Chances are, you’ve heard the buzz about lithium-ion batteries in uninterruptible power systems (UPSs), but may have some questions — possibly even some misconceptions. If you’re skeptical about their safety, cost or reliability, keep reading. The reality is, over the past decade, great strides have been made to improve lithium-ion batteries for UPSs. As suppliers have developed new chemistries and technologies — making the class of batteries safer, more reliable and less expensive — lithium has increasingly become the go-to for major data center operators and colocation providers.
Now that lithium battery cabinets have been successfully tested and proven in mission-critical environments, several UPS manufacturers are unveiling single-phase models ideal for edge computing and a wide variety of other applications.
Because this battery technology is poised to be a veritable game changer in the UPS landscape, Unified Power is dedicating a five-part blog series to explore the timely topic. To begin with,consider six reasons why lithium batteries are proving ideal for such a wide variety of UPS environments:
1. Enhanced reliability — Lithium-ion’s advantages make for an impressive resume: longer predictable lifespan (up to 15 years), greater discharge cycle life, lower maintenance requirements and the ability to safely operate at higher ambient temperatures. Furthermore, another layer of reliability is afforded through a built-in battery management system (BMS). These combined benefits make lithium-ion battery failure very rare.
2. Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) — Just a few years ago, the price tag for lithium-ion batteries rang in at up to 10 times more than lead acid — a difference that has since plummeted to approximately 3 times greater and continues to decrease. Despite a slightly higher capital investment, lithium-ion batteries may reduce total cost of ownership by up to 30 percent compared to lead acid, thanks to lower operating costs and eliminating the need for regular battery replacement.
3. Safety — If you’re concerned that lithium-ion batteries might cause your UPS to explode or catch fire like the laptops and cell phones in viral videos,rest assured: to date, there hasn’t been a single case of a lithium battery-based UPS suffering a thermal event. It’s important to recognize that there are many different types of lithium chemistries, each offering varying degrees of security.Lithium iron phosphate — the ideal choice for UPS applications — not only boasts an exceptional safety record, but is also recognized as one of the best-performing, longest-lasting and most cost-effective chemistries. Protection is further by the internal BMS.
4. Less maintenance — Lithium-ion battery installations enable the “set it and forget it” mentality desired by today’s busy end users. The built-in BMS seamlessly monitors runtime and health, reducing labor requirements and costs. Lithium-ion batteries further ease UPS maintenance hassles by eliminating the need to continuously assess and swap out defective batteries, remove corrosion, check for loose connections and other upkeep tasks.
5. Reduced footprint — They say great things come in small packages, and lithium-ion batteries are no exception. In fact, the battery cabinets’ small footprint occupies approximately 50 percent less floor space than lead acid, freeing up valuable real estate. Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries weigh about a third less, which leads to savings on construction costs,shipping and transportation.
6. Cleaner and greener— Free of toxic materials and boasting a carbon footprint one-third the size of lead acid, lithium-ion batteries represent an environmentally friendly option. Even more, a promising new process that restores the cathodes in used lithium batteries using half the energy of current procedures will further enhance lithium’s green qualities when it becomes widely available.
Lithium-ion batteries clearly offer significant advantages over lead acid, with reliability being one of the most notable. In our next blog, we will dig deeper into exactly how the technology promotes high availability and safe, secure continuous operations for your organization.
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