The BMS is the subject of a separate training process - it has a lot of capabilities and a lot of configurability to help it handle a wide variety of situations in real world customer sites.
We intend to generate an online training course in its detailed operation - which interacts necessarily with training on how the Redflow battery architecture works and operates in more general terms.
Meantime, this guide article provides a walk-through of the initial 'out of the box' configuration of a BMS to the point of it being operational, managing and monitoring batteries, and providing CANBus status signalling (automatically) via its built-in CANBus interface to an upstream energy system.
In effect, this is 'Hello World' for the BMS in a new site :)
Here we go...
Once you've competed the steps to wire up and power up the BMS (refer to other guide articles in this section), and once you've successfully connected to the BMS, you'll see an initial 'Factory Defaults' welcome screen like this:
The initial configuration of the BMS involves working down the menu items on the 'Configuration' drop-down, in order:
First, fill in the blanks on the Site Configuration page.
It is important to correctly set the Timezone and even more important to correctly set the site Lat and Long.
The reason for the Site Lat and Long being needed is that this in turn allows the BMS to calculate accurate sunrise and sunset timing each day. That in turn is because the default (and most common) time to configure a battery to commence its discharge/maintenance cycle is at sunset (or at a time relative to sunset or sunrise, more generally).
If this field is not accurately set, then the BMS may trigger the discharge/maintenance cycle at a 'surprising' time of the (local) day!
The 'set automatically' option to configure the Lat/Long should only be used if you are physically at the site concerned! That is because this option actually plugs in the Lat/Long of your smartphone or laptop - so if you are configuring a site remotely from some other place in the world... beware of incorrectly setting the Lat/Long to where you are sitting, rather than to be where the BMS is located :)
Date and Time
Next, check the date and time are correct - if the BMS is Internet connected, this will automatically be set via NTP and normally no changes are generally needed on this page.
As a side note - the BMS can be rebooted (without having to be as unsubtle as physically power cycling it), if needed, by hitting 'Save' on the Date & Time page. That operation in particular requires a full system reboot. Most other changes on most other configuration pages restart BMS subsystems but they don't restart the entire device.
If needed, check and adjust Networking settings. The BMS has multiple options for connection to the network.
There are multiple tabs in the Network page.
The first is the Ethernet port page - which generally requires no change unless you want to lock in a static IP configuration instead of using DHCP:
Second Ethernet Port
Note: BMS version 1.7 and later supports the connection of a optional second ethernet port, using a standard USB-to-Ethernet adaptor dongle plugged into a USB port in the BMS.
For most sites this is not required. if there is a Internet access available on the local network (wired or wireless), then the BMS can simply connect up and use it, alongside other devices.
On some deployments, there is a desire to query BMS status via JSON and/or MODBUS-TCP requests via a separate TCP/IP network range - on a local private ethernet network segment that is separate from the Internet path used by the BMS (wired or wireless).
In such circumstances, second ethernet port can be deployed in order to allow a private network to query the BMS on a different TCP/IP network numbering range while the BMS continues to obtain internet access via its primary ethernet or WiFi ports.
If you do wish to deploy a second ethernet port, just plug in a USB-to-Ethernet dongle and restart the BMS. A new tab will appear on the Network page called 'Ethernet 2'.
Note that the BMS (intentionally) does not allow itself to be an Internet router. if you connect multiple network interfaces concurrently, the BMS will not route packets between them and it will not act as a local Internet access device for other devices.
The next tab is for WiFi configuration (for the built-in WiFi module). The factory default is to run the WiFi as an Access Point to allow a local Smartphone or Laptop user to access the BMS before it has been connected to the Internet.
If the site needs the use of WiFi for the Internet link rather than the (preferred) use of the hardwired ethernet port, then change the WiFi configuration mode from Access Point to Client mode, and configure the system to suit your local WiFi Internet access details.
If this reconfiguration doesn't end well - if you can't access the BMS after restarting it - you have the option of doing a 'factory reset' using a USB-attached keyboard to regain access and try again.
The next tab under Networking - perhaps surprisingly - is for the CANBus port on the BMS.
There's a technical reason for this - the CANBus port shows up as a network port in the underlying operating system. For clarity this is not intended as an IP access path, it is of course dedicated to providing the CANBus data update path to an upstream energy management system.
The purpose of this tab is just to allow a change to the configured baud rate for the CANBus port for the occasional situation where the upstream system doesn't use the default data rate generally in use by the industry (500k).
Apply Changes to Networking Configuration
After changing any settings on the other tabs, you need to go to the 'Apply Changes' tab and hit 'Restart' in order for the changes to take effect:
Battery Setup / Connection to BMS
The next step is to establish communications with the ZCell/ZBM2 batteries on the site.
The 'Battery Setup' menu is designed to make this process as simple as possible, notwithstanding that it needs a little care.
The batteries are connected to the RS485 MODBUS port on the BMS in a 'daisy chain' fashion, using an appropriately wired cable from the BMS to the first battery and then using standard patch leads between batteries thereafter. Physical order is not important, nor is a terminator generally needed at the far end of the daisy chain.
[ The practical maximum number of batteries per physical BMS is currently 15. Sites with more than 15 batteries on a single DC bus can be run in a hierarchical 'master/slave' configuration, using one 'slave' BMS per string of up to 15 batteries and another 'Master' BMS connected via ethernet to the slave BMS units and providing the 'master' CANBus feed to the upstream energy system ]
Each battery needs to have a distinct MODBUS unit address for the BMS to be able to access it. The usual arrangement is to set your batteries up in order starting from unit 1.
When delivered from the factory, each new battery is set to unit number '99'.
