Total Cost of Ownership for Real World Power Protection Infrastructure Comparing Centralized vs. Distributed Power Systems

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Jean-François Christin

UPS manufacturers follow the IT culture, used to deal with modular and versatile equipment. A question then arises : should the power protection be distributed (installed in the rack) or centralized (in an electrical room). A centralized system is faster to implement. It requires a cheaper and smaller area per kW. Rightsizing centralized power from the beginning facilitates "plug-and-play" IT installations. The efficiency is better optimized, centralized UPS having lower losses cooled by cheaper air-conditionning. A centralized UPS provides better reliability and cost / MTBF ratio : a four 25 Watts light bulbs will cost more compared to one 100 Watt light bulb.

Human factor is also to consider when it comes to monitoring and maintaining UPS : distributed UPS are typically managed by IT personnel, untrained for this task. A centralized UPS with a 7X24 service adds to uptime far more than it might add to total cost of ownership. The battery also advocates for a centralized UPS: it is the weakest link in any UPS system. A centralized UPS with a single well-monitored battery allows a longer battery life expectancy. When the total costs of ownership is considered, the savings of a centralized UPS installation are considerable.

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