Battery Monitor... solar controller monitor? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-14-2012, 12:09 AM   #1
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Battery Monitor... solar controller monitor?

I currently have a simple battery monitor, that visually shows via LED the battery level. I wanted it to be easy for anybody we're with, to check the level. It doesn't work well however, only showing a full charge if we're actually charging... and drops to half-charge even if it's not discharged.

SO I'm looking for a change, but one that is still easily visual. Also, I'd like to monitor charging/discharge info etc as well.

I don't have solar (yet, but plan to), but could I use a solar controller that has all of these features? Would I be able to use it, knowing that the 'charge' would only be tug/shore power for now... and eventually solar too? Seems like it's cheaper than specific battery monitors with similiar features - but I easily may be missing something. Thoughts?

Sunforce 30 Amp Digital Charge Controller Battery Monitor 12 Volt Solar Pannels | eBay
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:04 AM   #2
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You might want to read HandyBob's advice.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...iXsJ7NTV8yVlPw
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:10 AM   #3
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As with all things you can make it as simple or elaborate a system as you think you need and the cost of which can be cheap or very expensive and the install can take minutes or hours But either way they all pretty well do the same job. As you can imagine we have people here with systems that cover the whole spectrum.

What you have posted looks to cover both the solar controller and battery monitor needs -which is sweet but you will need to watch that when you buy your solar panels that the controller meets the output. It might also take a little more work to come up with a place to mount it than a simpler system. You could solve your current issues by purchasing a different battery monitor that does what you need for under $20. I use a small one thats simple mounted with double sided tape beside the 12V plug in the trailer. I plug it in only when actually needed. Its easy to read and shows the actual state of the battery & it beeps if the battery drops to 40% - paid less than $15 for it. It pretty well tells me all I need to really know.

In regards to my solar I have a pretty simple system - a small solar controller which came with my solar panels is always attached to the battery and enclosed in a small water tight box attached to the battery box. I think it only has two lights on it - indicating charging & fully charged - the battery monitor tells the rest of the story. Simple, cheap set up but it does the job and has worked well for a number of years now.

Bottom line it really comes down to what you really think you want or got to have and how deep your pockets are.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by OneTim View Post
You might want to read HandyBob's advice.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...iXsJ7NTV8yVlPw
Thanks, Bob's read is excellent!
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by OneTim View Post
You might want to read HandyBob's advice.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...iXsJ7NTV8yVlPw
Thanks for linking this, Tim. I had read this some time ago but cdn't find it again - saved to my favorites this time!

His quote "I will not work on a system without installing a real battery monitor." is part of the reason I felt like getting one now, so I'd have it when I jump into solar -- if I have to make a change anyway. That said, I cdn't remember any of the specific models, etc he listed. The Trimetric 2025 he recommends is $150+ so isn't the most expensive of its kind - but not cheap either.

Hence, the reason for inquiring if anybody knew whether a solar controller with battery monitoring features, would even work without solar.... 2 for 1. But not the models he references for either unfortunately.

I'll dig in and see if it has the other specs/tweaks he recommends.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:54 PM   #6
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I've installed 3 solar system. This last on my Lil Bigfoot.
All have been 50w systems with the Sunforce 10 amp Digital controller for $49.00 on ebay.
You can run a 150w system and still be less than 10 amps.
50W, 2.92 amps, panel will probably supply all the power you will need.
The digital read out will indicate your battery level.
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