Industrial batteries are one of the critical components of a manufacturing process. The battery management system (BMS) is responsible for monitoring and protecting these batteries to ensure normal operation within a given time frame. In order to perform a proper diagnosis, it is important to choose the right test equipment and know how to use it properly. This article discusses the different types of test equipment available on the market for this purpose, as well as how to collect data from the test results.
The first thing to consider is whether your equipment should be able to handle multiple battery chemistries, as many manufacturers use more than one type of battery at a time in their installations.
BATTERY LOAD TESTERS:
These testers can be used to analyze and monitor the battery during charging. They usually have a drop-down menu that allows you to easily select the appropriate chemistry type. Most also have an option to select different voltages, amperage levels and end-of-charge methods. Data is collected using USB cables or via a wifi connection for a tablet or PC.
DISCHARGE BATTERY TESTERS:
If batteries need to be tested under load, a discharge tester is required. These testers can also measure and monitor voltages and temperatures during the discharge process. Some testers display information such as battery voltage, current draw and capacity, and have the ability to store data during testing.
DEEP CYCLE BATTERY TESTERS:
These testers are used to evaluate the life cycle of batteries, as well as to improve their performance. The deep cycle tester can simulate different types of loads on the batteries to understand their true capacity and life span. It is recommended to use a deep cycle tester when testing old or poorly performing batteries to improve their life and performance.
BATTERY MONITORING SYSTEMS:
Rather than using a single test device, BMS systems collect data from multiple sources and provide a more comprehensive report on the battery’s health. These systems typically use high-frequency modulators to monitor battery voltage, current and temperature. Some systems use a pulse motor to simulate mechanical vibration, while others use vibration or pressure sensors to monitor real-time motion. BMS systems typically have an LCD touchscreen that provides easy access to diagnostic results for multiple batteries
The next consideration is the location of your test equipment and whether it should be mobile. Most of the test equipment discussed in this article has a portable form factor and is powered by rechargeable or replaceable batteries. Some models can also be permanently mounted and connected to a facility’s power supply
Now that you know what types of test equipment are available, let’s take a closer look at the following
3 types of tests:
1. Battery Capacity Test (mAh) – During this test, the current capacity of the battery is measured against its original capacity. The average discharge current during the test should not exceed 20% of the battery’s rated capacity for 1 hour
2. Capacity Under Load (CUL) Test – (Deep Cycle Battery Test) This test estimates the capacity of a battery under charge and discharge conditions. The power supply must be capable of supplying a constant current or voltage up to 100% of the battery’s rated capacity and must discharge at a rate less than 40% (C/40)
3. Capacity vs. Temperature Chart – This test assesses how a battery’s capacity varies with its temperature and determines the optimal storage and use conditions for optimum performance. The test is typically performed on samples of 100 or more battery cells and records data at specific intervals based on ambient temperature.
As Arbin advises, knowing the capabilities of your batteries is critical to knowing what equipment you should purchase to keep them performing at their best.