Voltage Only Battery Monitoring – Better than Nothing…or Worse?
“Battery Monitoring” is a hot topic. Why? Mostly because battery backup power is more important than ever and battery failure remains a chronic problem.
Backup battery power is in place to perform a singular, incredibly important function; to work when needed. However, like everything else, if they are neglected, they won’t perform. They will fail.
With today’s need for reliable backup power, failure is not an option, and success is mandatory. The dark corner of the basement where batteries reside is now some of the most important real estate within the entire organization. If the power goes off, and stays off, what is at stake? Think about that for a moment. The probable damage list is daunting, but the possible damage list is downright frightening. Now, compare the cost of monitoring against the cost of power failure. Business needs have made the term “Battery Monitoring” a hot topic.
By attaining hot topic status, questions are asked at many meetings and across many channels, including existing vendors. Conversations may go something like this: “What do you know about battery monitoring? I’ve been asked to look into it.”
“Battery Monitoring? Don’t worry about it. We can handle that.”
“Really?! How much?”
“I’ll throw it in with your new rectifiers.”
“Throw it in?! How does it work?”
“We measure voltage over time using a discharge, then calculate the capacity and health of your batteries. Pretty slick, huh?”
“Is voltage enough to monitor the health?”
“Hey, a discharge test is the gold standard. Plus, it’s free!”
“Well, free fits into my budget. Anyway, it’s better than doing nothing, right?”
Wrong. And, deep down, you know it. But, free is very enticing, and, if it doesn’t work, you can always solve the problem later.
Here is why voltage measurements are worse than doing nothing:
- The discharge tests need to be scheduled. Who creates that schedule? How many sites will you be scheduling? If the schedule is interrupted, when will tests be rescheduled?
- How often will a discharge test be conducted? Or, put another way, how long will you be exposed after each test?
- The discharge test will take a while.
- Good batteries have good voltage measurements. But, guess what, so do bad batteries.
- By the time a battery presents a deficient voltage measurement, your backup power will have been compromised for an extended period of time. Not only will the bad cell be compromised, but it will have infected the entire string.
- False alarms will pile up. How long before alarms are ignored?
- The voltage measurement will not identify individual cells. Technicians will still visit without the appropriate replacement batteries. This will continue the trend of redundant visits.
- Trending is impossible.
- Readiness is still a crap shoot.
Besides, voltage only does not even come close to IEEE standards for battery monitoring.
So, if failure is not an option, the solution must effectively eliminate the threat. Comparing the investment for battery monitoring against the investment in batteries is flawed. While it has always been convenient to do so, the reality is that the cost of the batteries is compared against the cost of losing what they protect. Therefore, battery monitoring to ensure the batteries work must be compared against what the batteries protect as well.
The good news is the investment in battery monitoring is now very affordable, and in many cases, can save on everyday operational costs!
Come see what is possible through BatteryDAQ (www.batterydaq.com)! We look forward to learning more about your application and configurations.