Battery 101: Maintaining Building Emergency Systems

In an emergency, it’s imperative that the lighted exit signs work and people can exit the building safely. This means that all exit and emergency lights, as well as all alarm systems, have to be properly maintained to ensure they meet all federal and state requirements. In many areas, these requirements include provisions requiring emergency lights and exit signs to be battery-powered and use different circuitry.

While there are a lot of statutes telling you exactly what you are required to do, there are fewer instructions telling you how to do it. Here we’ll talk about different options to help you maintain your emergency system.

Which battery is best for you?

The two main types of batteries used to power exits signs and emergency lights are nickel-cadmium batteries and sealed lead-acid batteries. Let’s break down the pros and cons of both.



  • Smaller in size – they can fit in tight spaces
  • Turn any direction – they don’t have to stay in an upright position
  • Light weight – less weight means they require less installation support


  • Can cost more – in the world of rechargeable batteries, they are not always the cheapest option
  • Affected by extreme temperatures – extreme temperatures will decrease the battery life and functionality
  • Memory – this means that if the battery is not fully charged in the beginning it will never be fully charged.



  • Most affordable option – lead-acid batteries are still extremely popular for this reason
  • Less affected by extreme temperatures


  • Heavier – lead-acid batteries require additional support when installing
  • Must be upright – because of their chemistry and construction, these batteries typically need specific orientation
  • Larger in size – their size limits their ease of installation and storage
  • Can not be deep cycled – completely discharging the battery will damage it

Pro-Tip: If you are looking to replace batteries of equipment that is already there as opposed to choosing new, you need to stick with the batteries that the equipment was designed for originally.

It’s important to know: sometimes if you try to change battery type, it could cause issues. If you don’t like the battery type that your equipment uses, you may have to get new equipment that uses the battery of your choice. Typically, lead-acid batteries are used when powering emergency lights and nickel-cadmium batteries are used to power the lighted emergency exits.

How To Maintain The Emergency System In Your Building

All state and federal statutes require routine maintenance and testing of all emergency alarm and lighting systems. Most look to a 30 second and 90-minute test. During these tests, if your lights fail to illuminate it’s most likely time to replace the batteries.

This is also a good time to inspect the wiring and the condition of the housing to make sure everything is in good working order. If you discover that you are having to replace the batteries more often than you should, there could be an issue with the unit that is causing the battery to discharge faster than it would otherwise.

Dust, dirt and even moisture can increase a batteries rate of discharge so it’s always a good idea to make sure the battery and the unit are cleaned during routine maintenance.

Maintaining these emergency units are really easy once you understand how they work. If you need help understanding, that’s what our team is for. As long as you keep up the maintenance schedule your systems should always pass inspection.

Deciding Between Batteries: The Battle of Deep-Cycle vs. SLI Designs

Batteries are deceptive from a cursory glance. For the most part, they’re square or rectangular shapes with a mysterious, black housing. Learn how to pick one out so that you’re always ready with the proper product for the application.

You’ve probably heard of deep-cycle batteries before. The term “SLI” also comes up in conversation. Which battery is right for your needs? The confusion is about to end because these power sources are starkly different from one another.

Deep Cycle’s purpose

As the name suggests, a deep-cycle battery can be used to the bottom of it’s charge. It’s designed to be fully charged and discharged down to nearly zero percent.

You’ll find deep-cycle batteries in these applications, including:

  • Electric scooters
  • Wheelchairs
  • Boats
  • Golf carts

All of these machines rely on constant power from the battery. They’re designed for a constant draw, which makes deep-cycle batteries perfect for long days on the golf course. They’re even tolerant of additional accessories, such as electrical devices added to the frame of your wheelchair. You won’t notice a difference in power as the machine takes off.

Deep-cycle and SLI batteries often look similar so always check the labeling before you add a power source to your major machine.

SLI’s niche

SLI stands for Starting, Lighting and Ignition. With this fact in mind, it makes sense that this battery is normally found in cars and motorcycles. These vehicles don’t run off of electrical power for their entire run. They merely need to power up upon ignition.

Your vehicle battery simply charges for the rest of the ride. Although the vehicle is useless without the battery upon startup, it’s largely a weight to be carried around otherwise. The alternator and other electrical components supply the rest of the current to your dashboard and select devices.

SLI batteries give you an immediate boost of power while retaining much of their charge. For this reason, car and motorcycle batteries last for several years without any hiccups.

Breaking down the interior components

If you could open up a deep-cycle battery, you’d discover thick plates and dense materials dividing them out. All of these materials contribute to charging strength. As you discharge the battery, most of the current leaves the interior. It must maintain its structural integrity for a subsequent charge afterward, however.

The thick construction gives the battery a chance to be charged and discharged dozens of times. You won’t see this design in an SLI battery.

SLI batteries rely on thin plates and relatively porous substances to give you the high-current boost that’s necessary during ignition. The thin plating offers extra square footage within the battery, which leads to efficient current movement. The internal design makes it possible for electricity to flow as necessary to your car or other vehicle.

Using the wrong batteries

If you end up using an improper battery type, you’ll notice problems almost immediately. Replace an SLI battery with a deep-cycle product, and you’ll see these issues, such as:

  • Problems starting the machine
  • Possible overcharging issues

When the engine doesn’t turn over as expected, the battery may not be the right one. Consider an SLI battery instead of a deep-cycle design. You might power the cart or wheelchair for a short period, but the battery will quickly die back. It cannot take the extreme discharge that a deep-cycle battery withstands.

Dual-purpose differences

In some circles, there are batteries that can achieve both SLI and deep-cycle goals. They’re referred to as dual-purpose batteries. However, not every dual-purpose design is perfected.

