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Battery maintenance and replacement - PowerValue
A guide how to keep PowerValue batteries healthy and durable
by Gabriele Poccia, Product Manager Single–Phase UPS
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Battery maintenance and replacement - PowerValue
A guide to keep PowerValue batteries healthy and durable
The battery represents one of key parts of a UPS system, with no doubts the most sensitive
component. Not only a precise and well-balanced choice of the battery has to be taken into
account when dimensioning a UPS system (weight, dimensions, performances, runtime…) but
also maintenance and replacement operations have to be well planned and managed. In fact for
the ABB single-phase UPS PowerValue 11RT the only maintenance operation recommended on
the device concerns the batteries themselves
Battery facts
The VRLA batteries are used popularly in single-phase UPS systems
They are basically made by spongy lead (Pb) and lead dioxide (PbO2) plates that are placed in an electrolyte
solution of diluted sulfuric acid.
The reaction of lead and lead oxide with the sulfuric acid electrolyte produces a voltage.
Battery discharge happens by means of connecting a load between the two battery poles.
2
Battery charge happens by means of applying a higher voltage between the two battery poles from an
external source (battery charger).
When fully charged, the battery can be chemically described as it follows:
PbO2 + Pb + H2SO4
As the battery discharges, the active material on both plates converts to PbSO4 (lead sulfate), and the
electrolyte converts to almost pure water.
The amount of material in the plates which participates in the reactions (charge and discharge) is defined
as the active material, and the energy that can be stored is directly proportional to the amount of active
material available.
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Why batteries fail prematurely in a UPS
The battery is the most vulnerable part of any single phase UPS system, regardless of its capacity,
topology or brand. The battery is ultimately at the heart of the UPS in terms of reliability. Understanding
the causes of battery degradation is the way to prevent it and maintenance actions are fundamental to
ensure highest system availability.
The reasons why most batteries fail prematurely in a single phase UPS system can be summarized as it
follows:
a. Excessive cycling
b. Improper charging and discharging
c.
Lack of temperature control
d. Operational issues
e. Improper battery storage conditions
The user plays an important role on proper management of most of the points above.
Details are hereunder described:
a. Excessive cycling
The number of charging and discharging cycles will affect the service life of the battery.
Every time a battery cycles (a discharge followed by a recharge), the electrochemical generator is
working, which involves converting acid and paste. As the paste on the positive grid changes from PbO2
to PbSO4, there is a large increase in volume. The more the paste is expanded and then later contracted,
the more the battery will suffer wear and tear.
Moreover, cycling a battery accelerates corrosion of the grid structure, which unavoidably leads to a
shorter lifetime.
b. Improper charging and discharging
The lifetime of a battery can be greatly affected by the current and voltage control on the battery during
charge and discharge cycles.
Overcharging leads to loss of water in flooded cells and to dry-out in VRLA cells.
Undercharging results in a permanent loss of capacity. It will also cause a loss of active material by the
negative plates.
To avoid these drawbacks, ABB PowerValue UPS properly manages and controls, under all
working conditions, current and voltage limits through the internal CPU.
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In addition, a typical UPS working in battery mode, discharges the battery up to 80% depth of discharge if
minimum cut off voltage is not reached first. As noted in the following picture:
if the battery is operated in a 25°C environment it should provide about 300 full discharge/recharge cycles
before it requires replacement. In most UPS applications, a full discharge to low battery cutoff is a rare
event; thus, cycle service life would never be an issue. However, should a UPS be used in a high
temperature environment where it was discharged on a daily basis, then the batteries would have to be
replaced every six months or less.
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c. Lack of temperature control
It is well known that all lead-acid batteries will have a shorter life when operated at a higher temperature.
This is the case no matter what type lead-acid battery it is and no matter who manufacturers them.
