Battery Monitors - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-10-2009, 10:23 PM   #15
Roy Massen's Avatar
Trailer: Boler 1975 13 ft
Posts: 57
I started with a 65 watt panel and simple controller and volt meter and 2 deep cycle golfcart batteries. Since I am 100% electric (including the danfrost 12 volt fridge) I was finding I would run out of power after 2 or 3 days. So I upgraded by adding another 120 watt panel and a Morningstar Sunsaver Duo controller with the optional remote meter. It gives all kinds of info that helps me know how my system is preforming. I mount the 2 solar on the tug so I can park the trailer in the shade when it is hot and keep the panels charging. It was a bit more exensive but I was getting frustrated not knowing what was going on and guessing on how much power was left in the batteries. Now I have enough to run the fridge, lights, play the radio/cd and use my computer all I want. Well worth it.

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Old 09-11-2009, 04:33 AM   #16
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Trailer: Scamp 16 ft
Posts: 84
If you run on batteries a lot then you need to know what's going on with the charge/discharge cycles. Unfortunately it's not as simple as measuring the voltage or the amps.

Our other fiberglass camper is a boat. We have spent six months living aboard down in the Bahamas where we never plugged in. We have a single 120 watt solar panel but run the diesel engine daily to recover our 50 to 70 amp hour short-fall. Mainly we run short because we run the fridge 24/7 and with the solar panel in the dark ...

Anyway, we use a Xantrex TM500 (now called the TM500A) to measure our 220 amp hour gel cell house bank. While it gives a digital readout of voltage and amps, it accumulates the net gozinta/gozouta amp hours between charging cycles. We can see what we've used since we last ran the engine (net of the solar panel) and also see how much we've replaced while running the engine. We can also see what we're getting from the solar panel or what any given appliance is using (at that moment) by manipulating the circuit breakers.

We also run a Xantrex 1800 watt inverter that has a digital voltage display. Both the monitor and the inverter are directly feeding from the batteries on very heavy and short runs of wire yet they report different voltages. Usually the monitor reports a tenth or two under the voltage reported by the inverter. Also we have a GPS mounted on thin wire probably 20 feet from the batteries and it reports the highest voltage of the three by a tenth of a volt.(that's odd you'd think it would be the opposite). Checking these against my Fluke meter reading at the batteries reveals the monitor voltage to be the most accurate. But then it's also the most expensive instrument too.

As mentioned previously, conservation is the key. We keep the fridge as full as possible, even filling empty space with water jugs. (I know beer would work better) LED and fluorescent lights help a lot. What seems to hurt us the most after the fridge, is whether we watch a DVD on the TV in the evening or whether we use the HF/SSB radio in broadcast mode much. When sailing, the killers are the autopilot and radar. Even when sailing, we often end up running the engine just to keep up with power demands.

We're all electric on the Scamp too but we always plug-in when camped. I'd go solar on the camper except that being Florida campers, we prefer to park in the shade.

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Old 09-11-2009, 09:49 AM   #17
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Name: jim
Trailer: Casita 2000 17ft. Liberty
Posts: 163
I have the multimeter from Harbor Freight for $2.99.
Cut off the leads drill a little hole and stick it on with velcro.
Set it on 20 and there's your voltage.
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Old 09-11-2009, 09:15 PM   #18
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Trailer: 2000 24 ft Shasta Ultra Flite
Posts: 251
I have been using the voltminder all summer, it has performed excellent $30
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