Factors That Affect Battery Life
A battery is an uninterruptible power supply system’s (UPS) most vulnerable part, with battery failure a leading cause of load loss. A UPS battery provides power for short periods of time during a power outage, giving you time to save work, shut down equipment and protect your devices from damage. Therefore, understanding the factors that affect battery life is of key importance to business operation and continuity. In this blog, we take a look at these factors, and offer solutions that can aid a battery’s lifespan. And should you need any support with your UPS or battery replacement, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
What Is Battery Life?
Battery life is a measure of battery performance and longevity, which can be determined in various ways, including run time on a full charge, as estimated by a manufacturer in milliampere hours, or as the number of charge cycles until the end of useful life. The average lifespan of a battery is 3 – 5 years, however expected lifespan can vary greatly depending on environmental conditions, number of discharge cycles, and suitable maintenance.
Batteries can fail for various reasons, such as inaccurate float charge voltage, loose inter-cell links or connections, loss of electrolyte and high and uneven temperatures, as well as ageing and lack of maintenance. With batteries playing such a key role in your UPS system’s functionality, monitoring and maintenance should be a top priority.
Factors That Affect Battery Life
All UPS batteries have a limited service life, regardless of where or how the UPS power supply system is installed. Though determining battery life can be difficult, there are a number of factors that contribute to a battery’s overall lifespan and performance. These UPS battery life factors include:
Ambient Temperature: The rated capacity of a lead acid battery is 25°C (77°F), and any variation from this operating temperature can alter the battery’s performance and shorten its lifespan. In fact, to determine lifespan in relation to temperature, for every 15°F average temperature above 77°F, battery life is reduced by as much as 50%. Ambient temperatures below 77°F can reduce battery backup time too. Routine maintenance checks can help detect thermal hotspots and verify proper ventilation.
Battery Chemistry: Positive grid corrosion is one of the most common end-of-life factors for UPS batteries. This is a result of the normal aging process due to UPS battery chemistry and involves the gradual breakdown of the inner wires of the positive grid within the battery. This affects their ability to store and deliver power, which slowly decreases over time. Even if you follow all the guidelines for proper battery storage temperature and battery maintenance, you still must replace them after a certain period of time.
Battery Cycling: During a utility power failure, a UPS power supply system operates on battery power. Once utility power is restored, or a switch to generator power is complete, the battery is recharged – known as a discharge cycle. At battery installation, the battery is at 100% of rated capacity. With every discharge and recharge, the capacity is reduced by a small percentage. The length and quantity of discharge cycles determines the reduction in battery capacity.
Batteries can only undergo a certain number of discharge/recharge cycles before the battery chemistry is depleted. When the chemistry is depleted, the cells will fail and the battery will need to be replaced.
Shelf life, Storage and Acceptance Testing: To improve service life expectations and reliability, batteries must be properly stored prior to being installed and placed into service. Storage facilities should be climate controlled with suitable ventilation, ensuring batteries can be kept cool and dry. All battery manufacturers have shelf life and storage parameters to follow, but failure to comply with their storage guidance could cause shortened runtimes and reduced capacity.
Battery Maintenance: Battery service and battery maintenance are critical to UPS functionality. A gradual decrease in battery life can be monitored and evaluated through voltage checks, load testing and battery monitoring, among other measures. Periodic preventive maintenance extends battery string life by preventing loose connections, removing corrosion and identifying bad batteries before they impact the rest of the battery string.
It’s important to note that though some batteries are referred to as ‘maintenance-free’, they still require scheduled maintenance. Being maintenance-free simply refers to the fact that they don’t require added water.
Without regular battery maintenance, a UPS battery may experience heat-generating resistance at the terminals, improper loading, reduced protection and failure much earlier than expected.
With a predictive maintenance programme in place, the end of battery life can be accurately estimated and battery replacements scheduled without unexpected downtime or loss of backup power.
How To Improve Battery Life
As mentioned above, battery maintenance is key to prolonging battery life and ensuring a swift transition from one battery to the next. Battery maintenance can include various tests and measurements, such as:
UPS Battery Testing: Regardless of whether your battery is valve regulated lead acid, lithium ion or flooded nickel cadmium, battery testing is available for all types. Here at Dale Power Solutions, our battery testing is all-encompassing, including everything from load bank testing and voltage monitoring through to discharge testing and impedance and conductance testing. All of our full battery capacity checks are carried out to industry standards, providing assurance that your batteries are in good working condition.
UPS Battery Monitoring: Along with testing, battery monitoring can help extend battery life, measuring performance. At Dale Power Solutions, our monitoring systems can check everything from cycles, string charge current and string discharge current through to AC ripple voltage, AC ripple current and float voltages, along with cell internal resistance.
Moreover, our condition monitoring checks use battery resistance instruments to enable full site reporting of individual cell voltage, and internal resistance readings including associated interconnections for sophisticated cell testing and continuous monitoring. It’s certainly extensive.
Our Battery Options
We have a great deal of battery options available for UPS systems, providing critical power supply to businesses, sites and facilities across the UK. Ensuring your batteries are compatible with your equipment and the latest specifications, our battery tester will carry out a range of battery tests to give you that assurance, and your power equipment the battery it requires.
If you’re ever in need of a battery tester, battery management or need help choosing your new battery, our UPS battery specialists are always happy to help, providing you with 24/7 support and guidance.
Our Range of Battery Products Include:
- Valve regulated lead acid batteries (VRLA).
- Flooded lead acid batteries.
- Vented nickel cadmium batteries (NiCd).
- Gas recombination low maintenance batteries.
- Li-ion batteries.
- Lithium primary cell batteries.
We can also offer custom battery design, as well as battery enclosures and stands, such as:
- Open steel stands.
- Acid resistant stands.
- Cladded steel stands.
- Offshore compliant steel stands.
- Seismically qualified stands.
- Front connected battery style stands.
Being one of the leading and largest industrial battery providers in the UK, we can give your team expert training with your battery requirements in relation to business needs, ensuring the correct processes are understood and undertaken.
Are you looking for battery maintenance or a replacement battery for your UPS system? Need guidance and advice on the right battery for you? The team here at Dale Power Solutions can help you with all of this and more, so we encourage you to get in touch with us today on 0330 999 3000. We help sites across the UK, in areas including Liverpool, Scarborough, London, Swansea and Glasgow, so no distance is ever too far, and no solution is ever out of reach.