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Old 06-06-2013, 22:55   #1
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Battery Monitor Reviews Wanted

I've tried to find comparative reviews, or even individual product reviews of the different battery monitors for a boat and can't find any. My boat is a 1971 Cal 39 that I've owned since 1978. It has 420 rated watts in 6 Kyocera solar panels in parallel that I installed in 2005 (2 panels) and 2006 (4 panels). The controller is a Morningstar TriStar 45 that I installed last week. There is a 950 CCA starting battery and a house battery bank consisting of two 12V 105Ah Sears Marine Batteries in Parallel. It did have a Xantrex C-35 controller and two 6V 225 Ah Trojan golf cart batteries. That system (same solar panels) worked fine for 3 years. Then the C-35 failed in 2009 and boiled the Trojans dry. I installed the Sear batteries, disconnected all but 150 rated watts of solar panels, and re-installed my old Xantrex C-12 that I had used for the first 2 panels. I had been using a Link 10 battery monitor that I had for at least a decade longer than the solar panels but it's beginning to give up the ghost. Whwn I bought the Link 10 it was the only game in town for marine use. Now there are MANY battery monitors that advertise "for boats". I'd like some feedback about any and all of them. The Clipper BM-1 looks good, but I know nothing of it or the company except what the company advertises and the manual written by the company. I've also had the TriMetric recommended. I'd like to hear more about each of them and any of the many others.</SPAN>
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:04   #2
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I really like my Victron Battery Monitor. I forgot the model number but they only make 2, one for a single bank, and one for a little more for a double bank. I have the single...I don't need to monitor the start battery...unless something is wrong (and in that case I have better ways to investigate), I can be confident that it is always nearly 100% (starting the engine doesn't drop the charge level much, and it is usually re-charged within 5 minutes of running the motor).
Anyway, you'll find lots of good reviews for the Victron, and it is nearly the least expensive for equivalent features. Looks like Jamestown has a good deal now. Took me about 30 minutes to install. Others seems to have similar good experience.
I like stuff from Victron and Newmar...whose product line is mostly for commerical vs pleasure vessels, vice stuff you'll find at West Marine. Newmar has an interesting monitor, but it was a bit expensive for my taste when I was looking.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:25   #3
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I also have the Victron and am very happy with it. The models are B or BM I forget which 600 and 602. The 600 single battery, the 602 monitors voltage only on a second battery.

My only complaint (if you could call it that), the unit has more features, data and settings than I know what to do with but not really a problem in use, just ignore the ones you don't want or need.
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Old 07-06-2013, 06:35   #4
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I have had a Link20 and have never trusted it, but maybe that was because the Xantrex Truecharge was killing my house bank. (Twice) by two difference chargers

I have replaced my battery monitor with a SMARTBank Controller and SMARTGuage Monitor SmartGauge Electronics - SmartGauge battery monitor
and my charger to a TrippLite inverter/charger, and I can say for the first time in 10 years my battery banks, are not at the front of my mind.

I did consider the Victron, but went with the Smartguage because of its combining capabilities.

Smartguages website has some excellent information, presented in a non-bias way.

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Old 07-06-2013, 07:21   #5
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I have used link2000(s) and in our boat we have Trimetric 2020.

I think both are good units. My personal preference is the Trimetric.

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Old 07-06-2013, 07:30   #6
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Another vote for the Trimetric 2025. I ripped the Link off the boat and threw it overboard so I could install a Trimetric. We have one on our converted bus as well. Can't say enough good about them.
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:34   #7
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I have the Trimetric 2025rv and super happy with it. It was less than $200 to the house. It'll do 1 or 2 batts if you want and was easy to set up. It can be set up I think 3 different ways. Super simple with the the basic stuff you would need or few other things if you want more fine tune info.
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:41   #8
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

Our Trimetric has been perfect for 10yrs.

Mark
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:00   #9
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

I have two on board. The Xantrex Link pro, and the Outback Mate. The Xantrex is the second one, as the first failed. Outback is superior, and the one I trust.
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Old 07-06-2013, 08:03   #10
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

Another vote for Victron here. Installed it this winter and love it.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:26   #11
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

A SmartGuage, which will be more accurate than a battery monitor, and an additional digital Ah/Amps meter.

The problem with all battery monitors is as the batteries age the BMs become inaccurate. With a SmartGuage as the batteries age it learns your system and becomes more accurate.
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Old 07-06-2013, 14:34   #12
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
A SmartGuage, which will be more accurate than a battery monitor, and an additional digital Ah/Amps meter.

The problem with all battery monitors is as the batteries age the BMs become inaccurate. With a SmartGuage as the batteries age it learns your system and becomes more accurate.
So how does this Smartgauge work? The website "tech" discussion seems to just say that the shunt approaches have large errors and the Smartgauge uses an algorithm without a shunt.
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Old 07-06-2013, 15:14   #13
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

Maine Sail has a nice article about this:
Installing A Battery Monitor Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com

This is the one he recommends:
Need A Battery Monitor ? Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at pbase.com

HandyBob highly recommends the Trimetric 2025RV, which is what I bought. But I wasn't aware of Maine Sail's recommendation when I got it.

You will probably need a 500 amp shunt to go with the Trimetric, and the communication twisted wire cable set. I think the Victron comes complete with everything needed to install.
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Old 08-06-2013, 02:24   #14
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

Sailing Legend, I was unsure if you have actually used the Smartguage or not. I have done quite a lot of research on battery monitors and like the sound of Smartguage which is based upon some academic research but have not heard any reports as to how accurate and reliable it is in practice. Would appreciate some feedback from people who have used it.
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Old 08-06-2013, 02:32   #15
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Re: Battery monitor reviews wanted

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
So how does this Smartgauge work?.......
Nobody knows!!!!! But the SmartGuage monitors the battery voltage 1100 times a second - if you were doing that you would get a pretty good idea what you batteries were doing! It learns you battery status and becomes more accurate the more it "learns".

There are many complicated reasons for the inaccuracies of shunt battery monitors.. The battery parameters have to be correctly input to the software on installation. The capacity of the bank has to be entered. Peukerts constant for the batteries being used has to be entered – sometimes this is not easy to find. Peukerts constant adjusts the actual used Ah values depending on the size of the discharge current - and very small changes can make a big difference to the Ah count!. Also an accurate charging Ah count is affected by the “efficiency” of the battery at accepting charge. Wet cells may be only 75% efficient whereas AGMs may be 98%. If all these values are not input correctly it will upset the Ah count accuracy.

The biggest inaccuracies happen because all of the these values change as the batteries age. Batteries also have a self-discharge up to about 10% per month which the battery monitor cannot detect. This can introduce large errors.

I have a BEP BM, and a SmartGuage.
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