2023 Guide to the Best UPS Batteries Technologies

UPS battery systems, or uninterruptible power supplies, are crucial in a variety of applications. Having a steady, reliable, supply of power can mean the difference between a 24/7 business having to halt all productivity and losing millions, or it can even mean the difference between life or death in situations such as the medical system.

However, traditional UPS systems aren’t without their faults. In fact, there are a number of downsides that come with operating a UPS battery with currently popular technology.

Luckily, there’s a solution that has been gaining traction in the power supply industry, and it is capable of completely revolutionizing the way society’s most crucial industries operate.

The key is a transition to a lithium UPS power supply.

UPS vs. Battery Backups: Unraveling the Key Differences

Both UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and battery backups are designed to shield your devices from common power issues, such as surges or dips in power. These systems can be lifesavers, preventing:

  1. Damage to internal components.
  2. Corruption of the device’s operating system.
  3. Loss of unsaved data.

Yet, it’s essential to understand that UPS and battery backups aren’t the same. Here’s what sets them apart:

Power Filtering Process: Battery backups might not always spring into action for minor fluctuations like flickering or brownouts. In contrast, a UPS ensures these inconsistencies are smoothed out, offering a steady power flow to crucial devices.

Power Conversion Mechanics: UPS systems typically manage power in AC form, converting it to DC when charging. However, they stand out because, even during a power outage, a UPS can convert DC back to AC, ensuring appliances continue to run. On the other hand, standard batteries primarily deal with DC, both in storing and discharging.

Variety and Classification: When diving into battery backups, you’ll find a wide array of categories, each boasting different features and benefits. UPS, on the other hand, has a more straightforward classification: offline UPS, line-interactive UPS, and online UPS.

In a nutshell, while both UPS and battery backups offer protection against power problems, understanding their distinct functionalities can help you choose the best solution for your needs.

How to Make a Choice on UPS and Battery Backup

When weighing the options between battery backups and UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems, consider the value and function of the devices you’re aiming to protect.

Battery Backups: These are ideal for everyday devices, like personal computers at homes or in small offices. Why? Because they’re cost-effective. If you have a PC mainly for casual use, like browsing or gaming, there’s no need to splurge on a high-end protection system. In essence, for lower-cost devices, a battery backup is often sufficient.

UPS Systems: However, when it comes to safeguarding mission-critical devices, such as corporate servers or essential equipment in a data center, a UPS system is the way to go. While it might be pricier than a simple battery backup, the protection it offers is unparalleled. For businesses where even a momentary power interruption can result in significant losses, investing in a robust UPS system is a no-brainer.

In conclusion, think about your device’s role and value when choosing between battery backups and UPS systems. This way, you ensure optimal protection without breaking the bank.

Understanding UPS Batteries: Their Role and Importance

Why Use UPS Batteries?

From ensuring continuous power to life-saving medical devices to keeping surveillance cameras operational, UPS batteries play a pivotal role in providing uninterrupted power. Often confused with regular battery backups, understanding the unique capabilities of a UPS battery system can be instrumental in determining the right fit for your power requirements.

The Unique Function of a UPS Battery

Unlike a standard battery backup that might have a delayed response to power interruptions, a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) battery acts as a bridge, instantly providing power during unforeseen power glitches. This is crucial in scenarios where even a minor delay in power transition could be catastrophic.

Imagine a bustling hospital or a critical banking system – a few minutes of downtime can result in dire consequences. This is where UPS batteries step in. They’re engineered to react immediately to power losses, offering a quick surge of power. This ensures that there’s zero downtime until your primary backup system, whether it’s a generator or another form of backup, takes over the power supply.

In essence, while a UPS battery may seem like a simple component, its rapid response can be the difference between seamless operations and potentially detrimental power gaps.

Understanding UPS Batteries Types and Their Features

The Three Core UPS Battery Categories Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) come in various configurations, tailored to meet diverse power needs. At the heart of these are three primary types of UPS batteries: standby, line-interactive, and on-line. Each type brings a unique approach to maintaining power continuity. Here’s a breakdown:

1. Standby UPS Batteries

Standby UPS systems, at their core, have three components: the surge/noise filter, battery, and an inverter/charger. Under regular power conditions, these UPS batteries simply relay input voltage, post surge/noise filtering, to the connected devices. They also keep their batteries charged and ready for situations like blackouts or brownouts. When such a power issue arises, the UPS switches to battery mode, converting its DC power to AC to keep the equipment running. Ideal for places with stable voltage, they might not be the best choice where voltage fluctuations are frequent.

