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How to Manage Your Batteries with UPS SNMP Monitoring

By Morgana Siggins

February 17, 2021


UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) batteries are present in most modern networks. They protect your data in the event of commercial power failure. But, they can only do this if they work reliably. To assure that your UPS batteries will run smoothly when needed, it's important to monitor them continuously - effective network management and monitoring have become a must for enterprises large and small.

Remote monitoring devices often use SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) as a way to collect data from UPS batteries and communicate it back to you. This allows you to make decisions based on facts, instead of guessing the status of your batteries.

With SNMP, you can efficiently keep track of key UPS performance metrics to ensure that they are always up, available, and working. UPS SNMP monitoring is crucial for proactive maintenance, reliable uptime, and upgrading your power system to handle extended outages.

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can effectively manage your batteries with SNMP monitoring.

SNMP UPS monitoring
SNMP monitoring allows the exchange of information between UPS and monitoring device, giving you complete visibility over your remote batteries.

Why is Remote Battery Monitoring Important?

The propagation of high-capacity, high-reliability backup power comes with multiple costs-of-ownership. A typical mission-critical battery requires regular maintenance visits from personnel who perform visual inspections, make measurements of electrical parameters related to UPS health, and compile reports for analysis by network maintenance managers.

If the battery manufacturer's guidelines for environmental control, charging rates, and regular maintenance are correctly followed, then you can expect your UPS to last between 4 to 10 years - delivering reliable discharge performance when needed.

In real life, however, environmental levels (such as temperature) can run out of control, charging circuits are sometimes sub-optimal, and maintenance schedules are either compromised or eliminated to reduce costs. In the best cases, regular maintenance and inspections are performed 2 to 4 times per year, reports are delivered on paper which is rarely read and is most likely not integrated into a data-bank.

Manual battery test methods are often performed a few times per year, if at all. Measurement data is very variable from one site visit to the next and can be affected by the instrument used, the exact points at which the probes were placed on the battery, and the skill level of the technician.

All of this can prevent companies from performing proactive maintenance, battery replacement, and inventory management. Consequently, actual battery life and run-time often falls far short of the expectation when the battery was purchased.

For all of these reasons, it's important to have an automatic process of collection and analysis of UPS battery metrics, delivering consistent and continuous information. Remote battery monitoring systems are can collect, collate, and analyze UPS battery data to reduce maintenance visits, while improving network reliability and extending average battery life - resulting in lower operational costs.

Sensor-based testing provides accurate and consistent data, which can be analyzed by a UPS monitoring tool in order to spot degradations before they become problems, saving you time and money.

Using SNMP to Know What's Going On

SNMP is an internet-standard protocol for collecting and organizing information about managed devices on IP networks and for modifying that information to change device behavior. Remote monitoring devices that support SNMP can collect data about the status of a UPS, send alerts to you when thresholds are crossed, and initiate specific changes to the UPS remotely.

Before anything else, in order to successfully monitor your UPS devices, you need to make sure that:

  • Your UPS batteries support SNMP protocol.
  • You have a UPS monitoring device that is SNMP-enabled in place to receive and/or initiate SNMP commands to collect data from the UPS.

The primary functions that can be executed from the monitoring tool are:

  • SNMP Get
    A Get command issued to a specific device will return a specific data item from the UPS (input voltage, for example).
  • SNMP Set
    The Set command is used to modify a UPS configuration item, if support by the monitoring device.
  • SNMP Trap
    While Gets and Sets are explicit commands issued from the monitoring device, the Trap is an alert initiated from the monitored device when a configured condition happens, such as when the UPS goes on battery. In other words, the Trap is a message from the UPS that is directed at the monitoring device.

Configure your UPSs to send traps to your monitoring device so you can receive instant notifications with a processed trap message once an issue is detected. SNMP traps work best for sudden voltage drops and all such unexpected issues.

SNMP UPS monitoring
Exchange of information between UPS batteries and monitoring device.

Reporting capabilities are usually built into the monitoring system. These should be customizable, allowing you to choose who will receive alerts and when, what kind of alerts will be sent out (such as email and text message), and which alarms should not turn into notifications. Reporting capabilities should be taken into consideration when selecting a UPS battery monitoring device.

MIB hierarchy and OID structure

SNMP is the protocol and mechanism used to move data the UPS presents. The management data is organized in hierarchies and defined and described in a structure called MIB (Management Information Base).

The actual data items made available through the MIB are defined by your UPS vendor and not by SNMP. The management data items available are referred to as variables and they are stored in hierarchical namespaces called Object Identifiers (OIDs).

If you want to be alerted on a specific event, such as the UPS is on battery, then the specific OID for that management data item on the UPS must be known and configured within the monitoring device. Once your monitoring tool is configured to receive and recognize the selected alerts, the native configuration capabilities of the device are used to:

  • Set appropriate thresholds so that the state change on the UPS is identified or received in the tool only when the condition is met.
  • Configure monitoring application to reflect how the tool will process the received alarm data.

Steps to set up UPS SNMP monitoring

The following points are a generic step-by-step that allows configuring UPS SNMP monitoring in your monitoring device. The actual steps executed will vary according to your monitoring device, so it's recommended that you review your vendor's documentation before you begin this process.

