Why do I Need a Battery Back Up?

Updated: Apr 21

Adexon® Active Fire Curtain systems utilise two 12Vcc 7.5 Ah rechargeable batteries to allow for situations when mains power fails. This ensures that no matter the orientation, no matter the reason for the power failure, the Fire Curtain can still deploy, and can control and limit the spread of fire, protect escape routes, and provide boundary protection in an emergency.

What are amps and volts?

Fire Curtain batteries are 12 volts and 7.5 amp. An amp or ampere is the base unit of electrical current and measures how many electrons, and thus how much electricity, flows through a point per second, while a Volt is a measure of the pressure that allows electrons to flow.

Volts are named after the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, ‘whose invention of the electric battery provided the first source of continuous current,’[1] while amps are ‘named for 19th-century French physicist André-Marie Ampère.’[2]

Active Fire Curtains are installed with the assurance that no matter the situation, they can be trusted to deploy and protect the building, and building inhabitant’s, from fire spread. As such, in moments of complete power failure, before back-up generators start up, battery back-ups can provide certainty and protection.

Why might the power fail?

Total power failures occur, thankfully, infrequently in the UK, with the latest large-scale failure last occurring on 9th August 20219, which affected large portions of the UK, predominantly in the West, and was caused by two unexpected power losses, each associated with lightning strikes.

The most recent complete power blackout was 28th August 2003, which affected much of London, including the underground and above-ground railways. This was caused by the loss of a transformer and the incorrect use of a 1-ampere protection relay instead of a 5-ampere protection relay.

More common reasons for large-scale power failure are:

  • accidental damage to power cords, for example by birds.

  • Deteriorating, or old cables, that become more prone to water damage.

  • Theft of equipment- sometimes substations are broken in to and our equipment is taken

  • Fire damage to the network of substations.

Localised power failures are often caused by events such as:

  • renovation of the building, which often requires mains electricity to be shut down.

  • Refurbishment of the electrics in a building, which require the building electricity to be shut off so engineers can work safely.

  • Flooding, or water damage from water leaks.

  • A fuse or circuit breaker has been tripped, which is commonly caused by excessive power demands.

In the case of complete power loss, the curtain has 6 hours of battery back up to ensure it stays in the fire ready position long enough to restore the mains power.

Adexon Technical Brochure 2022

This battery back up will also continue to power the Fire Curtain accessories, such as the escape and emergency buttons, which allow for building users to lift the curtain to allow for egress, before the curtain lowers again, and to also immediately deploy the curtain.

The inclusion of battery back ups can sometimes be seen as a negative for potential customers who feel that the inclusion of alternate power sources is due to the expectation of failure.

These customers are almost right.

Adexon® Fire Curtain systems will always cater for worst-case scenarios to allow for maximum safety for all users. In something as serious as Fire Safety, nothing can be left to chance, we cannot assume that it will work when the time comes, in all scenarios: we must be sure.

By including a 6-hour battery back up, we ensure protected escape routes are maintained, fires can be controlled and stopped from spreading for a designated period of time, and that fire cannot pass into other areas of the building if mains power ever fails.

If mains power never fails, and the back up battery is never utilised, we simply have an extra safety measure than we need.

Who can argue that is a bad thing?


[1] Britannica.com, ‘Alessandro Volta,’ revised and edited by Erik Gregersen, <https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alessandro-Volta>17.01.2022

[2]Britannica.com, ‘ampere,’ revised and edited by Erik Gregersen, <https://www.britannica.com/science/ampere>17.01.2022

Cover image from Pexels.com, courtesy of Pok Rie

Image 2 & 3 from Pexels.com, Courtesy of Pixabay

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