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Should you convert your 3 Phase UPS to Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Batteries?

06 Dec 2017

Is Lithium Ion (Li-ion) a suitable replacement battery solution for your 3 phase Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) System?

We have received inquiries from our customers regarding possible conversion of their current VRLA or wet cell battery solutions to Li-ion for their UPS systems.

Of course, when Li-ion batteries are positioned to deliver a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) as compared to VRLA batteries, and promise several other benefits, we should expect to see a lot of excitement in the market.  

The most obvious effect is that new UPS seekers will now compare which battery technology makes the most sense for them.

But what about UPS owners that already have a battery system in place? Is converting existing batteries to Li-ion a good idea? Does it make sense?

The answer: It depends.

Okay, we won’t just leave you with that non-answer. Let me explain…

Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries have a lot of benefits.

To determine if a Li-ion battery conversion is a fit for you, it is important to consider several key factors.

1. Reduced footprint and weight

How does reduced footprint or weight benefit a UPS owner?

If your business looks at data center space (most likely whitespace), as a precious commodity; whether a business enabler, or revenue center, then it is possible reduced space equates to increased revenue generation or production.

But what about reduced weight…how does that benefit a UPS owner? Waistline jokes aside, reduced weight is important for those UPS owners who are located above the ground floor.

Have you ever had to constrain your battery or equipment floor loading due to weight restrictions? If so, you may benefit from Li-ion. In fact, Li-ion can also serve as an efficient way to solve that old generator problem too.

2. Longer life expectancy

Li-ion batteries are expected to last more than 10 years, reducing the burden and cost of battery replacements.

Do you have to notify all your clients each time maintenance is performed on the UPS?

Do you have to request funds every few years to replace your shorter-life batteries? Is this your first battery replacement for this UPS? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then Li-ion may be worth considering for your upcoming battery replacement.

3. Reduced cooling capacity 

Li-ion batteries are more tolerant to higher temperatures.  How does this benefit a UPS owner?

Simply put; if your data center or battery room design is calculating cooling needs for batteries, then Li-ion may help to save your utility costs due to cooling batteries.

4. Integrated Battery Monitoring System (BMS)

Li-ion batteries for UPS systems come standard with an integrated BMS that provides a clear picture of battery runtime and health.

Other battery solutions do not come standard with BMS and require a fair amount of on-site labor to install.

If BMS is something you have been considering for your battery system, Li-ion may be worth looking into.

Article by Michael O'Brien, Schneider Electric Data Center Blog

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