Like all rechargeable batteries, a Lithonia battery has a limited number of times it can be charged and discharged before it fails or loses a significant portion of its capacity, even when used properly. If it is poorly maintained or used improperly, the battery's performance and lifespan can be reduced dramatically.
To keep your replacement Lithonia battery in good condition, there are a few simple guidelines to follow:
#1 Choose the Correct Replacement Battery
Installing a battery that does not meet the specifications of the original Lithonia battery could result in premature failure of the new battery, equipment damage or poor performance. To find the right Lithonia battery replacement for your emergency light fixture or other Lithonia product, consult the owner's manual, and record the model number of the equipment, as well as the model number of the battery. Make sure the replacement model is listed as a compatible replacement for the equipment and the original battery.
Lithonia offers a wide variety of batteries in its products, including sealed lead acid, nickel cadmium and lithium-based models, and they come in a variety of voltage ratings, from 1.2 to 12 volts. There are also multiple capacities and several different types of battery connections, depending on the product.
Be sure that your new battery meets the same specifications as the original Lithonia battery, including the voltage, battery chemistry and type of connection. The capacity, indicated in amp-hours or milliamp-hours, should be equal to, or greater than, the original for the best performance. When choosing a battery with a larger capacity, check its dimensions to make sure that it will physically fit in the equipment.
#2 Do Not Mix Battery Types
Only use replacement batteries that are the same chemistry as the battery originally installed in the device, because each type of battery has different charging characteristics, and batteries of other types may be damaged by the device's charging system. If the equipment uses more than one battery, do not mix battery chemistries, and make sure that you replace all the batteries at the same time to ensure the equipment performs properly. Mixing older batteries with new batteries can reduce the lifespan of the new batteries.
#3 Install the Battery Correctly
When installing a Lithonia battery replacement, be sure that the positive cable, typically red in color, is connected to the positive battery terminal, and the negative cable, typically black, is connected to the negative terminal. The positive terminal is usually marked with a “+” symbol, while the negative typically has a “-” symbol.
Installing the cables backwards can damage the battery or the equipment that it is installed into. Also, never connect the positive and negative cables from the battery together, and use caution with metal tools that could bridge the negative and positive terminals. Short-circuiting a battery in this manner can lead to the battery overheating or catching fire.
#4 Clean the Battery Terminals Periodically
With emergency lights and other equipment that use sealed lead acid batteries, there is a chance they will develop corrosion over time. This can lead to reduced battery performance, charging problems and poor connections between the battery and equipment.
If corrosion is present on the terminals, use an abrasive, like steel wool, a wire brush or sandpaper, as well as a solution of baking soda and water to clean the battery terminals, if necessary. This should be repeated every few months to ensure optimum performance.
#5 Address Charging Problems Immediately
If your emergency light or other equipment has a damaged charging circuit, have the device repaired or replaced as soon as possible. A damaged charging circuit can overcharge the battery, overheating it and causing risk of fire, or it can let the battery drop below its safe minimum capacity, shortening its lifespan and damaging or disabling it. Additionally, if the charging circuit fails to charge the battery at all, and allows the battery to remain empty for too long, the battery can also suffer from irreversible damage.
#6 Charge the Battery Properly
For devices that use nickel cadmium batteries, repeatedly charging or discharging the battery to a partial state can result in permanently reduced capacity and poor performance. To keep a nickel cadmium battery operating properly, always make sure to charge it to full capacity, and allow it to discharge completely before it is recharged.
Sealed lead acid batteries and lithium batteries are not as sensitive to partial charging or discharging, but they should be kept fully charged between uses with the equipment's built-in charging circuit, which delivers a small trickle charge to keep the battery from self-discharging over time.
#7 Perform a Charge and Discharge Cycle Periodically
Rechargeable batteries that are typically stored for a long period of time between uses, such as the batteries in emergency light fixtures, should be fully discharged and recharged periodically to keep them operating at peak performance. This is especially true for sealed lead acid batteries, as their lifespan can be shortened dramatically if they are not cycled at least once or twice a year. Every three months or so, the battery should be fully drained and recharged.
For emergency lights, this also helps gauge how long they last during a power outage, and the batteries should be replaced if they cannot power the light for at least 90 minutes. Ninety minutes is typically the minimum amount of time required by local building and fire codes, and this span allows emergency personnel to clear occupants from the building safely during a power outage or other emergency. Periodically testing the performance of emergency lights will ensure they function properly when needed.
#8 Discard Damaged Batteries
If your replacement battery cracks or starts leaking, remove it from service and replace it immediately. Batteries contain harmful chemicals, and should not be used if they are damaged. Dispose of batteries properly, using your local electronics recycling facility or program.
By maintaining your replacement Lithonia battery properly, you can ensure it performs as expected and even meet or exceed its rated lifespan. Because Lithonia batteries are used in many types of emergency equipment, proper maintenance is especially important.