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View Poll Results: What Battery Monitor system do you run?
Basic Amp and Volt gauges 41 20.00%
Link 10 29 14.15%
Link 20 22 10.73%
Link 1000 11 5.37%
Link 2000 29 14.15%
Trimetric 2020 8 3.90%
DOC Wattson model R102 0 0%
Victron BMV 602 21 10.24%
CruzPro VAH-35 4 1.95%
Clipper Battery Monitor BM-1 11 5.37%
Other - please add info to thread! 29 14.15%
Voters: 205. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 22-12-2008, 20:42   #1
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Which Battery Monitor ?

I'm starting to look into how to track my electrical reserves. Original thought was to just install a set of old school volt and amp gauges but then I got interested in the various battery monitor systems and have pretty much changed my mind (probably aiming at something like the Link20 to go with my Xantrex inverter, pathfinder combo).

I was wondering what positive/negative experiences people had with different brands (I'm aiming at the lower part of the market but would also be interested in higher tech items too).

Thought it might be good to have a set of links to different posiblities in one place too - here's a start:

Link 10 - Xantrex Technology Inc. - Link 10 - Product Information
Link 20 - Xantrex Technology Inc. - Link 20 - Product Information
Link 1000 - Xantrex LINK 1000 Single Battery Bank Monitor
Link 2000 (and R)- Xantrex Technology Inc. - Boats - Link 2000 & 2000R - Product Information
Trimetric 2020 - TriMetric 2020 battery system monitor
DOC Wattson model R102 - DOC Wattson Mmodel R102 Digital Panel Meter R102-BK
Victron BMV 602 - BMV-600 and BMV-602 - Victron Energy
CruzPro VAH-35 - CruzPro VAH35 Three bank Volts/Amps/Amp-Hour Monitor
Clipper Battery Monitor BM-1 - Clipper Battery Monitor BM-1 marine battery monitor
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Old 22-12-2008, 22:42   #2
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Old 23-12-2008, 04:14   #3
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Link 10,
When inspecting my current boat prior to purchase I found one still in its packaging and questioned the PO about it. He was an international pilot and said he had picked it up overseas cheap but never bothered to install it. I had never seen the need for one and it took me about six months before I got around to doing the installation and now I don't think I'd like to be without it. Along with the Link 10 there was also 4 X 75 Watt solar panels and 2 X Air-x 400 Watt wind generators. I installed the panels and one of the generators not long after purchase and I'm debating as to whether or not to install the other Air-x. The Link 10 seemed complicated to install when I first glanced at the installation instructions (that played a part in my delay) but one wet Sunday I bit the bullet and was very surprised at how easy it actually was and then at how simple it was to configure and operate. I now wish he had bought the Link 20 instead as I could then monitor the start battery as well.
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Old 23-12-2008, 04:33   #4
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Xantrex XBM Battery Monitor -- which is what I have, too -- but I just went to their website and note that "this product has been discontinued." It has been replaced by the LinkPRO Battery Monitor

Quote:
The LinkPRO Battery Monitor is the direct replacement of XBM Battery Monitor with expanded features.
So that is the one that I would get...
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Old 23-12-2008, 05:03   #5
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It probably would be. Xantrex absorbed the Link product line some years ago along with a bunch of other products that now have their brand name. You can sometimes find an original Link 10 around. Some additional memory seems to be the primary "enhanced feature set". They did also change the packaging and the price.

We had a Link 10 on the last boat and the current one came with a Ample Power two bank monitor. It was new in 1991 but it still works after a lot of cruising and live aboard miles and years. They really do change the way you look at your batteries and how you can learn to manage them based on what the readings tell you.

The volt meter gages are interesting but not all that useful.
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Old 23-12-2008, 05:57   #6
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I don't trust the Link's algoirthim for computing the amount of amps used or time to go to discharge.