According to Arrhenius, for every 10ºC increase in temperature (above ideal condition) the battery life
would be halved. Therefore, as an example, if the life is 15 years at 25ºC then at 35ºC the life will be 7.5
years. The Arrhenius equation is only valid between about 15ºC and 40ºC for operational batteries
But why exactly is the life reduced? There are many interacting electro-chemical effects but one of the
main reasons is that for any given constant voltage that is applied to the battery by the float charger there
will be a resultant float current. Lead-acid batteries will accept more current if the temperature is
increased and if we accept that the normal end of life is due to corrosion of the grids then the life will be
halved if the temperature increases by 10ºC because the current is double for every 10ºC increase in
temperature. It has also been shown that evaporation of water through the container walls occurs and if
the temperature is increased then evaporation will also increase. This may result in drying out of some
batteries of the VRLA AGM and VRLA GEL type. However, this is a complex subject that cannot be easily
calculated and applied to give a predicted life. In any case, good quality lead-acid batteries will not
normally fail due to drying out. Drying out is not relevant to vented types and we can use the Arrhenius
equation to give an estimate of the life when the operational temperature is different than the design
temperature.
In Europe it is common for battery lives to be quoted when operating at a continuous temperature of
20ºC. If the temperature is 10ºC for 3 months, this will not reduce the overall life by half but only a
percentage of the expected 20ºC life. However, operating at 21ºC and not at 20ºC for the entire life will
reduce the life by almost 10%. So we should separate “design life” and “real life”. For example, a VRLA
AGM battery may be quoted as having a design life of 10 years but the real life, even when operated
continuously at 20ºC, will be nearer 8 years.
In addition, if the battery is subjected to particularly high temperatures or if thermal management is poor,
the battery may go into thermal runaway. If this occurs, the complete battery will be destroyed. Thermal
runaway can occur within a very short time.
ABB PowerValue UPS integrate a temperature compensated charging equipment to avoid the risk
of thermal runaway.
The graph below gives a practical example to estimate the life of a battery when operated on float
systems at different operating temperatures. The graph may be used to estimate the effect of different
daily or monthly operating temperatures. E.g., one day at 30ºC will have the effect of 2 days at 20ºC.
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Temperature (°C)
Operating temperature vs time
27
26
25
24
23
22
21
20
19
18
17
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Time (months)
8
9
10
11
12
From the chart below we can see that for every year the battery has aged 437 days and not 365 days.
Therefore if the battery design lifetime is 5 years (1’825 days), in according with IEC 60896, the real lifetime
is 1’825 / 437 ≈ 4 years only
Month
Avg temperature (°C)
% of nominal life
Aging effect
Aged days within
the month
1
20.5
95
1.05
31.58
2
21
92
1.09
32.61
3
22
87
1.15
34.48
4
23.2
80
1.25
37.50
5
25.3
70
1.43
42.86
6
26
65
1.54
46.15
7
25.2
70
1.43
42.86
8
23.8
77
1.30
38.96
9
22.5
85
1.18
35.29
10
21.5
90
1.11
33.33
11
20.5
95
1.05
31.58
12
20
100
1.00
30.00
Total aged days per calendar year
437.21
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d. Operational issues
Discharge frequently without full recharge on time
A near fully discharged cell will likely get damaged if not recharged on time. As the battery discharges,
the electrolyte starts to alter from an acid solution into water. Lead dissolves in water, and the materials
on the plates material mix with water to form lead hydrate. Lead hydrate causes the plate surfaces to turn
into white and, as it is conductive, it may cause a short circuit between the plates, irreversibly damaging
the battery.
Over discharge
Over discharge causes abnormal expansion of the active material on the plates, which leads to
permanent damage and also recharging problems. This can happen in lightly loaded UPS systems that
experience an extended power outage
ABB PowerValue UPS has a specific protection to avoid this phenomenon.
e. Improper battery storage conditions
If stored without recharging, VRLA batteries self-discharge at a temperature specific rate over time. If
allowed to discharge to a level below 80% depth of discharge, irreversible damage may occur inside the
battery. The damage is caused by deposition of lead sulfate on the surface and in the pores of the active
material of the batteries’ lead plates. The capacity retention chart below:
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shows the effects of the self-discharge rate at an ambient storage temperature. Assuming the battery was
fully recharged when stored at 25°C, it is recommended to recharge it every 6 months. If stored in a 40°C
environment, the battery must be recharged every 2 months
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How to maintain correctly the batteries in single phase UPS systems: good practices
For an optimum reliability, it is recommended that the battery of the UPS is quarterly checked. In general
the kind of inspections and the related actions to be overtaken during periodic maintenance include:
a. Visual battery inspection
b. UPS battery capacity test
c.
