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The True Cost of Batteries

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It is an established practice for design engineers to follow a process for selecting the best battery for a project or application, by submitting the choices through a balanced approach that compared technical requirements and goals, to cost and ongoing maintenance requirements.

The established process includes several factors:
•    Application and duty cycle outlooks
•    System interface and communication issues
•    Geographic location and ease of visitation
•    Environmental conditions
•    Initial price
•    Installation cost
•    Ongoing maintenance cost
•    Replacement schedule and cost

Perhaps some of these considerations can be jumbled in order, but matching the application with a suited battery is of utmost importance.  Expectations and requirements for usage, along with high/low temperatures could well foil all other considerations from the start, unless they are accurately assigned from the beginning.

Next, decisions should be made on battery vendor’s claims of life for the batteries designed for the application.  To best estimate the actual cost, after the initial price of a battery, design engineers should assess the following:

  •  Ensure initial price includes the batteries, racks, and freight
    •    Installation complexity, if different for various battery types being considered
    •    Maintenance commitment and difficulty
    •    Replacement timelines for the various battery types (5, 7, 10, 12, or more years?)
    •    Reliability reality of battery manufacturers and models
    •    Negotiate and compare vendor warranties

After performance requirements and varying costs are compiled for the battery choices, short, medium, and long term costs can be calculated.  It is at this point that the concrete calculations of the equation meet the fluctuating estimates.

In order to formulate the truest evaluation of battery cost, there are several things that should happen on a continual basis.

  • Consult maintenance technicians on current, and any known future procedures for maintaining battery strings.  Some of these will include:
    • Increased or decreased visitation schedules
    • Changes to other system maintenance schedules
    • Current workload and future estimates
    • Personnel number and levels of expertise
    • Wages/benefits
    • Site and battery maintenance prioritization
  • Research new maintenance tools.  Some of these will include:

When all of these considerations have been reviewed and calculated, before a final choice can be comfortably decided, the results must pass the final criteria.  That criteria consists of only one question, which is:

  • Where does this choice rank on the requirement that the power does not go off?

If the answer is not high enough to grant a purchase, the process does not necessarily have to begin again.  Nor, does the more expensive choice need to be made.

Remember, the fluctuating estimates within the process can, and will, change.  The real exercise to establishing the true costs of batteries lies in uncovering new technologies that improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, by positively impacting battery maintenance needs, extending service life, and aligning with overall company goals.

Of course, BatteryDAQ Sentry monitors do all of the above.

Ultimately, it’s nice to know the power will stay on, when the grid goes down.