Running so many appliances on our trips, it’s very easy for us to quickly flatten and destroy our costly deep cycle house batteries. Meters and monitors can give us information on fundamental and advanced measurements to enable us to manage our battery systems better.
Understanding Meters and Monitors
Meters and monitors let you take charge of your power system and stay in full control so you don’t cut short your next adventure.
For many of us when we get away in our 4WDs, camper trailers or even our boats, we’re using a dual battery system to power everything from fridges, winches, phones to kitchen appliances.
Better understanding the measurements of your battery management system can help you to:
- Know when you need to charge your batteries to avoid running your deep cycle batteries below 60% and shortening their lives
- Assess the individual loads of every appliance you run or want to run
- Help you conserve power by identifying and turning off appliances that draw a big load
- Help you to plan how often (and when) you need to charge up via a generator (as you won’t be popular if you run the generator late at night or early in the morning)
- Assess how much power a solar blanket or generator is putting back into your power system
- Assess the impact of running 240V loads if you want to introduce an inverter
- Understand your power needs and assess whether you need a larger battery system.
There is some fundamental information that you need to know to manage your battery system. A voltage of a battery enables you to manually assess the approximate capacity remaining in your battery. A volt meter is an affordable way to access this information.
The amount of power (in amps) that you are drawing from your battery at any given time can be measured using a simple amp meter. You can use this information to:
- Evaluate the power needs of individual appliances
- Do an audit of your overall power requirements
- Assess whether your battery system is powerful enough to meet your needs
If you have a simple dual battery system, are happy to do some power calculations yourself and are looking for an affordable solution, the Baintech Volt and Amp Meter is the way to do it.
Compact, affordable and easy to self- install, this single unit lets you measure both the DC voltage and DC current (amp) of a single battery bank in real time. It features an easy-to-read backlit display which means you can easily read it from a distance at night. With a price tag of $169 it won’t break the bank.
When your power system grows and becomes more elaborate you start to need more advanced information to ensure ongoing reliable power.
An example could include:
- A dual battery system with two 100 Amp / Hour batteries
- Running a range of appliances or some appliances with heavy loads
- Using an inverter to power appliances like laptops and kitchen appliances
- Charging batteries up via solar power.
Alternatively, advanced measurements are also important when you are in remote areas when getting a flat battery is simply not an option.
Advanced measurements include:
- State of charge display – shows the % of charge you have remaining in your battery
- Time to go indicator – shows you how much time you have left before your battery is flat
- Ampere-hours consumed – how many amp hours you have used
- Discharge current display – how much current is being discharged in real time
- Charge current display – how much current is being charged in real time
The Victron BMV 702 provides you with the most advanced information (shown above) about your dual battery system, in a way that’s easy to understand and simple to use, so you can stay powered up to enjoy the good times. It also has a “power measurement” function (voltage times current) that instantly calculates watts. In addition, you can also set an audible alarm for a specific battery voltage. A “fuel gauge” status bar shows your remaining power. At $346.76 the BMV702 is a small cost to increase the life of your battery management system and protect the good times on your next trip away.