November 14, 2016
Emergency light fixtures are used in many commercial, industrial, municipal and large residential buildings to provide illumination when the power is disrupted and to mark exits for evacuation purposes. They are available as standalone fixtures that contain a battery, a charging circuit and energy-efficient light bulbs, providing light to darkened rooms and hallways during an emergency, as well as illuminated signs that direct occupants along evacuation routes to designated emergency exits.
After many years of use, the emergency light batteries powering these fixtures will begin degrade, reducing their operating time or causing the fixtures to fail completely. This could have dangerous consequences during an emergency, jeopardizing the safety of not only the building's occupants, but that of emergency responders as well.
Here are five reasons that you should inspect and test the emergency light batteries in your fixtures often:
1) Increased Safety
In many large commercial and industrial buildings, rooms and hallways on the interior of the building, away from the exterior walls, can become dangerously dark when the power is disrupted. This can make it difficult to navigate during an emergency without flashlights or other emergency lighting, and it can lead to injuries or even deaths in serious emergencies like fires or earthquakes.
Emergency light fixtures, when operating properly, can provide over 90 minutes of illumination after the power is disrupted, allowing a building's occupants plenty of time to safely evacuate and providing emergency responders with enough time to make sure that the building is completely empty. By testing your emergency light batteries and fixtures often, you can make sure that they will operate properly during an emergency, preventing accidents and injuries.
2) Reduced Liability
If your emergency light fixtures are not operating properly or the emergency light batteries no longer provide enough power to last the full 90 minutes required by many local codes, accidents, injuries or property damage could occur during a power outage or an emergency. This could lead to claims against the building’s insurance policy, and higher premiums in the future, as well as civil or even criminal lawsuits or penalties.
By keeping your emergency light fixtures well-maintained, and ensuring that the emergency light batteries can hold a sufficient charge to last for at least 90 minutes, you can avoid unnecessary liability and the associated expenses.
3) Longer Battery Life
Batteries that are stored for long periods of time without regular use can self-discharge, or slowly lose power, reducing the available amperage and voltage. In emergency light fixtures, this can reduce the operating time of the lights when power is disrupted, and if the emergency light batteries are left in a partially-discharged state for too long, the lifespan of the batteries can be significantly reduced or the batteries could fail completely. Likewise, a battery that is not periodically subjected to regular charge and discharge cycles could fail prematurely or lose capacity, reducing the fixture's operating time.
By periodically inspecting and testing your emergency light fixtures and batteries, you can extend the lifespan of your existing emergency light batteries, and avoid the extra expense of replacing them early.
4) Improved Fixture Performance
When emergency light fixtures are not tested often and maintained properly, they can perform poorly during an emergency situation. Weak batteries can reduce the operating time of the fixture or lead to abnormally dim illumination during use. Dirty or corroded battery connections could prevent the light from operating, reduce its brightness or prevent the battery from recharging properly. Old or damaged bulbs could prevent the fixture from providing sufficient light or they could drain the battery quicker than normal.
By testing the emergency light fixtures and batteries often, and performing a bit of simple maintenance, you can be sure that they will provide a sufficient amount of light during emergency situations and that they will operate for the required amount of time.
5) Longer Fixture Life
As emergency light batteries start to lose capacity or fail completely, they can cause problems with the emergency light fixtures themselves. Charging circuits can overheat and fail from charging damaged batteries. Wires and connectors can overheat due to shorted batteries and cause an open circuit or a short. The bulbs in the fixtures could receive too much or too little power and fail.
Periodic inspection and testing of each fixture can help spot a damaged emergency light battery before the problem is severe enough to cause damage to the fixture itself. This prolongs the life of the fixture, and limits repair costs to the price of a new battery, instead of both the battery and a fixture.
Inspecting and Testing Emergency Light Fixtures
Emergency light batteries typically contain sealed lead acid, nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride batteries.
- Sealed batteries are the most susceptible to self-discharge, and if stored in a partially-discharged condition, they fail prematurely.
- Nickel cadmium batteries also have high self-discharge rates, and to maintain capacity, they should be charged and discharged completely, as partial charging may affect long-term performance.
- Nickel metal hydride batteries have low sell-discharge rates and can withstand partial charging, but they should also be charged and discharged periodically for the best performance.
