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UPS Battery Replacement - November 2011

Published by Jason Koffler on 22 November 2011

UPS Battery Replacement

Don’t allow battery failure to bring down your whole UPS system.

In everyday life, we’ve become so used to replacing batteries only when they fail but this approach, which is fine for your digital camera, simply cannot work with UPS systems that are critical to business as usual when mains power cuts out. Read more……

Just one faulty battery in a string could bring down the whole system. Aged UPS batteries also risk exposing your site to catastrophic downtime and disruption and batteries with high impedance (a sign of aging) can become a fire hazard if not replaced in time.

UPS batteries are typically maintenance free, sealed lead-acid types, with either a five or ten year design life. They will require replacement during years three to four and seven to eight, respectively, and budgeting for this should be built in to the lifetime costs of running the system at the outset.

A UPS will automatically test its batteries using built-in UPS battery testing, but for larger systems, requiring the highest levels of resilience, onsite battery testing and monitoring is recommended.

Elements that affect UPS battery design life are:

• Ambient temperature.
• Number of charge/discharge cycles performed in their life.
• Maintenance
• Quality

Temperature is everything

Ambient temperature must be kept at a constant 20-25 degrees centigrade, which is why UPS batteries require cooling when installed in computer rooms or data centres. They will continue to operate at higher temperatures but their design life will be severely compromised. A UPS battery operating at 30 degrees centigrade, for example, will have its design life cut in half.

Charge/discharge cycles

UPS batteries are typically kept in a state of full charge to ensure maximum run-time when called upon in the event of a mains power failure (when the UPS will be called into action). UPS batteries are designed to perform a finite number of charge/discharge cycles during their lifetime; typically 250 for a five-year, 20-25˚ UPS battery. If at any point it comes close to that number, the UPS battery should be replaced – whether nearing the end of its life or not.

Battery maintenance

Sealed lead-acid UPS batteries are generally maintenance-free but that doesn’t mean they can be fitted and forgotten about. Part of your UPS monitoring and routine maintenance should include battery checking and testing to include: visual inspection for distortion, leakage or corrosion and any other anomalies or abnormalities; taking a dc float voltage measurement for each battery set, string and individual cell; cleaning batteries. Battery testing may include impedance, chemical analysis or load bank testing.

Battery quality

The quality of battery manufacture will also have an impact on design life. Poor quality, or batteries of inferior manufacture will not last as long or be as reliable as those of better quality and design. Unfortunately these days, in an effort to save costs, it can be tempting to opt for the cheapest rather than for good quality. But it’s a false economy, invariably cheaper, poorer quality batteries cost more in replacements in the long-term and could even compromise the UPS system.

Batteries require specialist disposal

Batteries are classed as hazardous waste in the UK and must be disposed of in line with the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005. Across Europe, other applicable directives apply. Only companies licensed to dispose of hazardous waste, such as UPS batteries, should do so. At Critical Power Supplies we are ISO 14001 certified to carry out such work on behalf of battery manufacturers.

The batteries we supply are from leading UPS battery manufacturers including APC, CSB, Panasonic and Yuasa. They match up our high supply chain standards and ensure our customers get the best returns from their investment.

If you would like to know more about UPS battery replacement, or indeed any of our products or services, please call: 0845 519 3638, fill in our contacts form, or send us an email with your details and we’ll call you.