Sealed DC power systems for challenging environmental locations

Eaton Electrical (Australia) Pty Ltd

By Darren Salter, Eaton Product Line Manager, PQ/Telecom DC
Friday, 02 July, 2021

Sealed DC power systems for challenging environmental locations

5G telecommunication networks began rolling out in 2019 and Australia’s largest telecommunications companies are already offering 5G capabilities in selected areas connecting consumer 5G handsets. But 5G isn’t just for consumers: what 4G did for consumer devices, 5G will do for new markets including industrial, automotive, medical and even defence.

As we move into the era of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) there is the need for ubiquitous connectivity between people and between machines — and that connectivity needs extremely high levels of reliability and continuity. To achieve this high reliability and continuity, the machines and connectivity devices need 100% reliable power, and that power needs to have backup.

Since 5G has a smaller transmission range than 4G, there is a need for a much larger number of small cell towers to provide sufficient coverage. The power systems to support this equipment in many cases now needs to be designed to operate in locations and environments previously unthought of — on the tops of towers, on street-side electricity poles, on building facades, or in fact just about any conceivable location able to provide line-of-sight transmission to users and machines.

All these locations are subject to the vagaries of the environment: not just extremes of temperature, but also the extremes of moisture, pollution, dust and sunshine. The backup power systems to support 5G small cells therefore need to be likewise designed to survive the same extreme environmental conditions.

Highly efficient power electronics with full remote-control capability, together with lightweight and resilient lithium batteries, can be housed in special sealed IP65 enclosures to provide backup power systems capable of surviving the most difficult outdoor and environmentally challenging locations.

Another example of where backup DC power is required that challenges the norm is the surveillance cameras around an airport perimeter. The cameras are located hundreds of metres from the control or monitoring centre and return high-definition signals via fibre-optic cable. These cameras need 100% reliable 24x7 capability. The backup power system is located alongside the camera, high up on a pole and subjected to winter and summer temperatures, as well as fumes and dust from aircraft and machines. Only IP65-sealed backup power systems can meet this difficult requirement.

Even mining sites like those in Australia’s inhospitable Pilbara region are fully connected, with machines, processing plants, monitoring equipment, railways and people needing 24x7 reliable telecommunications. In the Pilbara temperatures can exceed 40°C for months on end or at the same time be subject to cyclonic storms and the continuous and incessant red dust and dirt. Again, IP65 sealed backup power systems, capable of temperatures exceeding 40°C, and fitted with remote monitoring and control, can be deployed in such locations to ensure power is always on and supporting the assets.

Eaton is a specialist in backup uninterruptible power systems, whether they be DC or AC based, and develops solutions for extreme environmental locations, providing backup power for just about any location, from data centres and hospital operating theatres to remote mining and radio transmission towers.

To meet the needs of telco operators and for other outdoor networking sites, Eaton has taken traditional power system designs and shrunk them down into its Outdoor Pole Solution (OPS). The OPS2 is a 48-volt DC power system with options for battery backup that can be pole-mounted to support 4G and 5G remote radio units, as well as potentially supporting CCTV and industrial IoT equipment. The OPS2 also has an in-built web server and supports remote operations.

The OPS2 features include the ability to add third-party lithium-ion batteries to enable a no-break UPS capability, and it is built in a compact IP65 environmentally hardened design. Full remote monitoring and control using Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and web interfaces enable network operators to manage the power usage of their 5G small cell deployments.

Powering a 5G network does not have to mean a massive increase in energy consumption. Eaton’s solution allows network operators to build on existing deployments with smart power backup technology that uses energy-saving hardware and is optimised for outdoor conditions.

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