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Old 03-05-2020, 10:54 AM   #1
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No battery monitor, change my mind!

After three years full timing, primarily boondocking I have never needed an expensive battery monitor other than what comes with my Zamp 30 amp controller.

My set up is: 2 x 180 Watt zamp panels, 1 x 30 amp zamp controller, 2 x Trojan GC 6V T105, plus a generator. No inverter except for a 300 watt if we want to watch TV in the bedroom, but we don't watch TV much and the main TV is Jensen 12V in the living room.

Why do I need victron battery monitor? My batteries get charged, or I have to turn on the generator. There is no big mystical science to figuring out if your batteries have enough charge.

The twice I have ever worried about my battery SOC dropping to low, I take out my $10 Specific Gravity Tester and do a cell check. I actually due this monthly on maintenance day, but twice I went out and looked after leaving the furnace running all night. I had to run the generator that day longer than making coffee.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:15 AM   #2
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No more need for a battery monitor than a gas gauge.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:27 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJStough View Post
No more need for a battery monitor than a gas gauge.
That's a pretty good analogy.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktn1966 View Post
After three years full timing, primarily boondocking I have never needed an expensive battery monitor other than what comes with my Zamp 30 amp controller.

My set up is: 2 x 180 Watt zamp panels, 1 x 30 amp zamp controller, 2 x Trojan GC 6V T105, plus a generator. No inverter except for a 300 watt if we want to watch TV in the bedroom, but we don't watch TV much and the main TV is Jensen 12V in the living room.

Why do I need victron battery monitor? My batteries get charged, or I have to turn on the generator. There is no big mystical science to figuring out if your batteries have enough charge.

The twice I have ever worried about my battery SOC dropping to low, I take out my $10 Specific Gravity Tester and do a cell check. I actually due this monthly on maintenance day, but twice I went out and looked after leaving the furnace running all night. I had to run the generator that day longer than making coffee.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PJStough View Post
No more need for a battery monitor than a gas gauge.

From your OP, it sounds like you do have a basic battery monitor on your Zamp controller. Other than that, you are well aware of how you use your batteries and have a regular maintenance schedule that includes SOC monitoring via hydrometer.

If I understand this correctly, you do have a "gas gauge" that has some accuracy but, more importantly, you have a practical method to maintain SOC, similar to driving and using estimated distance traveled and mpg to decide when to "fill up". It works for you, you're not stranded, your batteries are properly maintained.

I see no need for you to spend more on a more accurate, convenient technology if you are happy with what you are currently doing (see what I did there?).
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:28 AM   #5
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Need? Probably not. I certainly wouldn't want to be without one on my setup, though.

Your requirements are pretty simple and electricity usage a lot less. It sounds like you would have a fairly difficult time running those batteries to less than 50% in a typical night, so it may not be worth the money to you. Or, you could be running your batteries a lot lower on a regular basis, reducing their life, and have no idea.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:31 AM   #6
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You don't need a battery monitor. Your proven 3 year routine does what you need. You could put the cost of a battery monitor into two additional batteries and never have to worry.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:32 AM   #7
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You use your gen to make coffee...Ö now that's funny!
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:52 AM   #8
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Yeah, I take a lot of slack for running my generator for coffee. The silly thing is that it is just folgers, lol. I do have a percolator if it is a no generator area such as national parks.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
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You don't need a battery monitor. Your proven 3 year routine does what you need. You could put the cost of a battery monitor into two additional batteries and never have to worry.
I would love two more batteries but my tongue won't take anymore weight. I am saving up for lithium, if the price would drop, for our next set of batteries.
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:58 AM   #10
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I would love two more batteries......
Do you really need them? How would you know?
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Old 03-05-2020, 11:58 AM   #11
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I proved that I don't need one when I bought my first truck, the diode was scratched so didn't read under a half tank. As a poor high schooler I learned how far two dollars in gas would get me. Lol
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No more need for a battery monitor than a gas gauge.
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Old 03-05-2020, 12:01 PM   #12
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Oknewbie, you are right I don't really need them, but I have toyed with the idea of our a small 12V freezer in the pass through, but right now that is just a pipe dream.
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Old 03-05-2020, 05:45 PM   #13
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As someone that appreciates the trimetric, victron and other battery monitor systems I don't have one. There's little a basic voltmeter and ammeter can't tell me at a glance so having those I consider a "minimum" over the useless 4-LED battery gauge on the status panel. For extra credit you can get something that counts Ah or Wh which gives you a good snapshot of what's left the battery over a given timeframe. Today, you can get all that in a single monitor for $20. So while one might argue about the nuances of battery monitoring and usage data the fancier monitors cost, for $20 you can answer a lot of questions so why not start there.

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Old 03-05-2020, 08:28 PM   #14
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We used the voltmeter in our motorhome the first 6 months were were on the road and boondocked quite a bit. I'd just guesstimate based on battery voltage. Close enough. Our 300 watts of solar would finish off the charge, more or less, after a morning generator run on most days. A second generator run around dinner would give us a boost if the volts were under 12.5 or so, which is what we felt we needed for overnight.

That being said, our Victron 712 is a nice upgrade. The three 100Ah Battle Born batteries we bought after our Interstate marine batteries died, even nicer. Did they die because we were drawing them down too far or not charging them to 100% daily? Maybe, but they lasted 16 months, which ain't bad for 12v marine batteries considering.
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