News and Information for Public Egress, Building Safety and Government Compliance
“The manufacturer said it would last 20 years,” you might yell when your emergency lighting battery only lasted 12. Did the manufacturer lie? Let’s just say their projection was made using a “best-case scenario.” Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to batteries used for emergency lighting.
Improper Usage or Care
Unfortunately consumers don’t always follow the recommendations included in the manual. Excessive heat, moisture, improper use, and bad charging habits all play a role in the early death of a battery. To avoid these mishaps, check out this article on increasing battery longevity.
You might have noticed it at home or at work. Power outages are more frequent. Due to increasing cases of hazardous weather, increasing power demand and a decaying infrastructure, backup power sources are suddenly thrust into action more frequently. Your emergency lighting battery might not even notice this strain if backup generators kick into gear, but not all facilities have the luxury of backup generators. For several locations, the backup batteries bear the burden of the added strain. Few manufactures account for this in their projections.
When it comes to batteries, even small variations affect longevity. The reason is batteries used for emergency lighting rely on delicate chemistry. When the chemistry is just a little off, the battery cells don’t pack the same amount of punch as was anticipated. To avoid this, it’s important to go with a trusted brand of battery, one that has a track record of consistent results.
Emergency Lighting offers batteries from proven brands, like these emergency lighting batteries from Lithonia. To learn more about the best battery for you, give us a call at 763-542-3155. Our sales team knows the industry. We’ve been in it for over 30 years. We’ll guide you to the purchase that makes sense for you.
Rechargeable batteries are an investment, and for you to get the highest return, they need to last. When determining the life expectancy of your next battery, it’s important to know the type of battery. Each type of battery responds differently to various environments, significantly impacting the length of life.
Sealed Lead Acid and VRLA Batteries
Lead acid batteries were the original rechargeable batteries, first appearing over 150 years ago. The sealed lead acid battery is a new variation of the old technology. Their main benefit is the calcium added to their plates, which reduces water loss. They can also recycle gases they produce and prevent damage to the battery when the charge rate is controlled. These innovations help them meet their average life expectancy of 5 to 10 years.
VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) batteries are closely related to SLA batteries. The main difference is they are more durable. SLA batteries last the same amount of time as VRLA batteries in normal conditions, but the VRLAs can be inverted without spilling electrolytes. This allows it to last longer for some uses than its SLA cousin.
Both types of batteries must be cared for properly to live long into their lifespans. Do not attempt to charge batteries in sub zero temperatures. Although the durability of lead acid batteries can withstand temperature extremes, they have limits. To ensure the batteries receive proper care, consult the instructions. Most instructions will detail the optimal temperature for storage, charging instructions and operation. Follow these guidelines and they will last. An example of the detailed instructions included with your battery appears in this guide for a Power Sonic SLA battery.
Nickel-cadmium batteries for are great for demanding uses. They can withstand high discharge rates while sustaining minimal damage or loss of capacity.
Unfortunately, they don’t do as well in storage as lead acid batteries. Nickel Cadmium batteries will self-discharge in storage at faster rates. Charge the batteries semi-regularly to avoid deep discharge, which damages the battery and shortens its life.
If you properly care for a nickel cadmium battery by following the instructions within the packaging, your battery should last you 10 to 15 years or 500 to 1000 charge cycles.
Although the instructions for care vary, all nickel-cadmium batteries and nickel-metal hydride batteries should not be charged in freezing temperatures. Avoid temperature extremes while charging.
Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are similar to nickel-cadmium batteries, except their energy density approaches that of a lithium-ion cell battery, making them great for high current drain applications. Their average lifespan is equal to that of nickel-cadmium batteries.
Like nickel cadmium batteries, they don’t do as well in storage. They can lose as much of 4% of their charge per day, meaning they will need to be recharged periodically to avoid deep discharge. Fortunately, the nickel-metal hydride has a variation reducing instances of self discharge, known as LSD nickel-metal hydride.
Whatever type of nickel metal hydride battery you choose, keep in mind your intentions. If you need to store your battery for long periods of time, you will want to consider an LSD version of nickel-metal hydride battery, as it will be more equipped to avoid deep discharge.
Before you decide on your next battery, consider the purpose you intend for it. If you need help deciding what battery is right for your need, contact us online or give us a call at 800-521-4045. We’ll help you out.
Almost everyone has used SLA batteries, perhaps without even noticing it. Though the battery type doesn’t receive a lot of attention, it should. It is by far the most effective battery for its cost, and it is used for a wide variety of industries.
1. They’ve Been Around a Long Time
In 1859, a French physician invented the first type of rechargeable lead acid battery for commercial use. The ancient ancestor of the batteries we use today originally lit train cars. Since then, they’ve been continuously improved over the last century and a half.
