Posts Tagged ups batteries

Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Ventilation

Posted by on July 9, 2012  |  1 Comment

White Paper 34

The main objectives of any ventilation system are management of environmental air temperature, humidity and air quality. In a data center, or any facility in which electrical equipment and battery systems are installed, the ventilation system must address:

  • Health safety – the air must be free of pollutants that could be toxic, corrosive,poisonous, or carcinogenic
  • Fire safety – the system must prevent and safely remove the accumulation of gasses or aerosols that could be flammable or explosive.
  • Equipment reliability and safety – the system must provide an environment that optimizes the performance of equipment (including both batteries and electronic equipment) and maximizes their life expectancy
  • Human comfort

“Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Ventilation” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Stationary lead-acid batteries are the most widely used method of energy reserve for information technology rooms (data centers, network rooms). Selecting and sizing ventilation for battery systems must balance and trade off many variables. These could include different battery technologies, installation methods, operating modes, and failure modes.

Executive Summary:

Lead-acid batteries are the most widely used method of energy reserve. Ventilation systems must address health and safety as well as performance of the battery and other equipment in a room. Valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries and modular battery cartridges (MBC) do not require special battery rooms and are suitable for use in an office environment. Air changes designed for human occupancy normally exceed the requirements for VRLA and MBC ventilation. Vented (flooded) batteries, which release hydrogen gas continuously, require a dedicated battery room with ventilation separate from the rest of the building. This paper summarizes some of the factors and codes to consider when selecting and sizing a ventilation system for a facility in which stationary batteries are installed.

Contents:

  • Terminology
  • Environmental design considerations

Conclusion:

Ventilation systems for stationary batteries must address human health and safety, fire safety, equipment reliability/ safety, and human comfort. Vented (flooded) batteries should be installed in dedicated battery rooms, but may share the same room as the equipment they support (such as a UPS system). VRLA batteries and modular battery cartridges can be used in an office environment. The amount of heat generated by a battery system is insignificant compared to the total IT system. However, batteries need cool, clean air for optimum performance and long life. Vented batteries must have a dedicated ventilation system that exhausts to the outside and prevents circulation of air in other parts of the building. For VRLA and MBC systems, the ventilation required for human occupancy is normally sufficient to remove heat and gases that might be generated. A minimum of two room air changes per hour and a temperature in the range of 20 – 24° C (68 – 75° F) are recommended. The ventilation system must prevent the accumulation of hydrogen pockets in greater than 1 – 2% concentration.

For vented batteries, it is recommended to enlist the services of an engineering firm experienced in battery room design, including ventilation, fire protection, hazardous material reporting and disposal, and spill control.

For VLRA and MBC battery systems, the ventilation requirements for human occupancy and electronic equipment operation in a data center or network room well exceed the requirements for the batteries. No additional engineering should be necessary for VRLA battery ventilation.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Battery Technologies for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Environmental Regulations

Posted by on June 27, 2012  |  No Comments

White Paper 32

Approximately 90% of stationary batteries deployed in US data centers are of the lead-acid type. Lead and electrolyte must be reported in different ways to regulatory agencies depending upon the jurisdictional circumstances. This paper attempts to cut through the maze of regulations and focuses specifically on lead-acid battery requirements in terms that most data center professionals can understand. In general, the rules apply only to very large battery installations, and generally concern planning (reporting the presence of batteries at a site) and accidents (reporting spills or “releases”).

Environmental regulatory compliance is focused on the amount of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead in a particular location. Of the three popular technologies, vented (flooded or wet cells), valve regulated (VRLA or sealed) and modular battery cartridges (MBC), flooded batteries contain the highest levels of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead. The smaller amounts of electrolyte / sulfuric acid and lead in VRLA and MBC batteries allow for larger battery systems to be installed without the regulatory compliance required of comparable vented batteries.

Common questions that need to be addressed when installing a UPS battery system include the following:

  • Will I have to report my batteries as hazardous material (hazmat)?
  • Where do I find the rules?
  • What are EPCRA,SARA, SERC, CERCLA, LEPC, etc. and why do I care?
  • What do I have to declare?
  • When do I have to declare it?
  • To whom do I have to declare it?
  • What forms do I have to use?
  • What if I don’t do it?

