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Battery failure is the leading cause of the majority of UPS catastrophes. Although batteries have a weakness for premature failures, you don't have to be a casualty. DPS is going to run through the top five causes of premature battery failure and how we can prevent it.

UPS batteries are electro-chemical devices with the ability to store and deliver power but they slowly deteriorate over time. No matter how well you maintain, store and use your batteries, they will still require replacement when they have reached their end of life.

The general service life of a standard Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) battery is three to five years. Conversely, there are a number of environmental, chemical and user-related factors that can significantly affect a battery's life.

Characteristics that Cause Premature Battery Failure

Nothing can be done to prevent a battery from eventually reaching its end-of-service life. However, avoiding the following mistakes can help ensure a maximum lifespan.

1. Poor storage of unused batteries-

Even as a battery sits idle, its lifetime begins to lessen. That's because lead-acid batteries inevitably discharge small amounts of energy even while being properly stored.

To lengthen a battery's storage life, we recommend you charge it every 3 to 4 months of storage. If you don't, you could see a permanent loss of capacity in as little as 6 months. You can also elongate your unused battery's storage life by storing it at a temperature of 50°F (10°C) or less.

2. High ambient temperatures -

The rated capacity of every battery is based on an ambient temperature of 77°F (25°C). Any difference, but especially increased temperature, can affect performance and lifecycle. As an overall rule, for every 15°F above the suggested ambient temperature, the expected life of the battery is reduced by 50 percent. Regular maintenance checks can help detect thermal hotspots and verify proper ventilation.

3. Over-cycling -

After a UPS functions on battery power during a power outage, the battery recharges for future use, an event called the discharge cycle. When a battery is installed, it is at 100 percent of its rated capacity. However, each discharge and preceding recharge slightly reduces the capacity of the battery.

4. Improper float voltage -

Every battery producer will specify the required charging voltage for their own cell design. If a battery is consistently charged outside of these parameters, it can cause significant harm to the batteries internal cells.

Undercharging or low voltage can cause sulfate crystals to form on the battery plates. These crystals will ultimately harden and reduce the available capacity of the battery over time.

Overcharging with a float voltage that is too high can cause unnecessary hydrogen and oxygen gases and can lead to internal dry out that, once fast-tracked, can cause thermal runaway - resulting in failure or even fire and eruption.

5. Incorrect battery application -

UPS batteries are made specifically for UPS's; just as other batteries are made specifically for their individual purposes. UPS batteries are built to deliver extremely high rates of energy for a short time, commonly up to 15 minutes.

Conversely, other batteries, such as telecom and switchgear batteries, are designed to run for longer periods of time, normally between four and eight hours. If a user runs a telecom application with a UPS battery, it will force the battery to run for much longer than its intended purpose. This could cause the battery's internal cells to overheat and fail.

The most common failure of a Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) Battery is an open circuit, most often caused by cell dry out. UPS systems normally have a series connected battery string to provide a high amount of current to the UPS DC Bus. If one cell in a string opens, it will break the current in the entire string. In short, just one failed battery cell can bring down your entire back up system.

How Regular UPS Maintenance Checks Prevent Battery Failures

Preventative maintenance includes visual inspection, battery voltage testing, thermal image scans to test for hot or abnormal conditions, and retesting the torque on the battery terminal connections. If tests show any irregularities, we can determine how critical the situation is and if it makes sense to replace the batteries.

Consistent battery service and maintenance is dire in ensuring the dependability of your UPS. Preventative maintenance not only helps connections and removes oxidization, but it can also identify a corrupt battery before a complete failure occurs.

You can't make your UPS battery last forever, but with the proper storage, care and maintenance, you can prolong its usable lifespan, and catch a failing battery before tragedy strikes.

Is your Uninterruptible Power System ready for this coming storm season? Learn more about battery testing, maintenance, and replacement. Contact DPS today for service quotes based on your individual equipment needs.