Read over the battery’s specifications before you add it to any machine. The current ratings must match the machine’s requirements. To be on the safe side, buying standard batteries for your application is the best choice. SLI and deep-cycle batteries have their distinct uses that ultimately improve your operation of the machine on a daily basis.

Don’t end up using the wrong battery. Businesses quickly lose money when their power sources are faulty.

13 Unexpected Events that Happened on National Battery Day

Two things: first, National Battery Day is this Sunday, February 18th, and second, nobody seems to really know the true reason Battery Day was chosen to fall on February 18th. (However, we’ve heard that Battery Day falls on February 18th because that is the day Alessandro Volta was born. He is considered the father of the modern electric battery, and you can check out more about him here.)

But, we’re charging up by learning more about the day in history. Check it out:

1519 Hernán Cortés leaves Cuba for the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico with 11 ships and 500 men. That comes out to about 45 men per ship.

1735 1st opera performed in America, “Flora,” in Charleston, South Carolina. Flora translates to “The Birth of the Flowers.”

1856 The American Party (Know-Nothings) nominates its first Presidential candidate, Millard Fillmore. (Fillmore was the 13th President of the United States, and only became President after his predecessor, President Zachary Taylor, died after eating some weird stuff.)

1885 Mark Twain publishes the “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in the US.

1908 1st US postage stamps in rolls issued. The first US postage stamp featured none other than Benjamin Franklin.

1930 US astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.

1953 Premiere of 1st 3-D feature film, “Bwana Devil” in NYC. It’s about man-eating lions.

1968 David Gilmour joins rock group Pink Floyd.

1979 Snow falls in Sahara Desert. It snowed there as recently as January 2018.

1986 San Antonio’s Alvin Robertson scores NBA 2nd quadruple double-20 pts, 11 rebounds, 10 assists & 10 steals against Phoenix.

1993 Howard Stern’s radio show begins transmitting to Rochester, New York.

2001 Crash during Daytona 500 race on last lap claims life of Dale Earnhardt.

2013 $50 million worth of diamonds is stolen in an armed robbery at Brussels Airport, Belgium.


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Selecting Your Power Source: AGM Batteries to the Rescue

Most people have some familiarity with lead-acid batteries. They supply your car, motorcycle or golf cart with startup power. But – there are better battery technologies out there. AGM or absorbed glass mat batteries are well-equipped to support both residential and industrial applications. Learn more about this battery type so that you can update your power sources today.

Spill-Free Convenience

Other battery types depend on liquid mixtures to create an electrical charge between internal plates. An AGM battery has a different concept ruling their power design. Sulfuric acid that normally runs as a liquid is now absorbed into a fiberglass mat. Its fixed position allows AGM batteries to be spill-free designs.

Being spill free gives the battery versatility. Lay it down as it powers a machine. There’s no threat of spillage with this installation choice. You can also have AGM batteries in various shapes to fit your needs, from standard rectangles to cylindrical configurations.

No Gassing During Charging

Don’t worry about gasses building up around your AGM batteries because they give off very limited fumes. During charging, chemical reactions occur within the battery. Most gasses produced during this process are confined to the battery’s interior space.

If any gasses do build up, this scenario occurs:

  • A low-pressure safety valve opens up
  • Gasses slowly seep from the battery
  • The valve reseals itself for use at another time

Limiting the gasses around the battery gives you a chance to charge it in almost any location. Place it in a small room for charging. There are no hazards that can occur with these batteries and possible gasses.

Vibration Resistance

Using AGM batteries in deep-cycle applications means that some heavy-duty components are in play. Boats, wheelchairs and cars can all use these specialized batteries because of their vibration resistance. The electrolyte remains suspended in the fiberglass mat. The surrounding components can shake and shimmy, but the battery continues to power your machine.

Many other batteries won’t perform as reliably as AGM battery designs. Minor vibrations might create intermittent power issues or short, usage times. The vibration resistance built into the battery’s design continues to be one of its best features, reports Pep Boys.

Quick-Charging Capabilities

The physical structure of an AGM battery creates low resistance. In layman’s terms, electricity flows easily through the cells. With this fact in mind, it makes sense that electricity being sent into the cells will move with incredible speed.

AGM batteries charge up at a fraction of the time that’s necessary for other technologies. You don’t have to wait many hours to run your components once again. Swapping out the batteries isn’t required either. Planned, charging periods keep you on schedule for business or leisure activities.

Powerful Startup

Electricity that flows so easily also benefits your power-hungry components, especially in gadget-filled cars. Powerful currents race through the batteries so that you can start a car without any hesitation. Older technologies don’t fare as well as the AGM batteries.

The battery’s voltage is also a bit higher than other designs, which allows those currents to flow with great power. Turn over the engine of a fully loaded vehicle, and AGM batteries don’t miss a beat with their reliable power.

Long Lifespan

An AGM battery has nearly double the lifespan of other designs. The internal decline is slowed because of the fiberglass mat. Sulfation or crystal development isn’t a major concern in these batteries because the internal parts aren’t liquid. The suspended, sulfuric acid performs its electrolyte job without crystallizing into obstacles that ultimately break down the battery.

Tough in Cold Conditions

Battery University reports that AGM batteries hold up well under cold conditions. Consider these applications for your batteries, such as:

All of these applications often have cold conditions at least part of the year. AGM batteries keep the components running so that reliability isn’t an issue. There are no liquids involved that can freeze up, which makes the fiberglass mat an ingenious design for cold locations.

Many retailers carry AGM batteries, including Northeast Battery. Pick your application so that a battery can be quickly matched to it. Saving money on batteries helps your bottom line and productivity levels. Power up your components with trusted power found in AGM batteries.