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Balmar’s new Battery Monitor

May 10, 2008
381
Catalina 355 Boston
Went to the Newport Boat show yesterday and on the shopping list was a BM for a friend’s new boat.
At the Balmer booth we were introduced to Balmer’s new BM which is purported to be a combination of the best the SG offers along with Victron like information. After a lengthy conversation with Chris, he claims that Maine Sail has been testing this and is impressed.
We bought the unit and entered their early adopter program as it won’t be shipped for another month or so.
MS, would love your thoughts as we are about to enter guinea pig territory eyes wide open...
 
May 20, 2016
2,864
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
Glad I’ve put it off — does it have any connections for external systems?? Thinking N2K or 183 to connect to signal K
 
Oct 22, 2014
11,131
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
@LeslieTroyer Save the pennies for the Annapolis Boat Show. They will likely be there and we can spend some time. Maybe they can edumacate me as to how the balmer buddy is bolted on to my alternator. When I looked at it it appears backwards.
 
May 20, 2016
2,864
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
@LeslieTroyer Save the pennies for the Annapolis Boat Show. They will likely be there and we can spend some time. Maybe they can edumacate me as to how the balmer buddy is bolted on to my alternator. When I looked at it it appears backwards.
Thats the plan --be sure and take photos of your alternator tension arm to show them.
 
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Feb 6, 1998
11,094
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Yes, we have been in Alpha testing for while now, and as always, under a non-disclosure agreement. We are still working on FLA testing (new batteries right now) so no comments there just yet. This can take a while as flooded lead batteries really suck to test. We are currently on the second brand new flooded battery and as of yet we still can't get one to deliver on rated capacity.

We still can't actually disclose all that much about the SG-200. What has been most impressive, for me anyway, is the near pin point accuracy for LiFePO4. It honed in on the battery remarkable fast and did so within 4 cycles. Cycling LiFePO4 up and down it has honed in to within 1% - 2% on the accurate SOH of the battery as well as predicting SOC to within a +/- 1% - 2% accuracy.

I spent months and months testing existing Ah counters against LiFePO4 to get them to track well and they all failed rather grossly. I currently use a Link-Pro, on my own boat, but it really, really stinks at tracking LiFePO4 no matter what you do to it, programming wise. Tried the Victron too, same thing...

As of right now the Link-Pro requires a known-full recharge & reset about every 6-8 cycles, if you really want good accuracy, or every 10-20 to keep it close enough. This is just ridiculous because unlike lead, LFP never needs to get to 100% SOC. One of the production model SG-200's will be going on my own boat as soon as I can get my hands on one.

Keep in mind that the early adopter program is just that, you are in a beta testing category. I suspect this could even require shipments back for flashing revised software etc..

The SG-200 is not a typical Ah counter. In fact it won't tell you -Ah's discharged, and for good reason, Coulomb counting simply does not work very well for determining SOC. It does however give you an SOH calculation which leaves typical Ah counters in the rear view mirror..

Volts
Amps
SOH - State of Health
SOC - State of Charge
Time to Go at Current Load


The SOH feature is what puts the SG-200 in a field of its own. I suspect it is likely going to create some angry boat owners, when they realize how short their battery life really is, as well as possible back-peddling by battery makers.

The LiFePO4 packs I've tested the SG-200 against were all within 1% - 2% accuracy for state of health (usually closer to the 1% end)!

For example a 100Ah pack that had been over absorbed and floated, things you just don't do with LiFePO4, was tested at an 87.7% actual SOH after about 200 (abused) cycles by the owner.

Upon connecting the 87.7% SOH LiFePO4 pack to the SG-200 it immediately calculated for 92% SOH, not too bad! This is within a 5% accuracy simply upon connection...

Cycle #2 it calculated 90% SOH
Cycle #3 it calculated 89% SOH
Cycle #4 it calculated 88% SOH and remained within 1% SOH accuracy through the remainder of testing

Cycle #3 LiFePO4 = Actual SOH 87.7% - SG-200 SOH 89%
 
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May 10, 2008
381
Catalina 355 Boston
Thanks MS! We were well aware for what we were signing up for and had a very lengthy discussion with the Product Manager on what to expect. He will try (no promises) to provide us with a functional version of the App, which would allow us to flash in the field. Current version is pretty unstable.
Needless to say we were pretty impressed with the potential for this and when he mentioned you were alpha testing, we decided that your involvement and Balmar’s reputation was worth the risk.
The reason you don’t see the product in their catalogue (or anywhere else) is because it is not shipping yet and the outcome of the early adopter program will dictate availability.
We also did purchase the their External regulator converter kit, which will NOT work on the Hitachi type IR alternators, just on the IR Valeo Alts that Yanmar has been shipping (120A) since 2012.

