As with any piece of equipment that is essential for the smooth running of your business, your UPS system will come with a detailed warranty. There will be a comprehensive list of the types of breakdown and malfunction that are covered, the circumstances in which the cover applies and clear information on any exemptions or exclusions. You need to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions so that you know exactly what protection it gives you and, crucially, the nature and extent of your UPS maintenance responsibilities in ensuring the warranty remains valid.

It is impossible for any UPS system to be infallible. With anything mechanical or electronic, there is always the chance, however remote, of a part malfunctioning. Your warranty will generally cover you for premature failures but won’t apply to the wear and tear of normal use. However, careful maintenance and the routine observation of best practice will prolong the life of the equipment and keep you compliant with the terms of the warranty.

UPS Maintenance

Your supplier will usually offer a programme of planned UPS maintenance, a support helpline and an emergency call-out service. Of these facilities, the planned maintenance is especially relevant: your supplier’s involvement, even at an additional cost, should help you to remain compliant.

Most warranties provide for an annual visit but of course a lot can happen in a year. Although neither you nor your staffs are qualified to make remedial interventions, you should be capable of carrying out regular tests and inspections. The helpline is always available for assistance and with some basic training designated staff members can be given the knowledge and skills to identify potential problems. A trained engineer can then visit to investigate further. Sometimes it may be a false alarm but occasionally the makings of a serious problem could be averted early.

Check the Terms

It goes without saying that you should check all the terms of the warranty. For UPS systems, these can range in duration from 1 to 5 years. Typical components included are items such as fans, capacitors and all the electronics as well as associated labour and carriage costs. However, the battery itself is frequently not covered, usually because it has come from a third-party supplier. The UPS warranty will therefore pass on the battery manufacturer’s warranty, at 100% or on a pro rata calculation. It may be possible to pay for a warranty upgrade to include the battery, irrespective as to what the manufacturer’s provision might be.

UPS systems are either single-phase or 3-phase. The former has one neutral wire and one power wire to carry the current while the latter has three power wires to handle the load. Three-phase systems make up the overwhelming majority of commercial installations and tend to have shorter warranty periods, although of course any warranty can be extended.

Most UPS devices use batteries with a 5-year design life block which means they will need to be replaced after about 3 years. The next level is a 10-year design life, to be replaced in 7-8 years. 15- and 20-year batteries do exist but they are rare.

One reason for limitations in cover is that battery life can be significantly affected by ambient temperature. The ideal range for effective performance is 20-25 degrees Celsius and once this rises to 30 degrees then every extra degree will cut the life expectancy of the battery in half. If you’re forcing your UPS system to operate regularly at such temperatures, the battery is likely to fail much earlier than expected. Keeping the operating temperature down will help prolong life and meet the requirements of your warranty.

Fortunately, in normal circumstances and provided appropriate UPS maintenance is carried out, it is rare for a battery to fail within the first few years. However, if it does fail, the cost of replacement can be significant so even partial coverage under the warranty will be helpful. The brand proposed for replacement is another important issue because in a sense your UPS is only as good as the battery which powers it. You should always opt for the best quality battery your budget allows.

If you are unsure about anything in the terms of your warranty, ask your supplier to clarify so that you can make the most of the protection it offers.