If you were talking to someone whose organization is considering Eaton UPS, what would you say?
How would you rate it and why? Any other tips or advice?
You've got to design it well into your system, as with any UPS. The UPS can't do things that the switchgear doesn't give it the availability to do. Also, it's only as good as the last maintenance that was performed on it. The biggest thing, as far as the UPS units themselves goes, is that people have a tendency to forget about the UPS units. They're always on standby and nobody thinks about them until there's actually an outage. The good part about the UPS is it's an active component in the data center stream, in what we deliver to our colocation customers. The big component is the flexibility of a UPS to switch load from module to module; seamlessly is the biggest positive. We forget that sometimes when it's just sitting there humming. The lessons I've learned are around attention to detail. Make sure, when you open your door to let somebody in to work on batteries for you, that you know who that person is, that the person has not been working on batteries for only six months and before that they were working at the McDonald's. Most of the issues are caused by lack of process, which is aggravated by lack of expertise in people. I'm not using Eaton's lithium-ion batteries. I'm waiting for the next battery model. I'm concerned on a number of levels with lithium-ion, more from a regulatory standpoint. I believe that once lithium-ion proliferates within the industry, that the fire code is going to change terribly. Unfortunately, I believe it's going to affect me whether I go with lithium-ion or not. But if we slow the distribution of lithium-ion, it'll at least slow down the regulatory requirements for all batteries in data centers. I always try to make a five-year investment in batteries. The battery technology is changing quickly and in another five years there'll be something that either rivals lithium-ion, at least, or that is a lot better. Lithium-ion is going to be a lot more controlled in the future. Thermal runaway has always been a problem in data centers, even though lead-acid combatted it a lot better. Lithium-ion still has the problems, and that's what causes them to burn up. Eaton has a product called Foreseer. Foreseer is a wonderful product that can be purchased as an add-on. Eaton doesn't communicate about or advertise that product very well. That product does supply an unlimited amount of information about the electrical systems tied into the UPS. That information is vital to me, but you don't know about any of that information when you purchase an Eaton UPS. I found out more about it from a third-party distributor. You buy Foreseer from Eaton and then they integrate Foreseer into your system. At that time I thought, "That's a wonderful system and it's probably one of the top two in the market," but Eaton doesn't sell it well. As a data center operator, my highest efficiency is running the UPS as heavily loaded as I can get it. The problem today is that I've got an A and a B side, and I need 100 percent failover capability. So the best I can achieve is about 50 percent load, if I don't oversubscribe. Am I thinking about oversubscribing my UPS? The answer would be is "yes," I always think about it, but customers don't like me to do that. We're looking to implement DSM over the portfolio. Right now it's spotty. With the implementation of DSM, we can comfortably oversubscribe and monitor that utilization more closely. With that implementation, I would increase the percentage of critical load on my UPS or the percentage of utilization. I would take it up to about 70 percent, but I wouldn't be comfortable taking it any higher than that. I would rate Eaton UPSs at eight out of ten. A couple of items that I spoke about above are what brings it back to an eight. I would probably rate Eaton, as a whole, a little bit lower. I'm rating it at eight because of the fact that none of the "infant mortality" happened under critical load. If it had happened under critical load, I probably would have rated it lower, but they've been lucky - or we've been lucky - so it gets an eight right now. I do believe that the folks within Eaton all work extremely well in supporting me in servicing our company. That's what keeps me with Eaton. All UPSs are advancing now at about the same rate. An Eaton or a Toshiba or a Mitsubishi or even Schneider all offer similar qualities. It's really the Eaton teams that keep me with Eaton right now.
