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Is Your Million-Dollar Lab Instrument Protected?

Protecting investments that require large capital expenditures to fix or replace is prudent business. Particularly when the investment is critical to business continuity as in the case of sensitive lab instruments. That’s why savvy lab managers invest in power protection. However, even with the best UPS there is one simple reason that failure can still occur. Battery health.

If your batteries are good, then your critical load is going to be safe from power anomalies and electrical noise that could damage sensitive instruments and degrade their performance. However, if your batteries are old, you might not know if your UPS will protect your investment from destructive power anomalies until there is a failure. However, after a little battery 101 you will be well on your way to mitigating that risk.

UPS Battery 101

Most UPS systems are backed up with deep discharge valve regulated lead acid batteries (VRLA). However, VRLA batteries have a lifecycle just like any other product. The lifecycle on VRLA batteries are 3 to 5 years but the 2-year gap from 3 to 5 years presents a big uncertainty for lab managers.

I won’t bore you with the technical details except to say that when a VRLA battery is manufactured, the recipe of lead and sulfuric acid prompts a corrosion process that degrades the battery over the course of its life cycle. This degradation process can be systematically measured over time by monitoring the internal resistance of the battery. For most facilities, excessive battery preventative maintenance is not a practical goal to pursue. However, there is an easier solution by getting ahead of the battery failure curve.

Get Ahead of the Battery Failure Curve

The cost of batteries is minimal compared to the expense of equipment repairs and the associated downtime and loss of revenue. Replacing batteries before they fail is the most cost-efficient way to protect your instruments and ensure uptime. Placing the UPS on a systematic battery replacement program every three years is an easy solution that significantly lowers the lab’s risk of downtime from a battery failure.

When is the optimal time to replace batteries? We know that the chance of equipment failure from a UPS load loss is significantly lower when the age of the batteries is three years or less. However, there are three variables that impact the timing of battery replacements: 1) the cost for equipment repairs and instrument downtime; 2) the number of battery strings in your UPS; and 3) the battery run time required to get to generator. If your facility has a good generator and your UPS has multiple battery strings, your decision may cause you to take on a little more risk by replacing your batteries when the batteries are 4 years of age. However, if you don’t have that luxury, don’t get blindsided by failures when you can mitigate your risks with proactive battery replacements every 3 years!

Key Takeaway

Get ahead of the battery failure curve by proactively replacing your batteries on a regular schedule. In this way, you protect both your investment and your business from the risks of battery failure. 

Contact Us or Visit our Online Store to order your batteries today!

 Author: JOEL GRUBBS, Global Service Manager


Joel Grubbs is AMETEK Powervar’s global service manager. He touts nearly four decades of experience, including over 20 years educating and helping customers with their power quality needs ranging from small kVA systems to Megawatt applications. Have a question for Joel? Connect with him on  

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