Every three to six months, the following steps should be performed to keep your emergency light batteries in optimal condition:
- Visually inspect the battery for leaks or damage
- With the main power off, inspect and clean the battery terminals and connections
- Measure the battery voltage when it is full, which should be slightly higher than the rated voltage
- Disconnect the power and measure the operational time of the fixture
- Allow the fixture to fully recharge and measure the battery voltage
If the battery is damaged, leaking, or not performing properly, replace it. If the fixture is not operating properly or is damaged, have it repaired or replaced.
October 13, 2016
In order to meet local, state and federal code requirements, and provide plenty of operating time for occupants to get to safety, emergency lights typically must provide at least 90 minutes of illumination. After several years of operation, the original Lithonia battery in each emergency light fixture will start showing signs of age, and it may start causing the fixture to operate poorly or not at all.
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September 14, 2016
Traditionally, solar systems have employed deep-cycle, flooded lead-acid batteries for energy storage, because they are durable, cost-effective, and they offer the charging characteristics and performance required for the high demands that solar systems place on batteries.
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August 15, 2016
Lithonia Lighting manufactures a large selection of lighting products for use in industrial, commercial and residential buildings, but it is well known for its line of battery-powered emergency lights and signs. These products combine a battery, charging system and energy-efficient lighting into a small package that provides emergency lights for building evacuations or illuminated signs that mark escape routes during events like power outages or natural disasters. The battery in each fixture can typically provide over ninety minutes of power to the emergency lights or signs, giving a building's occupants plenty of time to get to the exits safely, and allowing emergency personnel plenty of time to clear the building of all occupants.
After many years of use, the batteries in emergency light fixtures will slowly lose their ability to store a full charge, leading to fixtures that either shut off too soon to be useful in an emergency, or fixtures that fail to operate completely. This can lead to a dangerous situation if the batteries are not replaced.
Here are a few signs that indicate it is time to replace the Lithonia battery in an emergency light fixture:
1) The Fixture Fails to Operate
To make sure that the emergency light fixtures will operate properly during an emergency, they should be tested at least once a month. This can be done by either unplugging the light fixture from the wall socket, if it uses a standard outlet, or by shutting off the breakers for the circuit that the light is on, if it is hard-wired to the building's power system.
If the fixture fails to illuminate when the power supply is shut off, it is likely that the battery has failed and can no longer hold a charge. In this case, the battery should be replaced immediately, with one that is compatible with the original Lithonia battery. Once the battery has been replaced, and it has had several days to charge to capacity, the test of the fixture should be repeated to make sure that the fixture illuminates for the proper amount of time, and that the battery is properly recharged afterward.
By repeating the test, you can ensure that the charging circuit is operating properly, and that it is not the original cause of the battery failure.
2) The Fixture Shuts Off Too Soon
When testing each battery retrofire monthly, the length of time that the fixture remains illuminated should be measured to gauge the performance of the battery. In many municipalities, an emergency light system must remain powered for at least ninety minutes to provide sufficient time for the building's occupants to exit safely.
If, upon removing power, your emergency light fixture does not remain illuminated for at least ninety minutes, it is a good indication that the battery is no longer capable of storing a full charge and needs to be replaced. Typically, a Lithonia battery will slowly degrade over time, gradually losing charging capacity, but in some cases, there may be an extremely quick loss of capacity. Be sure to test the lights often and time the illumination period during each test to make sure your emergency lights are operating properly.
3) The Fixture is Dim
If monthly testing reveals a fixture is no longer producing as bright of a light as it used to, it may be an indication that the Lithonia battery should be replaced. As the battery looses its ability to hold a charge, it may not be able to supply the proper amount of current or voltage to the light system, resulting in substandard illumination.
Before replacing the battery, check its contacts to make sure they are clean, which could also cause dim lights. Clean them with an abrasive, such as steel wool or sandpaper, if necessary. Also, check the condition of the wires leading from the battery to the lights. Replace the fixture if any of the wires are damaged.
If the contacts are clean, and the wires are in good condition, the problem is likely the battery and it should be replaced as soon as possible.
