Battery Power - September/October 2012 - (Page 10)

FEATURE Monitor Your Battery Cells for Superior Reliability Chris Kaundart, Tech Writer DPS Telecom Do you know the status of your remote site battery plants? Would you know if one individual cell was falling out of its ideal voltage or temperature range? At a lot of companies, battery cell monitoring is a commonly overlooked opportunity to reduce costs and improve reliability. This creates a huge problem. If you’ve ever had battery failures in the past, you know just how painful they can be. A single bad cell can dramatically affect an entire string of batteries if you don’t catch it early. An entire site could easily go dark if your batteries aren’t working properly or become fully discharged. Unfortunately, monitoring batteries isn’t always as simple as slapping a single voltage monitor on each string. To really understand the big picture, you need to understand a lot of little pictures of cell voltage and temperature. Monitoring your battery power doesn’t have to be a hassle. Just follow this guide to learn more about effective battery voltage monitoring. What if your critical backup batteries are all discharged and power fails at a site? This is a far too common disaster because many companies don’t take their backup power seriously, even if they think they do. With a battery monitor in place, you would have known your batteries were discharging long before it became an issue. You might, for example, have dispatched a portable generator that you might not have previously. These kinds of simple outages and headaches aren’t hard to prevent; the key is knowing there’s a problem. 2. Detect Problems with Individual Bad Cells Since a single bad battery cell can dramatically degrade the performance of an entire string of batteries, it’s critical to deploy a thorough battery monitoring system. Monitoring the entire string is better than no monitoring at all, but it’s not the most effective way to improve reliability. A good battery monitor will have sensors to monitor each of cells individually, looking not just for low voltages but a difference between the cells and the average of all the cells. 3. Avoid Complete Battery Discharges Your batteries won’t be very useful if they’re completely drained. What’s worse is that a drained string can, in some cases, delay or prevent the site from coming back up even after power has been restored. With a monitoring device in place, you can set thresholds for notification. This means if the battery power drops below a certain percentage, you’ll receive a notification and can quickly respond. Let’s face it, batteries are a part of your safety net and nothing is worse than a false sense of security. If your primary power goes down, that’s precisely when you’ll need your batteries the most. If your units are drained or otherwise impaired, then your site will go completely dark long before they should; meaning the critical network gear both you and your customers rely on will be down. Had you known that your backup batteries were low, you could have ensured they weren’t completely discharged. Monitor the health of individual battery cells to improve the reliability of your batteries. The Four Primary Benefits of Monitoring Your Batteries Leaving your battery cells unmonitored opens the door for far too many problems that are easily avoidable. Here are four of the main benefits you’ll see when you deploy your own battery monitoring system: 1. Prevent Outages The first and biggest benefit of battery monitoring is the ability to prevent many power-related outages. When your battery cells are left unmonitored, you’re in the dark and constantly guessing about their status. Creating a reliable network requires continuous network monitoring, otherwise a small issue can quickly turn into a serious problem. 4. Monitor Temperature Issues It’s not enough to only monitor voltage. Battery cells can get abnormally hot when they are failing, so including temperature monitoring can help detect battery issues long before they can cause serious issues. Early notification gives the time needed to respond to problems in a controlled manner. Including temperature monitoring with voltage monitoring is the only way to thoroughly and completely monitor your battery cells. The 11 Features of a Quality Battery Voltage Monitor A battery voltage monitor won’t be truly effective without the right features. It’s far too common for a vendor to skimp on hardware/software features and cut corners to reduce costs, only to leave out the critical features needed for a truly effective monitoring system. 10 Battery Power • September/October 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Battery Power - September/October 2012

PRBA Battery Proposals Adopted By UN Transport Sub-Committee
The Use of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Uninterruptible Power Supplies
Monitor Your Battery Cells for Superior Reliability
Juicing Up the Battery: Cutting Edge Research Delivers Battery Enhancements
PEM Fuel Cell Systems – Reliable Backup Power Source for Remote or Extended Run Power Outages
Why Your Next Renewable System Should be Built Around Energy Storage
ICs & Semiconductors
Charging, Testing & Monitoring
Power Supplies
Industry News
Calendar of Events

Battery Power - September/October 2012