UPS Deployment StatisticsBy Ethan Ace, Published on Jan 23, 2012
Providing backup power for equipment is generally accepted as best practice in surveillance systems. An unexpected power loss can result in lost video or create issues when servers or DVRs are shut down unexpectedly. However, UPSs add cost. In small systems, even a small UPS may not be afforded by the budget. UPSs needed to power large systems with multiple servers, PoE switches, and power supplies can be large and expensive, as well. In order to see what our integrator members are installing in the field, we asked 100 integrators: "How often do you use a UPS for your VMS/DVR/NVR?"
The table shows the responses:
The vast majority of respondents (78%) answered that they install a UPS with systems more than 67% of the time. The remaining two groups were evenly split, with 11% saying they install UPSs less than 33% of the time, and the rest splitting the difference, using UPSs in between 33% and 66% of installs. Reasons given for both including or not including a UPS were fairly universal, and obvious.
These results were fairly even across the board, with average system size and analog/IP cameras deployed only minorly affecting the numbers. Only when looking at larger system sizes, fifty cameras and above, does UPS adoption jump to 93%. All other system sizes and whether the integrator installs a majority of IP or analog cameras have little effect.
Protection from Power Outages
The number one reason given for using UPS power was to provide protection from power loss, spikes, sags, and surges. Abrupt loss of power can lead to reduced hard drive life, corruption of databases, and lost video. Obviously, installing a UPS with enough runtime to wait out typical power outages in the location is the best possible outcome. However, even installating a UPS with minimal runtime, enough for servers to shut down, is preferred. In buildings equipped with backup generators, users should still consider UPS power, as the generator takes a few minutes to come up to full capacity, and equipment may be affected in the meantime.
- "I advise clients the potential damage that can occur to their drives if they don't and the subsequent lost of footage."
- "Most of the sites where we installed our systems are not stable for the power supply. Many equipment using IP systems are very sensitive to sudden power cut. Installing UPS (even if the client doesn't pay us for them), is saving a lot of money and efforts to maintain the system"
- "Mostly because it gives the system the time to overcome those 1 minute power cut and a safe shutdown = longer life time."
- "A UPS is used at all network switch and server/PC locations. It eliminates the service calls related to un-scheduled shutdowns on servers because of power "bumps" and short duration outages."
Note that two integrators also cited it as an advantage to them, reducing their own cost to maintain the system. For those selling comprehensive service contracts, as well as systems still under warranty, this may reduce service costs greatly.
Cost of UPS
Practically the only reason given for not using UPS was cost. In theory, small systems would be more cost-sensitive than other deployments, but as we discussed above, those using UPS 33% of the time or less fall into all system sizes almost evenly.
- "I think my answer for this is again, down to the customer not wanting to pay extra, despite the risks of not having UPS and many times employees will turn the systems off either knowingly or unknowingly anyway."
- "In high security setups I always recommend UPS but it is often a matter of cost. In procurements it is often required, courts, prisons etc. For the ordinary supermarket surveillance it has never happened."
- "Usually leave this up to the customer or connect to an existing UPS. However we have a standard statement on all proposals that a UPS is recommended."
- "Cost. Most customers do not see UPS as a must."
- "Unfortunately it's a cost issue and a philosophy I personally disagree with. I feel that all systems should be high availability, minimal downtime but clients don't always want to spend the money."
One interesting comment from a user in Denmark explained the cost justification of not having a UPS, due to the reliability of the power grid:
- "Most don't need it. The power grids in Denmark are very stable. In the last 4 years I have experienced only one power outage for 15 minutes. I have only one site where a UPS was installed."