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Battery Monitors

Mar 20, 2007
500
Catalina 355 Kilmarnock, VA
Hi MS - buying and soon upgrading a new-to-me C355. First project will be to add a battery monitor. I had a BEP in my last boat, and liked the bilge pump monitoring feature. The Blue Sea unit seems to be the only one that has this feature now that BEP discontinued their product, as well as the ability to monitor multiple tank levels. Do you have any thoughts/experience with the Blue Sea monitor? I know you sell the Victron, which seems to be a better value than the LinkPro. Recommendations?
 

4arch

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Jun 29, 2010
92
Beneteau Oceanis 400 Baltimore
Victron is apparently discontinuing the BMV-600s battery monitor and releasing a new 700 series in its place this spring. I found one vendor (not sure if I’m allowed to state the name, but can be found with a search engine) selling the 600s on clearance for just a little over $100. I definitely couldn’t pass it up.
 
Sep 28, 2008
922
Canadian Sailcraft CS27 Victoria B.C.
It's not inexpensive and doesn't monitor bilge pumps or tank levels but I am intrigued by the Smartgauge distributed by Balmar. It was designed and is marketed in the UK. The claim is that it gets more accurate with time as opposed to the increasing inaccuracy of monitors like the Link series or Victron. It doesn't use a shunt like the others.

http://www.balmar.net/smartgauge.html
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,454
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
It's not inexpensive and doesn't monitor bilge pumps or tank levels but I am intrigued by the Smartgauge distributed by Balmar. It was designed and is marketed in the UK. The claim is that it gets more accurate with time as opposed to the increasing inaccuracy of monitors like the Link series or Victron. It doesn't use a shunt like the others.

http://www.balmar.net/smartgauge.html
I just spent nearly four months testing the Smart Gauge. It really is quite simple and IT WORKS.... Expensive, yes but literally plug & play & removes all the programming and wiring blunders that often trip up standard BM users.

Unlike a typical Coulomb/Ah counter it does not need you to constantly try and figure out your new Ah capacity based on age and use. It does all this for you and presents you with a simple SOC read out.

I will be publishing an article soon on the Smart Gauge and the test procedures. Suffice it to say I wish we had this tool 30 years ago!!

Why I like it:

*Much easier to wire
*Much easier to use
*Much easier to track actual SOC as batteries age
*Virtually no programming (select battery type, that's it)
*No shut to install or trip up users down the road (should have seen the boat I worked on yesterday)

What I don't like:

*No ammeter to see how solar or other devices are performing



I tested with GEL, AGM, FLA & LiFePO4 batteries. It does not work on LiFePO4, very flat voltage curve, but it works extremely well on all the others. I also tested both new and used batteries... On some batteries it took me three capacity tests, to 10.5V, to find the "current" 20 hour capacity for the Ah counters. Only later did I realize the SG was already accurate by the second cycle...

Within a few cycles the Smart Gauge was as spot on as can be expected, for an inexact science...

I honestly think that for most boaters, who want to know this stuff, this is the new "best" tool for tracking SOC.... In the whole scheme of things the price is cheap compared to toasting an AGM or GEL bank.....
 
Nov 14, 2013
200
Catalina 50 Seattle
Call me skeptical, but Balmar generally doesn't put their name on stuff that isn't worthy and your opinion counts for a lot too. Looking forward to the article.

Another company I like is PYI (PSS dripless seal, MaxProp, etc.) but they're selling this ultrasonic hull transducer that's supposed to prevent fouling and I'm having a hard time accepting its legitimacy. I'd love to see an evaluation of that one.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,454
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Call me skeptical, but Balmar generally doesn't put their name on stuff that isn't worthy and your opinion counts for a lot too. Looking forward to the article.

Another company I like is PYI (PSS dripless seal, MaxProp, etc.) but they're selling this ultrasonic hull transducer that's supposed to prevent fouling and I'm having a hard time accepting its legitimacy. I'd love to see an evaluation of that one.
I am really, really skeptical of this sort of "voltage tracking" for SOC sort of thing and this is why I spent four months testing it and comparing it to Ah counters such as the Victron BMV-600/602 and a Bogart Engineering Penta Metric.

It is not just me who likes this product Enersys, the makers of Odyssey TPPL AGM's and inventors of the Optima orbital AGM's, tested these for their military division because they found Ah counters in military applications were unreliable and prone to user error.

They conducted their own in-house testing and I was able to get a hold of the white paper, from an inside connection at Enersys. I can't reproduce it but I will cut and paste some blurbs when I publish my article.
 
Sep 28, 2008
922
Canadian Sailcraft CS27 Victoria B.C.
Thanks Maine

I suspected as much, that's why I ordered the only Smartgauge our distributor (Payne's) had in Western Canada a few weeks ago. If I didn't have a Link 10 I would buy it myself - still might. It will be interesting to see how it does in the market.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,454
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Thanks Maine

I suspected as much, that's why I ordered the only Smartgauge our distributor (Payne's) had in Western Canada a few weeks ago. If I didn't have a Link 10 I would buy it myself - still might. It will be interesting to see how it does in the market.
For yourself it would be a good addition to your boat but I would not advise adding one for a customer who already has an Ah counter as it will lead to confusion. Once batteries age, heck even when new and not yet broken in, your programmed Ah capacity rarely if ever lines up exactly, but after a few cycles the Smart Gauge is quite accurate...

I was shocked to see how many cycles it took to properly calibrate my Ah counters for testing purposes. This is not something an owner would need to fret over but when trying to get baselines etc. finding a new or current condition Ah capacity was a job....

For the last four weeks I have been experimenting with very low parasitic draws that are tough to read accurately with a 500A shunt. These parasitic draws are so low, hundredths of an amp, the BM has a tough time tracking it... The battery very slowly discharges. The Smart Gauge has had no problems tracking this and being accurate..
 
Sep 28, 2008
922
Canadian Sailcraft CS27 Victoria B.C.
I agree. I wouldn't recommend anyone use 2 different types of monitor together. Might be interesting to compare though. If I get a Smartgauge I would eliminate the Link eventually.

Look forward to your written review.