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Adaptive charging is an improved method for charge maintenance of standby batteries. It involves measuring critical battery data, such as rectifier output voltage, open circuit voltage, discharge and charge voltages, and internal resistance. These data are used to initiate charge when needed and only for as long as needed to maintain the batteries at full charge. Since these factors are dependent on temperature and battery age, the frequency of charge is varied to compensate for them, resulting in longer life. Trend analysis and comparison of these data with a battery signature library can enable additional capabilities, such as detecting a failing battery and predicting its likely failure date. A way that this system can be implemented in a practical battery management system is described and life test and field test data from several sites are shown.