OTTO Technology Solutions

UPS/Inverter Batteries

An understanding of the various operating parameters, maintenance requirements and cost is vital in choosing the most advantageous battery for your application requirments. This information does not favour one battery type over another, but only presents alternatives for consideration.


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  • Batteries are extremely application specific and need to be selected carefully, fortunately with our well trained team of experts, this in no problem, just contact us.
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As Uniterruptible Power Specialists, OTTO Technology Solutions often supplies batteries with a UPS and/or Inverter System and aids customers with their decision on battery selection. The following types of batteries are generally selected for use with a UPS/Inverter:

  • Lead Acid/Plante'
  • Lead Acid/Antimony
  • Lead Acid/Calcium
  • Lead Acid/Calcium, Maintenance-free Liquid Electrolyte
  • Lead Acid/Calcium, Maintenance-free Gelled Electrolyte, Sealed
  • Lead Acid (Special Alloy), Suspended Electrolyte, Maintenance-free
  • Nickel Cadmium, Pocket Plate Liquid Electrolyte

Sizing information charts which show manufacturers names are used for illustrative purposes only. Where an example of various types are referenced, some of the suitable sized batteries available are reflected for moderately sized UPS's (In the range of 10 - 200 kVA).

Battery Type:

Lead Acid Plante'

This battery is manufactured by utilizing a lead grid framework into which lead oxide paste or pure lead is applied. The plates are then formed by applying an electric current (charging) which forms lead dioxide on the positive plate and sponge (porous) lead on the negative plate. Since lead paste and the grid framework is rather soft, special care must be exercised in the construction of these batteries. As a result, these batteries are more expensive than some other types (For example 2-2 1/2 times the cost of lead acid/calcium battery). Note: Since the lead acid/calcium battery is the most commonly used battery for UPS back-up in South Africa today, this battery will be used as a reference for comparing the other battery types.

The Plante' battery is both mechanically and electrically durable. It is able to provide approximately 1,000 - 1,200 full discharges during its 25 year warranted life. This battery will also likely deliver its full rated capacity after 25 years of operation. Maintenance, especially watering, is low and the Plante' battery can tolerate operation at high temperatures better than the various lead acid alloyed types, i.e., calcium, antimony, etc. (Note: Batteries are normally rated at the nominal temperature of 77°F (25°C). Because this type of battery generates hydrogen gas when charging and because the sulphuric acid electrolyte does evaporate to some extent, these batteries must be used in a room which is well ventilated to the outside and kept away from delicate electronic equipment. Examples of some available types include Chloride type YAP, YCP, YHP, Yuasa-Exide type, Manchex DMP, EMP.

Lead Acid/Antimony

This battery is manufactured by utilizing a lead antimony allowed in the grid construction which increases the strength of the plates. Thus, special and expensive mechanical construction is not necessary. This lead acid/antimony battery is able to provide approximately 1,000 - 1,200 full discharges during its 15 year warranted life. Hydrogen gas generation and consequential water usage is approximately ten times that of the lead acid/Plante' and the lead acid/calcium battery. Adequate ventilation becomes more important. The frequency of maintenance, water addition, also increases. There is also a need for periodic monthly equalization. At the end of 15 years, the lead acid antimony battery will have lost approximately 20% of its original capacity. This battery may be selected where frequent discharging is expected. Initial cost is approximately the same as the lead acid/calcium battery. Examples of some available types of lead acid/antimony batteries include Chloride type FAP, FCP; C&D type DU, KC, KCW LCW, LC; Yuasa-Exide type CA, ET, EA, GT, GA; GNB type MAT, NAT, DS, DKR, MAX, NAX.

