Posted by & filed under News.

It’s a well-known fact in the industry that the battery is the most vulnerable part of a UPS. In fact, battery failure is a leading cause of load loss. Understanding how to properly maintain and manage UPS batteries can not only extend battery service life, but it can also help prevent costly downtime.

The most common type of battery used in today’s UPSs is the valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery, also known as a sealed or maintenance-free battery. VRLA batteries are sealed, usually within polypropylene plastic, which offers the advantage of not containing any sloshing liquid that might leak or drip. Because water cannot be added to VRLA batteries, recombination of water is critical to their life and health. In addition, any factor that increases the rate of evaporation or water loss, such as temperature or heat from the charging current, reduces the life of the battery.

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to UPS battery maintenance.

  1. What is the “end of useful life?”
    The IEEE defines “end of useful life” for a UPS battery as being the point when it can no longer supply 80% of its rated capacity in ampere-hours. When your battery reaches 80% of its rated capacity, the aging process accelerates, and you should replace it.
  2. Is there any difference between the batteries used by smaller UPSs (250VA to 3kVA range) and the ones used by larger UPSs?
    While basic battery technology — and the risks to battery life — remain the same regardless of UPS size, there are some inherent differences between large and small applications. First, smaller UPSs typically have only one VRLA battery that supports the load and requires maintenance. As systems get larger, increasing battery capacity to support the load gets more complicated. Larger systems may require multiple strings of batteries, introducing complexity to battery maintenance and support. Individual batteries must be monitored to prevent a single bad battery from taking down an entire string and putting the load at risk. In addition, as systems get larger, the use of wet-cell batteries become much more common.
  3. My UPS has been in storage for more than a year. Are the batteries still good?
    As batteries sit unused, with no charging regimen, their life will decrease. Due to the self-discharge characteristics of lead-acid batteries, it is recommended you charge them every three to four months of storage. Otherwise, permanent loss of capacity will occur between 18 and 30 months. To prolong shelf life without charging, store batteries at 10°C (50°F) or less.
  4. What is the difference between hot-swappable and user-replaceable batteries?
    Hot-swappable batteries allow the batteries to be changed out while the UPS is running. User-replaceable batteries are usually found in smaller UPSs and require no special tools or training to replace. Batteries can be both hot-swappable and user-replaceable.
  5. How is battery runtime affected if I reduce the load on the UPS?
    The battery runtime will increase if the load is reduced. As a general rule, if you reduce the load by half, you triple the runtime.
  6. If I add more batteries to a UPS, can I add more load?
    Adding more batteries to a UPS can increase the battery runtime to support the load. However, adding more batteries to the UPS does not increase the capacity of the UPS. Be sure your UPS is adequately sized for your load, then add batteries to fit your runtime needs.
  7. What is the average lifespan of UPS batteries?
    The standard lifespan for VRLA batteries is three to five years. However, expected life can vary greatly due to environmental conditions, number of discharge cycles, and adequate maintenance. Have a regular schedule of battery maintenance and monitoring to ensure you know when your batteries are reaching the end of their life.
  8. Does the UPS need to have a load on it to charge its batteries?
    Generally, the UPS does not require a minimum load to charge its batteries. Once connected to a standard supply of electricity (via input plug or hardwiring), your UPS should charge its batteries regardless of how much load, if any, is attached to it.
  9. How can you ensure UPS batteries are in good condition and have maximum holdover in the event of a power failure?
    You should have the UPS and its batteries thoroughly inspected and tested by a trained field technician. On smaller UPS models, you can often initiate a self test of the unit by pressing a button on the front panel.

    Factors Affecting Battery Life
    All UPS batteries have a limited service life, regardless of how or where the UPS is deployed. Although determining battery life can be tricky, there are four primary factors that contribute to a battery’s overall lifespan.

    Ambient temperature
    Because the rated capacity of a battery is based on an ambient temperature of 25°C (77°F), any variation can affect performance and reduce battery life. For every 8.3°C (15°F) average annual temperature above 25°C (77°F), the life of the battery is reduced by 50%.

