Companies rely on their UPSes to have clean, reliable power for their data centres and equipment. These batteries are the last lines of defense that companies have during the event of power failure or power disruption. As a result, it is important for companies to know how to maintain UPSes, but also know whether the UPS is failing or close to failing.
To do these things, companies need to monitor UPS batteries themselves – the weakest link in a UPS. On top of understanding what factors contribute to a battery’s health, there are three key approaches to monitoring UPS batteries.
Life Expectancy Of UPS Batteries
Like vehicle batteries, UPSes can fail at any point in time and do so without warning. UPSes are in a worse situation as a failing battery puts additional strain on all other batteries it’s connected to. This would shorten the life expectancy of other batteries on that string.
Factors that influence the life of UPS batteries are factors like:
– The room temperature
– Charge voltage and charge current
– Whether companies are overcharging batteries or not
– How often the battery is going through the discharge cycle
– Loose connections
– Whether the battery terminals are strained or not
Unfortunately, many companies fail to monitor their batteries at all or believe a battery string level monitoring is all that’s needed. Both options are not sufficient as batteries should always be monitored to an individual cell level.
This level of neglect harms companies twofold. Not only are companies unaware of when a battery is failing, but it will cost more money to replace a full string of batteries than the single problem battery. The only way to avoid these scenarios is through sophisticated monitoring.
Manual Battery Measurement Monitoring
The first option of monitoring batteries is to perform a manual battery measurement. Field service personnel are the only individuals qualified to perform this maintenance. They come during scheduled UPS or battery maintenance visits – usually annually, semi-annually, or quarterly.
These technicians perform the following:
– Measure the float
– Measure the charge and discharge voltages for each battery
– Measure those aspects for the whole string
– Check the internal resistance of each battery
– And verify the ambient and individual battery temperature
This monitoring identifies any failed batteries or those that are getting close to a failure point.
The drawback of this type of monitoring is that it’s reactive. It is better than nothing granted, but if companies only learn once, twice or four times in a year that a battery is failing, it’s difficult to know how long a battery was underperforming and causing issues for the company.
Battery Monitoring System
The second option is to have a battery monitoring system connected to each battery cell. Having this results in companies having access to daily automated performance measurements. This is a more proactive approach as companies can monitor their batteries in real-time and can make necessary changes quickly.
The drawback of this method is the market is filled with several battery monitoring systems and companies can be easily overwhelmed. Furthermore, each system monitors different parameters too. A good battery monitoring system should monitor the battery parameters that IEEE 1491 recommends. Some of the criteria includes monitoring the following:
– String and cell voltages
– String and cell charge voltages
– String and cell discharge voltages
– AC ripple voltage
– String charge current
– String discharge current
– AC ripple current
– Ambient and cell temperatures
– Cell internal resistance
With a good system that can cover these specifications, companies can set thresholds so they can get alerts when a battery is in a certain range or about to fail. Even so, this is more reactive leaning because companies are only alerted when a problem occurs.
Data And Analytical Method
The most effective method a company should use and is combining a battery monitoring system as described above, but additionally creating a system to store and analyze the data that the system collects.
Applying analytics to the data allows companies to look at trends, including situations where a battery is on the decline. The difference is that companies would be aware of issues months before, whereas the previous method would issue an alert.
With this method, companies would be able to tell effectively when a battery is underperforming and replace it before it affects the other batteries in the string. This kind of system can be integrated with a data centre infrastructure management tool too. This ensures that all the data is being funneled and stored into one area that can be easily accessed.
Which Approach Is Best?
Preferably the third approach is one that companies should opt for. Although, that form of monitoring is still a new approach, and few companies have implemented this system yet. It can be accomplished, and it would improve businesses significantly.
Alternatively, companies who implement the second approach and have a monitoring system at least will see an improvement in their batteries and can make changes before they become too late. In addition, having an annual battery monitoring from a third-party can cover any issues too.