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Monitor UPS Battery Backups and Prevent Failures

Most organizations depend on their uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to always have reliable power for their mission-critical equipment. When a commercial power outage happens, this is the line of defense. For this reason, it's important to know the status of your UPS batteries at all times.

Let's talk about how you can efficiently monitor your UPS battery backups.

What Can Affect Your UPS Lifespan

When a battery fails, it puts additional strain on all the other batteries in the string. This means that the dead battery will draw power from the other batteries, which decreases their lifespan.

But that's not the only thing that can cause an impact in your UPS batteries life expectancy. There are many other points, such as:

  • The temperature inside the room
  • Overcharging
  • Loose connections
  • Charge voltage and charge current
  • Strained battery terminals
  • Recurrent discharge cycles
UPS battery monitoring
Monitoring your batteries can significantly extend their life span by reducing battery strain.

String Level Vs Individual Cell Level

Depending on your specific scenario, monitoring at the battery string level can be sufficient. But, since string voltage monitoring does not inform you about how many cells have degraded and to what extent, putting a cell level monitoring system in place is more efficient. This method can provide you with in-depth monitoring.

At the cell level, you'll have sensors connected to each battery cell to monitor each of your cells individually. These sensors will look not only for low voltages but a difference between the cells and the average of all the cells. A monitoring system such as this one is an efficient way to save you network downtime while also preserving the life expectancy of your batteries.

Whatever method you choose, just make sure that your monitoring system can store and analyze the data collected. When you apply analytics to alarm information you can identify trends, which allows you to determine when a battery is getting drained and you can replace It before it dies and compromises the rest of the string.

Also, your battery monitoring system should be capable of integrating smoothly with your infrastructure monitoring system. This provides you with a comprehensive and efficient monitoring approach, as all your alarms will be displayed in only one location: your central master station.

UPS battery monitoring system
Choose a monitoring device that allows you to monitor your critical battery cells to improve reliability in your network.

Real-World Scenario

I recently had a conversation with a small rural Internet and telephone provider in Oregon. The engineer, Matt, was looking for a small RTU that could monitor two strings of UPS battery backups and function as a network switch. His question for me was: can DPS do that?

Naturally, I had to ask about the string specifications. Matt was working with -48 VDC UPS battery strings composed of four 12 V cells each.

At this point, I explained that the simplest thing the monitor would be string voltage. Monitoring the string voltage of your batteries enables you to know approximately how much battery life you have left as a percentage. This is one of the most important things to know about your batteries. Still, there's much more to battery monitoring than just collecting a simple string voltage with an analog input.

The Problem

Matt wanted to know at midpoint voltage. He explained that his current issue was that the equipment he uses is old. It had been unreliable in sending SNMP messages when an alarm would clear.

The alarm state would not be canceled, so his team believed that something needed to be fixed. That left him in a situation where he had to manually test his batteries constantly. Most often, he'd find that nothing was wrong.

The Solution

Considering our options together, I explained that we already log battery voltage at defined intervals. Because battery midpoint voltage is simply an analysis of voltage measurements across time, this would not be a challenge for our Fresno-based engineering department to solve via a simple firmware improvement.

This is exactly what Matt was looking for. He explained that a midpoint voltage measurement would give him an easier time narrowing down a bad UPS battery cell whenever it occurs.

As far as the network switch, he didn't need any particularly unique functionality. He just needed a standard Layer 2 managed switch, with an ability to set VLANs and static IP's. He did need very many ports. Four ports would probably be enough.

I asked about battery voltage, and Matt confirmed my suspicion that we would be powered by the -48 V available on the battery strings. That was great news, as an internally wired analog circuit would be able to measure the string voltages (A feed and B feed) of the UPS without requiring any additional wiring to a separate input port.

As far as mounting, Matt was comfortable with either rack mounting or DIN mounting. Of course, he already has a lot of rackmount equipment. He also noted that some of his line power shelf controllers are already DIN mounted.

Get a Perfect-Fit Monitoring Solution

The previous scenario was just one example. What is it that you need from a battery monitoring solution?

Few companies can give you a monitoring device built especially for your unique specs. But this can be accomplished. Since we're a vertically integrated company, we specialize in providing custom-built monitoring solutions. This means that you can treat us your person engineering department - we can design and build the device that will meet all your requirements.

Give us a call today and start improving your UPS battery backup performance.