Electronics Protection - Spring 2015 - (Page 8)
Don't Forget the Batteries!
Neglecting UPS Battery Maintenance is a Common and Costly Mistake
Scott Baer, Marketing Manager-Batteries
Emerson Network Power, Liebert Services
Today's data center managers are well aware of the cost of
unplanned downtime due to failure of the uninterruptible power
supply (UPS). They know their jobs depend on ensuring availability.
That's why most data center managers invest in regular assessment
or preventive maintenance for the UPS, which sustains operations
when power outages occur. Yet, all too often, managers fail to give
the batteries that support the UPS the same level of attention.
Such an oversight comes at a high price. The Ponemon Institute's 2013 Study on Data Center Outages found that UPS battery
failure was the leading root cause of unplanned downtime. In
reality, a UPS is only as reliable as the batteries that support it.
Neglecting the maintenance and protection of those batteries is
tantamount to neglecting the maintenance of the UPS itself.
The Problem with Batteries
Batteries are the simplest component in a UPS system. What's
more, they come with a manufacturer-specified design life and
published performance baselines, which can give data center
managers the impression that the batteries will last for a decade
As a result, batteries are often set up and then ignored, with
no preventive maintenance or testing throughout the life cycle. As
the Ponemon study and a recent Emerson Network Power analysis
of down units clearly demonstrates, such practices lead directly to
costly battery failures and unplanned downtime.
True Service Life
Part of the problem is misunderstanding the difference between battery design life and battery service life. Battery design
life is based on design and battery aging under controlled conditions in the manufacturer's laboratory - conditions that rarely, if
ever, occur in the field. Actual battery service life considers how
application, installation design, real world operating conditions,
and maintenance practices impact battery aging.
In general, the service life is almost always significantly shorter
than the design life. Batteries can fail in less than half the time
stipulated by the manufacturer design life due to a variety of
issues, including incoming power faults, manufacturing defects,
improper room temperatures, and overcharging.
Additionally, a recent Emerson study on real-world results of
valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries in the UPS environment
revealed that battery service life varies far too much to rely on
manufacturer's initial resistance baseline data. In fact, Emerson
found that when a specific unit settled to its running baseline, the
initial variance from the manufacturer's baseline was as much as
Weakest Link in the Power Chain
Yet another problem with batteries is that, just like old holiday
lights, it only takes one bad cell in a string to compromise the
entire backup power system, potentially leaving an organization
without protection in the event of a power outage.
Adding a second, redundant battery string offers some additional protection, but it doesn't eliminate the risk. If one string has
a bad battery and there is a bad connection between the strings,
the load can still be dropped.
Spring 2015 * www.ElectronicsProtectionMagazine.com
No Excuse for Downtime
The average cost per downtime incident due to UPS failure is
nearly $680,000 when considering both the direct and indirect
costs, including damage to mission-critical assets, the negative
impact on productivity, remediation, legal and regulatory costs, and
lost customer confidence. Given the price and an increasing expectation for 24/7 availability, unplanned downtime is unacceptable.
When downtime does occur, business leaders will turn to
those responsible for data center operations for an explanation.
Ignorance regarding battery degradation or the true service life of
batteries is no longer an acceptable excuse.
Today's data center managers must understand that UPS batteries are life-limited components that they can't afford to overlook.
As the heartbeat that supports mission critical facilities, batteries
have a direct impact on availability and overall business success,
and they demand attention and protection.
Developing a UPS Battery Maintenance Program
A thorough battery maintenance program is one of the most
effective ways to prevent outages and downtime related to battery
failure. The investment in such a program is almost always significantly less than what an organization would incur during a lengthy
outage. For data center managers, the program is worth the peace
of mind knowing that their UPS, their business critical operations,
and their jobs are protected.
Start with the Standards
Facilities looking to establish a battery maintenance
program should start by
considering the schedules for
maintenance checks provided
by UPS battery manufacturers. In addition, organizations such as the IEEE publish
IEEE has the most well
known standards regarding
UPS battery maintenance practices. In fact, battery manufacturers often cite the standards and require adherence in order to
maintain a valid product warranty. IEEE standards provide recommended practices for maintenance, testing, and replacement of
batteries for stationary applications. They address the frequency
and type of measurements needed to validate battery condition.
Go Above and Beyond Minimum Requirements
Best practices for battery testing and maintenance often go beyond minimum regulatory requirements. While regular preventive
maintenance visits and visual battery inspections go a long way
toward protecting the battery system and increasing mean time
between failures (MTBF), such an approach does not allow for
battery oversight outside of the periodic visits. If external factors
lead to a shorter service life than what the data center manager
expects, there is still a significant risk of battery failure.
To optimize system performance, improve availability and
ensure that emergency power systems are ready when needed,
Emerson Network Power recommends an approach to mitigating
battery risk that includes battery monitoring and remote services.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - Spring 2015
Predictive Modeling: The Next Frontier in Data Center Condition Maintenance
Don't Forget the Batteries
Military Aircraft Power
Pumped Two Phase Cooling Solutions for Challenging Thermal Management Applications
Identifying the Ideal Mechanical PCB Hardware for Electronic Systems
Bridging the Technology Gap: The Importance of Cyber and Physical Security within the Data Center
Waterproof Mobile Device Protection without Compromising Acoustic Quality
Electronics Protection - Spring 2015