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Battery monitoring at cost-constrained sites

Why are small, low-cost battery sites generally a poor match for highly capable ohmic battery monitoring products? The answer isn’t just cost. This paper draws a contrast between the differing performance expectations and resource environments of two categories of stationary battery system users. It proposes some simple requirements for battery monitoring at cost-constrained sites with modest-sized stationary battery systems and proposes a solution to providing battery health assessment at such sites.

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Improve genset availability by detecting bad batteries early

Failure to start is the most significant avoidable cause of diesel generator malfunction. Over 80% of failures to start are caused by battery problems.

Today most gensets do not include any means to detect that the starting battery has deteriorated, and may not be fit to start the engine. End-users have tolerated this situation because there has been no practical, cost-effective battery failure detection system. The low-cost, practical battery failure detection proposal made in this paper would significantly reduce the number of genset start failures and associated business risk.

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Dynamic Boost™ – A New System That Delivers Both Fast Charging & Minimal Risk of Overcharge

Dynamic Boost is a new battery charging technology that delivers more accurate real-world charging results than was available in earlier generation chargers. “More accurate charging” means faster charging with lower risk of overcharge for every recharge cycle. The benefits of more accurate charging enabled by Dynamic Boost include a more reliable battery-backed application, reduced need for battery maintenance, lower risk of premature battery failure, longer battery life and lower costs.

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HELIX™ – Charging Technology Increases Genset  Starting Battery Life & Cuts Risk of Catastrophic Battery Failure

HELIX (High-Efficiency LIfe eXtending) technology saves batteries and energy in genset engine starting applications. Today, lead-acid starting batteries used in gensets are replaced nearly twice as often as identical batteries used for vehicle starting, and too often fail catastrophically instead of gradually as they do in vehicles. The reason is that lead-acid starting batteries were optimized for the charging cycles experienced in vehicles. By emulating vehicle charging, HELIX extends the life of starting batteries and reduces the risk of catastrophic end of life battery failure. HELIX also reduces energy use by employing a special Eco-float mode when batteries are fully charged and in standby. A periodic HELIX refresh charge tops up batteries at the correct interval.

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Switch Mode – A new approach to high power switchmode battery charger design

Operating at high frequency, switchmode power conversion outperforms line frequency (50 or 60 Hz) power conversion topologies such as SCR and controlled ferroresonant in nearly every way. Switchmode technology delivers advantages in dynamic response, smoothness of DC output, size, weight, noise, energy efficiency, cost, and standards compliance. Switchmode converters are typically modular and hot-swappable, meaning that field repair can be performed faster and by less skilled staff than is required to repair legacy line frequency chargers. Despite these significant advantages, there is continued hesitance by some users, including at electric utilities and some industrial customers, to adopt switchmode technology battery chargers.
This paper attempts to identify the causes for this hesitance. A new approach to the electrical, mechanical and thermal design of switchmode power converters suggests that the issues identified can be addressed. A ruggedized switchmode battery charger design suited for use in challenging environments is presented.

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Remote Battery Monitoring: Advanced Failure Prediction Through Trend Analysis

There are substantial advantages that consistent and continuous monitoring provide over manual battery maintenance techniques. This paper will describe how trending data can be used to paint a far more complete picture of the battery’s present and historical performance. In addition, the paper shows how trend data is used to predict events such as thermal runaway or battery end of life failures with months of advance notice to allow scheduled corrective actions.

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John Henry vs Automation

The tale of John Henry is one of a mighty steel driving man, whose physical prowess allowed him to do his job better than anyone else could. Henry, a man who radiated passion, pride and integrity, faced down automated technology in a contest pitting man against machine (a steam powered hammer) that lasted 12 hours. At the end of the contest, each contestant’s progress was measured and John had won. He may have died trying (stories differ depending on the source) but he did win. Even with John Henry’s Herculean effort, he could not stop the march of progress and eventually automation just made too much sense to resist. We are at a similar crossroads today with remote battery monitoring technology.

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The Case for Continuous Remote Monitoring of DC Power Plants

Batteries have been and will continue to be an ever increasing part of our lives. Whether in our cars (conventional and electric hybrid vehicles), in backing up enterprise data systems, telecommunications infrastructure, or as part of building management systems, the demand for back up power (and batteries) is growing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. During emergency situations such as natural disasters and blackouts, or simple e911 mobile calls, back-up power reliability is becoming critical. Along with many other industries, today’s Telecommunications and mobile operators can’t afford to gamble on battery backup! To ensure back-up power systems can perform as expected when required, a comprehensive understanding of the battery’s operating condition, or “state of health”, and history are critical. Antiquated manual quarterly maintenance practices are insufficient to provide enough information to ensure continuous reliability. What is necessary and long overdue, are reliable, standards-based, real time remote monitoring systems which can provide accurate on demand information (not just data). These new systems will gather data, analyze it and provide mechanisms for intelligent analysis, which can alert operators to pending battery problems and help, determine how back-up systems will perform when needed.

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Understanding Connection Resistance

Stationary battery plants are an essential component of most uninterruptible critical power systems. Of particular importance are battery plant runtime and battery plant safety under full load operating conditions. This is such an important matter that some critical infrastructure industries, such as electric generating facilities, are now under federal regulation requiring them to monitor and report on the integrity of their backup battery systems. A key element in both run time and safety is the integrity of the electrical connections that interconnect the individual jars in a string, as well as the inter-tier connections between blocks of jars. Poor or degrading connections can cause a range of performance and safety problems, including excessive voltage loss and dangerous heating conditions. Fearing the wrath of federal regulators, technical managers are consequently required to develop onerous compliance plans, with the hope that their plans hold up to scrutiny.

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Battery Ohmic Measurement Methods Revisited

“Ohmic Measurements” have become a mainstay of modern battery-plant maintenance practices. The basic method consists of instrumentation which forces a known current through a cell and measures the cell’s voltage response to the current. In an ideal cell with infinite current producing capability, the terminal voltage would be invariant to the forcing current. In the real world, cells have current producing limitations which can be analyzed as spurious internal resistances and capacitance. An increase in a cell’s equivalent internal resistance is well known to correlate directly to a corresponding decrease in the cell’s amp/hour capacity. Since steady declines in amp/hour capacity are a leading indicator of the approaching end of the cell’s life-cycle, accurate ohmic measurements made by portable instrumentation or fixed monitoring systems can be a very valuable component of a pro-active battery maintenance program.

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