While common Power Supplies are designed to provide a fixed and constant DC voltage, chargers require a more complex design with different charging phases to assure the longevity of batteries and safety during operation.
To meet the specific charging needs of different types of batteries, industrial chargers are generally designed with several charging phases, including principally a boost voltage-constant current phase, a constant voltage phase, and a float voltage phase.
More advanced industrial chargers use a microcontroller (MCU) design, which detects the charging status of the connected batteries and allows further adjustment between different charging phases.
Nevertheless, it does not mean that chargers are the only option for charging applications nowadays. Advanced technology in power supplies has made it possible to adapt a programmable power supply, with adjustable voltage and current, to the specific charging demands in the field too.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR CHARGER
Choosing the adequate DC power source for the battery is critical if one wishes to maintain the battery’s performance. In the following paragraphs, we will be listing down a few criteria which are considered essential when it comes to the selection of proper chargers for the system.
A. Battery Charging Profile
Each battery type has its own specific charging needs and requirements. These requirements are normally defined by the battery manufacturer and listed in their specification. Hence it is important to start by identifying the battery charging profile before further diving into choosing the suitable charger. For the 2 most popular battery types used, we listed 2 example charging curves below:
- Lead-Acid Battery requires chargers with minimum 3 charging stages.
Image 1: Three Stages for Lead-Acid Battery
- Lithium-based Battery requires generally chargers with 2 charging stages: first with constant current, followed by constant voltage.
Image 2: Two stages for Lithium-based battery (LiFeP04, LiCoO2)
For more information read our “Lead-acid and lithium battery charging” article.
For more information about selecting the right charger for your battery please refer to our “Selecting a charger from your battery” article.
Tip: MEAN WELL offers a Smart Battery Charging Programmer (SBP-001) which allows users to configure via a user-friendly interface, the charging curve of selected MEAN WELL chargers and power supplies (e.g. Intelligent RCB-1600 charger, HEP-1000 for Harsh environment, ENC…etc.). With SBP-001 programmer, the user can set the output current and voltage to further simulate the charging curve for different batteries.
Future postings and articles:
In the upcoming future, MEAN WELL will also share its knowledge regarding the booming Energy Storage System (ESS) field. For instance, how to use MEAN WELL Chargers (programmable 67~400VDC) in a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) application, as well as the know-how on digital communication protocols (e.g., PMbus and CANbus), which can further perform voltage and current control for the Energy sector.