Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
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Why are Battery Date Codes so Cryptic?

ZX09Q is the Date Code on the Backup Battery?
Actually, I've seen one manufacturer date code that was in plain English, but usually, the date codes are like this. There's really no way to regularly figure out how old the battery is from the manufacturer.


By Douglas Krantz

For safety reasons, the NFPA Code (National Fire Protection Association) requires the replacement of fire alarm batteries within 5 years of manufacture date, and that they be replaced in pairs. The also require the new batteries to be from same manufacturer, with the same date codes stamped on both batteries. The NFPA goes on to specify that the manufacturer date codes be in plain English so anyone inspecting the system can see the date of manufacture.

Still, none of the date codes are in plain English.

So far, the manufacturers have resisted marking the batteries this way. They know that if they did mark the batteries with readable date codes, that when given the choice, people like you or me will buy only the newest batteries. The old ones would just sit on the shelf, getting older by the day.

UL (Underwriters Laboratories) would like readable date codes, but they say "Don't hold your breath" waiting for the manufacturers to change. The NFPA, on the other hand, thinks that manufactures "will get over it" and start using plain English on the date codes.

So far, the manufacturers haven't used plain English for the date codes.

Whether it's UL or NFPA that correctly assessed the manufacturer's use of plain English on the date codes, only time will tell.
Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.

Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

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