New battery monitoring technology predicts the remaining battery reserve time at a cell site, a power hub or central office (CO) so that the Network Operations Center (NOC) knows how to respond when the utility AC fails. The remaining reserve time, or Time to Empty (TTE) prediction, utilizes the patented voltage-slope method that supersedes the conventional and simpler battery-on-discharge (BOD) alarm. TTE moves battery monitoring into the Internet of Things (IoT) age as a near real-time, Cloud-based application that provides a simple, inexpensive way to gauge backup reserve time, detect premature battery failure and warn of potential battery end of life (EOL).
“Think of it as a fuel gauge” says Dave Essi, Founder and Chief Technologist at LABRA Technology, a Delray Beach, FL-based developer and supplier of advanced battery monitoring systems. “Applying a patented algorithm, we provide a solution framework that enables a revolutionary approach for gauging and tracking lead-acid battery capacity in storage applications, from commissioning to end-of-life. More important, cellular and Cloud technology advances have simplified and reduced battery real-time data acquisition and sharing costs among service providers, their OEMs and VARs.”
LABRA’s concept is that actual reserve time for a good string of batteries can be reliably gauged early into a discharge.
“The proven technique is a scientific method that analyzes the voltage-slope using an algorithm based on a natural phenomenon,” says Essi. “Essentially, it’s a self-correcting fuel gauge that works for any lead-acid battery and accounts for weak or bad cells.” Essi explains that the LABRA device which is about the size of a deck of cards can be installed to monitor a single battery, a string of batteries or multiple strings of batteries. “A secure outbound-only wireless connection allows the device to upload data to the Cloud,” Essi adds.
Wireless service providers often give only minimal attention to cell site DC power plants and batteries, usually with 4- or 8-hour battery reserve time. Their attitude: “It just has to work.” Today, when the utility AC power fails, the NOC gets a BOD alarm for the site(s) affected and knows roughly how long the batteries are supposed to keep the site operating before they completely discharge. When that happens, service is interrupted, and public safety is at risk.
Over time and without proper maintenance, however, batteries lose their effectiveness and capacity, so the actual discharge can vary by site even with the same type of battery. In an emergency, having an accurate measure of TTE is critical for dispatch of limited field resources. With an accurate picture of battery status whether in normal or discharge mode, the NOC can dispatch on demand and reduce scheduled maintenance visits thus saving operating expense.
Bullish mobile data usage forecasts portend massive wireless infrastructure deployment needed to support that demand. More than ever, DC power systems and batteries will be critical to keeping the ‘always on’ network, well, always on. Accurate battery status information helps network operators make important decisions at critical times to manage field resources and costs. Cloud-based applications allow all stakeholders to benefit from enhanced battery performance visibility.
John Celentano is Inside Tower’s Contributing Analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
by John Celentano, Contributing Analyst, Inside Towers
June 20, 2019
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