2. Stopping the Leaks
Up until the 1970s lead acid batteries could leak when held in a variety of physical positions. The SLA battery was brought into the market in the 70s to minimize battery maintenance and prevent leakage. With modern SLA batteries, maintenance is limited to proper storage and charging, and the batteries do not leak when jostled into an abnormal position.
3. A Touch of Alloy
SLA batteries actually use lead alloy. Pure lead could not support itself. The metal is too soft.
4. Bring on the Chill
SLA batteries are superior to their expensive cousins, lithium and nickel based batteries, when it comes to handing sub zero conditions.
5. Make Sure You Charge It Right
If you charge your SLA right, it will thank you for it by lasting longer. The type of battery performs better when it isn’t over or under charged. Once your battery is charged, your battery should be switched to “float” voltage. Never leave your battery in storage for more than six months without charging it. For instructions on optimal charging conditions, you should consult your battery’s manual. For the Power-Sonic 640F1 battery, you can find charging and storage information right here.
6. Store the Battery in an Optimal location
If batteries are stored and charged properly, they live longer, saving you money. Batteries should be stored in a cool and dry area. They should also be kept at an optimal temperature. You can typically find such information included with the battery, but a general rule of thumb for SLA batteries is that they should be stored in temperatures between 65 to 70 degrees.
7. Don’t Overcharge
We did cover this one a bit, but it is very important. Overcharging a battery can cause swelling, a symptom that signals your battery is aging quickly from abuse. In some extreme cases, a battery can be destroyed within a couple of hours when overcharged.
8. What Happens if You Drop Your Battery
Accidents happen, but rest easy. The benefit of SLAs is that they are made to be durable, and they have features that prevent leaking. For example, the PS-640F1, the battery being offered to you as a blowout, has valve regulated, spill proof construction that protects it from leaking.
However, if your battery is damaged due to impact, you should take the necessary precautions. Using protective gear, like rubber gloves and safety glasses will prevent injury. Sodium bicarbonate can be used to neutralize spillage or battery parts. Place the broken battery in a heavy plastic bag and keep in a non-metal container until it is recycled.
At Emergency Lighting, we stock all the essential battery styles from top manufacturers to ensure your emergency lighting and exit signage is always up to the task when you need it most.
There are many variations of rechargeable batteries available depending on the specific needs of your application. See the descriptions below to find the right battery to meet your needs.
Sealed Lead Acid or (SLA) batteries are the most reliable and widely used power source. They can recharge much faster than a flooded lead acid battery, and the calcium added to their plates helps reduce water loss. Sealed lead acid batteries can recycle the gases they produce and can prevent damage to the battery when the charge rate is controlled. These batteries must always be kept in upright positions and protected from leakage.
Similar to standard SLA batteries, VRLA batteries include a safety pressure relief valve. VRLAs are a great low maintenance power option and cannot spill their electrolytes if ever inverted. VRLA batteries can be used in applications where traditional flooded batteries cannot be used as long as their charging is well-regulated. In the event of an emergency VRLA batteries are a highly reliable option for your emergency lighting systems.
Although seldom used today, NiCd batteries are still useful in applications requiring very high discharge rates because they can withstand such scenarios with little damage or loss of capacity. Nickel–Cadmium batteries are made in a wide range of sizes and capacities, from portable sealed types comparable to carbon-zinc dry cells, to large ventilated cells used for standby and motive power.
Compared to other rechargeable cells, NiCd batteries offer good cycle life and performance at low temperatures with fair capacity low internal resistance. Their true advantage is the ability to deliver practically full capacity at high discharge rates. However, their materials are more costly than lead acid batteries, and the cells have high self-discharge rates.
Since the battery is not a pressure vessel, ventilated nickel-cadmium batteries are safer, weigh less, and have a simpler and more economical structure. This also means the battery is not normally damaged by excessive rates of overcharge, discharge or even negative charge.
NiMH battery can have two to three times the capacity of an equivalent size NiCd, and their energy density approaches that of a lithium-ion cell. Nickel–Metal Hydride batteries are good for high current drain applications because of their low internal resistance.
The disadvantage of NiMH batteries is their high rate of self-discharge. NiMH batteries typically lose 4% of their charge per day of storage. LSD NiMH batteries significantly lower self-discharge, but at the cost of lowering capacity by about 20%.
When testing your commercial emergency exit signs, there are two main components to check for full operation. Bulbs and batteries. These are the first things to review during scheduled maintenance tests. Fire code requires that all emergency lights and lighted exit signs be inspected at a monthly minimum.
Certain models will have two sets of bulbs that should be checked during these monthly tests. The first set runs on your 110 volt building power, and the second low voltage set comes on with a power failure. These low voltage bulbs are powered directly from the on board reserve battery. As a result, a sign that appears to be working may fail during a power outage because the low voltage bulbs have burned out.