2. Line-Interactive UPS Batteries

Distinctive for its in-built voltage regulator, the line-interactive UPS is designed to handle voltage inconsistencies without leaning on its battery, thus ensuring longer battery life. Under standard power conditions, these UPS batteries employ both their surge/noise filter and the voltage regulator to deliver consistent power to connected devices while keeping the battery charged for emergencies. In the event of a blackout, the battery takes over, converting its DC power to AC for the devices. However, while these UPS batteries handle voltage dips and spikes, they don’t address harmonic distortions.

3. On-Line UPS Batteries

Taking a more advanced approach, on-line UPS systems continually process input power in two phases: first converting the AC input to DC and then reverting this DC back into clean AC power with a pure sine wave. This constant double-conversion ensures that connected devices receive pristine quality power, shielded from typical AC line issues. And, just like the other types, during blackouts, these UPS systems fall back on their batteries, converting the stored DC power into AC for the devices.

What Are the Types of UPS Batteries?

Three primary UPS battery variants exist, each having its distinct price range, durability, and upkeep necessities. Data center administrators weigh these factors to pinpoint the ideal UPS battery to match their distinct operational needs.

  1. Lead-acid UPS batteries: These batteries stand as a tested and trusted, budget-friendly option for UPS systems, delivering considerable storage at an affordable price. Their setbacks include a heftier weight, more frequent maintenance, and a comparatively reduced lifespan in relation to newer UPS battery innovations.
    • Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) UPS batteries: Commonly known as sealed batteries, VRLA batteries are encapsulated in polypropylene plastic, ensuring no acid leaks. They incorporate a safety valve that releases excessive internal gas pressure. Generally, VRLA batteries serve around five years and are designed for convenient maintenance due to their hot-swappable and user-friendly replacement features.
    • Vented lead-acid (VLA) UPS batteries: Also termed as flooded batteries, VLAs are renowned for reliability, outlasting VRLA batteries in service life. Their limitations lie in potential safety risks, necessitating a separate room for storage, distancing them from other tech equipment.
  2. Nickel-cadmium (NiCad) UPS batteries: NiCad batteries are optimal for UPS functions in areas with elevated ambient temperatures. They boast a 20-year design lifespan and can sustain profound discharges efficiently. However, they come at a steeper price and incorporate hazardous substances, raising safety issues and making their disposal and recycling more intricate.
  3. Lithium-ion UPS batteries: As a modern entrant in UPS battery tech, lithium-ion batteries present multiple perks. Though their initial cost is on the higher side, their overall expenditure is generally reduced. This is attributed to their longevity, which surpasses VRLA batteries by twofold, their adaptability to elevated temperatures, minimal cooling needs, and lesser maintenance demands. Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries are compact, lightweight, and recharge swiftly, enhancing operational time. Integrated monitoring features make them a trustworthy solution for averting operational interruptions.

What’s Wrong with Traditional UPS Power Solutions?

Uninterruptable power systems aren’t new. They’ve supported data centers, tech-based industries, and various other industries for decades. However, they have always had a number of drawbacks that make them costly and less reliable.

First, there’s the cost of using them. Not only can they be expensive to set up, but they require excessive cooling solutions to prevent them from overheating and suffering catastrophic failures, and they don’t last very long. Most lead-acid UPS systems only have a lifespan of 1000 charging cycles. When the batteries are used constantly, as is the case of a UPS system, they burn out quickly and require replacement units. They’re also not energy-efficient. As lead-acid batteries typically only perform at 70% efficiency compared to a 12 volt lithium battery that operates at 95% efficiency.

All those factors lead to increased overhead costs.

However, their lower lifespans and inefficient energy usage also damage their reliability. If a UPS solution fails suddenly, it can bring all productivity to a halt, resulting in tons of lost data, and generally wreak havoc on any business model that relies on it.

There are also safety concerns due to outdated technology that’s used and better options being available, but we’ll cover that shortly.

Why Lithium Has Been Slow to Take Over

Lithium batteries aren’t new, either. 12 volt lithium batteries have been staples of several industries for decades.

So, if they’re the solution to the problems we talked about in the above section, why aren’t they commonplace in every industry already?

This has to do with the initial cost and some concerns that were common with earlier models of lithium batteries. While they’re much better now, and we’ll focus on that in the following section, they weren’t always perfect for UPS usage.

Beyond costing a lot more than lead-acid batteries because they were new technology, old lithium batteries also weren’t capable of performing well under extreme loads. This is no longer an issue, but older models were known to swell and combust when they were exposed to excessive heat or prolonged usage.

That was a major problem that made older lithium batteries unsuitable for UPS solutions, but modern tech advances have changed that; along with the tech landscape itself.

Top 6 advantages of using a battery for ups systems - manly

What Benefits Do Modern Lithium UPS Battery Systems Offer?

While lithium UPS battery systems were largely ignored for some time due to cost and safety concerns, that has changed.

Now, lithium batteries are set to take over as the dominant battery option for UPS solutions.

Here are the reasons why.

