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Old 04-11-2016, 10:07   #16
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

I would highly recommend the Blue Seas digital multi-function meter. Having done it, there isn't much to wiring in the external shunt.
They are excellent at standing behind their product. After 4 years of use, my voltmeter starting acting up. I didn't even have a receipt or proof of when I bought it and when I contacted them they sent me an entire new unit, no questions asked.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:28   #17
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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Many if not most digital gauges are if anything less accurate than the analog ones, just cause they display to the hundredth of a volt, does not mean they are accurate.
For accuracy, I like my fluke, and my smart gauge has been pretty good, but the advice to measure the bank directly with a dedicated wire is I think good advice, there can be significant voltage loss, especially in old wires.
For monitoring your banks, a smart gauge may be a good investment, but you can get there with an accurate voltmeter, just requires a little thinking.
Just struck the fluke on mine - cheap ebay=12.67v, fluke=12.64v. Surprisingly accurate for something so cheap, plenty good enough for batteries anyway, especially when you know it's over reading fraction of a percent.
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Old 04-11-2016, 10:55   #18
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

David,

I would consider supplementing the analog meters with a digital battery monitoring system. [e.g., Balmar Smart Gauge or the like.]

It costs more, but you aren't spending $ replacing something that is perfectly functional, and you are gaining lots of new functionality...

That gets closer to accomplishing your real goal of monitoring batteries...

We kept our analog gauges for the read at-a-glance advantage, but rely on the [digital] battery monitoring system for reality. [We had replaced our old inverter with one from Magnum Energy, so we use their battery monitor since it integrates with the inverter...]

Best wishes deciding what is best for you.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:30   #19
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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I would consider supplementing the analog meters with a digital battery monitoring system. [e.g., Balmar Smart Gauge or the like.]

It costs more, but you aren't spending $ replacing something that is perfectly functional, and you are gaining lots of new functionality...

That gets closer to accomplishing your real goal of monitoring batteries...

We kept our analog gauges for the read at-a-glance advantage, but rely on the [digital] battery monitoring system for reality. [We had replaced our old inverter with one from Magnum Energy, so we use their battery monitor since it integrates with the inverter...]
Thanks, Bill! Actually already doing that, I have a new Blue Sea M2 SoC meter that I'll be installing next week. It's just that I find the analog gauges annoying to read. Last weekend I sailed from Ft Myers Beach to Marathon. My electrical systems have just been significantly upgraded as they had to be replaced after a lightning strike. New batteries, new Xantrex inverter/charger with an SCP control panel, etc. I was checking the meters regularly to monitor the performance of the new system, and found the analog gauges to be frustrating. By the SoC meter will likely be better in the long run.

-David
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Old 04-11-2016, 15:19   #20
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

If the analog meters are working buy a pair of reading glasses.
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Old 04-11-2016, 16:38   #21
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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If the analog meters are working buy a pair of reading glasses.

Now that's just a mean thing to say ;-)
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Old 04-11-2016, 17:52   #22
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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If the analog meters are working buy a pair of reading glasses.
Good advice... then he will have a very clear view of a meter with inadequate resolution and poor accuracy... just what he wants.

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Old 04-11-2016, 19:01   #23
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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The problem is that on my analog voltmeter the a change in voltage from 12.7 to 12.3 volts is a very small movement of the needle, but a significant difference in battery charge level.


-David
This hits the nail on the head. Analogue meters are simply not accurate enough to track charging voltages. You could do it if you could find a meter with a full scale reading from say 11 to 15 volts and a 6" display but that would cost far more. Even a cheap digital meter will be accurate to 0.1v a standard analogue panel meter is accurate to about 1v (10% full scale deflection) so when it says 14.5v it means between 14v (not charging) and 15v (overcharging) - not really what you need.
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Old 04-11-2016, 19:03   #24
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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If the analog meters are working buy a pair of reading glasses.

I can't disagree with that and I like fancy electronics! I just replaced an analog meter for $9 whereas it's big bucks for the OLED blue sea systems digital meter.

You get the same information. Where I would see the OLED multimeter useful is if we were installing a very small panel and I only had room for one display or to keep space open for more switches.
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Old 05-11-2016, 07:09   #25
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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Now that's just a mean thing to say ;-)
Ya gotta love the dry humor here! Plus, in the spirit of KISS, ya can't beat it.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:01   #26
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

I'll bet there's a pretty sharp spike in the curve of best boat investment on the "reading glasses vs age" page...

Two guys hunched over an MFD in the rain at night crossing a lane with several returns showing... Trying to determine the current range setting... Well... $5 was a pretty easy fix...

David,

I wouldn't go building your panel/system around the ebay/Amazon gauges... BUT... I've used several in non critical areas that perform with alarming accuracy... Like others have said, redundant digital would be my call...
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:33   #27
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

I went through this. I kept the analog current meter but replaced the voltage meter with a $18 LED gauge that gives you voltage, current, power, energy. It is much more useful than the old meter. The current meter is there just to fill the hole in the panel.
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Old 05-11-2016, 08:37   #28
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

David, I recently installed a Victron 702 in place of my analog volt meter for precisely the reasons you mention, and am very happy with it. While I might have gone with the Balmar to get accurate SOC, I wanted something that would drop right in to the panel where the analog unit was. My analog unit was also sticking so I had to tap it to get an accurate reading, to make matters worse. I may go with the Balmar unit whenever I replace my house bank batteries.

I have kept the analog ammeter for the time being as I can tell from a glance what it's reading with enough accuracy to meet my needs, i.e., getting a snapshot of the current draw.

I too prefer analog readouts, and I think an analog volt meter with a range from 11 volts to 15 volts would be ideal for everyday use. It would be of a scale that could give you a quick read without squinting.
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:26   #29
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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SNIP

I was trying to estimate the battery load by reading the ammeter, and it looked like around 5 amps during daylight running with all the instruments, chart plotter, GPS, autopilot, etc. Load would increase a little when the AP kicked in, but nothing extreme. At night the load was up around 10 amps with the addition of the nav lights (some are LED, some are not yet upgraded to LED). Again nothing extreme, and overall very happy with the new system's performance, I only wish I had more precise numbers. I was thinking that digital meters (instead of the analog meters) might give me that...

-
David,

It sounds like your cockpit ammeter is reading everything on your boat. IMHO, that is nonsense, especially with an internal shunt.

Why? It means ALL of your power HAS TO run back to that point. It most likely is going through smaller wire.

An ammeter with an external shunt would be better.

A battery monitor would be even better.

An WELL PERFORMED energy budget is almost always in agreement with actual use.

What is much harder to estimate is what goes back INTO the bank when charging, which is why a BM or Smart Gauge comes in really handy.

A cockpit ammeter is really useless if you have done a budget and have these other tools.

A digital voltmeter is very very handy because of the small differences and their importance. That's the ONE I would replace with digital. But it sure doesn't need to be in the cockpit.
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Old 05-11-2016, 10:35   #30
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Re: Replacing analog panel meters.

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Now that's just a mean thing to say ;-)
At least you have a sense of humor. Some folks are to serious.
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