For those of you going to Annapolis, you will have a chance to see the SG200 and buy as an Early Adopter. We were impressed!
 
Mar 20, 2004
1,556
Hunter 356 and 216 Portland, ME
bigger question - it it round like in the picture above? What do I do with the large rectangular hole I now have from the SG?
 
Nov 14, 2013
178
Catalina 50 Seattle
Ah, didn't spot it in the photo at first. It definitely looks better than the SG and hopefully sized to go in the hole for a Link 10.
 
Sep 25, 2018
5
Camper Nicolson 44 Ketch Gossamer Cambridge, MD
Hi folks, Chris here, I am the Product Manager for the SG200. I will try and answer some of the questions posted here, and perhaps a few clarifications.

We had a soft launch of the SG200 in Newport, where we took orders for an initial limited release of the product, to correspond with the first, limited production run in manufacturing. Although this period is technically our beta phase, the product is pretty mature at this point. We just want to get more use cases and feedback from a broader range of users before we go into full production. We expect these first units to ship sometime shortly after the Annapolis Boat Show.

The upside of this to these first owners is that they will receive a free Bluetooth gateway for the product when that ships, which should be sometime around the 1st of the year. The hardware is done, we are just tweaking the gateway software and the app software for iPhone and Android.

We have an adapter plate to cover up the Smartgauge hole, not pricing and availability yet, but not too expensive. It is a nice black metal plate.

The display is a 2" round gauge (standard in the industry, will fit the hole of other battery monitors out there) that is color, sunlight readable.

There is no external data communication yet, but the design allows for that and we expect it in the future. All of the brains are in the SmartShunt.
We will also be selling the unit though our distributor PKYS at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. You can see it, feel it and learn all about it then. We have not begun marketing it yet, in fact, this is the first public Post I have made about the product.

Chris
 

Gunni

.
Mar 16, 2010
5,943
Beneteau 411 Oceanis Annapolis
Can some please define SOH (State of Health)? I kinda like knowing my discharge Ah, let’s me observe device loads.
 
Sep 25, 2018
5
Camper Nicolson 44 Ketch Gossamer Cambridge, MD
Can some please define SOH (State of Health)? I kinda like knowing my discharge Ah, let’s me observe device loads.
Hi Gunni,

State of health is a percentage. It defines the percent of the original, design capacity, that is actually available. So if you have a 100ah battery, and due to aging it can only deliver 92ah, we would say that the SoH is 92%.

Also, the SG200 does show instantaneous current flow, just not a cumulative value.

Chris
 
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May 20, 2016
2,864
Catalina 36 MK1 94 Everett, WA
Wow the time left is a great feature for those of us lugging a Honda 2000 around to charge the house in the evening!!!
 
Nov 14, 2013
178
Catalina 50 Seattle
Thanks for chiming in, Chris. Quick question: can the SG200 handle two banks of different chemistries and voltages? In my case it would be a 24V AGM for the thruster and a 12V LiFePo house bank.
 
Sep 25, 2018
5
Camper Nicolson 44 Ketch Gossamer Cambridge, MD
Thanks for chiming in, Chris. Quick question: can the SG200 handle two banks of different chemistries and voltages? In my case it would be a 24V AGM for the thruster and a 12V LiFePo house bank.
IStream,

Yes, the SG200 can work with the setup you described. If you only wanted voltage of the thruster bank, then a single SmartShunt would be required, as each can report the voltage (only) of two auxiliary batteries. If you want to measure current and SoC, then you would need a second SmartShunt. Multiple SmartShunts can be monitored from a single display. Multiple displays are also supported.

Note that the SmartShunt needs to see charge and discharge to do it's work accurately. For this reason, it would not make sense to use the SmartShunt to monitor SoC etc for a starter battery, only ones that cycle.

Here is a link the the SG200 page from our website - it is not currently linked to from the site itself. Here you can find the SG200 specific pages from the catalog, as well as a link to the manual.

http://www.balmar.net/sg200-battery-monitor/

Chris