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Old 06-24-2023, 06:33 PM   #1
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installation of Victron shunt in '23 19CB

With appreciation and thanks to the many threads and contributors thereof, I wanted to document my recent install of a Victron shunt-based monitor on our 2023 Caravel19CB.

The AS came configured with two deep cycle marine-grade lead-acid batteries (Interstate SRM24, I think) rated at 80Ah each. With the Vitrifrigio fridge running exclusively off 12V, we were noticing that the voltage readings were pretty low each morning after a night at a Harvest Host site (I.e., boon docking). I started a thread here trying to calibrate expectations for this configuration (https://www.airforums.com/forums/f54...ge-244335.html) and the most valuable feedback from this and other threads was “Get a Shunt-Based Monitor” as, for reasons well-explained elsewhere, determining the state of charge of your batteries using just a voltage reading is unreliable.

I consider myself reasonably handy, but as important I like to think that I know what I don’t know—if you’ll forgive the reference--the Rumsfeldian Known Unknowns!! I spent a huge (but profitable!) amount of time looking at these forums and YouTube videos before felt I was moving into ‘Known Known’ territory! I quickly discovered that this is not a simple case of ‘connect A to B and C to D' and you’re done! A key principle espoused many time in the forums here is that there must be no independent wires to the (-) side of the battery—I counted at least four leads drawing (or supplying) power (mains, inverter, zamp field solar, TPMS repeater), so I decided I would use a bus bar to consolidate all the (-) leads—that way I could have a single lead going to the Battery Minus side of the shunt, and then a single lead from the System Minus load side to the bus bar. For completeness, I chose to tidy up the (+) side of things as well though it has no direct advantage to the shunt install; the long term advantage being ease of removal of the batteries for winter storage, or ease of dropping in replacement AGM or lithium batteries if I decide to go that route later. Plus I like the somewhat tidier look!

Location of the bus bars was determined by ease of installation, reach of existing cabling without (much) need for modification, and minimal interference with removal of batteries.

I did have to modify a few connectors—I swapped the terminal clamps on the mains leads for 6awg 3/8” lugs, changed the 12awg lug on the Zamp (-) cable (but not the (+), strange!). I also bought some lengths of 2AWG (2’ of red, 3’ of black to be exact), along with a mix of 3/8 or 5/16 2awg lugs. I did splash out and buy a hydraulic crimping tool, which I found essential.

Finally since the Victron shunt-based sensor is not fully waterproof (at least the one I purchased), I chose to mount it inside an IP65 box mounted to the outside of the battery box.

I’m enclosing a few photos of the project, it took me about a day to get everything done. There were a couple of missteps along the way, I ended up with 2/0 AWG cable the first time around, not realizing there was a difference between ‘two-ought” and plain two gauge. I also found myself without 6 gauge 3/8” lugs. In both cases I am eternally grateful to Husky Automotive Electrical services here in Boise as they had everything I needed. I am waiting on silicone boot covers for the exposed 3/8" terminals.

My thanks to everyone and hope this is of interest to folks thinking about doing this!
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Old 06-24-2023, 09:04 PM   #2
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Looks great - a real improvement over the mess that was there before.

Curious why you moved the terminal fuse block off the battery and to the bus bar?
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Old 06-24-2023, 10:08 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
Looks great - a real improvement over the mess that was there before.

Curious why you moved the terminal fuse block off the battery and to the bus bar?
hmm, the fuse was on (at least what I figured was--) the inverter cable, so I figured it was the equivalent of an in-line fuse and kept it with the cable when I moved it to the bus bar; am I mistaken there? do you think that fuse should have remained on the battery? In which case it would just go on the main positive cable to the bus bar.

thanks for the question!
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Old 06-24-2023, 10:45 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Renault4 View Post
hmm, the fuse was on (at least what I figured was--) the inverter cable, so I figured it was the equivalent of an in-line fuse and kept it with the cable when I moved it to the bus bar; am I mistaken there? do you think that fuse should have remained on the battery? In which case it would just go on the main positive cable to the bus bar.

thanks for the question!
If it was on the inverter cable then what you did makes sense. Likely they installed it to prevent a problem with the wiring to the inverter.

Why I asked...It's common for there to be a 'catastrophic fuse' at or very near the battery bank whose purpose it is to prevent a catastrophe should there be a direct short somewhere. Rather than having a battery cable melt down or get hot enough to start a fire (or the battery explode) the catastrophic fuse cuts power. Very common on lithium battery installs, less so on lead acid systems.