The approach that most easily gets all of your batteries configured into the BMS and renumbered appropriately is to connect one battery at a time to the MODBUS chain, configure and renumber that battery, and then connect the next battery to the MODBUS, and 'do it again' until all batteries are connected and renumbered.
The Battery Setup menu is designed to make that process pretty straightforward.
These screen shots illustrate the process on a site with two new batteries, both initially set to unit number 99 as noted above.
When the first battery is plugged in (and powered up via the DC bus) it should appear on the Battery Setup page (which self-refreshes) as below.
You can see the BMS has detected and identified a new battery on unit 99 (you can select another unit number if you need to), and it offers to renumber the battery to the next currently 'unused' unit number on the site.
You can optionally add a description (e.g. location or other data about that unit) and then just hit 'Add Battery'.
The battery is immediately renumbered to the specified unit number and the BMS starts searching for a new "Unit 99" automatically.
At this point, plug in another battery and it should, in turn, appear on the self-refreshing screen like this:
Hit 'Add Battery' and that new battery will, again, be renumbered and the search for yet another 'new' Unit 99 will resume:
When you have run out of batteries to add, it is time to hit the "Restart" button at the top of the Battery Setup screen, which will look like the image below. This restarts the BMS and configures all the new batteries into the system for access:
Viewing System Status
It will take a few minutes for the BMS to restart, and once it has done so, you should see all the configured batteries up and running, and be able to view their operating status, as for the example below.
Note that this example was taken after the system has been running for a while - hence it also provides 24 hours of visual history for the overall system charge/discharge activity in addition to the per-battery status lines:
You can see a 'System' bar that shows the overall (total) state of the battery energy storage array - reflecting the total energy and total charge/discharge rate being achieved by all of the connected ZBM2 modules.
This overall system status data is sent 'upstream' to the energy management system on the site via CANBus (there are also a few other ways that upstream systems can obtain data from the BMS - as discussed in other guide pages)
Each underlying ZBM2 modules is shown individually below the 'System' summary line.
For factory-new batteries, you may need to set the battery into 'Run' mode - they will arrive in a 'halted' state.
To do this, first click into each battery to bring up its detailed status page, as per this example:
Next, use the 'Operations' button at the top right to bring up a list of operations that can be performed on the battery. If it is not running, the first item will offer to set the battery to Run mode. If it is running, the first item will offer to take the battery offline.
In this screen shot, the battery was already running and didn't need to be taken online:
It takes 5 minutes after a battery is set to 'Run' mode before it is ready to charge and discharge. This period is required to undertake an operation called a 'bubble purge' that is needed before charging operations are permitting.
If you are wondering what a battery is doing, you can look at the status number at the right hand end of the status line for each battery. Hover your mouse over the status value to see what that status means, like this:
EED Installation And Configuration
New installations are generally shipped with an "EED" (Energy Extraction Device) attached to each battery. It is a small box around twice the size of a cigarette packet, wired into the back of the main battery control box.
The EED is a module wired in to the battery that allows the battery to discharge energy at a charge-capable voltage (57 volts). This allows a battery that is discharging ahead of regular maintenance to 'cross-charge' this energy into other batteries in the same energy system and/or to send that energy into on-site loads, or even to export the energy if required.
If you have EED's physically installed, please confirm that the third column under the 'Contacts' section in the system status page shows an 'E' (for EED) instead of an 'S' (for no EED installed).
Please ensure the setting is accurate. If the battery is configured for the presence of an EED when none is actually installed, this can blow a fuse that is attached (in the absence of the EED) on the back of the battery control box and hence can stop battery maintenance cycles from being completed.
If you need to adjust this setting to reflect reality, you can do so by clicking on a battery and then using the 'Operations' menu that appears on the following page to change the EED installation status flag.
With EEDs installed it is also important to ensure timely operation during maintenance cycles.
If you are using BMS version 1.7 or later this happens automatically.
For BMS versions before 1.7, please visit the Configuration->Battery Maintenance menu and ensue the setting called "Start Maintenance When SOC Below" is set to 'Immediately' to ensure the batteries work in an optimal manner during maintenance cycles.
At this point the ZCell battery cluster and BMS system is running.
You should make sure the BMS is running on the latest released version and upgrade it if not.
You should upgrade the firmware in each battery if it is not up to date (batteries with non-up-to-date firmware will be flagged with a yellow warning symbol beside their firmware version number).
The process here is simple: Use the "Tools->Upgrade BMS" menu item to upgrade the BMS software, and once complete, use the "Tools->Upgrade Battery" menu item to bring the battery controller firmware up to date. Note that the BMS can require several minutes to complete the upgrade and reboot.
Further configuration and system 'tuning' at the BMS/battery level using the Battery Optimisation Configuration menu is often helpful (especially for systems with more than 3 batteries installed) to obtain optimal results or to maximise performance.
The best Battery Optimisation settings depend on the nature of your application cycle and on the maximum charge and discharge rates you expect to obtain from the system. Advice on optimal configuration can and should be sought from Redflow support for system of this size and above.
Please consult with Redflow for assistance as needed with this and other tasks and/or consult with a Redflow-trained member of your company before undertaking these further configuration changes.
Redflow can remotely assist you with these checks and upgrades and can also help with configuration tuning, providing the BMS has an Internet connection and that the remote cloud access system is enabled.
You can also get Redflow to register you, as the installer, for remote access to this BMS - just send Redflow a support request if you need to do this. We do plan to support automatic self-registration in the future.
Meantime, with batteries online and with the CANBus information ready to send to your upstream system, you are ready to get on with configuring your overall energy system to add in your Redflow batteries.