Energy Star for UPS Suffers Delays

Julius Neudorfer

The Energy Star for UPS program is somewhat delayed and is now expected to be completed by July 2011, according to an announcement released by Robert J. Meyers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The program was started in February and according to the EPA's announcement, has suffered a small setback.

 'While EPA had originally hoped to make significant progress on this specification revision in 2010, resources were realigned to support high-priority efforts related to third-party certification requirements for all ENERGY STAR products. With much of the ground-work established for third-party certification processes and programmatic changes in place, EPA is committed to revising the UPS specification over the next several months.'

A summary of the individual participating stakeholders' comments is found here.

The new specification covers a broad rage of UPS products, from the plug-in commodity desktop models, all the way up to multi-megawatt systems. Some of the more insightful comments and EPA responses were:

There will also no longer be any direct reference to batteries, in the definition section.

Replace all references to 'battery' with 'energy storage mechanism' to make definitions more widely applicable.

EPA Response
EPA intends to remove references to batteries or any other particular technology

Moreover, the EPA thinks that data centers should start considering running UPSs at or near 100 percent to improve operational energy efficiency, and to rely on the overload capability of the UPS, rather than be more conservative and only partially load the UPS.

The ability to handle overload peaks should be expressed in some way in the overall review of an UPS. Overload handling allows a facility manager to use an EPS closer to 100% load where the efficiency is the best.

EPA Response

Manufacturers already typically specify overload operation on their datasheets (e.g., duration of time that a unit can operate at 150% of rated load) and overload capability testing is specified by IEC standard 62040?3. Because of the usefulness of this capability in increasing the utilization of the UPS, EPA intends to require overload reporting in the power and performance datasheet.

Bottom Line

I originally discussed the beginning of this EPA initative last March and still feel that this is a worthwhile effort. However, while I am all for improved UPS efficiency, the industry is still a business where 'I am giving it all she's got, captain' is not the part of the 'mission critical' operational mission statement, nor a design criteria for data centers. So stay tuned as we continue to cover the specifications and program's development, because it will directly affect the next generation of UPS equipment.

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