If you're thinking of implementing Eaton, reach out to their customers and then go talk to them. I make myself available to Eaton, nationwide. If they want to see my systems, I'll talk to them. I tell them good and bad. Eaton's not perfect. We've had a couple of bumps in the road, but we worked together and we've solved them, in a very positive. You're going to have problems. The key is you judge character: how do you respond in a crisis. When I went out to bid recently, I even told Eaton: "It's pretty hard to negotiate when I'm telling all my bidders they have to come to you for my big-iron contracts." Eaton could have taken advantage of the situation but did not! They continue to be competitive. The biggest lesson I've learned from using these UPSs is that you get what you pay for. The one-sentence summary of the value of the Eaton is that I sleep well at night. Eaton's lithium-ion batteries were not a factor in our decision to go with their UPSs. All the manufacturers are buying the same batteries and cabinets. PredictPulse, in my opinion, is valuable. But I also feel it's overpriced at this time. We monitor, track and trend our units 24x7. If there's an alarm, I get a text and an email and somebody is responding to it. Where PredictPulse is valuable is that it's looking across 10,000+ units and says, "Hey, you know what? We're seeing this component failure," or "Based on this information, we think you should probably fix your caps or change your fans." Or, "We've got a firmware update and we've seen problems. We're putting a fix on our firmware. Next time we're out we'll put this in." That's where it's valuable. I do like where PredictPulse notifies Eaton Service team if there is an alarm. Having Eaton see the alarm in near real time brings peace of mind. I continue to evaluate PredictPulse. My guess as more customers utilize the price will come down. The touch screen functionality is fine but to me it's overrated. I don't know why they have it. Well, I do know why they have it because they need to "keep up with the Jones's." It's fine. It does what I want it to do. It tells me all the information. From a practicality perspective, it serves one function: It's a showpiece. Most of us don't touch the panels. I want to monitor remotely and that is a complaint I have. The remote monitoring software does not provide the same information that the touch screen provides and neither provide me the same information that the field techs can draw out of the unit when they directly connect to them. I use Eaton transformers but I don't use their in-cabinet power strips for one reason. Not because they don't make a good product, but because I use an alternate vendor. The vendor I use fully assemble the cabinet with a number of components and the PDU's at the factor. The cabinet shows up, I roll it off a pallet, and I'm done. I do have some Eaton PDUs, but I don't have a lot of them. Most of my big breakers are all Eaton. My big step-down transformers in my data centers are Eaton. I'm Eaton, cradle-to-grave, from the utility switchgear coming all the way into my distribution. I've drunk the "Kool-Aid" of Eaton. What it allows me to do is that if I ever have a problem, I get to go to them and say, "Look, the whole thing is yours." It's cradle-to-grave. It's their product. They're price-competitive and from a technical perspective they're at the top of the game. I could buy Square D, but then I'm buying Square D breakers. I'm buying somebody's UPS and somebody else's distribution and somebody else's paralleling gear. The fact that I can pick up the phone and call one vendor and say, "Here, design this for me end-to-end," and they say, "Okay, not a problem," saves me time and headaches. I did have a problem with one design. The project fell just short of specifications. After working with the engineering department a solution was put in place. In the end the issue was resolve! It's hard to say how much downtime the solution has saved our organization because, other than the unit getting wet, long story, I haven't had any power outages in ten years now. The Data Center I have has never been down due to a power outage. We've seen blinks in power transfers from the utility company, but to me it's an unquantifiable number, unless you're seeing really bad power all the time, where you're seeing brownouts and blackouts. I haven't had a power outage in any of the Eaton systems that I have. In terms of maintenance, somebody comes out twice a year. We do a major/minor PM on all our enterprise UPS units. During the first visit they check the software, the firmware, the alarms. On a "major" they upgrade the firmware. The units have to be shut them down, everything is checked, make sure all the connections are tight, the caps are tight. They do electrical tests, all the capacitors and the electrical components, making sure everything is solid and tight. The battery comes out twice a year, although for the VRLAs I have them come out quarterly. They check every battery, every connection. They make sure the volts and ohms are right, the right resistance. That's one of the reasons these units work so long, because we do a lot of maintenance. Other than that, we track and trend all our UPS units every few minutes. My operations center watches all our system 24/7. Alarms are reviewed near real time. The care and feeding of these units, to me, is no different than the care and feeding of any other critical system. I would rate Eaton as a corporation, not the Eaton UPS, as a nine out of ten. In a world like mine, I don't build relationships based on products. I build relationships based on the sales and service teams. If I'm buying a lot of product from a company but the salesperson leaves the company, I will evaluate the value of the my relationship. There is a potential I will follow the sales and service teams. The relationship is with the person, not the company. The Eaton people that have come to the table nationwide have been stellar. I would rate Eaton UPSs at as a nine as well. There are little things they could do, like fix their interfaces and give me more data.
