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Old 23-04-2015, 07:16   #1
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Which battery monitor for this setup?

I just replaced my four T105's and want to keep better track of their health.

I have 700w of solar along with a Kiss windgen and an Iota 55a charger (which doesn't see much use). The solar is fed through a BlueSky 3024 controller. I was considering upgrading the 3024 with the dual option for a diversion load to temper the Kiss and the 6a charge from each of the Yamaha 9.9's.

The natural choice then would be the IPNpro with the shunt.

Does this sound like a good setup? Is there a better battery monitor or diversion load that I should look at instead?

Thanks for any advice.

Tom




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Old 23-04-2015, 07:24   #2
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

You might find this useful....

Smart Gauge Battery Monitoring Unit Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Old 23-04-2015, 07:31   #3
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

I was going to suggest the Smartguage as well. From all reports it gives the most accurate information on your battery's state of charge.

It's on my list for an eventual upgrade.
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Old 23-04-2015, 07:46   #4
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

Thanks guys,

I've read that well put together report on the Balmer unit and that's what started me thinking that the BlueSky product may not be the best for my purpose.

The Balmer unit does come at quite the premium though, are there any discount houses with a reasonable pricetag for it?

Also, can any one who has used either product give any real world usage opinions?


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Old 23-04-2015, 07:52   #5
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

I barely use my shunt based monitor anymore now that we have a smartgauge... which I find to be MUCH more accurate and useful.

Another vote for the smartgauge.

The ONLY downside to the Smartgauge [SG] is that it does not seem to support two different battery types simultaneously. We have regular flooded T-145P batteries for our housebank and use AGM for our starter battery. Although the SG lets you monitor two battery banks and lets you choose what type of battery is being monitored, it does not seem to let you choose different types for each bank.

Regardless, you can use the voltage reading to be your own judge for the mismatched AGM rather than using the Capacity reading.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:06   #6
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

Do you miss not being able to read what kind of current each device is pumping out or do you still have other (analog?) gauges for that?


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Old 23-04-2015, 08:14   #7
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by amytom View Post
Do you miss not being able to read what kind of current each device is pumping out or do you still have other (analog?) gauges for that?


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That is the ONLY use for my Mastershunt anymore. To be honest though, I only periodically look AMPS now anyway to see how well the solar is doing. We have been living and sailing full time now going on two years and we have a pretty good handle on what the batteries are capable of in 24 hours and when we need to start looking at them.

I also find the shunt to be useful when we start our engine, to make sure the alternator is working OK.

I'm not sure I can even trust the shunt anyhow, it continually reads voltages inaccurately.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:16   #8
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

I read that the Balmar purchased the Smartgauge technology from the original maker who still offers the same product under their name for a lot less money. If I recall it is a UK based company.

I have not used the Blue Sky monitor but just glanced at the manual online. Based on a very quick look it sounds like a standard amps in/out system with the usual compensation options for charge rate and probably Peukart. Also shows voltage, battery SoC based on their calculations etc.

I would probably miss having access to some of the data if I went with the Smartgauge, mainly the amps in/out. I like being able instantly see how many amps particular device or load is pulling from my system and how many amps are going in from whatever charging source is operating.

If your boat gear fund is flush I would consider installing both. Why not? The more dials, gauges and readouts you have the better.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:21   #9
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I barely use my shunt based monitor anymore now that we have a smartgauge... which I find to be MUCH more accurate and useful.

Another vote for the smartgauge.

The ONLY downside to the Smartgauge [SG] is that it does not seem to support two different battery types simultaneously. We have regular flooded T-145P batteries for our housebank and use AGM for our starter battery. Although the SG lets you monitor two battery banks and lets you choose what type of battery is being monitored, it does not seem to let you choose different types for each bank.

Regardless, you can use the voltage reading to be your own judge for the mismatched AGM rather than using the Capacity reading.
The Smart Gauge only monitors the voltage of a second bank (start bank) and thus it does not need the battery type to be set just to look at the voltage.. It can only monitor one bank for SOC...
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:23   #10
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

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If your boat gear fund is flush I would consider installing both. Why not? The more dials, gauges and readouts you have the better.

If only life was that kind.

For the amps out readings - do the analog gauges have any effect on the charge current? The meters have some kind of resistance right? Does that change the battery state the charge controllers see? Or is it a small enough scale to not effect it?


What about for the diversion controller, is there a best product out there or is the BlueSky product on par with everyone else?





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Old 23-04-2015, 08:24   #11
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

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The Smart Gauge only monitors the voltage of a second bank (start bank) and thus it does not need the battery type to be set just to look at the voltage.. It can only monitor one bank for SOC...

I only have one bank, as my engines are Yamaha 9.9 that pull start fairly easily...


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Old 23-04-2015, 08:27   #12
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

The smartgauge is the only gauge you really need if you are budget constrained.

If you are really interested in amps then buy a handheld voltmeter with DC amp clamp-its way more useful than a panel mounted gauge because you can use it for so many other things and its portable.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:34   #13
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

OK, did a little digging. It is sold in the UK as the Merlin Power Systems Smartgauge. Found a UK company online selling at 99.96 plus 39.07 shipping to the US, or about $210 in American money.

Cheapest I found on the Balmar branded in the states was $70 higher. $120 higher at West Marine.
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Old 23-04-2015, 08:44   #14
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

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OK, did a little digging. It is sold in the UK as the Merlin Power Systems Smartgauge. Found a UK company online selling at 99.96 plus 39.07 shipping to the US, or about $210 in American money.

Cheapest I found on the Balmar branded in the states was $70 higher. $120 higher at West Marine.
If that company ships to the US they risk getting shut down by Merlin as a dealer. Balmar has the exclusive licensing to sell that product here in North America. Right wrong or indifferent it is done every day. google TBS Electronics and take a look at their e-Xpert Pro which Xantrex has the exclusive on for North America and calls the LINK series. Same company used to make the Victron battery monitors until TBS sold them to Xantrex and Victron pulled their business from TBS. I suspect Merlin does not want to lose Balmar's business, nor would they want to, because the volume is huge for them. I have a number of products I am not allowed to ship cross boarder or I risk losing my stocking dealer status...
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Old 23-04-2015, 09:00   #15
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Re: Which battery monitor for this setup?

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If that company ships to the US they risk getting shut down by Merlin as a dealer. Balmar has the exclusive licensing to sell that product here in North America. Right wrong or indifferent it is done every day. google TBS Electronics and take a look at their e-Xpert Pro which Xantrex has the exclusive on for North America and calls the LINK series. Same company used to make the Victron battery monitors until TBS sold them to Xantrex and Victron pulled their business from TBS. I suspect Merlin does not want to lose Balmar's business, nor would they want to, because the volume is huge for them. I have a number of products I am not allowed to ship cross boarder or I risk losing my stocking dealer status...

It could indeed be the case that the UK company I found would not ship this particular product to the states. I just checked their website, which has an extensive catalog and a US ship to option. They could well deny the order for the Merlin product if I actually placed it on their website for the US.

Let me add that generally I do prefer supporting US companies for their products but in this case, Balmar did not build or develop the product, merely has US distribution rights and is selling it in the states for over double what it sells for overseas. Seems a bit excessive to me. Wish I could make over 100% markup on what I sell.
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