RV batteries are an important part of the RV lifestyle, particularly for those of us who want constant access to electronics.
However, RV batteries may also power lights, refrigeration, heat, water pumps, and other conveniences that we’ve all come to expect from RV living.
The RV battery monitor is one component of an RV battery system that is sometimes disregarded yet is vital.
We’re going to take a closer look at this crucial piece of electrical equipment today.
The most crucial elements of an RV battery monitor will be discussed, as well as why the monitor is such a vital component of the system.
What Is an RV Battery Monitor and How Does It Work?
While camping, the majority of RVers and campers demand some form of electricity.
Depending on the size and kind of RV you have, as well as the amperage available at the campground, your access to electricity may be nearly endless while you’re parked at a campsite with shore power.
However, while boondocking, like we do, you’ll need a mechanism to store energy for later use, which is where RV batteries come in.
While driving and, of course, while linked to shore power, your battery bank will most likely be charged.
You may also have a solar array, like we have, that allows you to use the sun’s incredible power to charge your batteries.
When you’re camping off the grid, you’ll utilize the electricity you’ve stored in the battery bank.
Most RVers, in some form or another, store electricity in a battery bank.
This “bank” might be anything from a single battery to a group of batteries to a large-capacity lithium home battery like the one Xantrex offers.
The electricity produced by the huge solar array on the top of our RV is stored in our Xantrex Freedom eGEN Lithium Battery.
But how can you know how much power you’ve used and how much is remaining in your home battery bank? How do you maintain track of the status of your battery bank so that you don’t run them down to the point where they’re damaged?
The RV battery monitor comes in handy in this situation.
Unfortunately, many RVs aren’t equipped with a reliable RV battery monitor, so you may need to install one yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
Let’s look at why a battery monitor for an RV is so crucial.
Why Do I Need a Battery Monitor for My RV?
Your RV has a fuel gauge, which tells you how much gasoline is left in the tank and how far you can drive before running out of petrol and being stranded.
When the fuel gauge starts to display a low level, it’s time to turn into a gas station and replenish.
An RV battery monitor will provide you with comparable data on the state of your battery bank.
It indicates how much power you have left until you run out.
Perhaps more crucially, it alerts you when your batteries are nearing a point when they are at risk of being damaged (lead-acid batteries in especially), reducing their lifetime.
As a result, you must always be aware of the status of charge of your batteries – not just to avoid running out of power, but also to maintain and extend the life of your batteries by monitoring current and charge levels.
Knowing the status of charge of your batteries at all times not only helps you avoid running out of power, but it also helps to keep your batteries healthy.
What Should I Look For In A Battery Monitor For My RV?
A high-quality RV battery monitor should include a number of vital characteristics.
Let’s go through each of those features one by one, and then we’ll name a few monitors that have all of the qualities we’ve mentioned.
Is The Monitor Providing You With All Of The Information You Require?
The ability to deliver crucial battery system information is one of the most significant aspects of a competent RV battery monitor.
This would contain information such as the amount of energy used to charge your batteries and the amount of energy utilized at any given moment.
This data should be reported in Watts (power) and Amps (current) (current).
You’ll also want the monitor to display the percentage of total battery capacity left in real time, as well as the amount of time till your battery runs out (and, conversely, how much time remains before your battery is fully charged).
Many RV “battery monitors” that are fitted by the manufacturer are notoriously wrong in this regard, displaying basic LED lights that indicate battery charge in 25 percent or 33 percent increments (for example, E, 14, 12, 34%, F or E, 13, 23%, F).
Is It Simple To Read And Use The Display?
An RV battery monitor, like any other form of monitor, should be simple to read and comprehend.
Some LED displays have a reputation for being difficult to read.
You’ll be able to look at your battery monitor and see precisely what’s going on with your battery bank if you have a nice display.
This implies that the screen is simple to see in the daytime or at night, and that the information is presented in a straightforward manner.
In daytime or at night, a good display is simple to see and provides vital information at a glance.
Is a Shunt Included with the Battery Monitor?
A shunt is an essential part of an RV battery monitor.
When a shunt is attached to a negative battery cable, it monitors the energy going into and out of the battery and sends the data to the monitor, which displays the data in real time.
To give correct information about the health of your battery bank, all electricity entering and exiting the battery bank must pass via the shunt.
Essentially, the monitor uses data from the shunt to estimate how much power you’re using (power that’s being drawn from the battery bank) and how much the battery is charging (power going into the battery bank).
This information enables the level of charge of the battery bank to be computed, eventually revealing the percentage of power left for your usage.
Is There A Way To Set Up Alerts And Event Triggers On The Monitor?
The information given by an RV battery monitor is important since it allows us to take proper action when required.
As a result, a battery monitor that sends notifications to tell you of significant battery status changes is also beneficial.
If you have a battery monitor that sends alerts to your phone, for example, you may be notified when critical battery capacity levels, voltage, current draw, and temperature readings are approaching.
Case triggers are also a crucial component of a battery monitor since they enable you to configure your monitor to do a certain action in the occurrence of a specific event.
You might, for example, set your RV battery monitor to turn on your generator when your battery level reaches 50%.
You might also configure it to switch off the generator after the batteries have been charged to a preset level in the battery monitor.
Alerts and triggers are obviously crucial components of a decent RV battery monitor, particularly because you aren’t constantly inside your rig to check the state of your RV battery bank.
You can configure alerts and triggers for certain occurrences with a reliable RV battery monitor.
If your battery bank reaches a pre-programmed level, for example, your battery monitor may activate your generator.
Is the Monitor’s Firmware Upgradeable for Longevity?
An RV battery monitor includes software that acts as a command center for the system.
Firmware is software that is incorporated in hardware like this.
The manufacturer may need to upgrade the firmware of your battery monitor system from time to time to keep up with technological advancements.
When shopping for a battery monitor, make sure the firmware is upgradable (via WiFi or Bluetooth) so you can benefit from technological advancements without having to buy a new battery monitor.
What Are Some of the Most Popular RV Battery Monitors That Include These Features?
The five battery monitoring systems listed below meet all of the requirements listed above.
These systems’ ability to reliably provide all of these features is undoubtedly why they’re five of the most popular RV battery monitors on the market.
We’ll go over the features of each one in greater depth in a future post.
- Xantrex LinkPRO
- Xantrex LinkLITE
- Victron BMV-712
- Victron SmartShunt
- Simarine Pico One
Each of these battery monitors will give you everything you need to know about the status and health of your battery bank/electrical system, as well as a lot more.
An RV Battery Monitor Is An Important Component Of An RV Electrical System
Regardless of the type of battery monitor you may be interested in using, a high-quality RV battery monitor is a very important part of your RV’s electrical system.
Without it, you have no accurate gauge of the condition of your battery bank.