Thursday, November 11, 2010

7x24 Exchange’s ‘Newslink’ Features GBA’s Alan Lehman on “Commissioning UPS Lead-Acid Battery Systems”

Alan Lehman discusses the importance of and steps involved in commissioning UPS Lead-Acid Battery Systems in an article that appears in the Fall issue of Newslink. The publication is produced quarterly by 7x24 Exchange, the leading knowledge exchange for those who design, build, use, and maintain mission-critical enterprise information infrastructures. The goal of 7x24 Exchange is to improve end-to-end reliability by promoting dialogue among these groups.
According to Alan, “For powering critical systems, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is frequently the last line of defense against power disruptions. When the normal source of power fails, the UPS begins pulling power from its energy storage system to serve the critical loads. While there are several types of energy storage in use for UPSs, lead-acid batteries remain the most common.”

Alan goes on to say that battery systems in these applications sit unused and untested most of their lives. When the normal power source fails, the batteries must immediately begin supplying energy for the loads. UPS batteries are commonly sized to last only a few minutes, so power output during discharge can be extreme relative to their capacity.

Considering the critical nature of the loads they support, this is a very demanding application for batteries. Proper installation, startup, and commissioning of UPS battery systems can greatly improve the probability that they will perform when called upon.  Alan goes on to talk in detail about design review, safety, installation verification, startup, UPS configuration, battery system testing, and documention.

He concludes by saying that batteries are one of the most common points of UPS failures. “Clearly, commissioning can be an involved and costly process. If the load is important enough to warrant a UPS, careful consideration needs to be given to the need for commissioning the batteries. Proper commissioning will improve the probability of the UPS performing when called upon and provide a baseline for troubleshooting and future performance evaluation.”

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