The Benefits of Lithium-ion Batteries for Data Centers 

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery solutions are readily available for 3-phase and single-phase uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) or Vented lead-acid (VLA) batteries are used in data centers, often part of a large cabinet of stacked batteries installed to support UPS systems. Today, most of the big tech organizations have already made a move to Lithium-ion, and, according to the Uptime Institute, Lithium-ion batteries are used in many industries more demanding than data centers to indicate that Li-ion technology is not a fad. 

With potential Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) predicted to be 30-50% lower, here are the top benefits of Lithium-ion batteries to help you make the right decisions for your organization with an eye on installation, maintenance, operations costs, and savings. 

Lithium-ion battery lifespan 

Lithium-ion will last 10-15 years versus their Lead Acid counterparts, which need to be replaced every 3-5 years. Lithium-ion also provides a greater cycle life or number of charge/discharge cycles without degrading the battery. Lithium-ion cycles extend into the thousands compared to 500 for VRLA batteries, and according to the Uptime Institute, all batteries degrade with repeated cycling. Still, VLA and VRLA batteries need to be replaced when they reach about 80% of original capacity because, after that point, the remaining capacity falls off very quickly. In comparison, Li-ion batteries lose capacity gradually and predictably.

Lithium-ion battery efficiencies 

Lead-acid cells need to be cooled at 20 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum efficiency. Lithium-ion batteries perform at the same efficiency at 30 degrees Fahrenheit improving cooling strategies and decreasing operations costs. Also, Lithium-ion batteries are 60-70% lighter and require 50-75% less footprint saving space no matter what the setup. In some instances, this can reduce the need for a reinforced battery room floor or eliminate the battery room. Lithium-ion is flexible, able to be installed on any floor, and minimizes structural modifications. 

Lithium-ion battery speed 

Lithium-ion batteries can be charged five times faster and are fully recharged in less than two hours. Lead Acid batteries have been well suited to the role of back-up batteries due to their ability to provide high power over a more extended period. For UPS systems, constant power is critical, and with Lead Acid taking much longer to recharge, back-up batteries are often used during recharge. Lithium-ion batteries hit efficiency at 99%, losing 1% of stored energy every 24 hours making them an excellent solution for back-up storage.  

Lithium-ion battery costs 

Lithium-ion batteries will continue, for now, to be more expensive to purchase than Lead Acid batteries. However, prices continue to drop, and with cost as the biggest (maybe only?) barrier to adoption, the pros are quickly outweighing the cons for making the switch to Lithium-ion.  

As for the Total Cost of Ownership, organizations should make some proper calculations on maintenance and operations costs and create a performance and savings model for your data centers to consider the available solutions. 

Questions? LEDG can help. Email us today at llp@ledesigngroup.com to discus what’s possible.