A Business Case for the Edge Lithium-Ion Uninterruptible Power Supply

Lithium-Ion UPS

While organizations are migrating assets closer to the edge, it’s still common to overlook the protection of edge physical IT infrastructure from power outages. You may be benefiting from the lower latency of edge computing but still experiencing interruptions to business operations from, for example, unexpected power supply issues.

Businesses moving to the edge may also be dealing with legacy network architectures, older generation hardware, and power management solutions that will soon require replacement. With IT managers dealing with increasingly complex infrastructures both locally and at the edge, reliable enterprise power management is essential. Luckily, the Lithium-ion uninterruptible power supply (UPS) offers IT professionals numerous benefits.

IT Decision Makers Should Keep Uninterruptible Power Supply Options Top of Mind

Decision-makers don’t always prioritize power management in their edge strategy, but it’s becoming clear that should change — the uninterruptible power supply connects essential hardware like servers, switches, network-attached storage, and routers. Momentary power loss or surges can put an immediate stop to critical business operations and endanger this IT equipment. An aging uninterruptible power supply may not be able to bear the brunt of these fluctuations, causing you to see disruptions in data flow and even data loss.

A large, traditional data center usually has redundancy built in to back up uninterruptible power supply systems, but this is rare for edge sites. That makes uninterruptible power supply reliability a key concern when designing your edge architecture. The 2021 Ponemon Institute report, Data Center Downtime at the Core and the Edge: A Survey of Frequency, Duration and Attitudes, found IT equipment failures, uninterruptible power supply battery failures and breakdowns were the leading causes of outages across 1,667 edge locations.

Making a Business Case for Lithium-Ion at the Edge

Fluctuations in power supply quality can slow edge applications, increase overall operating costs, create poor customer experiences, and rob you of the intended benefits of edge computing. IT managers need intelligent, next-gen power management solutions they can trust to stay a step ahead of disruptions. The most valuable solutions monitor load consumption and power continuity to drive uptime and network efficiency.

Increasingly, an uninterruptible power supply with Lithium-ion batteries is most equipped to protect edge infrastructure from power outages or surges. Manufacturing innovations have made them less expensive and safer, some with almost nonexistent thermal runaway risk. Here are the most important benefits of Lithium-ion batteries for a more reliable uninterruptible power supply:

Longer Battery Life

The more common, traditional VRLA batteries have a theoretical life expectancy of about 7 years, but in the real world most need to be replaced after 3-5 years. Lithium-ion batteries can last for about 8-10 years or more, doubling or tripling your uninterruptible power supply battery life and reducing load interruption and downtime caused by maintenance or replacement. They also offer up to ten times the cycle life of VRLA batteries.

More Power

Lithium-ion batteries also offer multiple times the energy and power density offered by VRLA batteries, so they can offer more power in less space. Uninterruptible power supplies built with Lithium-ion batteries take up only about one-third the space while delivering the same power.

More Lightweight

Along the same lines as more power in a smaller size, Lithium-ion batteries typically weigh about 60-80% less than a traditional lead-acid battery, which offers more flexibility on where you can install the system without making expensive modifications to your building.

Greater Range of Temperatures

The average VRLA battery life reduces by about half for every 18-degree Fahrenheit increase over 77 degrees. A Lithium-ion battery can withstand temperature fluctuations with almost no effect on battery life.

Battery Monitoring Systems

Lithium-ion batteries come with a monitoring system embedded at the cell, module, and cabinet level to precisely measure battery runtime and health with more accurate failure prediction than VRLA options.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Lithium-ion batteries can offer a lower TCO for all the reasons listed above. While initial cost may be higher, overall cost is lower thanks to a longer lifespan/reduced replacement and maintenance costs, as well as its ability to reduce the amount of space needed.

Lithium-Ion UPS

Misconceptions About the Lithium-Ion Uninterruptible Power Supply

Lithium-ion solutions for the uninterruptible power supply are becoming more and more popular due to the benefits they offer. Years ago, the growth of Lithium-ion batteries was hampered by high costs and risk of thermal runaway. Luckily, these are no longer issues for today’s batteries.

As mentioned above, while the initial cost of a Lithium-ion solution may be higher, the combination of a greater lifespan, lowered replacement and maintenance costs, reduced space requirements, and availability of more accurate monitoring systems lowers the cost in the long run. Any higher shipping and handling charges incurred by Lithium-ion batteries are usually offset by its lower shipping weight.

Modern Lithium-ion batteries also have several layers of protection against overheating built in. If thermal runaway does occur, cells are designed to shut down and isolate so the other cells in the module can continue functioning. There are also carbon-less options that almost completely eliminate the risk of overheating.

Are Lithium-Ion Batteries Right for Your Uninterruptible Power Supply?

With edge computing becoming more advantageous, it’s important to ensure the physical infrastructure of your deployment is protected from power outages and surges that can endanger your total return on your edge investments. Unexpected issues arising from power failures are becoming common. Now is the time to be proactive about your power supply strategy. 

Contact us to get started with Lithium-ion. You can also check out our Lithium-ion vs. VRLA UPS Battery TCO Calculator to better understand the impact of choosing Lithium-ion.

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