Most commercial battery back-up systems fall below government-required reporting levels, but large UPS and DC plant batteries may have to comply. Failure to comply can result in costly penalties. Wading through the Code of Federal Regulations can be a complex and time-consuming task.

The following scenario illustrates the common concern about batteries and compliance: An IT manager is responsible for a building into which he will be installing (or maybe already has installed) a large, lead-acid battery system to back up critical operations. He is nervous enough about all these batteries and stored electricity under his roof, and now somebody says that he may have a compliance issue. He’s already been down the road with the electrical inspectors and fire marshals, and now he hears that the Federal Government may have a disturbing interest in his facility as well. Who are these people and what do they want?

“Battery Technologies for Data Centers and Network Rooms: Environmental Regulations” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

Some lead-acid batteries located in data centers are subject to government environmental compliance regulations. While most commercial battery back-up systems fall below required reporting levels, very large UPS and DC plant batteries may have to comply. Failure to comply can result in costly penalties. Environmental compliance regulations focus on the amount of sulfuric acid and lead in a given location. This paper offers a high level summary of the regulations and provides a list of environmental compliance information resources.

Contents:

  • Getting started
  • What are the rules
  • Emergency planning and response plans
  • Summary of inventory reporting steps

Conclusion:

Most commercial applications of stationary lead-acid batteries will fall well below the reporting quantities required by the EPA. Flooded batteries are more likely than VRLA batteries to require reporting, whether for reporting inventory or for the release of hazardous materials. Large battery systems can add significantly to a company’s compliance work. Although spills or releases of hazardous material (hazmat) for batteries at the reporting threshold are quite rare, one must nevertheless report the presence of battery inventories in the building to local and state authorities, and one must have an emergency preparedness plan in place.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: VRLA Reliability and Safety

Posted by on June 20, 2012  |  No Comments

White Paper 39

Valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries have been used in UPS systems for almost 20 years. Compared to traditional flooded cell solutions, VRLA batteries allow higher power density and lower capital costs. VRLA batteries are typically deployed within power systems smaller than 500 kVA. Features of a VRLA battery include:

  • Container is sealed; liquid cannot be added or removed
  • Contains lead plates in a solution of sulfuric acid diluted in water (electrolyte)
  • Electrolyte is immobilized (not allowed to flow)
  • Operates at high currents
  • Safety vents allow escape of gas only under fault or excess charging conditions
  • Oxygen & hydrogen are recombined internally to form water
  • Installed in open frames or large cabinets (or embedded inside small power systems)

This paper will explore in greater detail some of the operating considerations of the VRLA battery. Concerns about VRLA batteries generally center on two issues: reliability and safety. Because of their wide usage (deployed at an estimated rate of 10 million units per year), many people have had experience – both good and bad – with VRLA technology. To better understand both the extent as well as the limitations of VRLA technology, we first need to understand the variations in VRLA design and the theory of operation. We can then look at the application and misapplication of this technology. All products eventually come to an end of useful life. We will explore when that should be in a VRLA battery and how that life could be lengthened or shortened according to its application and care. Although catastrophic failures are rare, we will look at what safety hazards are possible when VRLA batteries are misapplied or misused.

“Battery Technology for Data Centers and Network Rooms: VRLA Reliability and Safety” Full White Paper (Click Here To Download)

Executive Summary:

The valve regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery is the predominant choice for small and medium sized uninterruptible power supply (UPS) energy storage. This white paper explores how the technology affects overall battery life and system reliability. It will examine the expected performance, life cycle factors, and failure mechanisms of VRLA batteries.

Contents:

  • VRLA types
  • VRLA theory of operations
  • VRLA life expectancy
  • Failure modes
  • Safety
  • Handling and environmental safety

Conclusion:

When properly applied and maintained, VRLA batteries and cartridges such as those used in small and medium-sized UPS systems can give reliable performance for three to five years or longer (depending upon battery selection). Battery dry-out is a major cause of VRLA battery end of life. Continuous monitoring and control systems can detect and respond to conditions that could cause premature cell failure. Temperature compensated and current limited charging can help prevent thermal runaway. Use of redundant, parallel strings can reduce the consequences of a cell failure and increase the life of a battery system.

VRLA batteries are safe to use in data centers and network rooms when properly applied and maintained. Neglect, abuse, or improper application can create conditions that could push a battery into failure mode. In extreme cases, catastrophic failure can cause fire and/or release of hazardous gases. Proper cooling and ventilation, regular monitoring, use of parallel strings, and temperature compensated charging can all contribute to long battery life and safety.

