Five things UPS battery suppliers in the UK recommend to extend the lifespan of your batteries and UPS systems.
A UPS will only protect your critical systems if, in turn, you protect your UPS. Not only must it perform precisely as needed when needed, but in most data-centres, its longevity is a significant overhead. Batteries do not last forever, but they are not the only part that can deteriorate. If capacitors, fans or logic control boards misbehave, the batteries can be damaged or deteriorate faster. Likewise, faulty batteries left inside your UPS may accelerate issues in other critical components.
Regular automatic system battery tests are better than no tests at all, but they are often inconvenient and provide little guarantee. They only tell you that the unit switched in successfully on the last occasion – not the next one. They provide no specific information about the charge, current stability, duration, recharge time and a variety of other parameters that are important to provide the peace of mind you need.
Understandably, all professional UPS battery suppliers in the UK will stress the importance of regular maintenance inspections, but by remembering a few basic principles you will be able to get the maximum durability from every battery.
Don’t store batteries for long periods
If you run a large data centre, it is always tempting to ‘stock-up’ on spare or emergency batteries, but whether a battery is installed into a UPS string or not, it can actually deteriorate faster when not used. UPS battery suppliers in the UK recommend keeping at least 80% charge in them, and a little discharging and recharging is a good thing. Performing this every three months will extend the life of your batteries and is also an opportunity to test their charge and other operating parameters.
Maintain healthy temperatures
Batteries don’t like heat, but they don’t like low temperatures either. We all know it can be hard to start a car on a cold morning so if your UPS is housed externally, this is a concern. More often, of course, the problem is high temperatures, a problem most data centres are used to. The safe ambient temperature for battery performance is roughly 20-25 Celsius. Although they actually perform better electrically near the higher end of that range, they will last substantially longer when kept near the lower end (about 20C).
Good air quality helps prevent dust building up around vents in servers, disk arrays and UPS enclosures, and impeding their fans, but in the case of batteries, one of the main things you should be watching for is corrosion. Any kind of corrosion on terminals impedes current and makes the unit work harder. The harder it works, the sooner it is likely to fail, so regularly cleaning terminals, re-greasing and tightening cables can make a direct contribution to how much life you get from your batteries.
Points of corrosion, and other electrical problems, often reveal themselves to an infrared scanner. Hot units, hot cables and hot internal components may have a corrosion problem or something worse, so regular scanning for hotspots is a valuable exercise.
Remove faulty units promptly
Even when you buy a whole string of identical batteries at the same time, it is still possible for one to drift away from its correct operating values before the others. Leaving it in place can be an expensive mistake. The old saying “one rotten apple” is certainly true of batteries – so the entire string may suffer and all will need replacement sooner than you would expect.
That is why UPS battery suppliers in the UK stress the importance of regular impedance testing of the individual cells. No cell with 50% more impedance than its proper baseline value should ever be left in place. Regular testing lets you chart how they change over time so you can predict precisely when you need to intervene.
Get help from UPS battery suppliers in the UK
Professional maintenance also involves testing battery discharging, load tests (functional, steady-state and transient responses), filter integrity, I/O harmonic distortion analysis, conductance tests, calibration and protection settings, and a visual inspection of components (notably capacitors). Even for a large data centre, the resource, equipment and instrument calibration requirements are substantial. Specialists do it quicker, cheaper, provide guarantees, perform on the spot replacements and dispose of old batteries safely.