UPS Battery Service
UPS batteries are the heart of an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Testing, monitoring and maintenance are necessary to verify they will function as needed in a power interruption — helping to avoid significant downtime costs such as lost revenue, equipment repair or replacement, permanent data loss and decreased productivity.
Several factors impact UPS battery service life, including ambient temperature, battery aging, and how often the unit switches to battery power during utility outages. The most common signs that a UPS is nearing end-of-life include alarms and amber warning symbols on the UPS digital display.
Battery maintenance has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to extend UPS battery life. Regular checkups and preventive services allow engineers to spot issues before they impact performance, which ultimately lowers energy costs and reduces downtime.
Batteries are electrochemical power storage devices that convert chemical energy into the electrical energy an uninterruptible power system relies on in case of a power outage. The chemicals inside them deplete over time and even the best maintained UPS batteries will need to be replaced, ideally every three to five years.
The environment where the batteries are kept is also crucial to their UPS courier service lifespan. Maintaining a temperature recommendation from the manufacturer is paramount, as varying temperatures will negatively affect the batteries’ ability to store and dissipate energy. In fact, a battery’s rated capacity may be cut in half for every 10 degrees above the recommended temperature.
Another important aspect of battery maintenance is periodic discharge and charging. This allows for the batteries to reach their maximum capacity and can be done safely under supervised maintenance conditions. A faulty battery in a battery string can compromise the effectiveness of the entire set and cause other batteries to fail prematurely, so identifying a bad unit is essential for the safety of all the others.
During battery maintenance, trained technicians can identify any loose connections or corrosion that might be impacting battery performance. They can also test the health of a battery string at a cell-level to determine whether a battery is deteriorating and causing others in the string to prematurely fail.
UPS battery testing is a crucial part of any facility’s strategy for protecting critical equipment from power outages. This prevents expensive downtime, data loss, lost revenue and potentially lost lives.
The most important way to test a UPS battery’s capacity is through load bank testing. This uses a controlled electrical load (available for rent or purchase in a variety of sizes) to assess the UPS battery’s ability to reliably support the connected equipment under critical load conditions. Load tests can reveal problems or shortfalls in a UPS battery’s capability before they become apparent under actual load conditions and result in a failure that requires replacement of the entire battery set.
Battery aging is also addressed through regular impedance testing, which builds up a performance history for each individual battery cell. This can detect early-stage battery issues such as internal resistance increases that may lead to cell deterioration and shortening of the lifespan of the battery.
Another vital step is to ensure that the ambient temperature of the battery room is maintained at a safe level. A battery’s rated capacity is based on its operating temperature, and the lifespan of batteries can be cut by as much as half for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit above or below the recommended temperature. This is an especially important measure for data centers and manufacturing facilities that are prone to warm weather.
Regardless of how pristinely UPS batteries are cared for, they will need to be replaced at some point. This is because they are electrochemical energy storage devices that convert chemical energy to electrical energy, which eventually depletes their chemistry. This depletion progressively reduces the battery’s capacity and ultimately leads to failure. Typically, batteries exhibit a gradual reduction in performance until they reach about 80 percent of their original rating, followed by an abrupt loss of power capability.
While the lifespan of batteries can be extended with proper maintenance and by periodically testing them, most UPS systems use zero-maintenance nickel-cadmium or lead-acid batteries with useful lifecycles of between 3 and 5 years. Consequently, it is critical to establish and follow a preventive maintenance program to ensure your UPS batteries will be ready to perform when you need them.
Whether your UPS has an audible low battery alarm or has amber warning lights or symbols displayed on its digital display, these are clear indications that your batteries are approaching the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced. If you haven’t already started a battery replacement schedule, consider beginning one now. This is a proactive approach to ensuring your critical equipment is protected during a power outage and will minimize the possibility of data loss or device damage.
Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) use batteries that have a partial lifecycle and must be disposed of correctly. Wrongful disposal of these batteries can result in environmental issues.
UPS batteries perform a dual function: they provide backup power during a utility power failure and also line conditioning to help keep equipment operating safely during normal power fluctuations. During normal operations, UPS batteries cycle many times each day by charging and discharging. Each cycle reduces the battery’s capacity, and it can only go through so many cycles before its chemistry is depleted.
The lifespan of most UPS batteries is determined by temperature, cycling and their design. Batteries cannot be operated in environments that are too hot or too cold, because the varying temperatures compromise their ability to store and dissipate energy. Additionally, the higher the cycling rate, the shorter the battery’s lifespan.
Using cycling monitors can help predict battery end-of-life and help data center staff prepare international shipping company for replacements. In addition, a UPS system with battery status reporting can be configured to shut down ITE when the battery’s cell capacity reaches an end-of-life threshold.
As a Dangerous Good and controlled hazardous waste when “used”, UPS lead acid batteries are subject to stringent storage, transportation and recycling regulations. Choosing an experienced, single-source UPS battery refresh provider that offers full compliance with the manufacturer’s standards helps ensure you meet the requirements of the “chain of responsibility” and are not exposed to costly regulatory violations.