The security industry has long adopted the Sealed Lead Acid Battery as the standard for backup power to alarm panels.
The 12V 7AH Sealed Lead Acid or Gel batteries are the most commonly used on alarm panel installations. They have unfortunately run into a problem called..... Eskom.
Under stage 6 rolling blackouts, some areas spend 10 hours daily without electricity. Every time the battery is discharged when the power is turned off, it loses a part of its capacity.
In some alarm installations, the battery is fully discharged and never returns to its original capacity. A battery lasting the SAIDSA recommended 6 hours now start lasting fewer hours, and the entire alarm installation may turn off during a power outage.
How much capacity the battery loses depends on the following:
- The quality of the battery
- The quality of the charger
- The current consumed by the alarm installation
- Whether the alarm panel cuts out at a certain point to preserve the battery life
Lead acid batteries also do not like the high temperatures on our roofs in the African sun.
ENTER THE LITHIUM-ION BATTERY
There is a replacement for the standard lead acid battery in the same size and
capacity. The standard replacement is called Lithium iron phosphate (LifePO4). It can endure thousands of charge and discharge cycles before losing its capacity.
Isn’t it dangerous?
LiFePO4 are the safest type of lithium battery because they are not prone to overheating and won't catch on fire even if they're punctured.
Isn’t it environmentally hazardous?
The cathode material is also non-hazardous, and therefore, it poses no environmental or negative health hazards.
What are the pitfalls?
It costs more - as simple as that.
THERE ARE SOME ISSUES WITH DIRECTLY REPLACING A LEAD ACID WITH A LITHIUM-ION BATTERY
Lithium-Ion batteries require a higher charge voltage than lead acid to obtain their full capacity (typically 14.6V as opposed to 13.7V)
Low Battery Measurement:
The alarm panel will report a low battery condition when the battery reaches a specific voltage. The SAIDSA minimum voltage is 10.2V, which differs from one alarm panel to another. It usually is slightly higher. The voltage of the Lead Acid battery degrades as it is discharged.
The Lithium-Ion voltage falls over a cliff when it is discharged. One must be careful that the panel will report a low battery condition before the Lithium battery cuts out (generally at about 10V). Even then, there will not be much life left in the battery after the panel has reported that the battery is low.
The ideal case is that the alarm panel can handle the different:
- Charging voltage
- Charging Current
- Battery Low Reporting Level of the Lithium Battery
Even then, it is still better in an older alarm panel than visiting the customer every few months to replace the battery. Or even worse, the customer has to live with a non-working alarm.