Environmental temperature control
d. Check the floating charger of the battery
a. Visual battery inspection
Typical problems that might be discovered with a simple visual inspection are the following, linked with
root causes and actions to solve/mitigate them:
Symptom
Possible causes
Corrective actions
Cover/container cracked
Handling or impact
damage, cell dry out
or ground fault
Replace the damaged unit
Potential internal gas
ignition
Cover/container explosion
Ignition of cell’s
internal gases due to
an external source
Replace the damaged unit
Signs of overheating on battery container
Cracked container
with possible leakage
of electrolyte
Clear the ground fault and
replace the defective unit
Ground fault
Evaluate the balance of the
string(s)
Permanently deformed (swollen) container
Thermal runaway
possible caused by a
high temperature
environment,
overcharging,
excessively high
recharge current
Replace the battery system
and correct the issue leading to
the thermal runaway condition
Corrosion at terminals
Residual electrolyte
from manufacturing or
electrolyte leakage
from the battery
terminals
Disassemble connections,
clean, coat connecting
surfaces and terminals area
and reassemble appropriately
the connections
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b. UPS battery capacity test
Using the UPS
1. Plug-in the AC input power but do not switch on the UPS. The UPS batteries will charge in this
way, no need to start the UPS. Leave it charging over night
2. Perform a discharging cycle with a dummy load such as a PC or a 120W bulb until the automatic
low battery cutoff kicks in (= battery considered discharged)
3. Repeat step 1
4. Does the battery capacity return to the nominal value after performing the actions above? If not,
the battery could have got damaged. In such a case, the battery shall be replaced
Using a DC power supply
1. Make use of a DC Power supply to charge the battery at 14.7 Vdc (keeping limited the charger
current according the battery capacity  typically the charger current shouldn’t exceed 0.25 CA)
per battery over the night (>16 hours)
2. Install the battery in the UPS and discharge the battery with a dummy load such as a PC or a
120W bulb until the automatic low battery cutoff kicks in (= battery considered discharged)
3. Repeat step 1
4. Does the battery capacity return to the nominal value after performing the actions above? If not,
the battery could have got damaged. In such a case, the battery shall be replaced
Note. When the battery reaches the 80% of its rated capacity, the aging process accelerates. It is wise to
replace the battery at this stage.
IEEE, in fact, defines the end of useful life for a battery as the point when it can no longer supply the 80%
of its rated capacity in Ampere-hours.
Because the relationship between the battery capacity and load autonomy time is not linear, a 20%
reduction in capacity results in a much greater loss in the backup time.
For example, a UPS battery that supports a full load for 15 minutes at early stage of its life, will support
the same load for about eight minutes only when it approached its end of life.
c. Environment temperature control
1. Protect UPS from heat sources such as sunlight, portable heaters, etc.
2. The UPS shall be installed in areas with temperature control
3. Effective active and passive ventilation of the environment has to be taken into account
4. If the battery is stocked in a high temperature environment, a recharging action should follow
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d. Check the floating charger of the battery
As batteries comes to the full charge, the battery voltage rises until approaching the charger output
voltage and consequently the charging current decreases.
It is a good practice to check and record the float voltage across the whole battery with an accurate digital
voltmeter.
Normally, the difference between the float charger voltage and the battery terminal voltage is no more
than 480mV for a 12V rated battery, given the battery is fully charged.
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ABB PowerValue battery products
The top quality rack-tower configurable ABB PowerValue 11RT comes with a comprehensive set of UPSs
with and without internal batteries. In both instances, External Battery Modules (EBMs) are available.
EBMs are battery packages already installed in a resilient case, suitable for both rack or tower
installations; hot-swappable, it’s easy to connect them to a brand new or existing UPS system, up to 4
EBMs per single UPS. Each EBM is dedicated to a specific UPS.
