Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are becoming increasingly common in business, home security, and IT applications. Data loss due to a power outage can result in thousands of dollars in losses, compromised data, and the loss of long-term customers. UPS battery systems can range from emergency lighting to entire data centers. The best batteries for uninterruptible power supplies are reliable, durable, safe, stable, and affordable.
UPS Battery Backup Systems
UPS systems provide near-instantaneous power when an interruption in service can result in loss of life, injury, data loss, inconvenience, or costly business interruption. Use a load calculator to determine the power you need and configure them in series or parallel for high voltage or high current.
Choosing the best battery for your needs depends on the battery’s load characteristics, cost, maintenance requirements, and self-discharge rate. Since most UPS systems use multiple cells, the cost depends on the number of batteries and the cabinet required. When batteries are connected in series, the battery voltage increases. Connecting batteries in parallel increase the current. Many systems use valve regulators or sealed lead-acid batteries because they require less maintenance and are less expensive. These batteries do not need to be topped up with fluid, but maintenance and inspection are important because excessive heat and evaporation reduce the charge and life of the battery.
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There are three categories of batteries in UPS systems: online, line-interactive, and standby.
Online UPS systems have an inverter that converts DC power to AC power during normal operation. And online systems offer the highest level of protection for sensitive equipment: they convert DC power to AC power. The system converts unused AC power back to DC power to charge the batteries.
Line-interactive systems regulate or supplement the power supply in case of under or overvoltage or power failure. UPS systems prevent power surges on AC outlets. This method is less expensive than in-line systems and provides reliable protection.
Standby systems are most often used on computers to protect them from low and high voltage. The battery is only activated if the mains voltage fails. UPS systems can be used to keep equipment running for a period of time, to store information, or to give you enough time to safely shut down the system or find an alternative power source.
Types of batteries for UPS systems
There are two types of batteries used in UPS systems: VRLA or sealed batteries and wet or flooded batteries. These types of batteries are ideal for UPS systems because they require minimal maintenance, offer long-term protection, and are cost-effective. VRLA batteries have a shorter lifespan but require less maintenance. Wet batteries last longer but require more frequent maintenance.
- Both types of batteries require proactive maintenance and testing.
- Parts should be cleaned, repaired, or replaced as necessary.
- It is also advisable to replace the arrays as soon as possible if aging is the cause.
- VRLA batteries should be serviced once a year, while wet cell batteries should be serviced four times a year.
- General battery maintenance includes measuring and recording temperature, humidity, and voltage.
- Adding distilled water to wet cells is essential for normal operation.
- Look for conditions that may cause battery failures, such as excessive cycling, lack of temperature control, improper charging, or environmental contamination.
Detailed records of maintenance, installation dates, and repairs can help document the need for replacement and reduce costs. Regular inspections can reveal anomalies and environmental causes of corrosion and defects. By following the battery manufacturer’s recommended service intervals and replacement times, you can be sure you have power in any situation.
Uninterruptible power supplies depend on proper battery selection and configuration, as well as careful maintenance. You may need to power a server for your business, protect vital medical equipment that must be kept at a certain temperature, or power an entire building. In tests, the storage batteries in the world’s largest UPS system, installed in Fairbanks, Alaska, generated 46 megawatts of electricity, enough to power an entire city.
Even if you don’t have the same aggressive demands as a city, your electricity needs are just as important to you. Choosing the right batteries, maintaining them, and replacing them before they are depleted is critical to the safety and reliability of your UPS system.