Several years ago, my husband and I were on a beautiful lake in central Iowa fishing in a bass tournament.
We had decided to go to the back side of this fairly large lake and do a little fishing off the shore line. It was a beautiful day and the fish were biting! That makes for a HAPPY Fisherman.
About an hour later, we started hearing thunder in the distance. The sky became dark, and we could see lightning in the distance.
Well, I don’t know how you feel about fishing in a thunderstorm, but I was ready to call it a day. My husband pulled up the trolling motor, he turned the key to start the boat motor, and NOTHING happened. The BATTERY was dead!
Really…just like that!
We just used it to start the boat earlier in the day. How could this happen so suddenly? It must be a really old battery, right? No, it wasn’t. According to the manufacturer sticker, it was 2 ½ years old, and the label said it should last 5 years.
Are you kidding me?
We are on the wrong side of the lake from the boat ramp, can’t start the big motor, and a severe thunderstorm is on the way. I remember looking at my husband and saying — “Don’t we Monitor Batteries at PTI?” He of course said… “yes, for UPS batteries…but not for boats!” Good thing you were NOT there, because the look I gave him wasn’t pretty!
Luckily the wind was in our favor, and we managed to get back to the ramp using our trolling motor before the storm hit. But it did make for a stressful experience!
Moral of the story: Check your batteries and don’t get STUCK in a Storm.
Monitor your batteries and manage your UPS system the right way.
Companies count on their UPS system to provide clean, reliable power in their data centers. They are often the last line of defense in the case of a Power Failure or Disruption. Don’t you want to know if your UPS is in danger of failing?
As you read in the story above, batteries fail with little or no warning. In the case of a UPS, this problem becomes even worse as an unhealthy, failing battery puts additional strain on all the other batteries in the string; decreasing the life expectancy of the remaining batteries.
A Reactive Plan
You can hire companies to perform Preventative Maintenance (PM) checks on your batteries. These are are typically done annually, semi-annually, or quarterly. Performing battery PM’s is better than doing nothing. However, it is completely REACTIVE since you typically will learn of problems with a battery between the regularly scheduled PM. Most automobile owners can relate to a battery failure at some point during their ownership, and it usually happens at the worst time.
A Proactive Plan
A better plan is to monitor the batteries on a daily basis in real time with a system that provides trending historical data so that poor quality and failing batteries can be jumped out and replaced before they damage the entire string.
A high quality Battery Monitoring system according to IEEE should monitor the following:
- String and cell float voltages
- String and cell charge voltages
- String and cell discharge voltages
- AC ripple voltage
- String charge current
- String discharge current
- AC ripple current
- Ambient and cell temperatures
- Cell internal resistance
Now you have become PROACTIVE. You will know if a battery is heading towards failure long before you are caught in a STORM!