I have found a much cheaper voltage/amp meter off Amazon.com. It uses a shunt and it is included. It only provides real-time voltage and current and doesn't store any information. I have not purchased it because I'm not feeling up to doing any more wiring from the battery to the interior. That was phase one of my mod work this spring and I've moved on for now!
I do have the temperature probe with my controller as well as the load sense wires, both will be part of the installation.
Aspen Trail 2710BH | 280 watts of solar | 2x 6V GC batteries | 1500W PSW inverter
All of the programming, occasional monitoring, logging, and troubleshooting of the TriStar can be done via the MeterBus connection and MorningStar's (free!) MS View software. Assuming you're comfortable with basic PC software, this interface is far better than the remote panel. Remember also that information you would typically need to monitor in an RV is just battery voltage, current and a reasonable estimate of the state of charge.... So you only have to have a computer connected when you want to change settings or geek-out for a while (I'm also an engineer and I do enjoy seeing log and monitoring the real-time details )
The Trimetric includes a shunt which provides information about all of the power in and out of your house battery. In addition it can monitor 2 voltage sources (e.g. the voltage of your TV batt or the solar input voltage). It is inexpensive, simple to install & use, and does a great job displaying useful information at a glance.
I picked the Victron because you can manually set the Peukert Exponent, it comes with a 500 amp shunt standard (can be programmed for other size shunts), has programmable high and low voltage alarms (you can program in voltage number so you can get up to shut off that furnace BEFORE your batteries are dead), shows statistics like total number of cycles, highest voltage recorded, etc.
msiminoff, that control panel is pretty impressive! How is your 12V water heater diversion load element working out? I am following that thread and I wonder if I'll try something like that if my panels provide more than enough charging capacity for us. Actually if that is the case I'll probably just get batteries with more Ah when the time comes. But your 12V heater element project seems like a cool thing to do!
* This post was
edited 04/19/12 03:01pm by ewarnerusa *
The Trimetric only reads voltage to one decimal place. If you are fussed about whether you are close to 50% SOC at 12.20v, it is no help to see 12.3, which could be 12.32 or 12.22. If it says 12.2 is that ok at 12.22 or not ok at 12.12?
If you don't need that second decimal place reading while camping, no problem.
2003 Chev 2500HD Gas, 2003 Komfort 26FS 5er
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Why both the precision volt meter and the trimetric?
As BFL13 pointed out, the Datel CD volt meter offers an additional decimal place of resolution, which, assuming it is accurate (I calibrated mine) is nice, but not on my must-have list. IMHO one decimal place is fine for batteries that are in use.
Here's my logic for the dual meter setup:
- The LCD meter draws .002A (max) vs.the Trimetric's .032A (.016A w/display off)
- Having 2 meters allows me to see voltage and current at the same time.
- Having 2 meters allows me to see coach voltage and truck voltage the same time.
- Having 2 meters allows me to see coach voltage and solar voltage at the same time.
- The LCD meter is dirt-cheap (~$30), small, easy to read, no buttons to push, etc
msiminoff, that control panel is pretty impressive! How is your 12V water heater diversion load element working out? I am following that thread and I wonder if I'll try something like that if my panels provide more than enough charging capacity for us. Actually if that is the case I'll probably just get batteries with more Ah when the time comes.
The 12Vdc water heater works exactly as expected... I'm very pleased
How much battery capacity do you currently have? What does your power budget look like?
If you have sufficient capacity to meet your need (plus some reserve) and enough solar to keep 'em charged (again, with enough reserve for those cloudy days) then buying more batteries only means more $$$ and more weight to haul around.
A power budget spreadsheet and a Trimetric will be useful to help inform this decision.