Best way to monitor battery-Centurian 3000 30amp converter - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-01-2016, 07:33 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
Since you are happy with your setup then that is what you should use.
LOL I actually do have a system that tells me all! Not the same one as yours but it does the same

I was simply suggesting for someone staring out who does not want to do any wiring & even for those who have been camping for awhile the One thing you really do need to know is your battery level. The rest is good stuff to know but not a serious requirement.

A hand held multi meter will go a long ways in helping figure it all out if there is a problem. Every trailer owner should probable own one of those regardless of whether they have a monitoring system that tells them all or only their battery level or have no monitors.
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:44 PM   #16
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I like this one from MidNite Solar for a battery meter, though I don't own it yet- I still just use a good multimeter. The percentage LEDs light in green/yellow/red which would be nice and simple. Some people want much more data but I don't need anything more.

MidNite Solar MNBCM:

https://www.solar-electric.com/mnbcm.html
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:58 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
I have the chart above laminated and stuck on the wall by the meter socket.
Unfortunately the chart is for no load voltage. Are there similar charts which provide battery voltage depending on the battery charge level, battery capacity and battery load (in amperes)?

For example, fully charged battery voltage in my trailer quickly falls to 12.1-12.3V level when powering up a netbook computer (I expect this corresponds to about 1-2A load).
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:08 PM   #18
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:11 PM   #19
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I simply let the battery rest for an hour and turn everything off except the propane detector before using my simple, cheap voltmeter. It plugs in to a 12VDC outlet and has a sticker on it telling you what the voltage means as per cent charge.
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Old 09-02-2016, 08:21 AM   #20
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If you battery is in use or has been recently (charging, discharging, etc) then the voltage reading alone will be of limited help in knowing the state of charge of the battery. In fact, if you go by voltage reading while the battery is under even a fairly moderate load, then the voltage reading is about useless.

Yes, you can let it sit for some time while fully disconnected and then get a fairly good idea of the state of charge from the voltage reading, and an even better idea of the state of charge by using a hydrometer (in the later case, even the state of charge of the individual cells which can be important information). But who wants to wait around with no battery power, or mess with sulfuric acid in a fragile glass tube? There are few shortcuts in life (or in proper battery use).

So, the next step up in accuracy, cost, and convenience (convenience of use, not of installation) is a real time recording monitor using a shunt. The shunt allows you to know how much energy is going into, and out of the battery. Using the battery capacity figure (typically around 100 amp hours at the 20 hour discharge rate), the meter can give you a pretty good estimate of the state of charge all the time, load or no load, under charge or not.

My choice is the TriMetric meter which also has a optional solar charger available. The TriMetric comes in at about $200 for parts including all needed wiring. There are other (cheaper) meters but I like the quality and tech support for the TriMetric. The TriMetric is also smart enough to include the charging parameters for different types of batteries - something that cheaper monitors might not do and especially something to consider if you are using AGM batteries.

These systems can be installed by many people but keep in mind that ALL the power to and from the battery goes through the shunt so be sure to have one the proper size (rating) as well as proper wiring and fuses.

Do you need a battery monitor? Of course not

Do you want a battery monitor? Very likely yes (depending on your camping style and needs)


Here is a good write-up on the topic:
How to Monitor Batteries - RV, Sailboat & Tiny Houses too
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:16 AM   #21
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I like the trimetric, but it is a little pricey if you don't have a solar system.
I talked with the guy about the charging controller if it could be used with a regular battery converter that might be regulated to a higher voltage to mimic a solar setup.
He said is should work just fine, but he had not tried it.
The cheap (less than $20.00) system I use does not read the daily useage, but would have to be reset since the power is a total number.
I have used it writing down a beginning and end number to get a daily useage number.
As Carol has said once you have everything setup you really don't need to check all the time.
A good digital multimeter is a necessity and since I am a professional electric guy I have several, but I can appreciate a cheap power meter for my curious mind.
We don't (yet) boondock so the system is good for our needs.
I want to install a solar system for the Scam so that we can park it and not worry about power to keep the battery up.
Since we are in the deep South the heat and humidity are high enough to rule out too much boondocking in the summer months.
I haven't yet focused on adding solar, but as an electrical guy I am definitely interested!
Carol seems to have a pretty good grasp of electrical maintenance and I agree with her that a multimeter will do much of what you need to do.
The power meter does one thing really well and that is measure the current even at high levels (100 amps) that the multimeter would have a problem with.
The current is what does the work in the circuit so its fairly important and will also let you know it you have an unknown drain on the system.
Turn on a light and see how much current it adds to the total.
For a little time and less than $20.00 you can learn a lot about your system, if you want to know.
Voltage tells you 1/2 of the answer. With the addition of current you know three things, voltage, current, and power.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:06 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by redbarron55 View Post
..
I talked with the guy about the charging controller if it could be used with a regular battery converter that might be regulated to a higher voltage to mimic a solar setup.
He said is should work just fine, but he had not tried it...
I have given this just enough thought to be dangerous and started a new thread for discussion on the matter.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:23 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
If you battery is in use or has been recently (charging, discharging, etc) then the voltage reading alone will be of limited help in knowing the state of charge of the battery. In fact, if you go by voltage reading while the battery is under even a fairly moderate load, then the voltage reading is about useless.

