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Eaton data center solutions ensure uptime for Mt. Washington Observatory's IT infrastructure

Mt. Washington Observatory is home to some of the world’s worst weather, so its power supply and quality is unreliable. Using the 9355 UPS, an environmental monitoring probe, new batteries and by implementing a service plan, the observatory is able to achieve 100 percent uptime and maintain its 80-year continuous weather history.

About Mt. Washington Observatory

The Mt. Washington Observatory (MWO) is a private, non-profit scientific and educational institution dedicated to advancing the understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate. The summit of Mt. Washington is home to some of the most dangerous and unpredictable weather in the world, so MWO maintains a mountaintop station to conduct research, oversee educational programs and collect real-time data that feeds into the National Weather Service’s forecast models.

The observatory also provides daily reports for higher summits hikers and is the go-to weather source for search and rescue teams. 

Challenge

At an elevation of 6,288 feet, the observatory is prone to direct lightning strikes, ice, snow and blistering hurricane-force wind gusts—all of which can knock out electricity.

MWO deployed a 15 kVA Eaton 9355 uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with more than 170 minutes of runtime to help ensure that even when the most extreme weather hits, the organization can continue gathering and storing vital data. When an outage happens, the 9355 immediately kicks on to keep MWO’s systems operating until its generator can power up.

Although this usually takes just a matter of seconds, without a highly reliable UPS to bridge the gap, those seconds could result in holes in the organization’s 80-year continuous weather history. “We find ourselves switching about six weeks out of the year between line power and generators,” Briedé revealed. “It’s the Eaton UPS that keeps us going during those times.” While the 9355 performed flawlessly through the years, by 2014, its batteries needed to be replaced. The MWO IT team reached out to Eaton to arrange a battery replacement and get a UPS service plan. 

The Mt. Washington Observatory can’t have any interruptions in power, which is why we have the Eaton UPS. We’re collecting data continuously, and those types of instruments do not like interruptions in power. It’s also holding together our entire IT infrastructure.

Cyrene-Marie Briedé, Director of summit operations

See how, with the Eaton data center solution in place, MWO is able to:

• Ensure the highest availability and uptime to protect critical equipment even in the most extreme weather, when power reliability and quality aren’t guaranteed

• Keep a constant pulse on equipment with PredictPulse

• Monitor computer room conditions with the environmental monitoring probe

• Maintain the health of its UPS solution and get help quickly with an Eaton service plan

The Eaton solution

While conducting a site assessment and power usage study to determine the battery backup time required before the replacement, Brian Tenters, Eaton’s Northeast area supervisor, found that MWO had reduced its equipment since the UPS was first installed. And, Tenters determined that 90 minutes of runtime—rather than the originally slotted 170 minutes— would be more than sufficient for the organization.

Tenters and another field technician, Phil Percoski, trekked to the top of Mt. Washington in August with four new strings of batteries for the observatory. And, Tenters and Percoski performed comprehensive preventive maintenance on the 9355 as part of a new, two-year service agreement. Under the contract, Eaton will provide after-hours and preventive maintenance on the UPS and batteries twice a year, as well as an eight-hour response time in the event of an alarm.

MWO also uses Eaton’s PredictPulse remote monitoring service, which provides real-time monitoring of more than 100 UPS and battery alarms. Monthly reports on the UPS status include information on voltages, loads, temperature and humidity and summarize battery events, availability percentage, comparative status against recommended specification and the top 10 performance and environmental parameters. If any type of power anomaly is detected, MWO will be notified immediately.

An additional benefit of PredictPulse is that Eaton remotely monitors the UPS and batteries at all times. This allows for some issues to be resolved remotely— often before a customer even knows a potential problem exists. In instances where a site visit is required, Eaton will automatically dispatch a technician within the specified response time window. The upgrade to PredictPulse came with an Eaton environmental monitoring probe too, which Roger Pushor, a weather observer and IT specialist at MWO, deems a “super bonus.” The small, single module enables remote monitoring of environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity.

With a more compact UPS solution, real-time system updates and the addition of an environmental monitoring probe, MWO is in an excellent position to preserve its 80-year weather history and capture as much data as possible during extreme weather. 

Having the Eaton UPS in place means that Mt. Washington Observatory is guaranteed 100 percent power 24/7. This allows us to collect weather data for the National Weather Service that is ultimately fed into the hourly models for forecasting the Northeast.

Roger Pushor, IT specialist

Questions about how Eaton can safeguard your IT infrastructure?

Learn more about the Mt. Washington Observatory project