Smart Grid Technology, IoT and Battery Management: Protecting DC Power For Utilities

When there is an outage involving smart grid hardware, there can be real problems. If data is lost, there can be serious costs. This is why most smart grid solutions utilize an uninterrupted power supply, or UPS. UPS systems consist of heavy-duty DC battery chains that kick in during an outage or interruption ensuring proper system shutdown of technologies and machinery before the generator can power on. More simply put, the smart grid protects the consumer, and the UPS protects the smart grid. But what protects that? Battery Management Solutions help to tie off loose ends in communication and connectivity in case of outages.

Layered IoT Protection

Having a UPS is good, but it doesn’t make a system infallible. DC batteries are prone to factory defects, damage, wear-and-tear and failure just like any other equipment. In fact, about 80% of UPS system failures result from overcharging these batteries.

Not having a solution in place to monitor DC power supply leads to some serious costs for businesses:

  • Frequent, unnecessary replacement of batteries
  • Expensive testing equipment and protocol
  • Ongoing personnel dispatch to remote locations

Simple tests and averages can give you some idea of how your batteries are holding up, but estimates are often unreliable. Field tests of heavy-duty batteries show there is a 40% chance of battery failure after seven years. However, tests by engineers at MGE UPS systems predict that there is a higher spike of battery failure around four years.

This test data is nice to have, but how do utility companies apply the data in the field? Simply replacing all batteries every four years makes no sense. Just because some have failed doesn’t mean the rest are doomed. Testing the discharge of the chain of batteries also won’t do; discharge data from the chain does not reflect individual battery health, or probability of failure. When one battery in a chain dies, the others work overtime to keep up, skewing results in a discharge test.

DC Battery Monitoring

MGE Systems, battery Monitoring test results

The only way to accurately diagnose the health of a battery chain is to test each battery individually. Testing each and every battery in a chain is a laborious undertaking, and with many DC power supplies stationed remotely, dispatching crews makes it even more impractical.

IoT Monitoring of DC Power

Luckily, the solution to protect DC power supplies is “smart” as well. Similar to the design of smart grid solutions, companies are taking advantage of Battery Management Systems, or BMS solutions to monitor DC power health with access to real-time operational and field data. With plug-and-play software and scalable designs, a well-managed BMS solution with IoT remote monitoring is the last piece of the puzzle for tech in utilities.

The IoT model for grid services proves to be an unbelievably effective way to save manpower, equipment and time. The same model lends itself towards all of the DC battery applications as well.

A well-managed BMS system can “speak” if there’s a problem, and the system allows for automation of repair and replacement schedules. This can all be done from a tablet or phone, remotely.

BMS IoT platforms take care of:

  • Integrated and automated communication between components
  • Sensing and measurement
  • Automated alerts for distribution and repairs
  • Real-time analytics and historical data

Whether it’s for a UPS, utility substation, or a wind-solar solution, grid services utilize some form of stored DC power. The BMS transforms a once tedious, expensive effort into a streamlined process that saves time and money for utilities.

EnCharge Adds and All-In-One Battery Management Solution

At EnCharge, we watch the trends and paths that energy, communications and other mission critical industries take, and assess the needs of the marketplace. We believe that the future is connected. Whether its through IoT platforms or other technological advancements, we’re here to bring products that simplify the management process.

We designed our BMS to be ready for the challenges of modern power needs. Overseeing through top of the line hardware with EnCell™ battery monitors, and EnVision™, our effortlessly user-friendly platform, gives users total peace of mind. Our cloud-hosted database allows a secure platform for customizable dashboards and reports anytime, anywhere. Available through web browsers, customized mobile apps, email and SMS notifications, the status of your most critical DC power storage is in good hands.

No two businesses have the same needs—especially when it comes to their tech and equipment. Some have a single chain of lead-acid batteries that need a longer lifespan, while others have dozens of remote substations in need of attention. That’s why a scalable, and adaptable solution for battery management is best—and why EnCharge works with each customer to find their specific solution. Reach out to us, let us know your questions, concerns, plans, and we can help you meet your goals.

Contact EnCharge Today

Sources used

Gun, Jean-Paul, Jean-Noel Fiorina, Michael Fraise, and Henri Mabboux, “Increasing UPS Battery Life,” R&D Advanced Technologies Team, MGE UPS SYSTEMS, INTELEC, 1997.

2019-06-13T14:04:54+00:00June 6th, 2019|