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"Roll your own" UPS battery packs

8 Jan 2015 6:07 PM -

Manufacturers such as APC, supply replacement battery packs, identified as RBC2, RBC4, etc., complete with wires, fuses and connectors as required depending on the UPS configuration and requirements. On the larger models, more than one RBC may be required.

In order to maintain your warranty you must use genuine APC battery packs but there is no reason not to "roll your own" battery pack on out of warranty units.

Regardless of brand most UPS's use one of three common sizes of 12-Volt sealed-lead-acid battery: 7Ah, 12Ah and 17Ah. The most common and most economical UPS battery is the 12Volt 7Amp-hour (12V 7Ah) size because it is produced in large quantities by the manufacturers, is widely distributed, is readily available and is relatively inexpensive. 

If buying your own batteries then you need to be careful of what terminal style you have - small spade, large spade or bolt.

The smaller UPS's (under 1500VA) use batteries with "quick-disconnect" spade terminals, which are sold with either 3/16in (4.35mm) and 1/4in (6.35mm) terminals. Electronic suppliers tend to only carry the small terminal batteries. Specialist battery stores will carry a better choice. All the APC SmartUPS and BackUPS models use the larger 6.35mm terminals.

The larger UPS's use batteries with large terminals with holes for bolts. The position of these terminals on the top of the battery is not always the same. Manufacturers may produce the same basic battery with different bolt-terminal locations. Depending on the type of fuse you are attempting to re-use, your new battery might not work because the terminals are in different locations than on the original batteries. You will need to find out which battery model your fuse is designed for.

Once you have the correct battery it is simply a matter of carefully disconnecting the fuse and Anderson plug from the old batteries, orienting the new batteries the same way and connecting them together. APC stick the batteries together in a pack but several turns of packing tape is just as good to keep them together was you gently slide them back into the unit and connect them up.

Most of the APC units have hot swappable batteries meaning you don't have to turn the unit off however if a power failure should occur while you have the batteries out then all connected equipment will shut down so use your own judgement if battery replacement can safely be performed in normal hours. If a battery warning light has come on then it will not automatically reset when new batteries are installed but will stay on until a self test is performed either manually using the ON button or via software. You may want to let the new batteries charge for a few hours or overnight before conducting any self tests and especially run time tests.

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