Plenty of electronic devices and equipment rely on the protection of a UPS backup battery. However, the UPS can only provide that protection if the battery is healthy and in good working order. That’s why you must know how to check UPS battery health.
You can check the health of your UPS backup battery in several ways. Firstly, check the indicators and displays to ensure the unit works correctly. If your unit has a self-check feature, you can also use that to run battery health tests. Performing physical inspections will also help. Lastly, you can test the battery’s electrical performance with a multimeter or load testing.
UPS battery health is crucial, and this guide will help you understand how to keep an eye on it at all times.
How Can I Tell If My UPS Battery Is Healthy?
Periodic monitoring of your UPS battery health is crucial to ensure that it stays in excellent working condition.
Here are a few ways you can tell if your UPS battery is (or isn’t) healthy:
#1 Check Indicators or Displays
The first and quickest way to check your UPS battery’s health is by referring to the indicators or displays directly on the unit.
All UPS units, even entry-level ones, come with several indicators that will light up to let you know if the battery inside is working correctly. Some more expensive models will even have a display that provides much more information on the battery’s condition.
Typically, those indicators and displays will let you know that the battery is healthy by showing that:
- The battery is charging correctly
- The battery is holding its electrical charge as it should
- The battery is supplying electricity to its power outlets
Besides that, UPS units also have indicators that will alert you to any battery health problems. Those indicators will tell you when:
- The battery fails to charge
- The battery is overheating
- The battery is worn out
Referring to the indicators and displays on your UPS is the first way to check your UPS battery health, as it requires little effort and takes almost no time at all.
#2 Self-Testing Function
Some UPS backup batteries, particularly the more sophisticated ones, come with built-in self-testing features. Those features are incredibly helpful for monitoring the health of your UPS battery.
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A self-testing UPS will not only check the condition of the internal battery, but it’ll also make sure that the other internal components are functioning correctly. That way, the self-test will provide you with a thorough understanding of how healthy the unit is overall.
Some UPS models will perform the self-test automatically at regular intervals. For example, the unit will test itself:
- Whenever the unit is turned on or reset
- At regular intervals, like every 2 weeks that the unit is operational
Of course, you can also trigger the self-testing process manually. Depending on the design of your UPS unit, you can perform a self-test by:
- Pressing a dedicated self-test button on the unit’s control panel
- Using the display to scroll through menus and selecting the self-testing feature
Self-testing is not always available for entry-level UPS battery backups. However, if you want to monitor your battery health closely, it would be an excellent idea to invest in a model that offers self-testing.
#3 Physical Inspection
Besides relying on the UPS and its indicators to tell you if it’s healthy, it’s also helpful to perform a physical inspection on the unit from time to time.
When a UPS backup battery starts to wear out or malfunction, it will show some very clear physical signs that you can look out for.
So, by performing regular physical inspections, you can catch those signs early on and fix the problem before it’s too late.
Here are some of the things you’ll want to check during a physical inspection to know if your UPS battery is healthy:
- Temperature: Never forget that it’s entirely normal for a healthy UPS battery to feel a little warm to the touch. You should only be concerned if the battery is too hot for you to touch with your fingers, as that means the unit is overheating.
- Shape: A healthy UPS battery should also retain its original shape and be free from any swelling. Swelling is a sign of a problem with the battery’s internal chemistry.
- Smells: Next, a healthy UPS battery will never produce any odors. However, a worn-out battery will smell of sulfur, which people often describe as the smell of rotten eggs.
- Connectors: The internal battery connects to the rest of the UPS using a battery connector. That connector should be firmly attached at all times. If it’s loose or disconnected, the battery can’t function correctly.
#4 Multimeter Testing
Another mark of a healthy UPS battery is its electrical performance.
A healthy battery will remain within its normal voltage and amperage ranges, both of which will differ depending on your battery’s type and capacity. You can check the user manual for the manufacturer’s information on your unit’s normal voltage and amperage ranges.
As long as those indicators are within the normal ranges, your UPS battery is still healthy.
#5 Load Testing
Lastly, you can check the health of your UPS battery by load testing it.
Remember: a UPS backup battery is meant to power your devices for a short period during a power outage. The precise duration will depend on your battery’s capacity and how many devices you’ve plugged into the UPS power outlets.
So, to see if your UPS battery is still healthy, disconnect the UPS from the wall socket. Then, measure how long the UPS will supply power to your devices from its battery.
If your UPS battery lasts for as long as it should, then the battery is still healthy. However, draining too quickly indicates that the battery performance isn’t optimal.
All UPS batteries have a limited number of discharge cycles they can experience. So, as helpful as load testing is, don’t do it too often. Frequent load testing will wear out the battery faster and cause it to fail prematurely.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Battery health is critical for a UPS to remain functional. So, here are a few more questions and answers to help you keep your UPS battery healthy:
How Do I Know My UPS Battery Needs Replacing?
You’ll know your UPS battery needs replacing if it’s more than 3 years old or approaching the end of its lifespan. Besides that, some UPS units have indicators that will tell you when the battery is no longer performing optimally and needs to be replaced.
What Is The Life Of A UPS Battery?
A standard UPS battery has a life of 3 to 5 years. As it approaches the later years of its lifespan, the battery will gradually lose its performance and become unreliable. So, it’s best to replace the battery as soon as possible.
What Can Damage A UPS Battery?
One thing that will damage a UPS battery is frequent discharging. All batteries have a limited number of discharge cycles. The more cycles it goes through, the more that battery will be exposed to wear.
How Often Should UPS Batteries Be Checked?
Typically, it’s an excellent idea to check your UPS batteries at least once a month. However, if the UPS battery protects highly critical devices or equipment, it would be best to check more frequently. That way, you can address any issues while they’re still minor.
Should I Unplug UPS When Not In Use?
No, you should ideally keep your UPS plugged in at all times. That’s because the UPS battery will gradually self-discharge at all times. So by keeping it plugged in, the battery can stay fully charged.