The proliferation of 48V battery systems in vehicles has created a need for highprecision, multidecade current measurement to maximize the efficiency of the battery management system (BMS). In this article, I will discuss the challenge when measuring up to five decades of current and analyze methods to solve this challenge. I will also discuss how additional diagnostic functionalities can aid in your functional safety calculations.
Current measurement in a 48V BMS
Let’s start by analyzing where current measurement occurs in a BMS by looking at Figure 1.
Figure 1: Simplified automotive BMS currentmeasurement locations identified as top of stack or bottom of stack
As shown in Figure 1, the two most common locations are either top of stack or bottom of stack.
Our TI Precision Labs – Current Sense Amplifiers video series discusses the pros and cons of using each location in detail. For most 48V BMS, implementing the topofstack location detects more potential fault conditions.
Many BMS will implement two measurements to meet their functional safety goals. One of them must be high precision in order to monitor the state of charge of the battery. The second measurement does not need such precision – it is simply for comparison to ensure that the primary measurement is in the correct range. The secondary measurement is often at the opposite location (bottom of stack) of the primary measurement, and thus uses a completely different shunt resistor. Alternatively, using a different technology such as a magnetic current sensor may provide a functional safety redundant path.
The need for a multidecade measurement range in 48V BMS
Next, I want to discuss why an automotive BMS application may need to measure across multiple decades of current. Two operational modes determine the high end of this range: battery charging and traction motor operation.
Either of these two use cases could potentially see currents as high as 1,000 A. Rapid charging of the 48V battery will require this level of high current to minimize the charging time, while the traction motors under maximum torque may need to support 1,000A peak current capability. These two use cases also highlight the need for bidirectional current measurement, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Automotive BMS current measurement has both sourcing and sinking current requirements
While charging, the battery will be sinking current from the onboard charging system and sourcing current to the traction inverter while the vehicle is in motion.
At the other end of the currentuse spectrum would be the 100mA range for vehicleoff operation, such as remote start monitoring, keyless entry or system firmware updates.
The fivedecade challenge
Now that you understand why five decades are necessary, your first step is to determine the shunt resistor value that you will need in order to measure the maximum current level. In addition to the maximum current level, you will need the fullscale input of the measurement device for this calculation. For a bidirectional analogout device, the supply voltage, the swing to supply and the reference voltage (which is a voltage applied that sets the output level when the input is zero) will determine the maximum output swing; dividing the maximum output swing by the gain determines the fullscale input range. For a digital device, the data sheet normally defines the fullscale input. Then you simply use Equations 1 and 2 to divide the fullscale input value by the maximum current to determine the maximum shunt resistor value.
Analog output:
(1)
Digital output:
(2)
The actual shunt resistor value should be less than the value calculated to ensure that you stay out of any saturation caused by system tolerances.
Once you have chosen your shunt resistor value, the next item to consider is what level of error you can accept in your implementation. Equation 3 is a rootsumsquare (RSS) equation for calculating the error, since it is statistically improbable that all errors will be at their worst simultaneously:
(3)
The video series that I mentioned earlier also has details on these calculations.
For my calculations, I compared the TI INA240Q1 (specifically the INA240A1Q1 option with 20 V/V gain), an ultraprecise highvoltage (80V) analog currentsense amplifier, to the INA229Q1, a 20bit, 85V digital power monitor. Table1 summarizes both the maximum shunt value and expected error calculations starting from the device specifications.
Device option 
INA240A1Q1 
INA229Q1 

Commonmode voltage 
48 V 

V_{S} 
5 V 

Swing to supply 
200 mV 

V_{REF} 
2.5 V 

Maximum unidirectional output voltage 
2.3 V 

Nominal gain option 
20 V/V 
Unity 

Gain error at 25°C 
0.2% 
0.1% 

Gain drift 
2.5 ppm/°C 
20 ppm/°C 

Maximum gain error at 125°C 
0.23% 
0.3% 

Maximum gain at 125°C 
20.05 V/V 


Maximum unidirectional input voltage 
114.7 mV 
163.84 mV 

Maximum 25°C input offset voltage 
25 µV 
1 µV 

Input offset voltage drift 
250 nV/°C 
10 nV/°C 

Maximum 125°C input offset voltage 
50 µV 
2 µV 

Maximum unidirectional current 
1,000 A 

Maximum shunt resistor value 
114.7 µΩ 
163.8 µΩ 

Chosen shunt resistor value 
100 µΩ 
150 µΩ 

RSS error calculated at: 
25°C 
125°C 
25°C 
125°C 
1,000 A 
0.21% 
0.24% 
0.10% 
0.30% 
100 A 
0.64% 
0.89% 
0.10% 
0.30% 
10 A 
6.1% 
8.6% 
0.27% 
0.43% 
1 A 
61% 
86% 
2.5% 
3.2% 
100 mA 
610% 
860% 
25% 
31% 
Table 1: Calculation of maximum shunt value and expected error for a 48V automotive BMS application requiring ± 1,000A capability
The fivedecade challenge solved!
As you can see, solving the fivedecade challenge for a 48V BMS requires:
 A largeenough fullscale input range to enable a largeenough shunt resistor at the maximum current and thus overcome the offset error.
 A low total input offset voltage, including the effects of commonmode rejection ratio and powersupply rejection, to enable the low ohmic shunts driven by the maximum current level.
The INA229Q1’s 164mV fullscale input range and maximum 2 µV of total offset voltage over temperature at a common mode voltage of 48 V enables five decades of measurement with a single device across a single shunt resistor. In addition, this device has as the ability to monitor a 48V battery voltage combined with flexible alert options such as over and undervoltage and over and undercurrent.
Additional resources
 Read the application note, “Getting Started with Digital Power Monitors.”
 Check out the application brief, “ShuntBased CurrentSensing Solutions for BMS Applications in HEVs and EVs.”
 Download the INA229Q1 data sheet.