4) Battery Voltage is Low
If you have access to a multimeter or a voltmeter, it is wise to check the voltage of the battery periodically to determine its condition and to check the charging circuit to make sure it is operating properly. The voltage should read slightly higher than the nominal voltage listed on the battery. For example, a 12-volt sealed lead acid battery should indicate 12.6 to 12.8 volts when fully charged, and a 6-volt battery should read 6.3 to 6.4 volts. Nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride batteries will read only slightly higher than the listed voltage.
If the battery reads lower than the rated voltage, restore power to the fixture and allow the charging system to recharge the battery. If the battery still shows low voltage after sufficient charging time has passed, the battery has likely failed and will need to be replaced.
When the charging system is functioning properly, and actively recharging the battery, the battery voltage will measure significantly higher than normal. For instance, a 12-volt battery would read between 12.8 and 15 volts. If the charging system is not operating properly, the voltage at the battery would read 12.8 or lower during the recharging cycle. Replace the fixture if the charging system has failed or is not operating properly.
Choosing a Replacement Battery
When replacing your Lithonia battery, choose a battery that is of the same chemistry as the original. If the old battery was a sealed lead acid battery, for example, replacing it with a nickel cadmium or nickel metal hydride battery would likely damage the fixture, the battery or the charging system. Also, be sure that the battery has the same voltage specifications, a similar size and shape, the same type of connectors, and an amp-hour capacity that is equal to or greater than the original.
With a new battery in your Lithonia fixture, you can be sure that your building and its occupants will be safe during the next power outage or natural disaster.
July 18, 2016
Avoid these nine things to prolong the life of your Power Sonic batteries. At BatteryPlex, we carry Power Sonic batteries and other rechargeables.
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June 15, 2016
6 qualities for emergency light batteries. At BatteryPlex, we carry high-quality rechargeable batteries from top manufacturers
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May 26, 2016
Here are 8 ways to optimize the life of your Lithonia battery. At BatteryPlex, we offer a variety of Lithonia batteries and replacements.
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April 15, 2016
After several years, even the best types of rechargeable batteries will need to be replaced. Each kind of rechargeable battery has a fixed number of discharge and recharge cycles that it can endure under the best conditions, and if it is not maintained properly, it can endure even fewer cycles, reducing its lifespan significantly.
When it is time to replace a rechargeable battery, there are several important specifications that must be followed in order to find the proper battery for your device. This includes things like the physical size of the battery, the type of battery and the capacity.
Here are the most important specifications to look for when buying a Power Sonic battery to replace the current battery in your device:
#1 Type Of Battery
Today's rechargeable batteries are available in several common types, including sealed lead acid, or SLA, nickel cadmium, or NiCad, nickel metal hydride, or NiMh, lithium iron phosphate, or LiFePO4, and lithium ion, or Li-ion. In some applications, NiCad and NiMh batteries may be used interchangeably, because they have similar voltage, capacity and charging requirements, but as a rule, a new Power Sonic battery should be the same type as the original rechargeable battery.
Because each type of rechargeable battery uses different chemicals or materials for the electrodes, the plates and the electrolyte, they will have different charging characteristics for each type of cell, differing capacities, and different voltage requirements. Using a battery of the incorrect type in your device may cause damage to the device, its charging circuit, or to the battery itself, voiding the warranty of the battery or the device and possibly leading to dangerous conditions such as overcharging and overheating the batteries, increasing the risk of fire.
Make sure that your new Power Sonic battery is of the same type as the old one, SLA, NiCad, NiMh or LIFePO4, and make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for replacing the battery in your device.
Each type of rechargeable battery has a specific voltage rating, and in all but a few very specific cases, your new Power Sonic battery should be the same voltage as the original. SLA batteries are often 2, 4, 6, 8 or 12-volt, while NiCad or NiMh are often found in voltages of 2.4, 3.6, 4.8, 6, 7.2 and 12.
In an SLA battery, each cell makes 2 volts, and it is wired in series with other cells to create batteries with higher voltages. For instance, a 12-volt battery is made from six 2-volt cells. NiCad and NiMh batteries are about 1.2 volts per cell, requiring five cells to create a 6-volt battery or 10 to make a 12-volt battery.
