Until recently, Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries have not been commercially adopted as batteries for single-phase UPSs.
While used in various other applications, they didn’t provide the necessary balance of price, energy density, power, safety, and reliability to be suitable for UPSs.
However, as battery technology has advanced for the purposes of electric vehicles, this has all changed. Offering twice the battery life and up to half the total cost of ownership (TCO) compared to valve regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries, Schneider Electric has announced the launch of the APC Smart-UPS Lithium-Ion UPS Battery to South Africa.
“We are very excited about bringing this technology to South Africa, where return-on-investment is a crucial decision-making factor,” says George Senzere, pre-sales manager: anglophone for secure power solutions at Schneider Electric South Africa.
“When it comes to return-on-investment, it is important to look beyond the initial spend and assess the TCO so that you can more accurately project the costs and benefits involved. The move from traditional VRLA batteries to li-ion batteries offers several advantages that ultimately lower TCO.”
One of the biggest contributors to this lowered TCO is the low operational expenses (opex) of li-ion batteries. While the capital expenditure (capex) on a VRLA battery UPS may be less than a li-ion battery UPS, VLRA batteries become very expensive due to the costs of refreshing and replacing them, which is necessary for lead acid UPSs.
On the other hand, a li-ion battery will typically match the life expectancy of the UPS itself, about 10 years (compared to three to five years of VRLA batteries). That effectively means never having to change the UPS battery, which means you save not only on the cost of the battery, but also on the labour involved in replacing it.
Part of the reason for their extended life is that li-ion batteries can operate for longer in higher than average temperatures compared to lead acid batteries.
While both batteries would see some degradation as the temperature rises, li-ion service life is less affected by higher temperatures than lead acid.
Many of the li-ion batteries being used in UPSs are designed for higher average temperatures (40°C), meaning that the APC Smart-UPS Lithium-Ion UPS Battery will not shy away from the South African climate.
Li-ion batteries are about 30% lighter than VRLA batteries, which also provides advantages. Many customers find they must reinforce floors in rooms that house multiple racks with VRLA UPSs, adding construction costs.
In such cases, that alone can make a li-ion-based UPS the more economical option in terms of TCO. They are also smaller, which means they are perfect for tight spaces and fit conveniently into wall-mount racks and small closets.
“The technological benefits that a li-ion UPS provides and the fact that it has a lower TCO means that the APC Smart-UPS Lithium-Ion UPS Battery brings both cost savings and certainty to South African businesses,” concludes Senzere.