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Don’t Forget to Look After Your UPS Batteries!

16th, June 2020

An UPS or otherwise known as an Uninterruptible Power Supply system protects data centres and equipment from temporary power outages and power surges. UPS systems contain a battery backup system that stores incoming AC power for use when your utility electric power supply fails.

Where power fails the UPS will provide the power to run your data centre temporarily or allow sufficient time for you to shut it down in a controlled manner until the utility or Generator backed power returns. The length of the time that a UPS will provide support is known as ‘Run’ time and is dependent on the amount of battery capacity you have. Once the power comes back on, the UPS batteries are recharged ready for when needed next.

Data Centre UPS systems protect your servers, computers and other IT equipment from inconsistent voltage that can damage your equipment or cause it to malfunction. We all experience when in the office or in your home lights flicker due to a power surge, this is often little more than annoying but when you are transmitting data, these such moments can cause major problems for business.

When the electricity supply completely powers down, UPS systems provide backup power in those crucial moments before your generator kicks in, if of course you have one! If your equipment isn’t protected, it can be costly to your company, causing you to lose time, money and vital information which can be unrecoverable not to mention the unnecessary stressed caused.

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping a catastrophic event from occurring in your data centre. Therefore, your UPS should always be maintained and serviced. Not only can failure cause your equipment to disrupt your workflow, and can cost your company time and money, a poorly maintained UPS and batteries can deteriorate to a level where it presents a risk to personnel and technical infrastructure.

A UPS could be subject to severe damage by fire, thermal runaway, IGBT failure, capacitor, and fan damage. A capacitor could cause your system to spray oil all over your UPS or worse it could explode! If your fan stops working your system can overheat, causing numerous issues to your UPS. The batteries for your UPS are critical, they can overheat and cause thermal runaway.

Preventative maintenance is crucial to keeping your UPS working. By implementing a regular maintenance schedule, it will allow a qualified engineer to make sure your system is running efficiently, checking parts, and making sure that the batteries are in good working order.

Let us take a further look at what causes a UPS battery to fail.

Temperature
The most common reason for UPS battery failure is incorrect temperature or temperature variances. Optimum performance and the manufacturer’s average stated life is achieved if the lead acid battery temperature is maintained at between 22-25 ºC. If the temperature drops to below 22 ºC, batteries will underperform or sustain damage; temperatures above 25ºC will result in increased battery capacity but reduced battery life. As a guideline, every 8 ºC rise in temperature cuts the battery life in half. Therefore, if batteries are operating at 35 ºC, they are at risk of lasting only half of their 5-10 year expected life.

End of Life
Even if you follow all the guidelines correctly, UPS batteries won’t last forever. Over time, UPS batteries will lose their ability to deliver power and will eventually need replacing.

UPS Battery Discharge Cycle
A major contributory factor to reduced battery life is the number of battery discharge-recharge cycles. The amount of energy that a battery delivers during a discharge has a direct impact on the reduction of battery life. The main reason for this is the deterioration of the battery contacts. Constant discharging of batteries will cause them to reach their end of life prematurely. Short UPS activity due to compensating for swells and sags should be considered as battery discharge cycles.

If you don’t look after your UPS batteries, they’re much more likely to fail and given that they are an expensive investment you may not receive value for money due to poor maintenance. Regular maintenance and eventual replacement are necessary.

At Workspace Technology we undertake UPS PPM visits ensuring that our clients’ equipment is running as efficiently and effectively as possible and preventing the chance of downtime and a catastrophe.

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