What Are UPS Battery Failure Symptoms?

UPS batteries are crucial backups during power outages. Unfortunately, many users find that their batteries fail when they need them the most. So what symptoms should you look for to know when to replace your UPS battery?

The first symptom of UPS battery failure is age. A battery approaching the later stages of its lifespan is more likely not to work effectively. Repetitive alarm sounds and lights and slow charging or fast discharging hint that the battery will fail. Lastly, look out for swelling and smells.

UPS batteries show several failure symptoms that you should be aware of. This guide will walk you through 8 of those symptoms so you can preemptively change the battery as needed.

What Are Common Symptoms Of A Failing UPS Battery?

A UPS battery is an excellent way to keep your devices running during a power outage. However, a failed UPS will be useless to you in an emergency.

That’s why it’s crucial that you can tell when a UPS battery needs to be replaced. Some signs are more subtle than others, 

Here are 8 signs your UPS battery is failing or will fail soon:

#1 End of Battery Lifespan

Its lifespan is the first sign that your UPS battery will soon experience failure. 

Ask yourself these 2 crucial questions:

  • First, how long is the UPS battery supposed to last?
  • How long have you been using that unit?

To put it simply, the closer your UPS battery is to the end of its lifespan, the more likely it’ll experience one or more of the other symptoms on this list.

UPS batteries typically last between 3-5 years. However, that average lifespan can differ significantly between brands and models.

For instance, a lower quality model could fail sooner, while a more robust model could last longer.

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To be sure, please refer to the user manual to understand the manufacturer’s expectations of how long your UPS battery should last.

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#2 Repetitive Alarms

UPS units these days have built-in alarms to alert you of any problems. For instance, many come with overheating alarms that warn you when the battery reaches dangerous temperatures.

Those alarms should only activate when a real problem occurs. However, another sign that your UPS is failing is when its alarms activate repetitively.

For instance, you’ll find that a failing UPS battery will trigger one or more of its alarms repeatedly, even when nothing is wrong.

#3 Flashing Panel Lights

Aside from repetitive alarms, another common sign of UPS battery failure is when the panel lights flash continuously for no reason. These flashing lights may or may not be accompanied by the repetitive alarms mentioned above in #2.

At first glance, this and other symptoms listed here might make it seem like the entire UPS unit has failed. However, the fault is likely only with the batteries inside that have become worn out, not the other UPS components.

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#4 Charging Too Slow

Next, you might notice that your UPS battery takes much longer to charge after draining all its stored energy.

As the battery ages, the unit’s chemical reactions will change for the worse and become inefficient. In addition, those changes make it much more challenging for the battery to receive and store electrical power.

Again, this process will differ between UPS battery brands and models. So, you’ll have to refer to the user manual to know how fast the battery is supposed to charge to its maximum capacity under normal conditions.

When the battery gets older and the charging process takes a lot longer than average, that’s a sign your battery isn’t performing well anymore. The risk of battery failure is high and will continue increasing with time.

#5 Discharging Too Fast

This symptom of UPS battery failure is closely related to what you saw earlier in #4.

Remember: as your UPS battery gets older, the chemical reactions that allow it to function will become increasingly inefficient.

In symptom #4 earlier, you saw that the failing battery takes too long to charge. On top of that, a failing battery will also discharge what little energy it stores much faster than usual.

So, if there’s ever a power outage and you need the UPS to keep your devices running, the battery will not last as long as you’d hope.

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#6 Swollen Batteries

Failing UPS batteries also demonstrate physical symptoms that you can look for. An example of that is swelling in the battery units.

The swelling can get bad enough that the battery presses outwards against the casing. For units with more than one battery, the swelling can also cause them to press against each other.

You must understand that swollen batteries are harmful. So, if you notice any swelling on your UPS battery, you should stop using it immediately.

The swelling happens as a result of there being too much electrical current flowing inside the battery. That then leads to a dangerous buildup of gas and heat inside the battery.

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#7 Low Voltage Tests

Sometimes, the symptoms of a failing UPS battery can be hard to notice. That’s especially true if there are no physical signs like swelling in the battery or repetitive alarms from the UPS unit.

Another way to know if your UPS battery is failing is by testing it with a multimeter. Your UPS battery should maintain its voltage within a specific range if it’s in excellent working order.

However, if the voltage drops below that range, the battery isn’t as healthy as it should be. The battery will continue to function, but it likely won’t help you much when there’s a power outage.

A typical voltage for UPS batteries is anywhere between 2.25 volts to 13.5 volts. Again, the best reference to see what applies to your UPS battery brand and model is the user manual. So, be sure to check that document for more information.

#8 Burning Or Other Smells

Lastly, you should be wary of any unusual smells like burning that come from your UPS battery. A standard UPS battery that’s functioning correctly should not give off any smell at all.

However, unusual smells could be the result of an overheating battery. So when you notice the smell, shut off the battery immediately and do not continue using it.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Understanding your UPS battery’s functions will help you get the most value out of it. So, here are a few more questions and answers you’ll find helpful.

What Happens When A UPS Battery Dies?

When a UPS battery dies, it won’t be able to keep your devices running during a power outage. In other words, the UPS battery will not be helpful to you when you need it the most.

What Causes A UPS Battery To Fail?

UPS batteries typically fail due to excessive wear and tear from old age. Besides that, extremely hot or cold temperatures and a lack of ventilation can cause the UPS battery to stop functioning correctly.

What Is The Average Life Of A UPS Battery?

A UPS battery can last for an average of 3 to 5 years. However, the lifespan will be different depending on the quality of your UPS battery brand and model. Higher-quality batteries can last longer, especially if you store and maintain the battery correctly.

When Should I Replace My UPS Battery?

It’s best to replace your UPS battery when it gets old, and its performance deteriorates. Some UPS units will have alarms informing you that you should replace the battery. In doing so, you can ensure the UPS battery works effectively during a power outage.

How Do You Test A UPS Battery?

You can test a UPS battery by removing it and checking it with a multimeter. The multimeter allows you to test the battery’s voltage and assess the battery’s health.

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