For technicians in the fire systems industry, selecting the right type of battery is critical to guarantee power supply in the event of an emergency.
An important specification for batteries used in fire systems is Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). However, there is some confusion within the industry between CCA ratings and Ampere hour (Ah) ratings.
In this blog post, the experts at Valen will clarify the differences between these ratings and explain the significance of CCA in fire system applications.
Firstly, what is CCA?
CCA is an acronym for Cold Cranking Amps and is a measure of a battery’s ability to release power fast from the initial (power-up) use in cold conditions. The rating refers to the number of amps a battery can deliver at -18°C/ 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 1.2 volts per cell (7.2 volts for a 12-volt battery).
CCA is often used in the automotive industry as car batteries are measured in accordance with their ability to start fast.
The higher the CCA rating, the greater the starting power of the battery in cold conditions.
What is Ampere hour (Ah)?
Ah rating is the rating used to measure VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid), Wet Cell and Lithium batteries. It refers to the capacity of the battery to release the power over a number of hours – ‘Amperes’ during ‘hours’.
This ability is normally measured to determined cut-off voltage point as well. It’s always a good idea to bear this in mind when running comparisons.
What is the relationship between CCA and Ah?
Short answer is… there isn’t one!
CCA is the ability to deliver power over a short period of time (bursts – as explained above for car starting) whereas Ah is the ability to deliver power over a length of time (think endurance applications such as in mobility scooters where the battery is used for several hours).
The only small relationship is generally as the CCA rating increases, so does the Ah Capacity rating.
Why are CCA ratings relevant for fire and diesel pumping systems?
Fire systems such as EWIS (Emergency Warning and Intercommunication System) and diesel pumping systems require a fast start up time (CCA) from the battery.
As these systems are used for critical emergency situations it is absolutely essential that the correct battery is installed. This will ensure that there is no delay in starting the system and that the system is able to get all the power it needs, when it needs, no matter how cold the ambient temperature may be.
Using a battery with an inadequate CCA rating in a fire system can ultimately mean that when the battery is required it won’t function as required. For example, a diesel motor on a fire pump requires a lot of energy to start up. Should the battery be insufficient in supplying the power, the pump will not start. This could potentially result in a building burning down and lives being put at risk.
So what type of battery should I use in my fire system? And can I use a battery that doesn’t display the CCA rating?
As required by AS 2941, all batteries used in fire systems must be AS 4029 compliant as well as carry SSL approval.
In addition to this, the Fire Protection Association Australia (FPA) officially recommends VRLA AGM type batteries to be used in all types of fire systems. The AGM technology allows for current to be discharged fast and these batteries have greater CCA ratings compared to VRLA Gel type batteries.
It’s important to note that AGM batteries are generally always labelled by their Ah ratings as they are designed for prolonged discharges. Most VRLA batteries will not have the CCA ratings stated on the batteries. However, any reputable battery supplier will be able to inform you of the CCA rating.
It is also vital to remember that the CCA rating of the battery needs to match or exceed the rating of the fire system. Always over specify the CCA rating of the battery as underspecifying the battery may place the users under risk.
So remember to always check the specification to be sure the CCA rating is adequate before installing a battery in a fire system.
Looking for a high CCA rated battery suitable for fire systems? Talk to the experts at Valen.
The Valen Topin AGM battery range has been used within the fire systems industry for over 15 years and in that time, has become a trusted brand for many clients. It is SSL approved, AS 4029 compliant with high CCA ratings.
The experts at Valen are proud to offer the highest level of technical support. We have a comprehensive understanding of providing battery back up for fire systems.
To talk to one of our knowledgeable team members about your particular fire system, simply click here to get in touch.