At a glance, 11RT family is made by the following items:
Power (kVA)
Internal batteries
configuration
EBM battery configuration
1 kVA B
1 x 3 x 7.2 Ah
(2 x 3) x 7.2 Ah
1 kVA S
-
(2 x 3) x 7.2 Ah
2 kVA B
1 x 4 x 9 Ah
(2 x 4) x 7.2 Ah
2 kVA S
-
(2 x 4) x 7.2 Ah
3 kVA B
1 x 6 x 9 Ah
(2 x 6) x 7.2 Ah
3 kVA S
-
(2 x 6) x 7.2 Ah
6 kVA
-
1 x 15 x 9 Ah
10 kVA
-
1 x 20 x 9 Ah
It’s thus possible to reach the maximum flexibility in the configuration and to expand the system runtime.
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A full set of spare battery kits is available for PowerValue 11RT (batteries not included). Each battery kit
consists of a battery plastic tray and links to connect the batteries in series and thus to the UPS battery
connector. Replacement battery kits are available for PowerValue 11RT EBMs, too (batteries not
included)
PowerValue 11RT 1 kVA B – replacement battery pack
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PowerValue 11RT 2 kVA B – replacement battery pack
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PowerValue 11RT 3 kVA B – replacement battery pack
For more information about ABB PowerValue and batteries, please visit:
http://new.abb.com/ups/systems/single-phase-ups
or simply contact your regional sales manager
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How to replace the internal batteries
The PowerValue 11RT internal batteries (for 1-3 kVA B models) have a design lifetime of 3-5 years;
according to the usage of the UPS, it might be necessary to replace the batteries at the end of the design
lifetime or even earlier.
So what to do when the internal battery string is tested to be worthy of a replacement? Will I get a load
drop? Shall I need to plan an expensive service intervention? Do I need to be a battery expert? Nothing of
this at all. PowerValue 11RT internal batteries are hot swappable and easy to replace and this operation
doesn’t require the intervention of qualified engineers. The following instructions aim to guide even a not
expert person to a safe and correct replacement of internal batteries.
Prior than approaching a battery replacement operation we invite you to:
- carefully read the safety instructions reported in the User Manual
- make sure the UPS is not running in battery mode
- prepare in advance the replacement battery package (for this step you might need PowerValue battery
spare kits)
- make sure the new batteries are fully charged
- replace batteries with same type of batteries or contact ABB for more information about compatible
batteries
- follow local regulations in order to discard properly the used batteries
The following steps show how to replace the internal batteries:
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1. Remove the LCD box and the screws on the front panel
2. Slide and pull the front panel to the left to remove it
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3. Disconnect the cables A and B
4. Remove the inner battery bracket, on the right side
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5. Pull out the used battery pack and place it on a flat surface
6. Install the new battery pack, screw on the battery bracket and reconnect the battery
cables (A and B)
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8. Re-install the front panel back to the UPS
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How to configure the external battery modules
After installing a new external battery package, it’s necessary to configure correctly the UPS according
the following procedure
a. Standard EBM value setting through LCD display and RS232 (M is the total nr of standard EBM
connected, 1≤M≤9)
UPS Model
LCD display (path:
SettingsPassword
(USER)External
battery modules)
RS232 (command:
SASV03[value]<cr>
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 1 kVA B
M
2M + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 1 kVA S
M
2M
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 2 kVA B
M
2M + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 2 kVA S
M
2M
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 3 kVA B
M
2M + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 3 kVA S
M
2M
UPS PowerValue 11RT 6 kVA
M*9/5 – 1
M*9/5
UPS PowerValue 11RT 10 kVA
M–1
M
b. Settings with a customized battery pack of N Ah capacity, through LCD display and RS232 (take only
the integer part)
UPS Model
LCD display (path:
SettingsPassword
(USER)External
battery modules)
RS232 (command:
SASV03[value]<cr>
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 1 kVA B
N/(7.2*2)
N/7.2 + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 1 kVA S
N/(7.2*2)
N/7.2
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 2 kVA B
N/(9*2)
N/9 + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 2 kVA S
N/(9*2)
N/9
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 3 kVA B
N/(9*2)
N/9 + 1
UPS PowerValue 11 RT 3 kVA S
N/(9*2)
N/9
UPS PowerValue 11RT 6 kVA
N/5 – 1
N/5
UPS PowerValue 11RT 10 kVA
N/9 – 1
N/9
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