Many people tend to purchase a battery and forget about it until the day something goes wrong. The only attention a battery gets is when it’s being installed or replaced. What most people are unaware of is that batteries actually require proper maintenance throughout their life in order to ensure their longevity.
Typically UPS Units use a type of batteries known as SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) Batteries. The lead and acid cause an electrolytic reaction in order to produce electricity, which is used in case of a power outage.
Power outages, however, are not extremely common. The lack of use of the battery may cause the sulfates in the electrolyte solution of the sulphuric acid to precipitate or simply fall out. As a result of this a layer of powdery substance accumulates over the battery’s lead plates.
This coverage ultimately degrades the efficiency of the battery. The reason for this is that it causes a hindrance in the contact between the acid and the battery. Once enough sulfate has covered up the lead plates, the acid would no longer be in contact with the battery resulting in an inability to generate electricity.
It may seem like a situation like this is inevitable and the only thing you could do about it is wait it out until it needs replacement. The best solution to this problem, however, is to reduce the sulfation effects by cycling the battery regularly.
Cycling refers to completely discharging and then recharging the battery. This periodic cycling can help remove sulfate deposits from the lead plates. Regular cycling provides the battery plates with regular exercise. This action successfully removes sulphate deposits. Periodically cycling would greatly increase the life of the battery.
Before any cycles are started, it’s important to backup and save any important data and information stored. While the chances of data loss are incredibly slim, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In order to start the periodic cycle, all you need to do is unplug your UPS from the electrical socket and power it off. Let the UPS run until the battery level reaches 60%. At the level of 60%, re-plug the device. While the UPS is discharging, the battery heat increases resulting in a release of sulphates from the plates, exposing conductive surfaces.
Cycling is one of the most effective methods of ensuring battery life longevity. Battery cycling, however, isn’t a complete solution. Even with periodic cycling, you will be required to replace the battery every 2 to 3 years. One good way of telling whether it’s time for a battery replacement or not is to run a diagnostic test.
Unplug the battery and wait until it reaches a level of 60%. If it does so in less than 5 minutes, then it is time to replace the battery.
Cycling should be done once in every few months in order to ensure you get the most out of your SLA batteries and economize the purchase.