1: Lower Costs

While lithium batteries are still more expensive than lead-acid options up front, they’re no longer the financial burden they used to be. Like with all tech, lithium batteries were largely unaffordable when they first came out, but as manufacturing methods were refined, and the tech became more desirable, prices dropped.

Now, the price difference is almost entirely negligible when you consider the other benefits we’ll be talking about.

2: Longer Lifespans

This is one of the most meaningful advantages of modern lithium batteries. They can be charged, depleted, and recharged, far more than a lead-acid battery.

In fact, a lithium battery can be charged between 3000 and 5000 cycles depending on the charging method used, the general treatment of the battery, and of course, the quality of the battery.

Even if you only look at the low side of that range, that’s three times longer than the average lead-acid battery that can only withstand roughly 1000 charge cycles before it’s fully depleted.

This provides a number of secondary benefits.

Obviously, it means that the battery lasts longer, and that means you have to spend less time ordering replacements, getting them set up, and taking time out of your day-to-day operations.

However, it also lowers your overhead costs. The total cost of ownership of a lithium UPS system is now 10%, or even 15%, lower compared to a traditional lead-acid battery. This negates the slightly higher upfront cost and still provides overall long-term savings.

This also makes lithium batteries more eco-friendly. While you might only get 5 years of use out of a lead-acid battery, you can get between 10 and 15 years of use out of a lithium battery on the same system. Meaning that production requirements and demand are dramatically lower.

Finally, because the batteries last longer, there are fewer interruptions in your day-to-day operations, and you don’t need to prepare ahead of time for battery replacements nearly as often.

3: Smaller Profile

One major issue that has always affected lead-acid batteries, and the initial lineup of lithium batteries is the space required to house them.

However, while lead-acid batteries used for UPS solutions are still massive, lithium batteries have come a long way. So much so that modern lithium batteries take up 80% less space than a standard lead-acid battery used for the same purpose. This allows for smaller cooling solutions, less room dedicated to the UPS, and easier movement of parts if the system needs to be altered.

Of course, different battery models have different size restraints, but modern lithium batteries are at least 50% smaller than their lead-acid counterparts in practically every situation.

4: Safety

Safety is a number-one priority for any good business. When a company is using a UPS, as in a data center for example, not only is safety a priority to prevent injuries, but a failed battery causing a fire can also be catastrophic and result in permanent data loss.

Lithium batteries prevent this.

The problem with earlier models was the chamber system used to house the cells of the battery. As with all technology, advances have made it possible to not only bring lithium batteries up to par with lead-acid batteries in terms of safety, but they’re actually a lot safer, now.

Due to better chambers, short circuit protection, overcurrent protection, automatic temperature cutoffs, and various other high-tech features, it’s extremely unlikely that safety issues will arise when using a modern lithium UPS battery system.

5: Recharge Speed

You’ll likely have multiple batteries in use if you’re running a UPS, but being able to charge each depleted battery quickly is still key to ensure you never have to shut down and wait for a battery to be ready.

Lithium batteries charge 10x faster than lead-acid options.

In just an hour, you can expect a lithium battery to go from fully depleted to 100% charged. In comparison, old lead-acid batteries can take up to 10 hours to charge. That produces serious problems if you’re not on top of your charging needs or if your backup battery depletes while you’re waiting for a battery to charge.

6: Staying Ahead of the Curve

Finally, there’s the simple fact that lithium UPS battery systems are the future. Lead-acid batteries have already been slowly phased out of popularity in various other areas. Look at the 12-volt lithium batteries used in power tools, consumer electronics, and various other items. Those used to be powered by lead-acid and alkaline batteries. UPS battery systems have only held onto lead-acid for this long due to outdated concerns when it comes to high-stress battery usage.

Now that lithium batteries are advanced enough to be cost-effective, reliable, safe, and more convenient than lead-acid batteries, you’ll start to see a shift in the way companies handle their UPS battery system needs.

Not getting on board with lithium batteries now can leave your business behind the curve and struggling to keep up.

The result is similar to a tech-heavy startup using an outdated Windows version and 1999 computers, or a mechanic’s shop using outdated tools that don’t take advantage of modern car systems. All the companies that do adopt the new technology end up performing better in the market.

Top 6 advantages of using a battery for ups systems - manly

Finding the Right Lithium Battery Supplier for Your UPS Needs

Of course, all of this is only relevant if you get the right battery supplier for your UPS battery system needs. If you opt for a low-quality supplier to cut costs, or you don’t vet a company first, you can end up with major problems.

MANLY Battery has been a major provider to industries across the globe for 10 years, and we have revolutionized the lithium-ion battery market with the latest high-tech features, bespoke battery manufacturing, and of course, a focus on quality and customer service.

If you’re looking to upgrade from an old lead-acid UPS battery system to lithium, contact MANLY Battery, today.