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UL 1973 Appendix H: A New Safety Approach to Traditional Lead Acid and Nickel Cadmium Stationary Battery Systems

Laurie Florence

Lead acid (LA) and nickel cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries have been used in stationary standby applications for many years with minimal incidents. Previously, the individual LA or Ni-Cd batteries may have been certified to UL 1989 but often they were not. They would have followed the NEC Article 480 for the installation along with the fire and building codes requirements for ventilation and spill containment. With the introduction of grid connected energy storage systems (ESS) for support of renewable energy and other applications, there has been an increase in the use for less traditional chemistries for ESS including lithium ion batteries and more exotic types such as flow batteries. In addition, the codes have been adapting to adequately address ESS and have included some rather strict criteria for ESS installation including strict limits on size and separation distances that have not been required in the past for traditional LA and Ni-Cd stationary standby applications. In addition, the codes have expanded the scope of ESS to include standby applications with additional criteria applied to LA and Ni-Cd that were not applied previously. This includes strict size and separation distance limits for LA and Ni-Cd stationary battery installations. Exceptions to these limitations can be granted with large scale fire testing of UL 9540A with AHJ approval of the installation. Also, the ESS or similar stationary system incorporating battery energy storage has to be listed to UL 9540.

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