CRN Exclusive: Eaton Set To Launch Breakthrough Lithium-ion-Based UPSes

Eaton is set to shake up the commercial Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) market with what it is calling a breakthrough lithium-ion battery-based product that is slated to begin shipping in the third quarter.

The new lithium-ion Eaton 1500VA UPS packs twice the battery life of a standard UPS.

[Related: Eaton Steps Up Rack PDU, IPM Software Sales Offensive; Partner Recurring Revenue On The Rise]

"Nobody has lithium-ion batteries in this class of product," said Eaton Vice President Herve Tardy in an interview with CRN. "Our top competitors have announced three-phase lithium-ion UPSes. But nobody has a solution like this."

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Doubling the life of the standard UPS battery will result in a huge cost savings for customers who up until now have been forced to replace batteries for standard UPSes every few years.

"There is a huge battery replacement cost savings for customers with remote office/branch offices over the lifetime of the product," said Tardy. "The cost difference on the UPS up front is nothing compared with the maintenance over the life of a product."

Tardy estimated that the three new lithium-ion based 1500VA rackmount offerings will be priced initially at about twice the price of the $600 standard UPSes in that class.

Customers beta testing Eaton's new lithium-ion based UPSes are raving about the new products, said Tardy. "They love it," Tardy said. "We have a few OEM customers that have cases where the UPSes are integrated into storage systems and don't want to replace the batteries every other year. Hyperscale customers love it as well."

A big benefit of the lithium-ion based batteries in hyperscale cloud-based environments: lithium-ion based batteries are not as sensitive to high temperature heating conditions as lead acid batteries.

Eaton began developing the lithium-ion based 1500VA UPS line three years ago, focusing heavily on getting the certifications and expertise to handle the hazardous lithium-ion batteries. "We have been through all the certifications we needed to handle these batteries," he said.

The UPSes with lithium-ion batteries must ship on trucks rather than air freight because of the sensitive nature of the batteries.

While the cost of the lithium-ion battery UPSes is double the price of a standard UPS, Tardy said, that price gap is narrowing at a rate of about 20 percent per year."These batteries are being used in large numbers, and the cost is going down tremendously," said Tardy. "Some people are saying that in two or three years these batteries will be the same price of the lead acid batteries."

Solution providers said Eaton's lithium-ion rollout is another sign of the company pushing the innovation envelope – just like it did with hyper-convergence and network closet markets.

"Eaton has done a good job of showing partners how we can fit into the market and what kind of differentiators we can bring to the market," said Kevin Mullin, vice president of business development for A-TRAC, a Waltham, Mass.-based Eaton partner. "We look each day at how we can differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Power is one of the things that we do that some of our competitors don't."