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Why backup power is a critical tool in an electrician’s arsenal

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Stewart Gregory, VP Power Products at Schneider Electric UK&I, highlights the importance of backup power, and why it’s a critical solution for electricians to offer. 

Business owners are more concerned than ever about the reliability of their electricity supply. Severe storms, heat waves, and floods are regularly threatening utility-supplied power. A sudden blackout can shut down critical equipment, impact smart home applications, and bring the point-of-sale system at businesses to a halt. Not to mention, many people regularly deal with frequent brownouts caused by an overburdened or ageing power grid. Such power disruptions threaten the digital connections many small businesses have come to depend on.

To proactively deal with this power uncertainty, electricians can play an important role by offering their customers a practical solution. An uninterruptible power supply can keep businesses up and running, even when the power goes down.

UPSs provide both backup power protection and surge protection. They incorporate a battery that can power electronics and appliances during an outage or brownout. When not in use, the battery is constantly recharged, so it will be ready to go when called upon. What’s more, it will kick in instantly as soon as power is disrupted – even during a minor flicker – so data is protected and connected equipment doesn’t suffer any damage that power fluctuations can cause.

Power outages are increasing

You don’t have to look very far back in the headlines to find examples of outages from severe weather – and human error – cutting power to large populations. In August 2020, the California Independent System Operator overseeing the state’s electricity grid imposed rolling blackouts as heat-related demand came close to surpassing supply. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were affected. And only a month earlier, more than 700 million people in India were left in the dark as three of the country’s five grid systems failed, due to demand surpassing capacity. As in California, extreme heat drove utility customers to turn up their air conditioners, taking down utility supplies in 20 of the country’s 28 states.

And less catastrophic failures also occur regularly, caused by increasingly severe storms or ageing electrical infrastructure. While such outages may be brief or affect smaller populations, their impacts can still be significant. For homeowners, it can mean damage to sensitive – and costly – electronics. Without the protection a UPS offers, computers, smart TVs, gaming consoles and other devices can be exposed to power fluctuations that can shorten their lifespans considerably. Sudden power surges can cause irreparable damage to the equipment, with an unexpected, expensive replacement as the only solution.

Unique protection needs of small businesses 

UPS protection is even more critical for small businesses, where downtime can translate to unhappy customers and lost revenue. Many owners are concerned, and with good reason. In a recent survey of more than 500 small- and medium-size business executives, 37% reported having lost business due to computer-related downtime. Many different applications can be impacted by a power outage or disruption.

Point-of-sale systems, for example, are critical components for many companies, helping to manage sales, track inventory, and even aid workforce management. Some businesses simply cannot operate if an outage or other power disturbance takes the POS system offline. 

Similarly, safety and security also are bottom-line considerations for any business operation. Alarm and notification systems, along with security cameras and related telecom and Wi-Fi equipment, must remain operational during outage situations.

Finally, heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC) poses a risk to operations should it go offline during an outage. Customers and employees might choose to leave if conditions become too uncomfortable. And for some businesses, such as restaurants, bakeries, and veterinary offices, an HVAC failure could be especially damaging.

Why electricians should urge the use of UPSs

UPSs provide reliable power to the equipment so vital to business continuity and working and learning from home. As an electrician, your customers are looking to you for help with UPS selection and installation. You have a big role to play in empowering customers to minimise their power-related disruptions.

Providing UPS solutions is also a great way to increase revenue and build your own business’ reputation. For electricians, UPSs offer an opportunity to expand their business portfolio with reliable backup power solutions that enable their customers to stay connected and productive.

Stewart Gregory

VP Power Products at Schneider Electric UK&I

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