Data Acquisition & Telemetry


Bringing solar power to reservoir monitoring

April 2022 Data Acquisition & Telemetry


Whether it’s a single water tank or a large water dam, powering a monitoring system on a remote site several kilometres away with limited access to grid infrastructure is challenging. Often these sites go unattended for long periods of time and are vulnerable to overfilling. Because these systems are critical to ensuring continuity of supply and preventing overfill and waste, water utility mangers often must fund costly infrastructure projects to support installation. 

Because manual inspections cannot be feasibly carried out regularly on a remote reservoir, utility managers will feel caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to balancing cost, security and efficiency. So, what is a suitable solution?

Simply solar

It is a misconception that all solar-powered devices require an infrastructure. Yes, it was once the case that solar panels, battery chargers, backup power supplies and telemetry devices were fitted separately in costly and complex installation projects. However, with a growing reliance on automation and the need for monitoring devices to protect assets, new solar-powered telemetry systems have been developed that are cost-effective and easy to install.

Device manufacturers are now making programmable RTUs with integrated solar charge regulators in small footprints. These RTUs have terminals that directly plug in to the batteries, so all the system requires is for the device to be connected to a solar panel and a backup battery. Water utility managers can save considerable costs in upgrading the existing infrastructure by using devices such as Omniflex’s Teleterm S3 Series, weighing just 350 g. Being solar-powered, the device does not dissipate as much heat as mains-powered electronics. This, coupled with its compactness, allows it to sit comfortably in a secure, weatherproof IP 67-rated enclosure with its backup battery.

Considering the concerns

It is understandable that reservoir managers will have concerns over the efficacy and reliability of solar-powered devices. Power budgeting for batteries is a particular design constraint and battery selection is often made considering worst-case scenarios. For example, on days where there is less sunlight, panels cannot produce charge at maximum capacity and the batteries must take up the slack for repeated charge and discharge cycles. However, modern batteries have advanced quickly and now have greater tolerance for deep discharge cycling. This allows more technology to be deployed in these power-constrained applications. 

Battery life concerns have been considered by device manufacturers. For example, the S3’s power consumption is low, at just 35 mA at 12 V DC. To save power, the devices are programmed to store data locally and only transmit intermittently on a cyclic basis. On a reservoir you might want to know the usage profile over a 24 hour period. The S3 series can be programmed to take a reading every hour, but report back once every 24 hours, saving power. All data is backed up and secured on an SD memory card and power is used sparingly, making the Teleterm S3 the ideal deployment for reservoir monitoring. 

To avoid uncertainty when power is low, an internal backup battery is provided for the processor to power the real-time clock and keep synchronisation. If the external main batteries were to fail, the backups allow the device to shut down gracefully without corrupting any stored data. When communication comes back on, this data can then be securely transmitted back to the control room either via a cloud-based Data2Desktop network or licence-free band radio.

Omniflex has supplied solar-powered devices into extremely vulnerable locations successfully and solutions are available for remote sites. Solar-powered devices will continue to push the boundaries of what remote monitoring systems can offer. For remote locations where power is limited, safety is critical and cost-effectiveness is desired, water utility managers can be rest assured that their system remains reliable and secure in any eventuality.


Credit(s)



Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Industrial signal conditioning
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Electrical Power & Protection
Automation for Industry 4.0, process control, data acquisition, and alarm processing all rely on the conversion of physical signals to a standardised, usable format, that engineered systems can reliably use to manage industrial processes.

Read more...
Assessing the order of events
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Industrial Wireless
Being able to monitor plant alarms and events in real time, in chronological order, is critical when a plant experiences an avalanche of alarms caused by an abnormal event. Sequence of events modules can be used to cut unplanned plant downtime and reduce operational costs.

Read more...
Cathodic protection system for hazardous environments
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists IS & Ex
When NSW Ports in Australia embarked on a two-year programme to rehabilitate the structures and combat corrosion levels at its Bulk Liquid Berth 1, it commissioned Melbourne-based consultancy Infracorr to deliver a bespoke cathodic protection) system. To deliver the system safely, Infraccor engaged cathodic protection specialist Omniflex to support the hazardous area and remote monitoring aspects of the CP system design.

Read more...
Signal conditioning is the protective armour between plant and field
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Sensors & Transducers
Measurement and control of physical properties are the foundation of all critical industrial technologies. Ian Loudon, international sales and marketing manager at remote monitoring specialist, Omniflex explains the challenges of industrial signal conditioning and the importance of safety engineering.

Read more...
Protecting Australia’s harbours from a silent threat
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Industrial Wireless
Omniflex has completed the addition of remote monitoring to the existing cathodic protection (CP) systems at five berths in Port Kembla, Australia. This will enhance their surveillance and provide accurate energy monitoring.

Read more...
Programmable LED indicators
Turck Banner Southern Africa Industrial Wireless Data Acquisition & Telemetry
Turck Banner is expanding its portfolio of LED lights with the robust LED indicators of the K100 series. These units improve workflow and reduce downtime through clearly communicated status information.

Read more...
The argument for remote tank monitoring
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists Industrial Wireless
When considering the potential consequences of inadequate tank farm monitoring, images of disasters like the Buncefield fire probably spring to mind first. However, with the development of safety regulations and equipment, these catastrophic events are becoming far less common over time.

Read more...
Decoding the world of direct part marks
Omron Electronics Data Acquisition & Telemetry
OMRON has unveiled its latest breakthrough, the V450-H ultra-rugged handheld scanner. Tailored specifically for industrial DPM reading, this innovative device sets new industry standards for durability and performance.

Read more...
The importance of understanding SIL ratings
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists IS & Ex
Major industrial accidents around the world, like the Bhopal chemical plant disaster, have occurred due to insufficient and poorly designed safety systems. Gary Bradshaw, director of alarm and safety system specialist Omniflex, explains how SIL ratings work and the dangers of the misconceptions that exist around them.

Read more...
The importance of understanding SIL ratings
Omniflex Remote Monitoring Specialists IS & Ex
Major industrial accidents around the world, like the Bhopal chemical plant disaster, have occurred due to insufficient and poorly designed safety systems. Gary Bradshaw, director of alarm and safety system specialist Omniflex, explains how SIL ratings work and the dangers of the misconceptions that exist around them.

Read more...