TSM South Blog

UPS Batteries: A Business Telephone System Life Line

Posted by Bob Bolton on Mon, Apr 01, 2013 @12:57 PM

One sure way to avoid damage to a business telephone system is to deploy UPS batteries.  An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, is a battery that backs up the primary power source for a telephone system in the event of a service interruption or failure.  Depending on the size and capacity of the UPS device, it may also “condition” the flow of current to a system to provide a clean, stable supply of electricity, thereby eliminating drops or surges in power that can damage system components.

For business telephone systems, two types of UPS batteries typically are used:  (1) line-interactive batteries, and (2) double conversion batteries.  Both are considerably more robust than stand-by batteries that often are used to provide back-up power for individual desk top computers.  

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APC Smart UPS

Line-interactive batteries are designed to tolerate continuous under-voltage brownouts and over-voltage surges without consuming the reserve battery power, while double conversion UPS systems, providing the same protections, are appropriate for use on larger business telephone systems.

The reliable operation of a telephone system is dependent upon a steady, uninterrupted supply of electrical power.  Since business telephone systems have become increasingly computer-based, they have become even more vulnerable to power surges and outages. Telephone systems now contain many components that are sensitive to changes in power flowing to them, including integrated circuit boards, silicon chips and high performance cables, and it is vital to insulate them from dips and spikes in electric current.

With companies so dependent on telephone communication for the profitable conduct of business, downtime caused by damage to a system can have substantial costs due to lost sales and missed conference calls, for example.  The potential costs of such disruptions in service can easily justify the expense of implementing a UBS system suitable to the size of the company’s operations. 

UPS devices, which contain heavy batteries, can either be installed as free-standing or rack-mounted appliances.  The batteries are rechargeable and replaceable.  The capacity of a UPS battery is a function of its ability to convert chemical energy into electrical current at a specified rate for a specified period of time.  No UPS battery will last forever.  Its ability to store and deliver power will slowly decrease over time.  It is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper storage temperature and maintenance to get the maximum use from the battery.

The four primary factors that affect battery life are: (1) ambient temperature, (2) battery chemistry, (3) cycling and (4) maintenance.  The stated capacity and performance ratings for a UPS battery are based on an ambient temperature of 77 degrees.  Any variance from that temperature will adversely affect battery life.  The electro-chemical make-up of a battery will, over time, decrease in its ability to produce power.  During a power failure, the UPS operates on battery power. When power is restored, the battery recharges for future use.  Each discharge and subsequent recharge reduces the capacity of the battery by a small percentage. The length of the discharge cycle determines the reduction in capacity.  A battery, then, can provide back-up power over many short outage cycles or over a smaller number of longer lasting outages.

It is helpful to monitor the gradual decrease in battery life through periodic voltage checks and load testing. Such testing can help forecast the remaining life of a battery and assist in determining when it is time to replace it without risking a service interruption.

Because UPS devices are sealed lead-acid batteries, for safety and environmental reasons they must be recycled for disposal and not discarded in the garbage, as batteries that are replaced can still contain a significant amount of hazardous waste, including lead.

APC, General Electric and Tripp-Lite are notable manufactures of UPS batteries, offering wide arrays of products for small and large installations and should be considered when shopping for devices to protect your telephone system.

Visit tsmsouth.com if you wish to learn about ordering UPS batteries.