This Valen Blog discusses which battery technology is best for the mains-powered communication site – AGM vs Gel.
Which battery AGM v Gel
Which battery technology is best for my mains powered communication site? Phone towers. Radio repeaters, Base stations all rely on some form of the battery system, whether it’s an AGM Battery or a Gel Battery, for energy storage and backup power.
If it’s up to you to ensure that communications coverage and support are never compromised, you need trustworthy, long-lasting batteries that can meet the load demands of the communication equipment.
But with so many different types and subtypes of battery technologies, how can you be sure you choose the right one for the specific needs of your communications project?
Apart from the installation and configuration challenges, choosing the right type of battery technology that guarantees your site stays ‘online’ is paramount.
You’re probably already thinking you need some type of front terminal Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) battery, also known as a Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery, because:
- They are a proven technology throughout the communication market which has been tested, tried and succeeded
- Reputable communication and broadcasting companies use VRLA batteries throughout their network
- They have relatively few maintenance requirements and are safe for use in communication applications
An AGM Battery (Absorbent Glass Mat) relates to the type of separator between the lead plates. The acid is absorbed and immobilised in this separator which separates the positive and negative plates.
These batteries are recommended for your standby mains powered site. Similar to what you would have installed in your UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) units.
A Gel Battery uses polyethylene separators with a thixotropic Gel. The electrolyte is suspended within the Gel.
But which battery is best to use? Well, it really comes down to the specific situation you will be using the battery in.
A good starting point is to first consider whether you require Cyclic Power or Standby Power.
If you are facing a situation where you require mission-critical cyclic power, such as a remote emergency communications tower up on a mountaintop, then a Gel Battery is the suggested solution. Gel Batteries are ideal for delivering cyclic power because:
- They have been designed to handle the constant cycling (charging and discharging) on a regular basis without damaging the battery
- Through the thixotropic Gel, the battery can be left in a partial state of charge without damaging the battery
- The Gel battery can cycle back from a low state of charge without damaging the battery
The Gel battery has been designed to release power slowly over a long-time period. This makes them best suited to cyclic solar sites where they are charged during the day and discharged at night.
So unless you absolutely require mission-critical power or you’re in a situation that specifies a Gel Battery is needed, you’re most likely only looking at ensuring regular Standby Power.
In a standby power application, the battery bank is the backup required to power the equipment should you have a power failure. The battery bank is just the energy storage and is best installed within a UPS system which will control the charging and discharging of the battery bank.
UPS’s are required at sites where equipment is required to be backed up in the case of a power loss like in an emergency. In this scenario, the power would be required at a high rate for a relatively short period. The battery bank can be discharged to supply the current needs. The characteristic you are looking for in a battery is a battery that can deliver fast. AGM batteries are designed to release their power over a short time period.
Although a Gel battery will work, a Gel battery is designed to be cycled and may lead to premature failure due to it not cycling.
Which AGM Battery should I use?
If you’ve narrowed the type of battery down to an AGM, the next step is to choose. The correct capacity and voltage are required. From this, you can then decide on the best configuration and installation of your battery bank.
Standard market AGM batteries come with a 5yrs design life batteries. This is your lowest cost option. You can expect basic functionality And a short lifetime.
AGM Batteries with Tin
AGM batteries with added tin, such as the Valen X-CEL, have a longer design life of 10yrs compared to a standard AGM. Adding Tin to the battery grid reduces the batteries internal impedance, reduce plate sulphate and in turn, increases the batteries life.
AGM Batteries with Tin PLUS a Catalyst Life Extender
This type of battery is exclusive to Valen. The ENDUROX-CEL Range featuring our Catalyst Life Extender is top of the line.
The Catalyst Life Extender recombines the hydrogen and oxygen gasses the battery creates whenever it charges and discharges in order to deliver the following benefits:
- The extended design life of 12 – 15 years
- Reduces cell failure due to sulphation.
- Extends battery float service life due to reduced plate corrosion.
- Maintains full design life when used at temperatures up to 30°C
- Reduces the possibility of thermal runaway.
Our ENDUROX-CEL Range features our exclusive Catalyst Life Extender.
Although the Valen ENDUROX-CEL batteries are slightly more expensive than the average AGM battery, their longevity and reliability in remote applications far exceed the lower spec’d products.
For all your critical communication sites requiring AC backup, we would suggest the Valen ENDUROX-CEL batteries.
ROI and reduction on battery issues have been the main contributors to the success of the ENDUROX-CEL batteries.
Not sure which battery is right for your project? Just ask us!
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