If this was on the inverter circuit then it likely is sized just for that circuit and what you did seems appropriate. If you switch to lithium batteries at some point you can certainly add an appropriate system-wide fuse then.
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Old 06-25-2023, 06:53 AM   #5
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A very timely post for me as Iím about to install the same. Jeffmc306, CamperKC and NRYN have been a valuable resource for me in this process to help me know what I did not previously know. I have gone thru the same exact issues / questions as you. I hope my final result looks as good as yours.

I have the waterproof shunt so I going to try and squeeze everything in there. I purchased an exterior box but it seems a little on the large size.

I had one question. On all these installs I never see anyone putting any insulation covering over the positive terminals on their lithium batteries. I see protection over the buss bar but never on the terminals. Is there a reason why not?
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Old 06-25-2023, 06:58 AM   #6
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One last comment. I missed that I donít see a hold down for your batteries. Maybe it was added laster. If not, I donít think you want those batteries bouncing up and down with exposed positive terminals.

I talked to a SOB caravan leader that had a fire result from that traveling on bumpy roads in Newfoundland, CA
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Old 06-25-2023, 07:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GOUSC View Post
One last comment. I missed that I donít see a hold down for your batteries. Maybe it was added laster. If not, I donít think you want those batteries bouncing up and down with exposed positive terminals.

I talked to a SOB caravan leader that had a fire result from that traveling on bumpy roads in Newfoundland, CA
The hold-down was re-installed after the photos were taken. I too was surprised how many of the terminals were left unprotected; the automotive store I used actually gave me free covers for the battery terminals as they throw them awayóI have ordered boots for the remaining 3/8Ē terminals.
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Old 06-25-2023, 07:54 AM   #8
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I will add that one reason for choosing to go with an external box came from a lot of observations regarding how the battery box (not to mention the Airstream itself!) can act to limit the Bluetooth signal, which is weak to begin withÖ.ícourse the external box could do that too, but at least its plastic! I let the system settle for the last few days and will start today to initialize the shunt and test to see how far the signal carries.

Good luck with your install! I gave myself plenty of time and never found myself cursing at the thing! Oh and arm yourself with some sort of retrieval tool for the bits that will inevitably fall into to the bottom of the battery box!!
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Old 06-25-2023, 09:16 AM   #9
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Nice job: My main point is pos+ on most pos+ battery and neg- on most neg- battery i.e. most + is lead to +bus bar on one battery and the most - is on the other battery and where it connects to neg bus via shunt. Not on same battery. This allows correct charge of both batteries as the current flows thru both in and out.
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Old 06-25-2023, 09:30 AM   #10
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Nice job!

Renault4, nice write-up and completed work on your shunt install! As GOUSC mentioned, I did the same several years ago and was very happy with the results.

Projects like this are great learning experiences and I encourage everyone to try. You did your research and planned how to accomplish your goal.

BTW, this spring I replaced our AGM batteries, inverter and converter with a BattleBorn GC3 and Victron MultiPlus II setup. Lots of research but experience gained on the shunt project gave me the courage to tackle it.

Nice work!
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Old 06-25-2023, 10:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by richard5933 View Post
If it was on the inverter cable then what you did makes sense. Likely they installed it to prevent a problem with the wiring to the inverter.

Why I asked...It's common for there to be a 'catastrophic fuse' at or very near the battery bank whose purpose it is to prevent a catastrophe should there be a direct short somewhere. Rather than having a battery cable melt down or get hot enough to start a fire (or the battery explode) the catastrophic fuse cuts power. Very common on lithium battery installs, less so on lead acid systems.

If this was on the inverter circuit then it likely is sized just for that circuit and what you did seems appropriate. If you switch to lithium batteries at some point you can certainly add an appropriate system-wide fuse then.
I checked the wiring diagrams in the user manual; it shows a 100A fuse on the converter and a 50A fuse on the positive main line--there's no sign of a 50A in-line fuse in the battery box, I'm guessing it could be in the wiring rats nest under the driver's side dinette seat.
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Old 06-25-2023, 10:18 AM   #12
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Nicely done! I think you will feel much better being able to monitor things.
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Old 06-26-2023, 06:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by wanatrail View Post
Nice job: My main point is pos+ on most pos+ battery and neg- on most neg- battery i.e. most + is lead to +bus bar on one battery and the most - is on the other battery and where it connects to neg bus via shunt. Not on same battery. This allows correct charge of both batteries as the current flows thru both in and out.
Can I ask clarification on what you are saying? Are you saying that if you use a buss bar for positive and negative that you make sure the connection to the buss bar to the positive comes from one battery and the connection to the negative buss bar comes from the other battery? If so, it looks like the OP did this. Is that righr?