  1. Identify the management data items that need to be monitored and reported.
  2. Make sure your UPS supports SNMP.
  3. Ensure that you have a MIB browser that will allow you to read your UPS MIB.
  4. Within your monitoring device, there should be a mechanism to add SNMP objects (your UPS device would be considered an SNMP object). Within this area of the device, you should be able to browse or view the MIB tree to see if the objects (UPS batteries) you wish to monitor exist. If they exist, skip the next step.
  5. If the UPS object is not in your device's existing MIB tree, then you'll have to contact your manufacturer to have access to your UPS MIB so you can compile it into your monitoring device.
  6. Once compiled, the MIB definitions should be available within the tree and the specific OIDs to be monitored can be selected.
  7. Configure your monitoring device to manage the SNMP traps sent by the UPS batteries. This is often referred as to as an "SNMP Trap Handler" or "Trap Receiver". Depending on your device, the vendor's documentation should be reviewed.
  8. Several basic SNMP configuration items must be set to enable your monitoring device to communicate with the UPS. Again, each tool may define the process a little differently, however, at a minimum, the community string will need to be set for the devices (this will vary depending upon which version of SNMP is used).
  9. Once the OIDs have been identified, the monitoring tool must be configured to poll the UPS status and to receive the traps from the UPS. You should also be able to configure the frequency of the polling to collect the status and then, based upon the data returned, determine whether an alert should be generated or to simply store the status information for trend analysis purposes. Remember that the action or alerting capabilities are highly dependent on the features of your monitoring device.
  10. Test the polling and trap monitoring by creating specific events, such as disconnecting the battery on a test instance.
  11. Refine over time. Periodically review the frequency and type of alerts generated to determine if the monitoring configuration needs to change:
    • Ensure the events or alarms generated are in fact worth receiving
    • Evaluate whether or not additional management data items should be monitored
    • Ensure if the frequency of polling is appropriate (i.e. polling too frequently and creating unnecessary "noise")
    • Make sure your alarm thresholds are set properly ensuring the efficiency of your operations

UPS Battery Monitoring with the BVM G3

At DPS, we have developed a monitoring device that can make the monitoring of your batteries very easy to set up and keep track of. Through one customizable dashboard, you can monitor and control your remote UPS equipment.

This device is called Battery Voltage Monitor G3. The BVM G3 provides several ways to monitor your UPS equipment. Out of the box, it provides a complete solution that provides the most important standard values such as battery capacity, voltage and temperate, and internal resistance.

Remote UPS monitoring
BVM G3 will keep track of your UPS battery values 24x7, so you'll never be unaware of their status.

Multiple battery monitoring systems in the market require proprietary and complex software systems that lock you into that manufacturer's software roadmap. More importantly, interfacing these systems to other monitoring devices has traditionally been difficult, complex, and unreliable.

The BVM G3 is an RTU that employs open SNMP and TCP/IP standards. The advantage is "freedom of choice", which allows you to monitor the performance of any UPS device from any vendor.

What pieces make up the UPS monitoring system with BVM G3?

Our UPS battery monitoring system has three main components:

  1. D-Wire sensors
    They are attached to each of your monitored batteries and can be daisy-chained to keep an eye on up to 24 batteries jars. They will measure the internal resistance, voltage, and temperature of each of your UPS batteries.
  2. The BVM G3
    This RTU will communicate with each of the D-Wire sensors and collects the most recent measurement data. It checks each measurement against locally stored alarm thresholds and alerts the T/Mon master station if an abnormality occurs.
  3. T/Mon master station
    If you have more than a handful of monitoring devices, then a T/Mon master station will make your life way easier. Since it supports SNMP, it can efficiently integrate all your RTUs and other equipment (not only the BVM G3) into one single, easy-to-use interface. The T/Mon also gives you important monitoring features, such as immediate alarm notifications, nuisance alarm filtering, automatic remote control, and trend analysis.
DPS battery monitoring solution
The DPS battery monitoring solution.

Do You Need a UPS SNMP Monitoring Solution?

When providing essential services to the public, you have to make sure your network is always up and running - even during a commercial power failure. That's why having a monitoring system that alerts you to problems that can affect the reliability of your uninterruptible power supplies is critical.

There are many options of UPS monitoring devices in the market today, but ours tend to stand out from the competition.

Why is our UPS monitoring system so popular? Because...

  • It's an advanced method to securely monitor any UPS battery in your network for voltage, internal resistance, and temperature.
  • It's a flexible, scalable, and easily installed monitoring solution.
  • It's a system with powerful capabilities and proven design.
  • You can monitor other pieces of equipment in your network, not just your UPS batteries.
  • It has an open standard and open-minded design - with its SNMP support, software integration is easy.

Whenever you are ready to take the leap into full UPS visibility, so are we. Reach out to us and let's define, build, and deploy an SNMP monitoring solution for your batteries.

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins

Morgana Siggins is a marketing writer, content creator, and documentation specialist at DPS Telecom. She has created over 200 blog articles and videos sharing her years of experience in the remote monitoring industry.