Choosing a back-up power or UPS system to protect data is a major technical and financial investment decision for data center operators. At the heart of any UPS system is the critical choice of batteries. Today, lead batteries are the universal choice – representing not only value, but other critical factors.

To maintain power continuity in any data storage application a UPS system plays a key role. A battery system provides instantaneous power continuity to support power drawn down from the grid. Batteries are usually designed to take up the short-term needs and maintain the power for five-to-ten minutes. Beyond that time, and when longer support is needed, a generator automatically starts-up and continues to power the site.

Power needs differ across the world

Power quality is different across the world and every application has a unique set of needs.

In some parts of the world, power outages happen several times a day and can vary from a few moments to many hours. Major weather events can add further factors. In other regions, power can be relatively stable and outages are infrequent, lasting only a few moments. Lately, grid support functions are requested in areas where intermitted renewable power sources are predominant.

Designing the correct solution is complex. A UPS and battery supplier, working together, take many factors into account when designing the solution.

The preferred battery choice

Lead batteries are the first choice of the data center industry across the world. These batteries have been used for many years and have a proven safety and performance record. Although Lithium-ion is now offered by many suppliers, and adopted by some, lead will continue to be the favoured solution for many good reasons.

FIAMM Energy Technology is a major international supplier of batteries to the global UPS industry. The company specialises in the design and production of lead batteries. It has been making them for eighty years and is specified by most of the leading UPS suppliers and data center operators.

Whilst initial cost is a major deciding factor, there are other elements that data center operators must consider. Data center technical and purchasing teams evaluate a menu of criteria that sums up their total cost of ownership. As well as product performance, delivery, safety, and quality, new factors now need to include environmental and legislative requirements.

FIAMM products are fully recyclable

All FIAMM batteries are 99 percent recyclable due to their lead-based construction. The lead grids inside each battery are reprocessed and sent back into the industry to make new batteries.

FIAMM Energy Technology uses a mixture of new and re-processed lead with the latter representing around 70 percent of all lead used in the production plant. Studies have demonstrated that there is no detrimental performance loss in a new battery using secondary material.

Besides, lead as a material is abundant, so for the end user lead batteries tick all the boxes for value, social responsibility, availability from local suppliers and have a proven reliability.

Designing a cost-effective solution

Energy costs are a major expense and concern for data center operators. Cooling systems can use large amounts of energy and add significant operating costs. Studies show that at on an industry level almost two percent of all energy consumed in the world goes to data storage.

FIAMM has developed a solution that reduces these costs by creating a battery designed to operate at higher ambient temperatures. A recent cost study calculated that an operator could adjust cooling temperatures in a data center and make a significant saving on cooling energy costs. The study revealed that a lead acid system has a lower cost of almost 30 percent compared to the equivalent lithium system.

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Figure 1: A comparative cost comparison between the FIAMM High Temperature Battery Solution (FHB) vs traditional AGM (FLB) and Lithium over16 years life – FIAMM

Continued industry growth will fuel the need for innovative product solutions

The data center industry continues to grow in response to our global hunger to store and use data in its many forms. This growth will continue to stretch the demands on operators to reduce costs and to meet social and environmental needs. FIAMM Energy Technology works continuously with customers to develop further advanced lead batteries that will meet these challenges.