What's the difference between a Battery Analyzer and a Battery Tester?
While battery analyzers check batteries in service and predict replacement, battery test systems provide multi-purpose test functions for research laboratories and developers of new battery technology. Cadex offers both the C7000 Series of programmable battery analyzers for serving and maintaining battery fleets, as well as the C8000 advanced battery test system.
Battery analyzers became popular in the 1980s and 1990s to restore nickel-cadmium batteries that were affected by “memory.” Today these workhorses are used to analyze a broad range of batteries as part of fleet management and assuring system integrity. Periodic battery analysis is needed because batteries tend to have a shorter life than the host it powers. Battery analyzers act as gatekeepers to retire packs when they fall below a set performance criteria.
Cadex C7000 Series battery analyzer that accommodates lead-, nickel- and lithium-based batteries. The instrument features automated service programs and operates in stand-alone mode or with PC software.
The most common program is Auto, which charges a battery, applies a discharge to measure capacity and completes the program with a final charge. Other programs include Custom to put the battery through a unique choice of charge, discharge, wait and repeat. The Lifecycle program cycles the battery until the capacity has dropped to the preset target capacity while counting the cycles. This program is used to evaluate battery durability. OhmTest measures the internal battery resistance and Runtime discharges a battery at three different current levels to simulate unique usage pattern. QuickSort™ sorts lithium-ion batteries into Good, Low and Poor in 30 seconds, and Boost reactivates packs that have fallen asleep due to over-discharge. Further programs include Self-Discharge to test losses and Prime, which cycles a battery until the maximum capacity is reached. Prime also verifies the spare capacity before charge.
Connecting various shapes of batteries to an analyzer has always been a challenge, and folks have designed fancy contraptions with springs and levers so complicated that only the inventor can operate. There are no simple ways to connect a battery, especially when servicing small packs with tiny surface contacts or smart batteries with numerous blade contacts.
Cadex solved the battery interface with SnapLock™ adapters. These custom-made adapters are easy to use as they are designed for a given battery type; they only go in one way. Each adapter stores up to 10 codes (C-codes) that configures the analyzer to the correct settings. The user can edit the parameters with the analyzer’s menu function or with the PC-BatteryShop™ software. Cadex Universal Adapters interface to specialty packs, such as mobile phone batteries; larger batteries connect by the user-programmable Smart Cable.
Battery Test Systems
Cadex C8000 Advanced Battery Test System
While battery analyzers check batteries in service and predict replacement, battery test systems provide multi-purpose test functions for research laboratories. Typical applications are life-cycle testing to simulate battery loading and verifying durability in the field, as well as checking cell balance of a multi-cell pack in field simulation. These tests can be fully automated with a custom program that the user composes.
Figure 3 illustrates the Cadex C8000, a battery test system that captures load signatures of mobile phones, laptops and power tools, and then applies the simulated loads to verify battery runtime as if used in real-life situations. The device is capable of monitoring individual cells with the help of floating analog inputs. The Dual Power Port Cable extends the discharge current from 10A per station to 20A by parallel function. Higher wattage is possible by connecting the C8000 to an external load bank. The system also manages environmental chambers and reads SMBus batteries while being in full control of all functions from one central point.
Being digital provides advantages over analog by offering a large test range in compact housing. This eliminates the need to buy extra modules to perform low and high voltage and current measurements. Another advantage is ultimate immunity from neighboring channels. The limitation is the inability to measure extremely low voltage and current that would be possible with specialty modules. The C8000 works as a stand-alone or with PC-BatteryLab™ operating up to eight C8000 analyzers, servicing 32 batteries independently (with most PCs).
A battery test system, such as the Cadex C8000, includes many redundant safety algorithms that identify a faulty battery and terminate a service before an unwanted event could occur. Such security may not be available when using a programmable power supply and a programmable load to test batteries. Although an open platform offers great flexibility, it requires careful programming to prevent stress to the battery, inflicting possible damage or fire if an anomaly occurs. For destructive tests, the safeguards of the C8000 can be overridden.