    Battery chemistry
    UPS batteries are electro-chemical devices whose ability to store and deliver power slowly decreases over time. Even if all guidelines for storage, maintenance, and usage are followed, batteries will still require replacement after a certain period of time.

    After a UPS operates on battery power during a power failure, the battery is recharged for future use, which is called the discharge cycle. At installation, the battery is at 100% of its rated capacity, but each discharge and subsequent recharge slightly reduces the relative capacity of the battery. Once the chemistry is depleted, the cells fail and the battery must be replaced.

    For larger UPS models, service and maintenance of batteries are critical to the reliability of the UPS. Periodic preventive maintenance not only extends battery string life by preventing loose connections and removing corrosion, but it can help identify ailing batteries before they fail. Even though sealed batteries are sometimes referred to as “maintenance-free,” they still require scheduled service, as “maintenance-free” refers only to the fact that they do not require replacement fluid.

  10. What is thermal runaway?
    Thermal runaway occurs when the heat generated in a lead-acid cell exceeds its ability to dissipate that heat, which can lead to an explosion, especially in sealed cells. The heat generated in the cell may occur without any warning signs and may be caused by overcharging, excessive charging, internal physical damage, internal short circuit, or a hot environment.
  11. Why do batteries fail?
    Batteries can fail for a multitude of reasons, but the most common causes include:

    • High or uneven temperatures
    • Inaccurate float charge voltage
    • Loose inter-cell links or connections
    • Loss of electrolyte due to drying out or a damaged case
    • Lack of maintenance/aging.
  12. How is battery performance typically measured?
    Batteries are generally rated for 100+ discharges and recharges. However, many batteries show a marked decline in charging capacity after as few as 10 discharges. The lower the charge the battery can accept, the less runtime it can deliver. Look for batteries with a high-rate design that sustains stable performance for a long service term.
  13. What should a UPS service plan cover?
    When evaluating service plans, pay special attention to what is and isn’t covered. Support agreements and warranties for large UPS models usually cover internal electronics only, with battery coverage available as an optional extra. A strong, comprehensive service plan should cover all of the following:

    • UPS electronics parts and labor coverage: This covers a UPS’s basic electrical components, excluding the battery.
    • UPS battery parts and labor coverage: To prevent UPS failure, batteries should be replaced at least every 5 yr. Batteries that are discharged frequently or used in a warm environment should be replaced more often.
    • Preventive maintenance: Preventive maintenance visits allow field technicians to annually inspect, test, calibrate, and upgrade UPS and/or battery components, ensuring factory-specified performance. You might also consider adding remote monitoring services to your maintenance plan.

Article written by Robert Sember, EAton Corp. – Electrical Construction & Maintenance
To read the entire article, please click here.

Posted by & filed under News.

It may not have quite the same acclaim as Valentine’s Day, but today marks a holiday that data center operators across the country can appreciate – National Battery Day. These useful power sources are crucial to a facility’s power reliability, especially when it comes to the uninterruptible power system (UPS) where they’re also one of the most vulnerable parts.

In fact, battery failure is a leading cause of load loss, and knowing how to maintain and manage your UPS batteries will extend their life and save you time and potential trouble in the future. When it comes to UPS deployments in larger systems, there are five primary factors to consider in maximizing battery life.

Shelf life, storage and acceptance testing

In order to improve service life expectations and reliability, it’s important to ensure that the batteries are properly stored prior to being installed and placed into service. Storage facilities should be climate controlled with proper ventilation capabilities so batteries can be kept cool and dry. Failure to comply with proper storage will lead to shortened runtimes and reduced capacity.

All battery manufacturers have shelf life and storage parameters. A rule of thumb, in terms of time, is no more than six months of storage in a properly designed storage facility.

To validate runtime and capacity expectations, an acceptance test should be performed. The acceptance test will be able to determine if there are any flaws within the manufacturing process, improper storage or perhaps even hidden damage as a result of shipping and handling. This test might be the most important and best valued test that any operator can have performed to ensure reliability of the battery systems when they’re needed most.

