Maximising Battery Efficiency in a UPS

Batteries are fundamental components of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which are designed to provide immediate emergency backup power. The role of UPS is incredibly essential in many industries, including healthcare and data centers, and battery failure is the leading culprit behind the majority of UPS catastrophes. UPS batteries generally have a lifespan of three to five years, which means that its ability to store and deliver power slowly deteriorates over time, no matter how well you maintain, store, and use your batteries. 

Despite its lifespan, there are also a number of other factors that can substantially affect the life of a UPS battery. Understanding the following mistakes can help you to take preventative measures and avoid irreversible damages to your UPS battery, hence ensuring its maximum lifespan.

Poor Storage

Poor storage is one of the most common reasons for UPS battery failure. Even when a battery is properly stored and unused, its lifetime begins to decrease. This is due to the characteristics of lead-acid batteries that automatically discharge small amounts of energy, therefore it is recommended to charge your unused batteries every 3 to 4 months of storage to prolong its storage life. 

High Storage Temperature

The temperature at which batteries are stored is also critical to their performance and lifespan. The rated capacity of each battery is based on an ambient temperature of 68 – 77°F (20 – 25°C). Any variation – especially increased temperature – will affect its performance and lifespan.

As a general rule of thumb, for every 47°F (8.3°C) above the recommended ambient temperature, the expected life of a battery will be reduced by as much as 50%. Routine maintenance checks can help detect thermal hotspots and verify proper ventilation. You may also prolong the storage life of your unused battery by storing it at a temperature of 50°F (10°C) or less.

Over-Cycling of Battery

Upon installation, a battery sits at 100% of its rated capacity. However, each discharge and the following recharge slightly reduces the capacity of the battery. A discharge cycle occurs after a UPS operates on battery during a power outage and the battery recharges for future usage. Constant or multiple discharge cycles will diminish the UPS battery life, and eventually, it will reach its maximum cycle that it can go through and needs to be replaced.

Incorrect Battery Application

Batteries are made specifically for their respective appliances and use, just as UPS batteries are tailored to UPS. Generally, UPS batteries are built to deliver extremely high rates of energy for a short duration of up to 15 minutes. Conversely, other batteries such as telecom and switchgear batteries, are designed to run for longer periods of time of up to eight hours. If a user runs a telecom appliance using a UPS battery, it will force the battery to run for much longer than its intended purpose. This could cause the battery’s plates to overheat and fail.

Improper Float Voltage

Every battery manufacturer specifies the charging voltage ranges for their own cell designs. If a battery is constantly charged out of this safety parameters, it may cause irreversible damage to the battery lifespan. Undercharging the battery may cause sulfate crystals to form on the battery plates that may harden, which will eventually reduce the available capacity of the battery over time. Meanwhile, overcharging with a higher-than-recommended float voltage may cause excessive hydrogen and oxygen gases and can lead to internal dry out. Once accelerated, this internal dry out could cause thermal runaway, resulting in failure or even fire and explosion.

Just like other batteries, you just can’t make your UPS battery last forever. However, you can take UPS Preventative Maintenance to help to increase battery longevity, detect abnormalities, and identify a failing battery before it causes catastrophe. Protect your business from downtime due to power interruptions by scheduling in a routine UPS inspection.

Here at Northern Lights Data, we can provide you with a customised solution to meet your power management needs. With routine UPS prevention checks and maintenance, our team of UPS expert master electricians will inspect and monitor all systems, ensuring that your business is equipped to handle all challenges. Mitigate your downtime and losses, get in touch with New Zealand’s leading power management consultant today. 

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