Take a good hard look at it. I don't think you will find another UPS that is more reliable than theirs. I have been very happy with it. It is an improvement over the other UPS that we use. I like what they have brought to us for a solution. It's about average size compared to others. It might be a bit smaller, but it's about what I would expect, size-wise.
I would strongly encourage you to evaluate the Eaton UPS just because of its reliability and ease of maintenance. It has been very reliable for us. The relationship and reliability of the unit made it a great purchase and selection for us. The service has been great too. The unit's footprint is a bit larger than some of the others, but it is nothing that we haven't been able to manage. Most of the areas that we have installed them have been in new areas which have been renovated. We just designed around that size footprint and filled it, building the room to allow for the size of a footprint. Because of the footprint and cabinets sizes, it seems to be easier to maintain, even though it is a slightly larger footprint, as they are a GE unit. It is also easier to maintain because the cabinets are designed differently. Only one of the units has lithium-ion batteries, the others currently do not. However, they are looking at changing this when our battery replacements come due. We will be replacing the GE product with an Eaton that has a lithium-ion battery.
We're fairly happy with using Eaton products. I'm confident that if someone says they're going to install Eaton, they're getting a good product, that it's reliable and they won't have too many issues with it. And if they don't know anything about UPSs, they should get the service plan. If they're moderately knowledgeable about the UPSs they should just stick with a T&M. The footprint is good. It's definitely in line with their competitors. They've all gone to a modular system across the entire industry. So instead of having one big cabinet for the IO and then one big cabinet for all the power modules, DC caps, etc., they've modularized them. They're in separate modules which lets them reduce the footprint. The footprint is fine for both IT and lab applications. We have one installation on campus with their lithium-ion batteries. We are piloting them. We will play with them for about a year before we move forward with them in a bigger footprint on campus. The lithium-ion batteries were not a factor in our decision to go with this solution. We already use Eaton no matter what. The Eaton UPSs do require maintenance. They have an OEM suggested maintenance, which we perform. We have to touch them four times a year. On my staff I've got three technicians. We also bring in one technician from a third-party vendor, MC Dean, for the annual services. In total, within one year, we're talking a team of four. For normal, run-through-the-year maintenance, when we to have to do this or that with a unit, there are five people on staff, including me. Three of them are PM techs. They do the battery PMs and the semi-annual services, and then we have the one technician from MC Dean who does the annual services. I've also got one technician who does all the communications side of the UPSs, who makes sure they are up and running, that they stay connected to our monitoring system, and he reviews and accepts alarms. I would give Eaton products a ten out of ten, but overall, including service and everything, I'd give them an eight out of ten.
If you absolutely do not want to lose power to your computers, your data center, or any piece of your business - if your business has to be running 100 percent of the time - you have to have a UPS in place and a generator. For us, it's just a part of the process of keeping the data center up. It's a piece of equipment that does a specific job so that we don't see any kind of power hiccups or outages. We don't have any issues with the Eaton UPSs, they do really well. We seem to be pleased with everything, the way they're functioning now.
My advice would be to have a good consultant who understands your power needs and the amount of downtime that is acceptable. The biggest lesson we've learned from using Eaton products is their reliability. It's there when you need it. I don't have a problem with the footprint of the UPS units. They're big, but they have a lot of stuff. They are pretty versatile. You can put them close to things. They're good.