Lead Acid/Calcium

The lead acid/calcium battery is manufactured by utilizing a lead calcium alloy grid in the grid construction to increase the strength of the plates. Hydrogen gas generation and consequential water consumption is the same as the lead acid/Plante' battery. This battery, when maintained at a float voltage of 2.25 volts/cell, does not require routine equalization and it is capable of only approximately 100 full discharges during its 20 year warranted life. As with most UPS applications, the battery will be floating on the charger most of the time, and even when discharged, may not normally be fully discharged. This battery offers an excellent cost versus service reliability advantage. It is, in fact, the most popular battery worldwide for UPS back-up. At the end of 20 years, it will have lost approximately 20% of its original capacity. Examples of some available types of lead acid/calcium batteries include: GNB type DSC, MCX NCX PDQ; C&D type DCU, XT; Yuasa-Exide type CC, KU, EC, DX, FTC, GU, GC.

Lead Acid/Calcium Maintenance-Free Liquid Electrolyte

The lead acid/calcium battery is designed for 3-5 years of maintenance-free operation. It utilizes a high specific gravity electrolyte with a large electrolyte capacity. This battery carries one year full replacement warranty and a five year expected life when used in a float application such as a UPS back-up. This battery will gas the same as the lead acid/calcium battery, consequently, ventilation is required. Initial cost compared to an equal size lead acid/calcium (20 year life) battery is approximately 35 - 50%. This battery is presently manufactured in only a limited number of sizes; therefore, it becomes necessary to parallel banks for longer back-up times or for larger UPS equipment. Since it is more expensive to parallel smaller battery banks than to supply a single large bank, the price advantage is quickly lost when a system would require a large number of parallel banks. Example of an available type of maintenance-free lead acid/calcium batteries is: Delco-Remy.

Lead Acid/Calcium Gelled Electrolyte (Gel-Cell) Sealed

The gelled electrolyte sealed lead acid/calcium maintenance-free battery is designed for up to 20 years of operation requiring no routine maintenance and carries a one-year full replacement warranty. Because this battery is sealed, it vents no gas into the atmosphere under normal operating conditions. The batteries will vent to release pressure as a safety precaution when a specific internal pressure is reached. Because the battery is sealed, the hydrogen and oxygen gas generated during charging recombines immediately within the cell. This sealed battery can safely be used in an unventilated room making it suitable for applications where ventilation would be expensive or impractical. Since it is sealed and has a gelled electrolyte, it can be used in any position and will not leak electrolyte even if the case becomes cracked. Cost is approximately 60-70% of the standard lead acid/calcium battery of equal size. This battery also has a high energy density, meaning it is physically smaller than an equal lead acid (liquid electrolyte) battery.

Lead Acid (Special Alloy), Suspended Electrolyte, Sealed

The lead acid (special alloy) battery is the newest sealed battery appearing on the market utilizing an electrolyte that is suspended in porous material. There is no liquid to spill. It is completely sealed venting gas only as a safety precaution under high internal pressure. This battery can be used in an office environment or in an unventilated room. It is totally maintenance-free battery with a warranted life of up to 20 years and an expected life of approximately 10 - 14 years. It has a high energy density and is physically smaller than an equal lead acid battery. Its cost is approximately 1 to 1.2 times that of the lead acid/calcium battery. Examples of this type of battery include: (Hawker) Chloride type VA, VC, VB.

Nickel Cadmium - Pocket Plate, Liquid Electrolyte

Nickel cadmium or NICAD batteries are the most expensive of the various types of batteries previously discussed. Initial costs are approximately three times that of the lead acid/calcium battery. Although 92 cells of nickel cadmium are required to equal 60 cells of lead acid, this battery still has the advantage of being smaller in size and weight for a given capacity. These batteries do not experience the severe shortening of life when operated at elevated temperatures and performs better at low temperatures than do the lead acid batteries. NICAD batteries do emit hydrogen and oxygen gas, products of electrolysis, but there are no corrosive gases as it true with lead acid types. Consequently, they can be installed directly next to delicate electronic equipment. When maintained at the recommended float voltage, periodic equalization is not required. Water consumption is relatively low and, consequently, so is maintenance. Normal service life should extend beyond the warranted 20 years. Examples of some available types of NICAD batteries include: Chloride type VHP, MP, EP, LP; Saft/Nife type H, M, L.