I think the volt and amps draw or being supplied are fairly accurate. You can see in a glance how many amps any load takes as you switch it on! In the end it's the volt reading which tells the story. But it's hand to know how your alternator is performing and according to Link my 120 alt w/ balmar maxcharge doesn't normally kick out oddles of amps as I would have hoped. I am lead to believe that the system is not very discharged or the batts are not loving to take lots of amps shoved in indicating they are getting old.

As usual, the user interface is a series of button press menus which is not intuitive and requires getting out the manual to do the set up which makes it quite flexible, but complex.

The wiring of the tiny wires to the back of the unit carrying the data is insane. Whomever figured that one out needs to have their head examined. They should have supplied the unit with a cable with a plug in harness at the monitor side and the installer does crimp on connections at the other end.

I liked my old Crusing Equipment Quad Cycle which included a 4 stage regular and equilization, less complex (no set up) but the display was not as readable. It had pos and neg shunts while the Link uses only neg.
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Old 23-12-2008, 06:29   #7
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defjef,
You are right about the connections into the back of the Link. Ridiculous!! I originally had the 2000R set-up for my 2 banks, but after a lightning strike melted it all, I went back with Link 1000 on my house bank only. 300amp on-off switch allows me to throw in house bank if i need for emergency start, or vice versa, if house alternator fails, i can charge either bank with engine alternator.
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Old 23-12-2008, 07:20   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
I don't trust the Link's algoirthim for computing the amount of amps used or time to go to discharge.
The algorithm is actually quite simple. It does nothing more than add the time and the amps being consumed over a given period to determine ah's used. This is not an over complicated concept and an easy one to program.

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I think the volt and amps draw or being supplied are fairly accurate.
Then why do you not feel it can also do simple math and to give total ah's used?? In computer programming this is simple Excel spread sheet type of work and about as basic as it gets...

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In the end it's the volt reading which tells the story.
Sure it does after you've let the batteries sit for a long period of time with ZERO draw & ZERO charge to achieve an accurate resting voltage. I don't know of too many folks who can actually do this while on board.

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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
But it's hand to know how your alternator is performing and according to Link my 120 alt w/ balmar maxcharge doesn't normally kick out oddles of amps as I would have hoped. I am lead to believe that the system is not very discharged or the batts are not loving to take lots of amps shoved in indicating they are getting old.
It's probably that the banks acceptance is minimal because you have not draw them down as much as you thought! People often think their 120 amp alternator will actually put out 120 amps. It WON'T unless you have totally killed your bank dead and even then it won't for long. As batteries become full they create internal resistance which does not allow "ooodles of amps" to be put in. Sure you can try to force it in, as multi-stage regulators do, but without temperature monitoring you will only hurt your bank by "forcing in" amps without monitoring temp. Resistance creates heat and forcing too much in is NOT good if you are not also monitoring temp..

The batteries will accept what they will accept and this diminishes as the batteries get charged. At 0% or flat dead they may accept all that your alt can give but at 90% of charge they will accept very ,very little this is why the last ten% of charge can take hours and hours to complete. On one boat I had it took a 12+ hour run with a 125 amp alternator and multi-stage regulator to finally get back to 100%. This is why solar is good as it can recharge to 100% while you're not there..

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As usual, the user interface is a series of button press menus which is not intuitive and requires getting out the manual to do the set up which makes it quite flexible, but complex.
I agree it's not very user friendly but after a while you get to know what you want to look at and how to get there. I own both a Link 10 and an XBM and find the XBM easier..

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The wiring of the tiny wires to the back of the unit carrying the data is insane. Whomever figured that one out needs to have their head examined. They should have supplied the unit with a cable with a plug in harness at the monitor side and the installer does crimp on connections at the other end.
Wow that's nit picky! I find it takes me all of about three minutes to wire the gauge. So, if they supplied a cable, how do they know how much to supply? Having installed a fair number of these units I can tell you that on some boats it required 25 feet of wire and on others four feet...? Should the guy needing only four feet pay for 25 to save three minutes?? I actually prefer a totally separate wire that can be replaced on ALL marine equipment as I've seen a fair number of failures of harnesses, plugs and wire chafe over the years..

Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
I liked my old Crusing Equipment Quad Cycle which included a 4 stage regular and equilization, less complex (no set up) but the display was not as readable. It had pos and neg shunts while the Link uses only neg.
Back when we had only wet cell batts they could build regulators like that but with AGM, Wet and Gel Cells they need to build regulators that can put out different charge programs..
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Old 23-12-2008, 07:30   #9
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I went back with Link 1000 on my house bank only. 300amp on-off switch allows me to throw in house bank if i need for emergency start,
It's generally not a good idea to combine a good bank with a dead bank as you could truly become dead in the water.

If your start bank dies DO NOT combine it with your house bank or use the "ALL" position. All it will do is SUCK the amps out of the house bank to equalize the two banks at an overall LOWER rate of charge than what the house bank had before combining it with the dead start bank.

If one bank fails, bank "1", use the other bank, Bank "2", NOT the "ALL" position!! I've jumped quite a few unknowing boaters over the years who used "ALL" instead of the other bank...
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Old 23-12-2008, 07:40   #10
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Wow, It is amazing how fast this thread went from "What monitor should I use" to how the monitors work and combining batteries. We have used the Link 10 for several years and have been very happy with it. That is the original Link 10 which can still be found at a few places around the net. I can't speak for its replacement. Xantrex seems to be having issues with its equipment lately so I would keep asking around before committing to them.
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Old 23-12-2008, 08:47   #11
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We use...

We installed the link 10 and it's magic! It saved our marriage. I used to go around behind Jill turning off the lights. It bugged her to no end.


Now she can just look up at the green LED scale and know how much power we have used.


When we are cruising we can get a handle on power used in the area we are in. We use a lot more in the heat of the Sea of Cortez, but get more solar power. And the Link tells us how we are doing. When sailing off shore and not using as many solar panels, but using more nav equipment, we get the new balance.


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Old 23-12-2008, 09:36   #12
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Are you able to monitor more than one battery with the link 10? how is it set up for a multiple battery house bank?
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Old 23-12-2008, 09:52   #13
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The Link10 is for a single bank and Link20 for two. The XBM is somewhat cheaper (30%) than the Link20 and provides full information for a single bank with voltage readings for a second bank.

Thanks for all the responses so far - been very helpfull!

Chuck - are there specific Xantrex issues you are thinking of? [Oh - and congrats on breaking 2000 posts, always appreciated your input on this site!]

Greg - Thats EXACTLY why I'm looking into this!
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Old 23-12-2008, 11:09   #14
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Are you able to monitor more than one battery with the link 10? how is it set up for a multiple battery house bank?
A multiple battery bank is in a sense ONE battery and the Link 10 or the XBM will monitor this. I don't understand, never have, the reasoning behind monitoring a start or emergency bank?? When I start my engine, on the house bank, it does not even register .1 amp hour of consumption. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars for a Link 20 to measure one tenth of an amp hour... Monitor the house bank with a single unit that's all you'll need..

For a look at an XBM in an engine starting video click the link below. It also shows how the alternator senses resistance and backs off due to the battery acceptance.

P.S. Before the nit pickers jump on board about this video I have measured this with an "in rush" clamp meter and the peak hold was just under 146 amps so the XBM is fairly fast and very close to accurate for this type of measurement!!

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Old 23-12-2008, 11:30   #15
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Another point that has not been brought up is that the Link 10 or XBM, OR.... helps a LOT in troubleshooting a system!


Up in the Sea of Cortez, during the summer, my engine room was getting very hot. So much so, that the Alternator (A Belmar) was shutting down due to the heat build up. I would have never know, until to late, that this was taking place. I had to remove the engine room door to get more cooling air into it. I now carry a Non-Contact Laser Thermometer! Another great toy to carry.


I also had a Maxcharge controller go bad. Our Link let me know very fast that something was going wrong. I had the time to get a fix going before we depleted our batteries.


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