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Ever wondered what a battery is? How does it help in making our appliances work? What are the various types of batteries available? You may even have a whole lot of other questions going all over your minds and solutions to none. Well, the answers to all your queries lie in this detailed guide. Go through this detailed page carefully and understand “The Battery” and its working as a whole.

1. What is a battery?
A battery is a storage device for electrochemical energy which is being used for lighting and electrical applications.

2. What are the different type of batteries?
There are basically two types of batteries, “The Flat plate battery” and “The Tubular battery”. In general, the negative plate is almost identical for both models. The main difference between them is the design. Inside the batteries, materials are the same for both designs but there are several differences in terms of performance.

  • The Flat plate battery: The Flat plate battery is made up of positive and negative plates made up of pasted grids.
  • The Tubular battery: The Tubular plate battery is made up of negative plates like in flat plate battery except the positive part is made up of spines put under tube packets.

3. What is the difference between Flat Plate & Tubular Plate Battery?
There is a difference between the flat plate battery and the tubular plate battery which has been explained in detail below:

  • The basic difference is in the make or the design of the flat plate battery which is simpler compared to the complex design of the tubular plate battery.
  • The flat plate battery life is lower compared to the tubular battery as the shedding of active material is low in tubular batteries.
  • Tubular batteries also have a greater ability to produce and accept current compared to a flat plate battery. This phenomenon occurs in both the discharge and the charge direction which means that a tubular battery is better suited to the high charging rates associated with opportunity and fast charging as well as heavy duty applications that require high sustained current.
  • The flat plate batteries are usually more resistant to heat. The heat dissipation is much better optimized due to the flat surface. A poor heat dissipation will cause the battery to deteriorate faster. Regular tubular batteries hold heat.

4. What is Ah and how is it related to the capacity of the battery?
A battery is the backbone of a UPS system. The performance and life of a UPS largely depends upon the battery quality. The next big question is “How much backup will a UPS provide?” or “ For how many hours can it run all of your equipment?”. This is what is called the battery capacity. It is the battery capacity that decides the back up hours. It is expressed in Ah (Ampere Hours).


1. How to know which Ah battery is suitable for my need?
In the market, batteries with a capacity of 100 Ah, 150 Ah, 180 Ah etc. are readily available. So how do you decide which one do you need? Well, to find this out let us do a reverse calculation.

Consider that you need a battery that provides backup for 3 hours.
Battery capacity = Power requirement (in watts) * Back up hours ( in hrs) / Battery Voltage (in volts)
Battery Capacity = (400 * 3) / 12 = 100 Ah
** Value of Battery voltage is taken 12V

Therefore, a battery with a capacity of 100 Ah will work for you.

2. Why are tubular batteries most suitable in a UPS application?
A tubular battery uses technology that seals the active material in polyester tubes called gauntlets, instead of pasting it on the surface of the plate. As a result, there’s no shedding or corrosion, ensuring long battery life. Owing to their toughness and durability, tubular batteries can operate at extreme temperatures and are used in high cyclic applications involving frequent and prolonged power outages.

3. What are the features that should be considered while buying a battery?
There are three primary points that need to be taken into consideration while buying a battery.

  • Size, Power and Warranty : When buying a new battery, we suggest you to purchase a battery with the highest amp hour rating and warranty possible. Of course the physical size, cable hook up and terminal type must be taken into consideration too. Be sure to purchase the correct type of battery for the job it is expected to do. Freshness of a new battery is very important. The longer a battery sits idle and is not re-charged, the more damaging sulfation build up there may be on the plates. Most batteries have a code of the manufacturing date on them. Remember, the fresher the better!

1. How does one maintain a battery?
The battery should be cleaned using baking soda and water solution (a couple of tablespoons to a pint of water). Cable connections need to be cleaned and tightened as battery problems are often caused by dirty and loose connections. A serviceable battery needs to have the fluid level checked regularly. Use only mineral free water. Distilled is best as all impurities are removed and there is nothing left that could contaminate your cells. Don't overfill battery cells especially in warmer weather because the natural fluid expansion in hot weather can push excess electrolytes from the battery. To prevent corrosion of cables on top post batteries, use a small bead of silicone sealer at the base of the post and place a felt battery washer over it. Coat the washer with high temperature grease or petroleum jelly (Vaseline), then place cable on the post and tighten. Coat the exposed cable end with the grease. Most folks don't know that just the gases from the battery condensing on metal parts cause most corrosion.

