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  1. #1
    Long Hauler Paul & Deb's Avatar
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    Battery Monitor Help

    So, i just returned from a 4 day camping trip on the beach with no hook-ups. I had an up and down experience with my power so I really want to monitor my usage better.

    I currently just have the factory "idiot" light state of charge monitor in the control panel. I think I need to have more information so I am looking at 2 different systems and am open to other suggestions.

    http://shop.pkys.com/Victron-Energy-...or_p_2810.html

    http://www.solar-electric.com/batter...tmbamosy1.html
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2022 Imagine XLS 22MLE
    2021 Imagine XLS 17MKE - SOLD ; 2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS - SOLD
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Tire Minder TPMS

  2. #2
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    Hi Paul,

    I have the Victron monitor on my boat. The boat is much more like your "dry camping" usage (as compared to my nearly always plugged in 303 RV) with an Onan generator and multiple battery bank. Once programmed with the parameters of the battery bank, the Victron gauge is a very reliable monitor of amp hours in and out. I have no knowledge of the monitor in your other link, but it looks like it might be similar. Victron is a premium brand in the marine industry . . . they make good stuff. They are based in the Netherlands.

    Rob
    Cate & Rob
    2015 Reflection 303RLS

  3. #3
    Seasoned Camper
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    This is always a good review: http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm (The 12 volt side of life).

    With an inexpensive ammeter, you can check/monitor the battery state of charge.
    2016 303RLS
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  4. #4
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KeithS View Post
    With an inexpensive ammeter, you can check/monitor the battery state of charge.
    Hi KeithS,

    That looks like an interesting link . . . but a long read . . .I will get back to it .
    The value of the Victron (or similar) monitor is that it totals up amp hours in and out of the battery bank.
    It is also an ammeter and a volt meter for instantaneous readouts, but what is important is how much you have taken out of (or put back into) the battery bank over time. The amp hr capacity of a battery (or a bank of batteries) is often mis-understood. For a stable system, you should be able to live within 30% of the stated capacity. This is because it takes a long time to charge beyond 80% (the bulk charge max) and discharging to less than 50% will damage the battery.

    Rob
    Cate & Rob
    2015 Reflection 303RLS

  5. #5
    Long Hauler Paul & Deb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cate&Rob View Post
    Hi Paul,

    I have the Victron monitor on my boat. The boat is much more like your "dry camping" usage (as compared to my nearly always plugged in 303 RV) with an Onan generator and multiple battery bank. Once programmed with the parameters of the battery bank, the Victron gauge is a very reliable monitor of amp hours in and out. I have no knowledge of the monitor in your other link, but it looks like it might be similar. Victron is a premium brand in the marine industry . . . they make good stuff. They are based in the Netherlands.

    Rob
    I was hoping you would chime in Rob. I found a post of yours in an earlier discussion and you provided a link but it was no longer valid but after a little checking I thought the Victron was the one you were referring to. It isn't as expensive as I anticipated which is good.
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2022 Imagine XLS 22MLE
    2021 Imagine XLS 17MKE - SOLD ; 2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS - SOLD
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Tire Minder TPMS

  6. #6
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    I use and find the Trimetric to work well, but if I want to get the most accuracy with it there are more settings than I use. I set the parameters for basic monitoring and that lets me make much better decision making on usage and charging. Changing batteries requires setting the parameters again, so keep theTrimetric instructions handy.

    Another possibilty is the Smartgauge. It is a United Kingdom product and harder to find. It is also more expensive. It sounds interesting because of it's simplicity of installation and setup. If the manufacturer information is accurate it will eliminate all the settings I currently have to make with my Trimetric except battery type. The site is Smartgauge.co.uk , it seems to be sold as the Balmar Smartgauge in the United States.

    Maybe someone on the forum has experience with it and can give real world use information.
    Tom and Tanya
    Live in Alaska, currently winter in Texas Hill Country.
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  7. #7
    Big Traveler
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    I used a Xantrex monitor on my boat at about three times the cost of the Victron unit (must be 3 times better right?).
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I was going to put one in the trailer too but I like the price of the Victron. They both do the same thing. In any case your are flying blind if you don't have a battery monitor other than the LEDs that come with the trailers.
    Jim & Georgianne
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  8. #8
    Long Hauler Paul & Deb's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I'm really interested in the Victron I think but one thing has me a little stumped. When you initially install it you go through just a couple steps to kind of synchronize it. For instance it has to be set to know the battery or batteries available amp hours. In doing so they recommend starting off with new batteries! I certainly don't want to buy new batteries. My Trojans are only about 1 1/2 old. It apparently reads the voltage but not amp hours and another parameter. Do you really think I need to install new batteries just for this to work accurately?

    I think I will contact the retailer on Monday to ask but since you have one of these in your boat rob, I thought I would ask.

    One of my problems on this trip was partly my fault but another was that I didn't realize how much of a drain running the heater was. Our first night on the beach was pretty chilly so Deb turned the heater on in the early afternoon and just left it running. Then in the evening we turned on our inverter to watch some TV and within an hour or so the battery was kaput. One step, when running my inverter setup, that I forgot is that my refrigerator is on one of the 2 circuits with my inverter and, when in use, I need to force the fridge to LP. Well, I didn't and between the heater and the fridge, I was out of battery in short order.

    I now have a big label next to my inverter switch reminding me to ensure the fridge is on gas. Over the next few days we got into a pretty good routine with the generator charging and running the evening dinner process and warming the rig up and then shutting it down for the inverter to run our entertainment system at night.

    What I don't have any good sense of is how much the batteries drain during this usage and how much they recharge. I'm hoping a good meter like this could provide me that information so I will have a better understanding of what we can and can't do withing the limits of our setup.
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2022 Imagine XLS 22MLE
    2021 Imagine XLS 17MKE - SOLD ; 2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS - SOLD
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Tire Minder TPMS

  9. #9
    Site Sponsor Cate&Rob's Avatar
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    Hi Paul,

    You certainly don't need new batteries ! I think they are only trying to tell you that batteries lose some of their theoretical amp hour capacity as they age. I set mine at slightly less than theoretical, just for this reason. This only comes into play for the % state of charge display, which is just adding or subtracting what you have added/used to the theoretical number you provided. I usually pay more attention to the readout of actual amp hours used/replaced. If (when) a battery begins to go bad, the % calculation will start to make no sense, but the actual amp hours will be correct.

    This monitor will show you a lot about your system. One of the interesting things is charge rate. When significantly discharged the batteries will accept the rated output of the converter. When you get up around 80% state of charge, the batteries will only accept a fraction of this. This is where it takes a lot of generator hours to get to 100%.

    The installation is really straightforward, with only the gauge and the shunt to install. Communication between the two is a standard plug-in telephone wire. My boat system has been in place for about 6 years.

    Rob
    Cate & Rob
    2015 Reflection 303RLS

  10. #10
    Long Hauler Paul & Deb's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for that input Rob. I think I will go ahead and order it. It comes with a 500 amp shunt and about 32 ft of wire, which should be plenty.

    I am really interested in learning how long it takes to recharge the batteries with the generator because mine uses about 1 gallon of propane per operating hour and i was running it for 3 or 4 hours a night. I don't mind doing that, it's only money , but I want to make sure I am recharging enough and yet not running it longer than I need to.
    Paul "Poppy" and Deb Cervone
    2022 Imagine XLS 22MLE
    2021 Imagine XLS 17MKE - SOLD ; 2015 Grand Design Reflection 337RLS - SOLD
    2016 GMC Denali 3500HD SRW Duramax/Allison CC 4x4; Tire Minder TPMS

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