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  1. #1
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    Apr 2007
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    UPS Battery Monitoring

    Hey Gents,

    We have a few customers that are wanting some UPS battery monitoring, but not wanting to use Intellibatt. More than one site is saying intellibatt all around just...sucks. Seems to start at crappy installs and goes down hill from there.

    So what have y'all used and customers STILL like?
    "It's not that I'm smart, it's that I stay with the problem longer”
    Albert Einstein

  2. #2
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    Jan 2003
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    1,685
    All the Libert, APC, Emerson, (insert big name) units I have touched, had a comms interface and spit out plenty of battery condition info.

    I assume there is no internal UPS controller you can talk to? Never tried an outside battery monitor. Seems like it would be tricky to get one to work well without some integration with the charge/discharge electronics.
    Propagating the formula. http://www.noagendashow.com/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Seattle, WA
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    49
    Just echoing the last post; I have a site with a few large UPSes. We integrate through sitelink by BACnet/IP... On the older ones we have integrators (MIG). And a few talk BACnet/MSTP... They were done at different stages. Seems we get all the battery information the customer desires that way. We also put in some Hydrogen sensors...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Central Pennsylvania
    Posts
    63
    I am going to shoot from the hip, and disagree about your typical UPS (esp. APC,) - they do not do a battery test, even though they are able to communicate a variety of status info. Look specifically for weekly/monthly battery test option. We use Eaton EX UPS, which does have that function.

    I like Mesta Electroincs, but I will warn you that they are $alty.

    I apologize in advance if I have offended anyone.

    Jim A.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Central Pennsylvania
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    Mesta Electronics is a link.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    California
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    311
    Quote Originally Posted by xarralu View Post
    Hey Gents,

    We have a few customers that are wanting some UPS battery monitoring, but not wanting to use Intellibatt. More than one site is saying intellibatt all around just...sucks. Seems to start at crappy installs and goes down hill from there.

    So what have y'all used and customers STILL like?
    Can't go wrong with APC. They all talk SNMP making it easy to monitor and alarm with EMS systems.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    634
    UPS based battery testing just tells you if the string can hold the load for a couple seconds, doesn't really tell you much other than it is completely bad when it fails. No real warning but you know you have a serious problem when you get that alarm.

    Alber BDS/MPM/BDSi series monitors have an excellent detection method but I think the software has some huge problems to get over and the hardware itself has some reliability issues. On a working system you can accurately predict individual battery failures months in advance. System requires trained technicians for maintenance. System has modbus RS232 or IP output for integration options.

    For an installed system I'd wait until the Alber BDSU, its going to solve a lot of the hardware and software problems Alber has. Modular hardware and a completely new software package. Will have comm option cards for different protocols. Been in development for a long time.

    Alber has a handheld meter that does similar but someone actually has to go out and use it on a schedule. Meter is rather well done and easy to use, but if your batteries are hard to get to than it's going to be a pain. Meter outputs test results in an open format to pull into your favorite application.

    That's about it, IMO the only way to test a battery is to put a small load across it and look at the discharge curve after the surface charge is burned off. Alber is the only system I'm aware that does that and has a patent on it.
    Scott Jalbert
    Harris Integrated Solutions

    Formerly Liebert (Emerson Network Power)
    Expressed opinions are my own

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Amarillo by mornin'
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    853
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxBurn View Post
    UPS based battery testing just tells you if the string can hold the load for a couple seconds, doesn't really tell you much other than it is completely bad when it fails. No real warning but you know you have a serious problem when you get that alarm.

    Alber BDS/MPM/BDSi series monitors have an excellent detection method but I think the software has some huge problems to get over and the hardware itself has some reliability issues. On a working system you can accurately predict individual battery failures months in advance. System requires trained technicians for maintenance. System has modbus RS232 or IP output for integration options.

    For an installed system I'd wait until the Alber BDSU, its going to solve a lot of the hardware and software problems Alber has. Modular hardware and a completely new software package. Will have comm option cards for different protocols. Been in development for a long time.

    Alber has a handheld meter that does similar but someone actually has to go out and use it on a schedule. Meter is rather well done and easy to use, but if your batteries are hard to get to than it's going to be a pain. Meter outputs test results in an open format to pull into your favorite application.