In general, the voltage of the replacement battery should match the original, because a battery of a different voltage may cause damage to the device or the battery itself. In some applications, however, such as electric wheel chairs, two 6-volt SLA batteries may be wired in series to create 12-volt system, or two 12-volt batteries may be wired in series to create a 24-volt system. In other cases, such as laptop computers, the input voltage can be a little different from the nominal voltage, and the part number will become the most important factor in determining the type of replacement battery to acquire.
Be sure to find the voltage specifications and read the manufacturer's recommendations before choosing a new Power Sonic battery for your device. It is important to note that these are nominal voltage ratings. For instance, a fully-charged 12-volt SLA battery can measure as high as 12.8 volts with a voltmeter, which is normal, and is considered completely discharged when the voltage falls below about 10.5 volts. It is best to avoid discharging an SLA battery below 12.18 volts or 50 percent to achieve maximum lifespan.
Capacity for most rechargeable batteries is measured in either milliamp-hours, mAh, or amp-hours, Ah. An amp-hour is a measurement of the amount of current that a battery can provide over a given time. For instance, a battery rated 100 amp-hours could provide 2 amps for 50 hours, or 20 amps for 5 hours, theoretically, and 1000 milliamp-hours equals 1 amp-hour.
In general, when buying a new Power Sonic battery, you would want a similar capacity as the original battery. Often, you will be able to find the same exact capacity, which is ideal in most cases, but if you cannot, it is best to choose a higher capacity if everything else is the same.
In some cases, it is possible to upgrade your battery by buying one with a larger capacity. Typically, these batteries will be physically larger than those of the original capacity, so it is important to make sure that they will fit your device properly by taking note of the caliphs dimensions of the battery. For instance, AA-sized NiMh cells rated at 2800 mAh are slightly thicker than 2400 or 2000 mAh batteries, and because of their larger diameter, they may not fit in devices designed to use the thinner standard AA batteries.
The size of your new Power Sonic battery can be just as critical as the other specifications, especially if you are getting a battery with a higher capacity than the original. Make sure the typer and size match the original, a well as the physical dimensions.
There are several standard battery sizes, including common ones like AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V, as well as several custom NICad or NiMH battery pack sizes. For large SLA batteries, there are also standard group sizes, including groups 24, 27, 31, as well as 4D and 8D sizes and GC batteries, or golf cart batteries.
While two batteries from the same size group may be relatively close in size, there may be some variation, such as the differing diameters of AA NiMh batteries that are available. To be absolutely sure you have the correct battery size, look at the physical dimensions closely.
By following these specifications closely, you can find the best Power Sonic battery for your device, ensuring compatibility and a long lifespan.
March 15, 2016
Published by Battery Plex
Emergency light fixtures are a staple in all large industrial, commercial and multi-unit residential complexes. During a power outage, they are designed to come on automatically, supplying at least 90 minutes of illumination that allows the building's occupants to safely exit, and, in the case of a fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster, they are designed to provide emergency responders with enough light to make sure that the building has been cleared of occupants. After the power is restored, the emergency light batteries are then automatically recharged, so they are ready for the next time power is lost.
Code requirements in many municipalities stipulate that emergency light batteries must provide a full 90 minutes of illumination, but there are several factors that could reduce their performance, and may require that the batteries be replaced with a new set.
Here are a few of the things that can affect the performance of emergency light batteries:
#1 Age of the Batteries
Age is the most important factor in how well emergency light batteries perform. Under standard conditions, sealed lead acid, or SLA, emergency light batteries can be expected to last about 5 to 7 years. Emergency light batteries based on nickel metal hydride technology, or NiMH batteries, can last between 2 and 5 years. Both types of batteries can withstand hundreds of charge and discharge cycles, but when they are used in a standby situation, the stored power will slowly be reduced due to the self-discharge effect present in all types of batteries, and they will eventually need to be recharged. This means that even though they are not actively being discharged, they will still experience a charge and discharge cycle.
As the batteries approach the end of their lifespan, their overall storage capacity will be reduced, and eventually, the emergency light batteries will no longer produce the required 90 minutes of illumination. At this point, they will need to be replaced in order to satisfy code requirements in most municipalities.