2. How does one handle and recycle the battery?
Handling and recycling the battery requires following a few thorough steps. Given below is a brief description of handling and recycling of a substation battery but it is always preferable to also follow the instructions given into the maintenance manual supplied by the manufacturer to ensure proper care and longer lifespan on the battery.

  • Do not allow the battery to stand idle for long time as this may cause inactivation of the battery cells.
  • Do not charge the battery with very high rate of current because high rate of charging causes high temperature rise and excessive gassing resulting in heavy loss of water and sometimes overflowing of electrolyte from the battery cells.
  • After every complete discharge, the battery should be immediately charged before returning it to its regular floating service. Otherwise there may be a chance of deposition of sulphate film on the plates.
  • As already mentioned, the battery cells should be charged gently at normal rate so that there will be no chance of immediate gassing and temperature rise over 40°C. Otherwise there may be damage to the battery cells due to high temperature. During charging of batteries, continuous monitoring is required, if gassing starts and the temperature reaches the said limit, reduce the rate of charging. If after reducing the charging rate, the temperature is still approaching to the limit, it indicates the completion of charging process because even the normal rate of charging may produce high temperature rise if the battery approaches to the fully charged condition.
  • The voltage of each of the battery cells should be checked before conclusion of charging. Each of the cells should be properly and equally charged and the readings should also be tallied with previous record.
  • If the electrolyte level inside the battery cell comes down, it must be filled with distilled water up to the level marked on the cell itself. This is to compensate for the loss of water due to evaporation.
  • During filling up distilled water in the battery cell, it must be carefully watched that the electrolyte level in the battery cells should not exceed the line marked on it. Otherwise there may be a chance of overflowing of electrolyte during gassing of the battery. High level of electrolyte may also cause softening the sealing compound on the top cover and subsequent leakage in the battery cell.
  • The specific gravity should be measured after at least two weeks from topping up to ensure thorough mixing of water in electrolyte.
  • The battery should be discharged up to the allowable limit and then it should be overcharged once in 2 to 3 months. The rate of overcharging must be followed as specified by the manufacturer. This operation is very important to maintain the acid storage battery in the active state.
  • When specific gravity of electrolyte is measured, it should not be forgotten to correct it for temperature so that all hydrometer readings will be referred to the same temperature. The hydrometer should be kept clean with distilled water otherwise the hydrometer will cause incorrect readings and as well as spoil the quality of electrolyte. The specific gravity of electrolyte must be kept within 1.180 to 1.240. Low value of specific gravity decreases the capacity of battery and on the other hand high value is harmful for the battery plates.
  • The substation battery normally operates under floating mode. At floating mode, a constant voltage from the battery charger is applied across the battery during its normal operation to keep the battery approximately in fully charged condition. In a normal condition the battery charger supplies the substation load and also compensates the losses in the battery. But in case of heavy demand during simultaneous operation of many switchgears, the battery and the charger, are combined to supply the demand.
  • During normal floating condition the cell voltage, specific gravity and temperature of pilot cells should be measured daily to follow up the condition of the battery as a whole. But the same readings of each and every battery cell should be taken at least once in the month to monitor the conditions of the individual cell.
  • The battery should be refilled with fresh electrolyte once in three years interval to maintain the battery in proper operating conditions.
  • It is to be noted that the pilot cell of a battery bank is one arbitrarily chosen battery cell which is used to get the information about overall condition of the battery. However, one pilot cell must be fixed for only one month and should be changed every month.

With the much required information about batteries, we are sure that now you are well versed with all its aspects.Picking the perfect one and then maintaining the longevity of the battery is going to be easier for you. Take your pick!

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