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Banks move to lithium technology for intruder systems

Home Engineering Electrical Banks move to lithium technology for intruder systems

LOADSHEDDING has challenged banks to keep security systems operational, specifically intruder systems.

As the level of loadshedding intensified, lead acid batteries which were being used by most banks to run intruder systems were showing a significant reduction in life expectancy and a high level of unreliability.

“Another factor was the battery’s operational time. With daily loadshedding exceeding six hours at times, the older battery technology was not coping, unable to recharge properly between these long bouts of loadshedding,” explains key accounts support manager, Elvey Group, Francois Smuts.

“The challenge was to select the most reliable battery technology to meet the specific needs of extended loadshedding. The products being used were based predominantly on lead technology, and to a lesser extent gel.”

“But these technologies were failing to keep intruder systems running during excessive loadshedding periods, causing a spike in battery failures.”

In addition, replacing failed batteries in the field increased labour and travel costs. With outlying branches, this could equate to a full day’s labour and over a thousand kilometres travelled in some cases, Smuts says.

“Banks needed to review the available options. Years ago, before lithium technology became available, evaluations and tests were conducted, and at the time, lead was determined to be the most economical choice,” explains Uniross Batteries MD Michael Rogers.

“Around 18 months ago, one of the Big 5 banks requested Elvey to evaluate the possibility of replacing lead batteries with lithium equivalents for use in their intruder systems from a feasibility and safety point of view,” Smuts adds.

“Initially, the intruder system manufacturers strongly advised against this based on safety issues. This was because, in general, the battery monitoring and charging circuitry of intruder systems are designed for safe use using lead batteries. At that stage, lithium batteries were more prone to an explosion than lead acid.”

Rogers adds: “But with advancements in battery technology, lithium batteries now include a built-in battery management system (BMS). This monitors the lithium battery and will shut it down should there be a risk of a failure or overheating. As a result, the lead batteries were replaced with lithium.”

“In the evaluation, extensive tests were conducted using DSC and Texecom Intruder systems, simulating a typical bank environment. It was found that lead batteries in intruder systems could be replaced by lithium batteries with no safety or performance issues while providing all the benefits of lithium,” Smuts says.

“We chose the Uniross 7AH and 20AH lithium batteries to replace the current lead batteries. Our tests revealed that the BMS used by Uniross in their lithium series batteries are more in-line with the typical intruder system’s battery charging circuitry, taking frequent loadshedding into consideration.”

Smuts says the lithium solution is performing according to expectations but will need some time for the banks to have accurate figures relating to the benefits. “But already the uptime is significantly higher as well as performance and reliability.”

“From a cost saving point of view, relating to historical battery replacements, cost savings are expected to exceed 60% over the next two to three years.”

“In terms of productivity benefits from a loadsheading point of view, because lithium batteries maintain their voltage, virtually throughout a discharging period, an intruder system’s battery operational time is extended by at least 15%. In some cases, this equates to hours.”

“With service providers spending less time replacing and fault-finding battery-related issues, their average callout turnaround time for other intruder system-related issues is dramatically reduced,” Smuts concludes.

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