Lithium-ion batteries are one of the newest trends in power management. Why should IT professionals pay attention?
We know power management is just a small subset of what IT professionals manage, and we also know they need to be cautious about quickly moving to the “latest and greatest” technology before there are proven benefits. It may be difficult to know which innovations are worth it.
Innovations are worth consideration when they save time and money, and reduce risk for IT professionals. When it comes to power protection, today’s IT professionals demand solutions that allow them to set up easily and require minimal maintenance.
Once installed, an uninterruptible power system (UPS) must be capable of delivering long-term, reliable performance on its own — a requirement optimized by lithium-ion batteries. Representing one of the most significant advancements in UPS technology, lithium-ion batteries offer numerous benefits, including doubled or greater lifespan, high energy density, flexible installation and lower total cost of ownership.
Unlike their valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) counterparts, which generally need to be replaced every three to four years, lithium-ion batteries boast an average lifespan of 10 years, thereby appreciably reducing operating costs. Even more, lithium-ion performs a safer, faster recharge following power disruptions, reducing vulnerability and improving runtime. Approximately 60% smaller and 40% lighter than lead acid, lithium-ion batteries also ease deployment and installation.
What are some of the considerations for IT professionals when evaluating what types of batteries will best serve their needs?
IT professionals seeking to support power grid applications, optimize refresh cycles or ease deployment challenges will find lithium-ion batteries a better choice. Because lithium-ion batteries offer a higher cycle life, they lend themselves to more varied applications. A typical lithium-ion battery can be cycled anywhere from 4,000 to 9,000 times, compared to just 200 to 1,200 times for a VRLA battery. This not only improves battery service life, but also allows the UPS to be deployed in grid-sharing and peak-shaving applications, which VRLA cannot support. The extended battery life afforded by lithium-ion enables users to align their UPS refresh cycles with the rest of the IT stack, saving time and money spent on labor and replacement batteries.
What are some of the misconceptions about lithium-ion UPSs and what are the realities of the technology?
You’ve likely heard the frightening accounts of overheating lithium-ion batteries in cell phones and laptops, but these types of thermal events are not cause for concern in UPS applications. In fact, several factors make lithium-ion UPSs intrinsically safe, including the integration of a powerful battery management system (BMS) that provides cell protection, cell balancing, state of charge and health alarms. The BMS quickly detects any abnormal conditions and, if necessary, will safeguard the system from damage by disconnecting the affected battery. Furthermore, lithium-ion UPS batteries are protected with more robust packaging than those found in cell phones and laptops.
Although pricing for lithium-Ion batteries is still fairly higher than traditional batteries, the total cost of ownership over time is substantially lower. Customers do not need to worry about the replacement cost of the battery every three to four years and the cost of shipping, installing and returning these legacy batteries. This can be a significant cost in distributed IT with individual UPSs scattered among hundreds of sites. Sending service personnel to all of these sites to only perform one battery swap is a huge cost that can easily be avoided with lithium-Ion batteries.
How can this technology reduce risks for companies?
Organizations gain simplified maintenance through the BMS and extended reliability from the longer lifespan afforded by lithium-ion batteries. Ultimately, lithium-ion UPSs enable busy IT professionals to focus on revenue-producing activities, rather than worrying about the performance of their power protection solution.