Chart 1 summarizes the features of the various types of batteries discussed in this paper. Remember that these batteries require routine maintenance and have costs associated with that maintenance over the life of the battery. Maintenance can range from none at all for maintenance-free types, to monthly visual checks and quarterly measurements of voltages and specific gravity, all of which must be completed and recorded in order to maintain the warranty.

It should be noted that in the same installations, for example an EDP installation, a four or five year life may be all that is required with the thought in mind that in four years the entire computer system may be out-dated and replaced with a new "state-of-the art" device requiring a different size UPS and batteries

Battery Sizing

Battery manufacturers provide various types of information for sizing batteries. All battery sizing calculations in this article have assumed a standard room temperature of 77°F (25°C). Batteries which will be operated at higher or lower temperatures continuously should be calculated specifically for that temperature. Your UPS or battery supplier can assist you with these calculations. Generally, this information is supplied in one of three ways:

  • Kilowatts per cell
  • Kilowatts per bank
  • Ampere per cell

Normally information supplied for lead acid batteries designed for short discharge times (5-120 minutes) is in the form of kilowatts per cell calculated for various back-up times. Therefore, it is important to first calculate the total kilowatts required to operate the particular UPS at a given load (usually assuming full load).

Equation 1

Example Calculation: Determine the battery required for a 20 kVA UPS operating at full load with an efficiency of 86%, a load power factor of 0.8 and no additional DC loads. The UPS is a 130 VDC system requiring 60 cells of lead acid batteries and requiring 30 minutes of back-up time. Utilizing the preceding formula, the kW / cell equals .310.

Equation 2

The UPS manufacturer will also recommend the battery be discharged to a specific end voltage per cell. For a 60 cell lead acid battery, this will normally be 105V per bank or 1.75 volts/cell. Utilizing the battery manufacturer's supplied information, such as that in Figure 1 for this 20 kVA UPS, 60 cells of either 3CX-11 are required which will supply 19.4 kW (0.324kW x 60 cells) for 30 minutes.

Figure 1

Long term discharge lead acid batteries and most nickel cadmium batteries are sized using charts expressed in available amps for specified periods of time. The battery supplying a UPS will be delivering less current when the batter is at 120" than will be necessary as the battery discharges down to a lower voltage. Consequently, one must determine an "average current for the particular UPS. For these calculations, it is recommended that one calculate battery current based upon 104% of the final end voltage of the battery bank. For example, 60 cells with an end voltage of 1 .75V/cell will equal 105V/Bank. Consequently, 104% of 105V equals 109V. An average current will be calculated at this voltage.

Equation 3

Example Calculation: Determine the battery required for a 20 kVA operating at full load with an efficiency of 86%, a load power factor of 0.8 and 30 amps of additional DC loads. The UPS is 130 VDC system requiring 92 cells of nickel cadmium batteries and requiring three hours of back-up time. Utilizing the preceding formula:

Equation 4

The UPS manufacturer has recommended an end voltage of 105V per bank or 1.14V per cell for the 92 cell bank. Using Figure 2 for this 20 kVA UPS and additional 30 amp DC load, 92 cells of HB705P are required which will supply 213 amps for three hours.

Figure 2

Battery Charger Sizing

Once a battery has been discharged, it is important to restore the battery to full charge as quickly as possible in order to be prepared for the next power outage and, in the case of all lead acid batteries, to prevent permanent damage to the battery. In general, a short term discharge battery can be recharged to 85% capacity in 8-10 times the discharge time. A long term discharge battery can be recharged to 85% capacity in a minimum of 8 hours provided the charger is sized properly. The following formula can be used to calculate battery charger size. Assuming the UPS is a float configuration where the charger also supplies the inverter with DC power.

Equation 5

Example Calculation: Determine the charger required for a 20kVA UPS with a 60 cell lead acid battery, no additional DC loads, 1 Hour backup and 8 hour recharge time.

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