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Industrial vs. Commercial UPS

Almost 8 out of 10 UPS systems produced now are designed for Information Technology applications. It is not surprising that many buyers have a difficult time identifying the critical differences between Industrial and Commercial UPS equipment.

There are two types of uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems: a commercial UPS system and an industrial UPS system. Generally, a commercial UPS are found in Information Technology (IT) applications, such as computer rooms and data center environments, while Industrial UPS systems are designed for general process control (i.e. production lines) and critical process control (i.e. oil rigs).

Commercial UPS systems aren't technically demanding and typically only require UL and CSA safety certifications. These safety certifications like UL and CSA are primarily safety focused and do not address UPS performance testing or designing for reliability. The environment of a commercial UPS system is usually temperature controlled at 25ºC and kept very clean. The data centers in banks, hospitals and insurance companies are examples of typical commercial/IT UPS applications. In those commercial environments, the interruption of AC power may disrupt data processing, but it doesn't create an inherent risk of injury to people or property.

Industrial UPS systems are designed, and performance tested to a more rigorous level than commercial systems. In industrial environments, there is usually a higher ambient temperature of at least 50ºC and more contamination in the air, so systems are meant to tolerate extreme temperatures and moderate amounts of non-conductive dust. Manufacturing plants that operate Tooling/CNC machines would be examples of such industrial applications. 

In some industrial environments, the failure of the UPS to supply continuous AC power may result in loss of finished products or in hundreds of man-hours resetting the production equipment. In other industrial environments, the failure of the UPS may lead to risk of injury to people or property. For these reasons, industrial UPS systems are always designed and performance tested to a much more rigorous level than commercial systems. 

Lastly, commercial/IT UPS have short service life of usually 1-3 years, and rarely have stable supply of parts or replacement program beyond that. Industrial UPS systems have built-in design margins to preserve the operation life in less than perfect environments (usually 15-20 years). Industrial UPS equipment also have long-term parts replacement programs to ensure high UPS MTBF over the entire 15-20 years of service life.

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