Lithium-ion batteries are significantly lighter than the lead acid batteries traditionally found in UPSs, require less maintenance, and enjoy longer lifespans. They’re also, however, significantly more expensive. As a result, products bearing lithium-ion cells, like the additions to Eaton’s 5P line shipped last year, remain niche offerings at present. That won’t be true for long though, according to Tardy.
“It’s still a very small market, but it’s growing,” he says.
Eaton is already seeing momentum for lithium-ion units among buyers with widely distributed environments to support. “They realize that the cost of replacing the batteries in all these locations, rolling the truck just to replace a battery, doesn’t make a lot of sense financially speaking, and they’re OK paying more upfront to avoid the hassle three or four years down the road,” Tardy says.
Indeed, demand for lithium-ion products is currently well in excess of Eaton’s supply. “We’re in a backlog situation,” Tardy says, adding that the company expects to have that fixed by next month.
“It’s a good problem to have,” he observes.
Eaton has an entirely new set of lithium-ion UPSs on the way, too. When those additions to the company’s 9PX product family ship early next year, Tardy says, they will be the industry’s first online double conversion lithium-ion single phase UPS family.
They will also be only 75 to 80% costlier than comparable lead acid systems, versus the industry-standard 100% more expensive, according to Eaton Product Planning Manager David Windsor. “That means we’re going to come in anywhere between 20 to 25% lower than the competition is today,” he said in a Partner Summit presentation.
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