UPS is the lifeline to the data centers and critical equipment of the companies in the face of a utility power cut. To be more specific, UPS batteries play the role of the savior during a utility failure. Therefore, it is very important for the companies to keep their UPS in a good state. Monitoring these devices on a regular basis should be an integral part of their overall maintenance program. Though they are one of the main resources of productivity, UPS batteries are least trustworthy components. Often they can surprise you by failing without giving you any warning. The worst thing is, a failing battery puts extra pressure on all the other batteries in a string and it draws power from them. Naturally, it reduces the longevity of other batteries as well.
A Few Common Parameters
There are a number of parameters that can disrupt the longevity of UPS batteries including:
- Operating temperature
- Charge current
- Charge voltage
- Excessive charging
- Frequent discharge cycle
- Loose connections
- Strained battery terminals
Mistake Most Companies Commit
Unconsciously, most of the companies do this mistake. They ignore monitoring UPS batteries to prevent failures. Even monitoring the battery string is not sufficient. You need to monitor the battery at the individual cell level. Such a battery failure can lead you to spend a lot of money to set up everything once again. So, prevention is always better than cure. Isn’t it? I am going to discuss 3 ways to monitor the UPS batteries that will help you to prevent battery failures.
3 Ways of Monitoring UPS Batteries
1. Manual Battery Measurement
You can conduct manual battery measurements with the help of field service experts when they visit your place to attend the scheduled UPS battery maintenance program. Generally, they visit quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. The experts will measure the float, charge voltage, discharge voltage, internal resistance of each battery, the charge and discharge of each UPS battery and the whole string as well. This monitoring activity helps to detect if there are any failed batteries or those batteries which are nearer to death!
This monitoring process is entirely reactive. In most of the case, you will only detect the battery when it is already dead and putting additional pressure on other batteries in the string. Still, it is better than doing nothing and face difficulties during power failures.
2. Battery Monitoring System
You can connect a battery monitoring system to the individual battery cell. It enables automated performance measurement on daily basis. You will find a bunch of battery monitoring systems in the market, each system may use a set of parameters different than the other systems. In other words, the set of parameters may vary from one monitoring system to another. Some parameters recommended by IEEE 1491 are:
- String and cell charge voltage
- String charge current
- Cell temperature
- Cell internal resistance
With the help of this system, you can set thresholds to alter the batteries in a string when a battery fails. Like the previous approach, this system can alert you only when the problem has already cropped up.
3. An Advanced Version of Battery Monitoring System
This is just like the system discussed above. There is a little addition – It will enable you to store and analyze the data collected by it. Are you confused? Ok, let me make it clear to you. An analytic, connected to the system will help you point out whether any battery is on a downward spiral. The best feature of this system is that you will be alerted months before the danger or failing of one or two of your UPS power supplies. Since it is comparatively a new approach, you will find only a few companies employing this. Don’t discard it as no one is employing. Judge by yourself!
The third approach is no doubt the best one to keep a track of your UPS batteries regularly. It would be better if you can implement it right from the beginning. If you find it costly and a little difficult for you to arrange now, you can go for the second approach to avoid severe loss due to battery failures.
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