any mains electricity problems. The power must be clean as well as uninterrupted, to prevent damage from surges or sags caused by, for example, air conditioning. Most universities, particularly

research-intensive facilities, conduct complex laboratory experiments. These may need to run for extended periods; power interruptions could destroy either experiment or data. Alongside administrative data processing

requirements, universities increasingly employ sophisticated communications networks for phones, group mailing, web conferencing, voting systems, reporting, and intranets. Edinburgh University also uses virtualisation technology for software delivery. It’s clear that lack of power protection

can cause widespread safety and data issues. Robust IT and networking infrastructures are integral to smooth campus operation, with students and faculties reasonably expecting 24/7 access. So what should an educational facility look for in candidate power infrastructure suppliers? Any contending company must be

competent to deliver comprehensive solutions comprising UPS, generator and

emergency lighting. Equally, they must have proven expertise in installing, commissioning and maintaining the equipment throughout its operational life. UPSs and generators complement one

another perfectly. On mains power failure, a true online UPS continues delivering the seamless uninterrupted power essential to much ICT equipment. However, its battery autonomy, however large, is always vulnerable to sufficiently prolonged blackouts. Conversely, a generator cannot start quickly enough to avoid a power interruption intolerable to ICT loads, but, once running, can continue indefinitely with sufficient fuel. Maximum possible reliability and

availability are essential to any UPS solution. Competitive purchase pricing must be complemented by efficient operation, both to control costs and to minimise the site’s carbon footprint. Compact design, easy installation and maintenance are essential, as many university faculties can be housed in buildings possibly hundreds of years old with few specialised areas for power equipment. Above all, flexibility and scalability are required, allowing UPS capacity to grow with developing campus requirements. Modern, modular UPS systems offer the

attributes essential to resolving these issues. Any chosen generator must accept an

automatic mains failure (AMF) detection signal, alerting it to start up and handle any power problem that the UPS cannot. It must also start quickly and reliably on demand, and, once running, supply an AC waveform stable in both amplitude and frequency. Generator reliability comes from careful

maintenance, an adequate fuel supply for the diesel engine, and a healthy starting battery. Generators may also benefit from a heating jacket. Voltage amplitude is set by the alternator windings, and stability is controlled by an automatic voltage regulator (AVR). Frequency stability, which is essential for UPS synchronisation, is best managed by electronic engine governors, which are superior to mechanical types.

 ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING | MARCH 2020 33 A university campus is a diverse

environment with many emergency lighting demands. Safe evacuation provision is essential, while full sports facilities, gymnasium equipment, science laboratories, industrial level machine shops, commercial catering, student union bars and other facilities may need to keep operating during a mains failure. These facilities need assessment for risks

posed to their users. The BAFE SP203 part 4 third-party accreditation scheme can be used to provide written risk assessments; these comply with auditable documents contained within the latest BS 5266 part 1 2016 edition. Complete emergency lighting protection solutions should then comply with BS EN50171. From the above, we can see that

university campuses have large and complex power infrastructure requirements, with a critical need to protect not only their data, communications and other electrical/electronic services, but also their populations of students, staff and visitors. To fulfil these requirements reliably and

safely, it’s essential to work with a supplier offering sufficient experience, resources and product choice to provide an integrated, economical, future-proofed and reliable solution.

Kohler Uninterruptible Power

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