Weekly Tech Tidbit – Stupid MDF/IDF Stuff That Will Come Back to Bite You Part I

January 25th, 2019
Weekly Tech Tidbit – Stupid MDF/IDF Stuff That Will Come Back to Bite You Part I

Happy New Year!   I was heartened by the number of noisy UPSes there were over the holiday break as people were taking my advice and calibrating their UPSes.   I saw in our Paladin Sentinel Monitoring console that a number of those UPSes announced their "true" status as unable to do their jobs due to bad batteries and/or bad equipment.  It is much better to know that during the holiday break vs. when you are doing on-line testing.   A gold star to all who heeded my advice.  Those of you who didn't, please pick a place and calibrate your UPSes.

I wanted to follow up on the closet calibration theme with a few more suggestions:

If your UPSes are constantly reporting Smart Trim, Brown Out, bad power, or high UPS temperature, you are wearing the UPS out.  High temperature degrades the life of the battery more than anything else.  The way APC UPSes work is if the power is deemed bad, it runs on battery to provide "clean" power until the bad power event is over.   Watching in Paladin Sentinel Monitoring some of you have UPSes that seem to be in perpetual "running on battery" mode.  The reality of this is that the battery will not re-charge from "bad" power while it is being used to keep your equipment on-line.

We have had a number of situations where portions of IDF closets mysteriously shut down while the closet and building continue running fine.  This is because you have a UPS running on battery to exhaustion and then it simply shuts down when there is no more battery power!

The reality is that most of the schools out there are older.   Sometimes the power provided to those closets isn't really horrible, but it isn't considered pristine by the UPS.  Newer APC UPSes seem especially sensitive to this in their default settings. The way to troubleshoot this is to read the UPS logs and see if it is really bad or not.  If it is just slightly off the scale, the solution is generally to set the UPS sensitivity to low.  This clears up most situations by accepting slightly lower grade power.  However, if low doesn't quiet things down, you should consult the district's electrician to figure out what is going on.

Possible exceptions to this advice is if all your UPSes in a building suddenly start complaining about the same thing at the same time.  Years ago we had a high school that had seven closets all report bad power at the same time.  The Director of Technology took that info to NYSEG and got them to fix the power to the school.  Recently I saw in Paladin Sentinel Monitoring that two school buildings located on the same street suddenly started complaining from all the closets in each building about the same, high voltage.   In that situation, a call to Central Hudson is advised.

My next question is how do you know what your UPSes are doing or saying?  Each and every UPS you own in every wiring closet should have a UPS NIC in them.  That NIC should be actively monitored.   If you are not using our Paladin Sentinel Monitoring to keep track of all of these things and more, please talk to Lisa and she can set up a time to talk about what we can do for you.

In part II we will continue this MDF/IDF closet discussion.