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Next Generation Battery Testing

 

We look at how two innovative design changes in modern battery test sets have made capacity and load testing faster and easier than ever.

Fewer Test Leads for Capacity Testing
Measuring the voltage of each cell under test is unfortunately one of the most cumbersome, yet unavoidable, steps for accurate capacity testing. Last generation test equipment requires two connections per cell for voltage measurements. This often results in a lot of test leads laying around the test area when testing large battery banks. To make managing test leads a little bit easier, manufacturers often supply them in a 16 or 32 cable bundle. This is advantageous when testing that many cells, but it also means that users would have to deal with the whole cable bundle even when they are only testing a handful of cells. To add to the frustration, the testing software often requires the leads to be connected in a specific sequence, so a lot of time is spent searching for the exact numbered lead before connecting it.

Figure 1: Traditional Test Connection


Modern test sets allow each cell to be connected to a battery voltage monitor (BVM) in a daisy-chain fashion, therefore only one test lead is required for each cell in the string. This immediately cuts the number of required leads in HALF. After that, only one additional test lead is needed to connect the whole setup to the test set. With this test setup, the inter-cell leads can be shorter because they do not have to reach all the way to the test set. This reduces clutter in the test area and prevents users from accidentally tripping over cables and disconnecting them. Testing is also faster because the monitors and leads are interchangeable, so no time is spent looking for the right one.

Smaller and Lighter Load Units for Load Testing
When higher load currents are required, additional load units can be connected to the test system to provide constant current or constant power. Traditional load units can weigh over 800 lbs and are costly to transport and difficult to maneuver at the test site.

Newer load units are designed with portability in mind. A single 30-50 lb unit may not be able to generate as much current as an older, larger unit, but the new units are designed to be expandable. Multiple load units can be connected in parallel to discharge batteries with currents up to several kAh. With newer technology under the hood, the combined weight of multiple units is still lower than an older unit with equivalent power output.

This modular design gives the user much more flexibility without any loss of functionality. You can choose to transport only the required number of load units to the test site depending on your application needs and not have to lug around an unwieldy 800 lb gorilla. Multiple units can also be in multiple places at once - a department with five smaller load units can potentially test up to five sites a day. A single 800 lb unit will have to be rotated through the different sites because it will be cost prohibitive to try to purchase five!

 

Megger test sets related to this application note:
BVM
TORKEL 840/860
TORKEL 820
TXL 830/850/870/890

 

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