Unfortunately, there’s no crystal ball to predict battery failure in an uninterruptible power system (UPS). Yet deploying a predictive battery monitoring solution is the next best thing — and the optimal safeguard for large UPS systems. A monitoring system evaluates a wide variety of variables, including individual cell or unit voltage and current during float and discharge cycles, ambient temperature and the temperature of each cell. Because ongoing analytics can reveal subtle changes that signal impending battery failure, these solutions provide advanced warning before your system fails —likely taking down your critical load with it — and affording you adequate time to take action.

Still unsure if a battery monitoring system makes sense for your organization? Consider these 5 reasons why a battery monitoring system is essential for your business:

1. Batteries are inherently unpredictable.

Studies have shown that batteries are the leading cause of UPS failure. A variety of factors influence the lifespan and reliability of batteries, including ambient temperature, chemistry, cycling and maintenance. In addition, invisible issues such as power grid problems, environmental conditions and charging stresses from demanding UPS applications all contribute to a high risk of battery failure.

2. Just one bad battery can cause an entire string to fail — and bring down your entire infrastructure!

The series of batteries in a large UPS are often compared to a string of holiday lights. When one fails, the whole string stops working. The most effective way to combat this problem is to “spot” replace bad batteries that are less than three years old. However, it is virtually impossible to identify which battery is bad without a predictive battery monitoring solution.

3. Periodic battery testing can give you a false sense of security.

While testing batteries at regular intervals is better than ignoring them altogether, this method still can’t prevent battery failure. Due to their intrinsic volatility, new batteries can fail in as little as two weeks and at any time in their life cycle. Yet with the solid measurement data captured by predictive monitoring, you can virtually eliminate your risk of battery failure.

4. Regularly scheduled PM visits may not adequately protect you either.

Much like intermittent testing, engaging in recommended UPS preventive maintenance is optimal for battery life and performance, but it doesn’t guarantee the avoidance of catastrophic failure. Even new batteries and those still under warranty remain at risk for unexpected failure.

5. A UPS battery monitoring system can help you reduce costs.

The ROI of deploying a monitoring solution is undeniable. If just one battery system failure is eliminated, it will potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, data and productivity. In addition, a quality predictive monitoring system can also prevent or reduce unplanned emergency service calls and unnecessary testing. Even more, these systems can help extend the overall life of batteries, thereby reducing the frequency of complete change-outs.

It’s important to note that all UPS battery monitoring systems are not created equally. The key to an effective monitoring system can be summed up in a single word: predictive. Although some solutions may be priced less than others, unless they are truly predictive they are unable to detect developing problems. And while some UPSs are capable of ascertaining certain battery conditions, they only examine the string as a whole; none has the ability to monitor, track and trend the health of individual batteries. Furthermore, these systems typically look only at the overall string voltage and possibly the discharge cycle; the UPS cannot drill down to the specific failed battery and enable you to replace it before your system is at risk. Only predictive solutions provide the capabilities to ensure your UPS will perform when you need it most.

For questions on how to better protect against costly battery failures, contact the experts at IPS today for a free consultation.

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