White Paper Written By:

Stephen McCluer is a Senior Manager for external codes and standards at Schneider Electric. He has 30 years of experience in the power protection industry, and is a member of NFPA, ICC, IAEI, ASHRAE, The Green Grid, BICSI, and the IEEE Standards Council. He serves on a number of committees within those organizations, is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and authors technical papers and articles on power quality topics. He served on a task group to rewrite the requirements for information technology equipment in the 2011 National Electrical Code.

Universal Networking Services’s partnership with Universal Power Group, Inc. has enabled us to build a strong distribution network of battery and related power components that meet consumer needs for accessibility, portability, security and mobility, coupled with value added offerings such as battery pack assembly and battery replacement/recycling programs.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding this topic.

Don’s Corner: “Why Aren’t My Batteries Lasting As Long As They Used To?”

Posted by on June 14, 2012  |  No Comments

Don Melchert, Critical Facility Specialist

Why aren’t my batteries lasting as long as they used to?

Scenario: Your trusty UPS has been providing faithful service for the past 8 years.  Maybe it’s had a couple of minor repairs, like fan replacements and a capacitor upgrade, but other than the full battery refresh during the 5th year, “Old Faithful” has been holding up its end of the bargain.  Lately though, it seems as though the batteries just aren’t what they used to be.  It couldn’t be the data center’s fault, could it?  Nothing’s really changed in there…well, maybe the legs were balanced after the load increased from 50% to 65%, but the room is still stable at 73F and the utility power has actually improved over the years.  However, now the UPS is displaying a “Battery Weak” alarm only after 3 years of service.  How could this be, and what is there to be done about it?  To answer those questions requires a basic understanding of the underlying issue: battery quality.

The first question’s easy to tackle and has a clear answer, so let’s start there.  Years ago, batteries weighed more, simply because they were made from quality ingredients, more specifically, there was more lead.  With changes in manufactures, factory locations and most importantly, battery quality has taken a turn for the worst.  Don’t believe me?  I have a simple experiment for you:  For the first, grab a small, 7.2AH battery made before 2006, and an equivalent battery made in 2011.  Weigh them separately and see what you find.

I think it’s safe to say that these days, Superman would be having a much easier time seeing what’s in Lex Luthor’s data center!

It’s as simple as this… lower levels of lead are being used in the construction of new batteries, and so the likelihood of getting a battery to last more than 3 years is few and far between.  Oh, the charge rate is the same (battery reaches set charge voltage), even the discharge rate is the same (time before the low limit is reached), but it’s the number of discharge cycles that has changed.  A typical deep-cycle battery delivers 100–200 cycles before it starts the gradual decline to its ultimate failure.  At less than 75%, this same battery will begin to decline exponentially faster.  Unfortunately, for the critical data community, this means we are forced to either accept the fact that we’ll be changing our batteries sooner, or we accept the fact that in order to get the same quality we’ve grown accustomed to, we’ll have to pay a premium to have it.

Hey, I never said this would be a feel good post!  Never fear though, doom and gloom isn’t my style, so, let’s see what we can do to turn it around…

Since the mission of a data center isn’t likely to become, “…provide data to end-users when it’s convenient…”, we have to decide if we want to put our time and money into maintaining our batteries, or just throwing more money at the problem.  From my standpoint, it’s always better to take better care of what you have now, rather than ask for more money from the Bean Counters before a total battery failure.  I can hear you now, “What does that mean?”  It’s easy…get a battery PM performed now!  If a battery is found to be below acceptable limits (75% capacity), don’t just replace it with the lowest bidder.  Take some time to work with a reputable source to determine which battery is best for your particular situation.  Even if the technician finds nothing wrong at all, be sure to schedule another inspection before he or she leaves your facility.  Will you pay a little more? Possibly, yes, but it’s called Preventative Maintenance for a reason, and prevention is always cheaper than what comes after making that call to your CEO that starts off something like, “Sir, our network is down because…” How often to have battery PMs performed depends on how old the batteries are and how well they’re treated.   In doing so, you’ll be able to weed out the batteries that aren’t playing well with others before a total battery failure occurs.

And let’s be honest, when does that ever happen during normal business hours?