Ambient temperature

The rated capacity of a lead acid battery is based on an ambient temperature of 77°F (25°C). It’s important to realize that any variation from this operating temperature can alter the battery’s performance and shorten its expected life. To help determine battery life in relation to temperature, remember for every 15°F average annual temperature above 77°F, the life of the battery is reduced by 50 percent. Ambient temperatures below 77°F may reduce the battery backup time, similar to a car battery on a cold morning.

Battery chemistry

UPS batteries are electrochemical devices whose ability to store and deliver power slowly decreases over time. Even if you follow all the guidelines for proper storage, usage and maintenance, batteries still require replacement after a certain period of time.

Positive grid corrosion has been the most common end-of-life factor for UPS batteries, which is a result of the normal aging process due to UPS battery chemistry and involves the gradual breakdown of the inner segments of the positive grid within the battery.


During a utility power failure, a UPS operates on battery power. Once utility power is restored, or a switch to generator power is complete, the battery is recharged for future use. This is called a discharge cycle. At installation, the battery is at 100 percent of rated capacity. Each discharge and subsequent recharge reduces its relative capacity by a small percentage. The length and quantity of discharge cycles determine the reduction in battery capacity.

A good analogy is a loaf of bread. It can be sliced into many thin slices, or a few thicker slices. You still have the same amount of bread either way. Similarly, a UPS battery’s capacity can be used up over a large number of short cycles or fewer cycles of longer duration.

Lean-acid chemistry, like others used in rechargeable batteries, can only undergo a maximum number of discharge/recharge cycles before the chemistry is depleted. Once the chemistry is depleted, the cells fail and the battery must be replaced.


Battery service and maintenance are critical to UPS reliability. A gradual decrease in battery life can be monitored and evaluated through voltage checks, load testing or monitoring. Periodic preventive maintenance extends battery string life by preventing loose connections, removing corrosion and identifying bad batteries before they can affect the rest of the string.

Even though sealed batteries are sometimes referred to as maintenance-free, they still require scheduled maintenance and service. Maintenance-free simply refers to the fact that they don’t require added water.

Without regular maintenance, your UPS battery may experience heat-generating resistance at the terminals, improper loading, reduced protection and premature failure. With proper maintenance, the end of battery life can be accurately estimated and replacements scheduled without unexpected downtime or loss of backup power.

Batteries are a critical part of the UPS, and determining battery life can be a tricky business. It’s often promoted based on design life, defined as how long the battery can be expected to perform under ideal conditions.

Article written by Ed Spears, The DataCenter Journal
To read entire article, please click here.

Posted by & filed under APS Project List.

Project Name:
Verizon Wireless Data Center – CSP Network Equipment Center Expansion

Colorado Springs, CO

Primary Contractor:
GKK Works

Project Description:

Applied Power Services was selected to install (16) 480VDC, flooded battery strings at Verizon’s Network Equipment Center (NEC). Read more »

Posted by & filed under APS Project List.

Project Name:
Buckley Remote Terminal Fac. Recap. Design for the Mechanical and Electrical Systems in Building 1201

Buckley AFB – Aurora, CO

Project Description:
Applied Power Services was hired in January 2014 as a subcontractor for the UPS battery removal, and the installation of (3), 480VDC, flooded battery strings.

Project highlights included:

  • Battery Removal – Almost 200 flooded battery jars were removed.
  • Battery Recycling – Each battery was processed and delivered via OSHA regulated standards to a certified recycler.
  • Battery Rack Construction – (3) rows of battery rack were installed. This included the seismic anchoring for numerous wedge anchors to provide rack stability.
  • Flooded Battery Installation – Close to 200 flooded batteries were placed into the racks using a variety of hydraulic lifts and pallet jacks for ease of installation.
  • 480VDC Series Connections – All inner-cell connections were cleaned and greased with no-ox (anti-corrosion agent). These connections were all then bolted, tightened, and torqued to place the batteries into a series circuit.
  • Safety Procedures – All final connections were performed using a 12CAL arc-flash suit. During flooded battery installation, acid-proof aprons and face shield were used. APS workers carry with them fire-rated suits, hard hats, safety goggles, steel-toe boots, and cut-resistant gloves.