    That's about it, IMO the only way to test a battery is to put a small load across it and look at the discharge curve after the surface charge is burned off. Alber is the only system I'm aware that does that and has a patent on it.
    Exactly what I was asking about. Hardware that will show ohmic, temperature, and other useful info for each of, let's say, a hundred batteries. We've only done a few Alber and everyone of them had issues with the main "box" with the plastic/fiber cable that ran to each node. Do you know or have heard when the new Alber BDSU equipment will be out?

    Thanks for the info.
    "It's not that I'm smart, it's that I stay with the problem longer”
    Albert Einstein

  9. #9
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    Jan 2003
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    USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxBurn View Post
    Alber BDS/MPM/BDSi series monitors have an excellent detection method but I think the software has some huge problems to get over and the hardware itself has some reliability issues. On a working system you can accurately predict individual battery failures months in advance.
    This is statement is not computing in my mind.

    Their system aside...

    How can you get advance battery health feedback with the UPS connected to the battery and not cause the UPS to fault out while accurately testing the batteries? Are these monitors between the UPS and battery? Do they disconnect the UPS and fake a battery while testing the actual batteries?
    Propagating the formula. http://www.noagendashow.com/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    634
    Quote Originally Posted by xarralu View Post
    Exactly what I was asking about. Hardware that will show ohmic, temperature, and other useful info for each of, let's say, a hundred batteries. We've only done a few Alber and everyone of them had issues with the main "box" with the plastic/fiber cable that ran to each node. Do you know or have heard when the new Alber BDSU equipment will be out?

    Thanks for the info.
    I really don't know. You should talk to their sales dept in FL and ask, they don't seem to be hiding it until release. On the other hand both Alber and Emerson sell factory trained start up of the systems and you wouldn't have to deal with it if you were doing it in the past.

    Quote Originally Posted by orion242 View Post
    This is statement is not computing in my mind.

    Their system aside...

    How can you get advance battery health feedback with the UPS connected to the battery and not cause the UPS to fault out while accurately testing the batteries? Are these monitors between the UPS and battery? Do they disconnect the UPS and fake a battery while testing the actual batteries?
    The UPS isn't involved and in the rare case if the Alber system sees the UPS asking for a lot of current like in a discharge situation while it is doing a test it will switch from test mode to discharge logging mode.

    Anyway the actual alber load test mode is only done once or twice a month. It puts a small 28 amp discharge across a group of four or five batteries at a time and logs their discharge curve. That is only done for a small period of time, less than a minute for that group of batteries. The batteries don't see much of a discharge at all, a real discharge from these size UPS systems are hundreds of amps but the small discharge that alber does is enough to predict how the batteries are going to do in a full discharge. Then over a group of tests you can predict when batteries are going to go bad, you will see one cell performing worse and worse before it gets to a state you can call bad.



    I'm convinced their measurement system works. Anyone can duplicate the test by connecting a headlight to a car battery and watch the volts on a digital multi meter count down. Just record the open circuit voltage, connect the headlight (the load in this test) and record the voltage every five seconds for a total of say 30 seconds. If you chart that on a graph and then test a known bad battery the bad one will drop like a rock on the graph where the good one will just be a long line gradually stepping down.

    If you are especially good/quick you can catch the rapid volt drop on the freshly charged good battery at the beginning of the load test. Those results need to be thrown out as it reflects more of the inherent capacitance of a battery rather than the actual chemical conversion long discharge part you are trying to measure.
    Scott Jalbert
    Harris Integrated Solutions

    Formerly Liebert (Emerson Network Power)
    Expressed opinions are my own

  11. #11
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    Feb 2013
    Location
    Central Pennsylvania
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    Quote Originally Posted by xarralu View Post
    We have a few customers that are wanting some UPS battery monitoring, but not wanting to use Intellibatt. More than one site is saying intellibatt all around just...sucks. Seems to start at crappy installs and goes down hill from there.
    What size UPS are we talking about here - self contained, or the kind with a battery bank?

  12. #12
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    Dec 2005
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    Can't imagine a alarm you would miss with APC and SNMP. Have you seen the mib file?

  13. #13
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    We use the APC BMS - Battery Monitoring System. We've had some problems with false alarms on Thermal Runaways, but I believe I heard it was due to poor connections and some crimp issues on certain types of crimps. Didn't seem to like the resistance of certain brands of crimps. I don't deal with this so hear say, but I've got another buddy in Oregon that swears by the Alber system. We use Alber meters and such for monthly testing/to verify the APC BMS is correct, but we aren't using it for active monitoring.
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