Likewise, many defective batteries maintain just enough charge to light the bulbs for a few seconds after being triggered. If you don’t test reserve batteries for at least thirty seconds, you may find that the lights work each month only to find that they go out when you really need them. By testing the lights for at least thirty seconds you can make sure your batteries don’t just have a misleading surface charge.
Annual testing of emergency signage is also a standard code requirement. This involves running the lights under only emergency power for the full minimum of thirty minutes. Written records documenting the testing must be maintained and available for review by the fire inspector
To test your lights, use the small “push to test” button on the casing. Push and hold this button for thirty seconds to test the bulbs and battery. If the lights dim right away, or some of the bulbs don’t work it is time for some repair.
For a large facilities with many devices, or for the annual thirty-minute test find your circuit breaker or fuse that supplies your emergency lighting. Turn off your circuit breaker and observe that they’ve all lasted through the test period. If other equipment shares the same circuit be sure nothing will be damaged by the interruption.
If your lighting systems are powered by an emergency generator, this is an opportunity test all at once and guarantee your building is fully equipped to maintain safety during any potential outage.
Nobody wants to be caught off guard by a sudden blackout. Take the time this month to check back up generators, flood lights, and batteries to ensure you are ready for whatever the warmer months may throw at us.
In addition to testing all of your safety equipment, its essential for every building to have a clear safety plan for it’s occupants. Developing and enforcing these plans can be a difficult thing for most organizations to follow through on and maintain over time, but a little commitment can go a long way with the right approach.
Ready.gov has a great bank of materials to help any organization get started with their own personalized safety plan. It’s best to make sure you have the right management leadership, commitment and financial support to effectively manage the project. To keep your plan on track, make sure you are currently in line with all current regulations and further improve your readiness from there.
Common questions that are asked to us here at Emergency Lite Service Center relate to batteries. What battery fits my exit sign or emergency lighting fixture, or specifically, how come my lights don’t work on my LED R-1?
To stay within code, it is required to have sufficient lighting and properly placed exit signs. Depending on where you are located in the country, it is important to understand what is needed for your establishment. With batteries, typically the fixtures are battery back-up which means the battery’s purpose is to provide light and illumination in the event of a power outage up to 90 minutes.
For most exit signs, emergency lighting units, combo units (both exit sign and emergency lighting), the battery used is a 6 volt 4.5 amp hour. That’s sufficient enough to power your fixture. Depending on what type of battery you have, sealed lead acid (SLA) has a life span of 3-5 years and a nickel-cadmium (NiCad) has a life span of 5-7 years. It is also important to test your fixture once every 30 days.
When the lights go out, the emergency lights kick on and the exit signs stay illuminated. That way, your patrons, customers, employees, and other people in your place of business can safely find their way out without fishing for the exit in the dark.
In case of power outage or an emergency, batteries play a significant role in minimizing risk. Having efficient emergency lighting isn’t enough if your batteries don’t function properly. That’s why you should consider all the factors before choosing light batteries for your exit signs or emergency lights.
The Purpose of Emergency Light Batteries:
When the electricity is off, batteries function as a light activator. As a rule, they can provide the light for 90 minutes or more. Please note that the batteries used for emergency lights should be more powerful than those used for exit signs.
Features That Determine Effective Light Batteries:
– Need to have enough power to illuminate the room for 90 minutes.
– 24 hours should be enough for their full charge.
– Need to have the required voltage capacity to power emergency lights or exit signs.
– They should be easily replaced and installed.
Types of Emergency Light Batteries:
– Nickel cadmium – they are ideal for small exit signs, emergency lights and electronic devices.
– Lead acid – these batteries are suitable for small and medium emergency lights and exit signs.
– Lead calcium – these lead acid batteries are usually used in cold environments. They need lower maintenance cost and are more durable in comparison with other types.
The Efficiency of Rechargeable Batteries
Even though rechargeable batteries are quite expensive when compared with traditional ones, they are more durable and can be easily recharged. They are perfectly suitable for emergency lights, exit signs or other electronic devices.
Battery: a device that converts stored chemical energy into usable electrical energy. When it comes to batteries, one size does not fit all. Batteries come in so many shapes, sizes and kinds. There are primary cell batteries and rechargeable batteries. There are wet cells and dry cells. There are primary batteries and secondary batteries. This can seem confusing. What you need to know is what battery you and looking for and that Emergency Lighting is the place you will find it! If you don’t know what battery you need, contacts us! – we’re ready to help you.
Big Beam Batteries
C & D Batteries
Emergency Light Batteries
Eagle Picher Batteries
Long Life Lead
National Power Batteries
Nickel Metal Hydride
Exit Sign Batteries