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Old 06-24-2015, 09:16 PM   #1
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battery status

How do I know how much "juice" is currently in my batteries? I want to go boondocking, but would like to know how much power I have out in the wild blue yonder..... Should I install a volt meter, if so any suggestions......?
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:13 PM   #2
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get a hydrometer first and then a multi meter. seeing the specific gravity will give a better reading on charge.

do you have solar panels to recharge batteries..

check out handybob for lots of good info on solar panels, controllers, wire etc.
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How do I know how much "juice" is currently in my batteries? I want to go boondocking, but would like to know how much power I have out in the wild blue yonder..... Should I install a volt meter, if so any suggestions......?
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Old 06-24-2015, 10:54 PM   #3
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The very best thing to do the job you want is something like the Tri Metric battery monitoring unit by Bogart Engineering. There are also other brands such as Blue Sky which may have a similar thing built into some of their solar charge controllers.

What it does is to let you set the initial battery capacity, and when fully charged the meter counts down the battery use in either % of capacity or Amp Hours and tells you how much you have remaining. Then when charged, by any source, such as the tow vehicle, solar, or the converter/charger it counts back up to full charge. It takes into account the charge efficiency and other factors. When the battery is fully charged (as determined by float voltage being reached, the meter resets to 100% automatically.

They are very nifty devices and do other things such as allowing you to see your amp draw or charge in amps, days since fully charged, and so on.

Cost is about $200 with the required shunt. Installation is extra of course, unless you do it yourself. Programing takes some time to figure out, but once done, need not be done again unless you change some part of the battery system.

The only other things you can use are an ammeter to watch how much you use and then with some insight and math how much you have remaining. A voltmeter, used properly and with enough accuracy can give you an insight as to the state of charge of the battery, but must be done under a no load situation, after a significant resting period. It is only roughly accurate the way most people want to use it, which is an immediate measurement.

I like and have the Tri Metric unit in my Airstream.
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Old 06-25-2015, 08:03 AM   #4
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I'm at the other end of idroba's scale........

The Volt Minder lets me know when it's time to start the 2000i and when the Iota goes into float mode...


The TRC follows the AC side...


Bob


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Old 06-25-2015, 08:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverkiwi View Post
How do I know how much "juice" is currently in my batteries? I want to go boondocking, but would like to know how much power I have out in the wild blue yonder..... Should I install a volt meter, if so any suggestions......?
You have a 2014 Airstream, doesn't it come with a built in battery monitor?
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Old 06-25-2015, 08:23 AM   #6
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You have a 2014 Airstream, doesn't it come with a built in battery monitor?
I was going to say the same thing - or am I missing something?
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Old 06-25-2015, 08:45 AM   #7
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Question

Is the 2014 better than our 12..11..10..9?

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Old 06-25-2015, 09:44 AM   #8
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You can get a multimeter and one of those cheap battery meters that plug into one of the interior 12v sockets. When you have lights and fans running inside the voltage will read a little lower on the 12v plug-in meter but if you go and measure the voltage at the batteries it will be higher which is the true battery state. Typically after a full charge my batteries will discharge below 12.6v and then hover a long time around 12.4 at least that is my experience with my two grp 27 Interstate wet cell batteries. I used a portable 200w solar panel on my trip to Utah last week and it kept my batteries charged while I kept the fans running and the fridge on LP. You just want to make sure you don't let the voltage go below 12.2- 12.0v which is about 50%. discharge. It is a good idea to use a hydrometer to check the state of each cell to insure your batteries are in good shape before venturing out.

I'd love to install a Trimetric but the installation and setup instructions look daunting. Running the cable from the meter though the trailer to the batteries on the A frame compartment seemed a difficult task as I have the 25fb. I suppose I could install one in the wardrobe adjacent to the queen bed vs in the kitchen area. Maybe I'll tackle the job one day but its low priority.
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Old 06-25-2015, 09:54 AM   #9
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A TM was on my list too....'til I forgot what was on the list.

Bob
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Old 06-25-2015, 10:09 AM   #10
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I also have the 25FB and did install my Trimetric readout in the wardrobe next to the bed. The thought of fishing wiring to the galley was daunting. The hardest part was penetrating the goop sealing the wiring hole under the front of the trailer. There is precious little room in the battery compartment for the shunt, but I managed. The professionals run new battery cables and put the shunt in the trailer, but that costs more. It is not a terribly difficult project and having a Trimetric is a must for me.
Larry
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Old 06-25-2015, 11:01 AM   #11
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There certainly are other ways to determine the approximate state of your batteries than the Tri Metric meter. The voltmeter system will give you a rough approximation of the state of charge but as I stated, is seldom used properly (a wait between the time of use and the measurement) so probably is only within 20% or so of the true state of charge. The built in monitoring systems in the Airstream are even less accurate, usually relying on a series of lights set to a very rough scale of battery capacity.

So, to the OP of the question, if you want a rough measurement of battery capacity, use the built in AS battery monitoring system, if you want more accuracy, use a good digital voltmeter and tables commonly available to determine the state of charge of your batteries (with appropriate wait times). If you want very good accuracy of your battery charge, and are willing to pay the cost, a Tri Metric meter is an excellent system. However, it may tell you more about your batteries than you care to know and is certainly not for everyone. And installation of the shunt in the battery box takes a bit of time, along with running the cable to the meter itself.

I almost always boondock and rely on my batteries for power. It is nice when camping in the NW in the fall to know that I have (say) an 80% charge at 5 pm on a 35 F evening when I am going to use the furnace a lot. When I get up in the morning I can look and see that I still have a (say) 60% charge I know I can stay another day. If it said 35% I would know it is generator time or time to scoot. It reduces my uncertainty factor considerably. You may not have the same needs or concerns.
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