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How to Use Remote Monitoring to Maintain Battery Health

By Andrew Erickson

June 10, 2024

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Battery health is critical for the reliability of remote telecommunications equipment. This is especially true when these systems are located in outdoor environments with extreme temperatures.

Your common challenge is making sure that battery monitoring devices can function effectively under difficult conditions.

Let's take a look at a conversation between a DPS Telecom sales engineer (Michael) and a client. Their chat highlights the need for a temperature-hardened device capable of monitoring battery health and transmitting SNMP traps.

Identifying the Problem: Need for Reliable Battery Monitoring in Harsh Conditions

The client opened the conversation with a clear requirement:

"Hi - I was curious if you have a device to monitor battery health and transmit SNMP traps. This device would sit in an outdoor telecommunications cabinet and therefore should be temperature hardened."

Michael responded by confirming the availability of a suitable device and sought additional details about the required temperature range:

"The battery health monitoring device we have is rated from 0-60C, and is available to be wall mounted. What do you think?"

The initial device specification covered a typical temperature range. However, the client's needs were more stringent, extending to colder conditions:

"60C to -40C cold, close might be okay as well if it isn't exact."

The range specified by the client is not something we normally offer. The client mentioned, though, that any alternative range should be okay - as long as it's close to his desired spec.

Luckily for this client, as well as other clients, DPS customizes devices to fit your specific needs. While you may want specifications that are different than those of off-the-shelf DPS products, that doesn't mean that we can't create a new solution just for you.

DPS has other products that come closer to this goal temperature range. For example, the NetGuardian 832A G6 has an "industrial temperature range" of -30 to 70 C. This is a bit warmer than the client needs us to cover - and not quite as cold. However, the client indicated that a close temperature would be okay if the range isn't exact.

Another series of product are the BVM sensors which have a standard temperature range of -10 C to 70 C. This is one of the products that DPS personnel can personalize for you. Upon request, DPS engineers can design a hardened sensor that has a range of -40 C to 85 C.

NetGuardian 832A from DPS Telecom
Monitor your battery cell voltage and temperature for ultimate visibility over your power supplies

Why Previous Solutions Have Fallen Short

Across the industry, battery monitoring solutions often fail in extreme environments because they are not designed to withstand wide temperature fluctuations.

Devices that are not temperature-hardened can malfunction or provide inaccurate readings. This leads to potential system failures.

In addition to temperature constraints, many traditional rack-mounted devices may not fit within the spatial constraints of a DIN rail-mounted setup. This setup is commonly used in compact outdoor cabinets, so look for the physical mounting style that you need.

Your Dream Solution: Comprehensive Battery Monitoring in All Conditions

Imagine a device that monitors battery health with great precision. Now imagine that it also withstands extreme temperatures and fits seamlessly into compact spaces.

This ideal solution would ensure continuous operation and accurate reporting. Even in the harshest conditions, the device provides peace of mind for network managers.

BVM sensor from DPS Telecom
These sensors can report alarms from the same IP address as the NetGuardian or be a standalone, battery health, and remote site equipment monitoring solution.

DPS Telecom's Solution: The NetGuardian and BVM Sensors

DPS Telecom offers several solutions that can meet these strict requirements for monitoring. For instance, the NetGuardian G6 832A is a versatile RTU designed for medium and large sites. The device supports various environmental monitoring functions:

"The NetGuardian 832A is easy to install. Alarm wiring can be terminated to the 50-pin Amphenol connectors using standard 66 blocks, or with optional wire-wrap/pluggable back panels. The unit mounts quickly in either 19" or 23" equipment racks while occupying only one rack unit of space."

For battery monitoring, DPS Telecom provides the BVM D-Wire Sensors. These sensors can monitor individual batteries for voltage, internal resistance, and temperature:

"These sensors were designed for one purpose: Monitor your batteries for ultimate visibility over your power supply. BVM sensors can monitor dozens of batteries at a single location, including multiple strings."
NetGuardian 832A from DPS Telecom
Build your perfect-fit monitoring system with the customizability of the NetGuardian

Monitoring Individual Batteries/Cells in a String

During the conversation, Michael inquired about the specific conditions under which the device would operate and the parameters it needed to monitor:

"You mention it would be monitoring batteries in an outside cabinet. Would you be looking to monitor their health on a per-cell basis?"

The client confirmed this requirement, emphasizing the need for precise and detailed monitoring:

"Yes."

This indicates the importance of individual cell monitoring to ensure the health of each battery component. If you monitor each cell separately, you can identify potential failures early. This prevents larger system issues.

Choose a Monitor That Matches Your Power Input Voltage & Desired Alert Format

Michael then inquired about the power input available in the cabinet and the desired method for receiving alarms:

"What power input would be available in the cabinet? How would you like to receive your alarms?"

The client responded with specific power and alarm integration needs:

"24VDC. We have a battery controller that sends a binary input flag. We want the alarm device to turn those flags into SNMP."

This requirement highlights the need for a device that can seamlessly convert binary input signals (discrete alarms via contact closure) into SNMP traps. This seamless conversion effectively communicates alarms across the network.

DPS Telecom's devices, such as the NetGuardian series, are well-equipped for this task. They support various input types and converting them into SNMP traps for reliable alarm transmission.

Choose the Right Connectivity and Network Integration

Ensuring the device integrates smoothly with the existing network infrastructure is crucial. Michael clarified the need for network connectivity:

"What connectivity will be available for the unit?"

The client detailed their setup:

"Fiber backhaul. The alarm device will connect into an Ethernet/RJ45 switch, which will then be backhauled via fiber."

This setup underscores the importance of strong network integration capabilities. DPS Telecom's devices, like the NetGuardian G6 832A, offer versatile connectivity options. The options include Ethernet ports for seamless integration with existing network switches and fiber backhaul systems.

RTU communication diagram
Build your perfect-fit monitoring system with the customizability of the NetGuardian

Additional Monitoring Requirements

Further discussing the specific control relay outputs needed, Michael asked:

"Which control relay outputs from the power controller were you looking to pull into the RTU?"

The client identified several critical monitoring points:

"I think just battery temperature, low battery voltage. We would also have the power controller monitor AC and DC inputs and a door alarm that is wired directly to the alarm module with a NO/NC dry contact."

This response highlights the diverse range of parameters that need to be monitored. These parameters range from battery temperature and voltage to AC/DC inputs and physical security through door alarms. DPS Telecom's comprehensive monitoring solutions can accommodate these varied inputs by providing detailed and reliable monitoring.

Consider Form Factor and Space Constraints

The conversation also touched on the physical dimensions of the monitoring device. The client was concerned about space limitations and preferred a DIN rail mount:

"Do you have anything smaller form factor, or is this the smallest? The 17" width is relatively large for our application."

Michael assured the client that DPS Telecom could potentially offer a more compact solution:

"Let me go ask about the form factor. We might be able to make a DIN-mounted option depending on how many you will need."

This flexibility demonstrates DPS Telecom's commitment to meeting specific client needs. This flexibility even applies to the physical dimensions and mounting options. Compact and space-efficient designs are crucial for installations in confined outdoor cabinets. The strategic design qualities ensure that the monitoring solutions do not exceed the available space.

Let DPS Find Your Best Solution

For network managers facing the challenge of monitoring battery health in harsh outdoor conditions, DPS Telecom provides reliable solutions.

If you need a tailored solution for your remote monitoring needs, contact DPS Telecom today. Our expert engineers are ready to assist you in crafting a solution that ensures your critical operations are monitored accurately and reliably.

Call 1-800-693-0351 or email sales@dpstele.com today for more information.

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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...