If you’ve been wondering about all the buzz surrounding lithium-ion batteries for UPS systems, rest assured it is neither fluke nor fallacy. Demand is rapidly growing in the lithium-ion battery market, and some industry experts predict that the battery technology could completely replace lead-acid in UPS applications within the next few years.
While lithium-ion batteries have been widely deployed in consumer electronics for years, they are now proving ideal for UPS applications. Some leading power protection manufacturers have already introduced lithium-ion battery UPS options, such as the Eaton 5P, 93PM and Eaton Power Xpert 9395. Also, major data center owners and colocation providers are increasingly opting to replace UPS batteries with lithium-ion. Here’s why: 1. Increased lifespan — Compared to lead acid, lithium-ion delivers a longer lifespan (up to 15 years!), greater discharge cycle, lower maintenance requirements, faster recharge and the ability to safely operate at higher ambient temperatures. This highly desirable combination makes the UPS lithium-ion battery highly attractive. And uses could stretch beyond traditional backup power solutions: greater discharge cycles opens up opportunities to utilize the UPS and lithium energy storage in new ways, like servicing energy markets. Furthermore, lithium-ion batteries include a built-in battery management system (BMS) that provides automatic status and fault monitoring, manages battery charging, and ensures voltage balance. The BMS adds yet another layer of reliability, while greatly enhancing safety.
2. Lower TCO — While the initial capital investment in lithium-ion batteries is currently slightly higher than their lead-acid counterparts, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is up to 30 percent less. This savings can be attributed to lower operating costs and eliminating the high price tag associated with replacing batteries every 3 to 5 years. It is important to note that just a few years ago, lithium-ion cost up to 10 times more than lead acid, but that difference has now dwindled to approximately 1.4 times greater and continues to decline.
3. Reduced footprint — Packing substantial energy into a small footprint with a reduced weight, lithium battery cabinets are typically one-half the size of lead-acid cabinets. This space savings of 50 percent helps organizations reduce construction costs for new data centers or to redesign existing facilities.
4. Ease of management — Unlike lead-acid installations, there is no corrosion to remove, no loose connections to check and no need to continuously evaluate and replace defective batteries. Lithium-ion’s built-in BMS makes it easy to monitor runtime and health, reducing labor and maintenance costs.
5. A cleaner, greener solution — Lithium-ion batteries offer a much more environmentally friendly choice than lead acid. To begin with, their carbon footprint is just one-third of lead acid’s, and because they contain no toxic materials, they pose fewer environmental hazards. Lithium batteries can be re-used or recycled, and like lead acid, lithium-ion battery recycling reduces energy consumption, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and results in considerable natural resource savings when compared to landfill. In addition, a promising new recycling process is able to restore the cathodes in used lithium batteries to mint condition using half the energy of current procedures. When widely available, this new technique will enhance the green qualities of lithium even further.
It isn’t often that a single UPS technology can offer as much promise and widespread advantages as lithium-ion batteries. As advancements continue, coupled with decreasing costs, lithium-ion could conceivably bump lead acid clear out of UPS installations, most notably within large data centers and colocation facilities — making it a great time for you to consider this battery technology!