Maximizing Lithium Battery Monitoring for Remote Visibility


To ensure the reliability and uptime of their sites, telecommunications providers and power utilities must use back-up DC power systems that ensure that their telecom sites* remain functional when a power outage occurs. Most commonly, lead-acid batteries are used as back-up DC power systems. These types of batteries, however, require a significant amount of floor space, necessitate regular preventive maintenance and can be costly. 

 Over the past few years, a new technology of DC power systems has emerged and is used more often in telecommunications facilities: lithium batteries. This category of batteries offers outstanding energy densities, which renders them more space-efficient compared to lead-acid batteries. They also possess a longer life cycle than most types of batteries and comply with IEEE’s UL9540A standard for fire safety

Problem Statement

As opposed to lead-acid batteries, most lithium batteries come with an integrated Battery Management System (BMS), which continuously monitors various parameters of the battery system, such as temperature, voltage and conductance. The BMS offers powerful insights into the battery’s conditions including its state of health (SoH) and state of charge (SoC).  

A challenge arises when considering business decisions based on the data provided by the BMS. Data at the site level are cumbersome to collect, requiring time and costly truck rolls that could have been used elsewhere or completely avoided. To obtain an accurate and reliable view of the state of the batteries throughout the network, the data provided by the BMSs need to be aggregated onto a single platform. However, transferring data from the site to the network is not possible when using BMSs that employ serial protocols.  IP-capable BMSs also present a challenge because they require a large number of IP addresses, which can be time-consuming to obtain and may even be unavailable on the IT network. 

Solution to the Problem: Protocol Conversion

To obtain remote access to the lithium battery information across a telecommunications network, the BMS data communicating using serial protocols must be converted to an IP-based protocol, such as the widely used SNMP. Multitel’s iO mini device integrates various battery BMSs via one or two RS-485 ports. All available data points can be polled from a centralized location directly using SNMP. Additionally, thresholds and statuses can be configured to trigger SNMP Traps for an easy alarm management solution.

Some batteries also provide alarming capabilities using binary output, which can also be connected to the iO mini to trigger SNMP Traps

Furthermore, a complete overview of each battery and various other equipment and their related data points can be visualized and analyzed in the iO web interface.

Take a Step Further: Centralized Network Battery Monitoring Solution

Once remote access is obtained for every lithium battery in a telecommunications network, the next step is to obtain a global, centralized visibility. As a matter of fact, the aggregation of the data provided by the BMSs throughout the network via a centralized platform allows for accurate and reliable business decisions that optimize operational costs. When used in collaboration with the iO mini, Multitel’s Atlas network monitoring software provides engineers and decision-makers with the means to have an accurate representation of the status of the battery network. Using various tools such as status maps, dashboards, business rules, notifications, and data manipulation, Atlas enhances replacement strategies and enables better planning for upcoming needs. 

* For the purposes of this Application Note, the use case of telecommunication sites has been referenced. Remote monitoring of lithium batteries can also extend to additional applications such as back-up DC power systems in transmission and distribution substations.

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