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Old 04-29-2016, 10:47 AM   #1
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Power Monitor

I want to get a better handle on my power usage while boondocking, and was looking for a good way to monitor my power consumption.

I'd like to use something like the Powerwerx inline meter (https://powerwerx.com/watt-meter-ana...e-dc-bare-wire), but if I had that inline from the battery to the converter, it wouldn't like it when I'm on AC and the converter charges the battery. According to Powerwerx, that would damage the meter.

Does anyone know of a good monitor that I could leave in all the time, preferably some sort of panel mount?

Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:06 AM   #2
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I would recommend:


Trimetric TM-2030-RV Battery Monitor System
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by bensinc View Post
I want to get a better handle on my power usage while boondocking, and was looking for a good way to monitor my power consumption....Thanks!
Without a doubt, the Trimetric 2030-RV is excellent. Leave it in all the time and it will tell you more than you want to know.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:21 AM   #4
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Those Trimetric monitors are nice, but for a tiny a-frame that boondocks only twice a year, $155 seems a bit much.

I may just wire in the Powerwerx monitor with powerpoles and take it out when I'm on AC.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:30 PM   #5
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What does the "equalize" mean?


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Old 04-29-2016, 12:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bensinc View Post
Those Trimetric monitors are nice, but for a tiny a-frame that boondocks only twice a year, $155 seems a bit much.
If you don't have an inverter, the Powerwerx should work fine for you. It measures many of the same parameters that the Trimetric does and as long as you never go above 130 amps you should be fine. It does reset your AH parameters if you remove power so if you put it at the battery you should be fine. That way it will always be powered.

It will not measure current in both directions, however, so you will not see your battery charge back up from the converter. Not clear if it will allow that reverse current, just not measure it. They do show a diagram that will allow you to see your battery charge, but to do it you have to reverse the installation...and then it will not show discharge.

Perhaps the best way is to wire it in so that it doesn't see the charge current which may or may not be possible with your specific TT wiring.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:45 PM   #7
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What does the "equalize" mean?
A 12 volt battery is made up of 6 separate cells in series. When you charge it the current reverses the chemical reaction that created the power and the liquid electrolyte becomes re-concentrated as the battery charges. You can measure the state of the electrolyte with a hydrometer if you want.

Even though all the cells are in the same battery, there is a finite probability that after time, the charge state of each cell will not be identical since each has its own specific characteristics and each has only seen exactly the same current flow from the charger. Most battery manufacturers recommend that if the specific gravity of the cells becomes different over time, you should charge the battery with a significantly higher voltage to "equalize" the state of the electrolyte in every cell. This voltage is closer to 15 volts or more and when you do this you will boil off some of the electrolyte but you will bring all the cells back to exactly the same state of charge.

Unfortunately this voltage may bother some of the devices in your TT and you need to disconnect the battery and make sure that it doesn't overheat. I would bet that most of us never do this.
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:25 PM   #8
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I don't use an inverter, so I'll be well under the 130amps! I mainly want to just see what I'm using, so just making it something I can connect quickly when boondocking might be the way to go.

I'll have to check the wiring, but I believe I don't have a way to wire it without it seeing the charge current.

I asked Powerwerx about charging, and they said it would damage the monitor.

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottBrownstein View Post
If you don't have an inverter, the Powerwerx should work fine for you. It measures many of the same parameters that the Trimetric does and as long as you never go above 130 amps you should be fine. It does reset your AH parameters if you remove power so if you put it at the battery you should be fine. That way it will always be powered.

It will not measure current in both directions, however, so you will not see your battery charge back up from the converter. Not clear if it will allow that reverse current, just not measure it. They do show a diagram that will allow you to see your battery charge, but to do it you have to reverse the installation...and then it will not show discharge.

Perhaps the best way is to wire it in so that it doesn't see the charge current which may or may not be possible with your specific TT wiring.
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Old 04-29-2016, 04:51 PM   #9
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If you are not going to use a Trimetric (or similar), a voltmeter will give you a reasonable idea of what your batteries are doing. The standard installed 12V loads on an A-frame are pretty small - the heater fan and vent fan being the 2 biggest that are on for any length of time. When not plugged in, the 12V loads are generally less than 5 amps at any given time. Therefore, the 12V system voltage is going to be a decent representation of the battery bank SOC. You can measure voltage with a portable voltmeter at the battery, or permanently install one inside the camper or on the battery box. Ideally, put a switch or push button on the permanent voltmeter so it doesn't add any load when you are not looking at it. Should cost less than $20.


The voltmeter will also tell you what mode the converter is charging in when you are plugged in.


We added a second battery (upgraded last year to 2 Interstate GC2 6V golf cart batteries - $150 for both at Costco) to carry us with reasonable use (5 hrs per night) of the heater for 4 nights without recharging or worrying about the batteries.


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Old 04-30-2016, 07:45 PM   #10
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