Though most Li-Ion chargers merely recharge the units, there are some that offer an added test/calibration function, which provides the cell a full discharge cycle function necessary to keep the cells balanced within the battery. This assures that the cells are always at an optimal state to withstand continuous operation for extended periods of time. It also further maintains service life and increases a battery’s cycle rating.
Knowledge Really is…Power
Knowledge about your power really is important, and is exactly what a modern BMS provides, often in amounts and forms that allow an operator to increase efficiencies and long-term cost savings.
Like all technology, battery management systems are evolving. In the past, chargers offered only a small LCD screen to monitor battery vitals. While functional, it limited the data displayed – due to character constraints. However, there is a bevy of information that can be transmitted from most battery packs. As a result, companies have started to roll out mobile device apps that connect to the chargers via Bluetooth® to provide a full transparency of vitals. By eliminating the restrictions of the small LCDs, users have access to more data and are given a better platform – often a tablet -- for battery management.
This also provides essential time savings, as the mobile applications generally also allow users to monitor as many as 50 battery packs through one device, without being connected to a charger. With older model battery management systems, the user would have to first connect each battery to a charger and use the on-charger LCD to acquire the (limited) data.
With some brands, mobile functionality also incorporates algorithms that can identify battery pack imbalance, with the overall hope of diagnosing problems at an earlier stage. Some of these apps will even initiate a calibration through the charger, in order to balance the pack. This streamlines the process of determining which battery packs are viable and which should be inspected more closely.
In some instances, data can be exported to a spread sheet, which allows for in-depth analysis of the battery fleet. In this format, the user can sort, highlight and select hundreds of connected battery packs based on a variety of smart data that allows a user to quickly identify imbalances and provides an opportunity to test and evaluate the packs through the system. Analysis, early detection and rectification of an imbalance will significantly decrease the chance of unsafe operations, while also providing an enhanced user experience.
A Better Battery World
Li-Ion batteries have been a Godsend for both the massive consumer electronics industry and our video production and broadcast community, although safety concerns and travel regulation hassles remain.
Having a battery management system that can communicate and read data is an essential tool for broadcasters and videographers the world over. Whether it is a traditional/basic system, which is great for small-scale teams, a mobile solution, and for large broadcast and film houses, battery management should be a top-priority for all professional video production. These innovative platforms allow a single user to oversee dozens of professional camera battery chargers and hundreds of battery packs, all controlled and monitored by a mobile device via its dedicated app. Thoroughly modern, thoroughly powerful.