#2 Operating Temperature
The ambient temperature in the building can greatly affect the performance of some emergency light batteries, especially those based on SLA technology. In commercial and residential buildings that are kept at even temperatures, this is not much of a problem. But in some industrial and commercial applications where extremely low or high temperature are expected, such as refrigeration facilitates or foundries, the temperature extremes can greatly effect battery performance.
In low temperatures, SLA batteries can suffer from reduced capacity, leading to emergency lights that provide a shorter period of illumination than batteries kept at room temperature. When the temperatures are near or below freezing, the battery capacity can be significantly reduced, by over 50 percent, and if the batteries are kept in a discharged state below freezing, they may even be permanently damaged. To compensate for operation at low temperatures, a battery with a higher capacity may be required.
At high temperatures, the overall service life of an SLA battery will be reduced, due to inefficient charging at high temperatures and chemical changes that happen within the battery itself. By increasing the normal operating temperature from 77 to 92 degrees, a battery that is expected to last 10 years may only last 5 to 7 years. To extend the life of SLA batteries, keep them as close to room temperature as possible.
NiMH batteries are less susceptible to temperature changes, and all but the most extreme temperatures will not affect operation, lifespan or capacity significantly.
#3 Lack of Maintenance
Proper maintenance is required to keep emergency light fixtures and their batteries operating properly. Though SLA or NiMH batteries do not require regular maintenance like flooded lead acid batteries, which must have their electrolyte levels and condition checked regularly, they still must be kept at a proper state of charge and they must go through the charge and discharge cycle periodically to maintain the proper capacity.
It is a good idea to check all emergency light fixtures monthly to make sure they are working properly by disconnecting the power and ensuring that they illuminate. Every three or six months, they should be put through a full charge and discharge cycle, by disconnecting the power and allowing the lights to operate until they shut off. The period of illumination should be timed, to make sure that it is at least 90 minutes, and they should be allowed to recharge fully after the test. If any of the lights fail to illuminate for the full 90 minutes, their batteries should be replaced.
Overcharging a battery can generate excessive amounts of heat, and cause damage to the battery, significantly shortening its lifespan. Emergency light fixtures have a built-in recharging circuit that automatically recharges the battery to the correct capacity, but if the charging circuit is damaged or the wrong type of battery is installed, the battery may be overcharged and damaged. Make sure to replace defective emergency light fixtures, and only replace the battery with the same type, whether it is NiCD, NiMH or SLA-based.
#5 Storing Batteries in a Discharged State
If emergency light batteries are to be stored and not used for an extended period of time, such as spare batteries for the building's fixtures, they must be fully charged before storing them. Batteries stored in a discharged state for even a short period of time may be damaged permanently. Make sure to fully charge batteries before storing them, and recharge them at least every six months. Replace any emergency light fixtures that have a defective charging circuit, so that the fixture's batteries are always kept properly charged and protected from accidental discharge.
By knowing how these factors affect the performance of your emergency light fixtures, you can make sure that your emergency light fixtures are always ready in the event of power loss or a natural disaster. When your emergency light batterers no longer produce the required 90 minutes of illumination, consult the owner's manual for each fixture and replace the battery with one of the same type and capacity.
February 15, 2016
Published by Battery Plex
Power Sonic has been a leading manufacturer of rechargeable batteries
for over 45 years. Based in San Diego, California, they manufacture
many varieties of sealed lead acid batteries, or SLA batteries, as well
as nickel cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries. Their SLA
batteries are used in a variety of products, including lawn equipment, powersports
equipment, automobiles, motorcycles, solar systems, emergency lights,
backup sump pump systems, security systems, communications equipment,
scientific equipment, motorized wheelchairs and ride-on toys, among many
In order to function properly, SLA batteries must be
able to absorb large amounts of energy, discharge that energy at an
acceptable rate, and repeat the cycle hundreds of times without reducing
overall capacity significantly, losing large amounts of electrolyte or
exposing the plates to excessive sulfation.
Through extensive research and industry-leading manufacturing
techniques, Power Sonic has produced a full line of SLA batteries that
demonstrate exceptional performance, are economical, and easy to install
and care for.