Iím getting ready to do mine later this week and was not going to use a positive bus bar so I donít think this would apply to my install.
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Old 06-26-2023, 07:33 AM   #14
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...make sure the connection to the buss bar to the positive comes from one battery and the connection to the negative buss bar comes from the other battery?...
That is correct, except that the connection to the negative bus bar will first go to the shunt then the bus bar.
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Old 06-26-2023, 09:41 AM   #15
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So far, so good!

Sort of like a SpaceX static fire test, with the airstream parked in our driveway I unplugged life support (a 30A circuit in our garage) at around 7pm last night, and with just the refrigerator running set at about a 2 on a scale of 0-6, the SOC registered 89% at around 7 this morningónot too shabby!

We have pretty good sun exposure, so now I get to watch how the single 100W solar panel performs in recharging the battery over the course of the day.

While Iíd love to have been able to sit on my front porch with a glass of wine all the while watching the VictronConnect app, the Bluetooth signal is not strong enough to support that particular level of decadence! Instead, one needs to be within 10-20 feet of the shunt to connect. The good news is that the connection was fine everywhere inside the airstream, so thatís good enough for me!

Iím still learning how to useóand more importantly interpret the data supplied byóthe app, but it is clearly leagues ahead of repeatedly pressing the BATT button inside the Airstream!

So far, our general style of camping has been to head to a destination that has shore power, but use boondocking sites like Harvest Hosts along the way, usually limiting our dayís drive to ~300 miles. My guess already is that the real test will be how well the battery bank gets charged when moving from site to site.
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Old 06-26-2023, 10:53 AM   #16
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Great job, especially the thought process that led to consolidating power leads to bus bars. It surprises me that trailer makers don't at least plan ahead for owners to add battery monitors. Thank you for the clear narrative on the why's and wherefore's. That will certainly help the rest of us.
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Old 06-26-2023, 11:05 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renault4 View Post
Sort of like a SpaceX static fire test, with the airstream parked in our driveway I unplugged life support (a 30A circuit in our garage) at around 7pm last night, and with just the refrigerator running set at about a 2 on a scale of 0-6, the SOC registered 89% at around 7 this morningónot too shabby!

We have pretty good sun exposure, so now I get to watch how the single 100W solar panel performs in recharging the battery over the course of the day.

While Iíd love to have been able to sit on my front porch with a glass of wine all the while watching the VictronConnect app, the Bluetooth signal is not strong enough to support that particular level of decadence! Instead, one needs to be within 10-20 feet of the shunt to connect. The good news is that the connection was fine everywhere inside the airstream, so thatís good enough for me!

Iím still learning how to useóand more importantly interpret the data supplied byóthe app, but it is clearly leagues ahead of repeatedly pressing the BATT button inside the Airstream!

So far, our general style of camping has been to head to a destination that has shore power, but use boondocking sites like Harvest Hosts along the way, usually limiting our dayís drive to ~300 miles. My guess already is that the real test will be how well the battery bank gets charged when moving from site to site.
Whoa, 100% SOC by 11am? I suppose it didnít have that far to go, but thatís not unimpressive! Nonetheless the retired scientist in me will need to repeat the experiment!
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Old 06-27-2023, 08:26 PM   #18
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Check my settings?

All going well so far, however could someone check the settings I entered into the connect app? Itís for a pair of Interstate deep cycle marine lead-acid batteries rated at 81Ah each.
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Old 06-27-2023, 11:38 PM   #19
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Double check your charged voltage - it seems too low considering that 13.2v is a float charge voltage.
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Old 06-28-2023, 12:17 AM   #20
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Double check your charged voltage - it seems too low considering that 13.2v is a float charge voltage.
Thanks, I think I just followed the recommended setting for lead-acid batteries in the Victron Manual; where else might I look? The Interstate documentation doesnít help, maybe the converter manual?
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