Yes, you can let it sit for some time while fully disconnected and then get a fairly good idea of the state of charge from the voltage reading,
Thats why there is a lot to be said for simplicity, especially when it comes to most of the older Boler's & Scamp's.

Unlike newer or larger trailers where there is more often than not going to be some load from something running all the time, the old Boler's and Scamp's if unplugged do not normally have any load on the battery - that is until you run the water pump, lights and furnace. The older 3 way fridges when on propane had/have little to no measurable power requirement.

So by simple not running any lights or water pump for an hour while off the grid, which is probable going to happen frequently throughout any given day anyways, one can get a fairly accurate reading on the state of the trailers battery.

Now with my newer larger trailer there is indeed a constant draw on the battery by various items when off the grid making things more difficult in regards to determining the actual state of the battery.

Having more than once while camping off the grid with the new to me trailer that has a number of power eating items that are constantly on, yearned for the return of my simple Scamp system.
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Old 09-02-2016, 07:12 PM   #24
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Well guys, I think it's pretty well established that determining the state of a battery when is in use or being charged or both simultaneously is tantamount to nailing jelly to a tree.

What I wanted was a fair assessment of what was going on at a given time; both what was coming out of the battery and what was going in, as well as the immediate charge state. I'm totally solar, so things are simplified somewhat.

I built a simple switch box with a surplus volt/amp meter, which is connected to two homemade shunts, one on the charging circuit and one on the power leg. I can tell at the flip of a switch my charge rate and my discharge rate, as well as the battery charge level.

As stated before, all of these readings are in flux; as clouds pass, lights are turned on, water pump is used, etc.

Understand, I'm not keeping a chart of all this, but it has given me a good idea of how my system is working, and that's the real benefit. I'm know my system much better and know what to expect in various camp settings.

Since my CO/LPG detector is on all the time, I get the best battery status reading first thing in the morning before anything is turned on.

By the way, I use my amps out reading to set the Fantastic Fan at the lowest amp draw and best air flow using my PWM fan controller. Most of the time it functions well at about .5A.
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Old 09-02-2016, 08:03 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Minimalist View Post
...
What I wanted was a fair assessment of what was going on at a given time; both what was coming out of the battery and what was going in, as well as the immediate charge state. I'm totally solar, so things are simplified somewhat.

I built a simple switch box with a surplus volt/amp meter, which is connected to two homemade shunts, one on the charging circuit and one on the power leg. I can tell at the flip of a switch my charge rate and my discharge rate, as well as the battery charge level.
Once again I need to challenge your choice of usernames..

Minimalist? Then why TWO shunts?

I will admit that there is some benefit.. you can monitor the power draw separately from the charging - something I have to do a little math to figure with my single shunt. But you are the only person I have ever seen to use two shunts to monitor your system. Perhaps the name is an inside joke because you are nothing but a minimalist...


Quote:
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...
By the way, I use my amps out reading to set the Fantastic Fan at the lowest amp draw and best air flow using my PWM fan controller. Most of the time it functions well at about .5A.
My brother! I only yesterday converted my Fantastic Fan to a PWM contoller.. a write up I plan to do when it passes the first real world camping trip. So follow me if you want to hear all about it!
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