Here are some of the most important features that Power Sonic's SLA battery series has to offer:
#1 Low Maintenance
traditional deep-cycle or automotive batteries, which can easily spill
battery acid or electrolyte when tipped, a sealed lead acid Power Sonic battery
uses a valve-regulated, completely-sealed design. This not only makes
them safer to handle and use, but it also prevents loss of electrolyte
and minimizes the release of potentially-flammable hydrogen gas during
the charging process. As the electrolyte is consumed during the charge
and discharge process, the gases emitted are recombined within the
battery itself. This prevents evaporation of water from the electrolyte
and eliminates the need to periodically add water, as is required with
Additionally, its sealed design gives it
the ability to be installed in almost any position, except fully
inverted, which is good for applications with limited space or unique
design requirements, or for applications in which the battery will be in
constant motion, such as in powersports equipment or similar vehicles.
#2 Low Self-Discharge
any type of rechargeable battery is stored in a charged state, it will
slowly lose some of its energy over time. In applications where the
battery is charged and recharged frequently, this is not much of an
issue, but in a situation where the battery must be stored for an
extended period before it is used, such as in emergency lights, backup
sump pump systems or backup power systems, there must be sufficient
capacity left in the battery to supply the required amount of power.
Sonic SLA batteries feature a low self-discharge rate of about three
percent per month, which allows them to be stored for up to a year
without requiring a charge, though it is optimal to charge them at least
every six months.
#3 High Discharge Rate
batteries must be able to provide large amounts of power when required
for high-current applications, such as starting large electric motors on
or turning over a vehicle's engine. With a special plate and separator
design, Power Sonic SLA batteries offer low internal resistance that
allows them to provide up to 10 times the indicated capacity of the
battery for short periods of time. This allows a smaller battery to be
used in place of a larger one in certain applications, minimizing weight
and space requirements for the design.
#4 Long Life
conventional and sealed lead acid batteries have a limited service
life, after which the battery loses capacity or fails completely. Power
Sonic batteries feature unique plate and separator designs, low-pressure
valve regulators, and other features that allow the general-purpose PS,
PSG and PSH
series batteries to last over 5 years in standby mode or over 1000
cycles in cyclical applications. The extended-life PG series can last
even longer, up to 10 years in float applications.
#5 Tough Construction
of any lead-based battery are dangerous chemicals, including sulfuric
acid and hydrogen gas. To prevent problems, the batteries must be able
to withstand movement, stress and impacts without causing dangerous
leaks. Power Sonic SLA batteries are made from impact-resistant ABS
plastic that withstands shocks, vibrations, chemicals and heat.
Low-pressure valves prevent electrolyte from spilling, while allowing
gases to escape during the charge and discharge cycle and preventing
dangerous pressure accumulations.
#6 Wide Temperature Range
acid batteries tend to have reduced capacity at lower temperatures, and
do not charge as efficiently at higher temperatures. Power Sonic
batteries have a wide temperature range, making the versatile for use in
many applications where temperature extremes may be expected. During
the discharge cycle, they can operate at -40 to 140 degrees, and during
the charging phase, optimal temperatures are between -4 and 122 degrees.
#7 Flexible Design
Sonic batteries can be used alone, or in a combination of series or
parallel circuits to achieve the desired capacity, current and voltage
specifications for a particular application. Power Sonic SLA batteries
work well in cyclic applications, where they are charged and recharged
often, such as solar systems or vehicles. They can also perform well in
standby applications, such as backup power systems, where they are
stored for long periods before being discharged. There are over 80
different models to choose from, in 2, 4, 6 and 12-volt configurations.
#8 Deep Discharge Recovery
acid batteries that are discharged beyond 50 percent of their rated
capacity frequently can suffer from reduced capacity or a shorter life
pan. Power Sonic SLA batteries use quality materials and advanced
construction to ensure that they can be discharged deeply and more often
that other batteries without suffering ill affects, though it is best
to avoid deep discharges, when possible.
#9 Easy to Transport
to the sealed design, Power Sonic batteries have few transport
restrictions, unlike conventional lead acid batteries, which are
considered hazardous. No special handling is required for surface or air
transport, and they do not require any special shipping containers.
to conventional flooded lead acid batteries, or sealed lead acid
batteries from other manufacturers, the Power Sonic battery series
offers significant performance advantages in a design that is compact,
tough, efficient and economical.