Boondocking or "dry camping" in an RV and not using a battery monitor is like driving a automobile and not using a gasoline gauge.
In the event you fill your tank up on a regular basis and by no means drive further than to the nook store, this strategy can work just fine. But when you will do any type of serious camping without electrical hookups or a day by day dose of generator, it is essential that you just preserve an in depth eye in your batteries. This is especially vital when relying on photo voltaic, because you will hardly ever know for sure what state of cost the sun has left you with.
Batteries will final longest if you by no means cycle them under 50% capacity, and going over 80% drained begins to noticeably damage even the very best "deep cycle" batteries. If you use the "lights are getting dimmer" method to tell that your batteries are running down, they may nearly actually be permanently dead within a year. Not good – notably should you’ve invested in expensive AGM batteries.
The simplest solution to keep watch over your batteries is by way of a voltage meter. A completely charged 12V battery will read 12.73 V, at 50% capability 12.10 remote ON/OFF
V, and when you've just 20% left (essential territory!) 11.66 V. The Oliver trailer includes a system status panel that will show you your battery voltage, and by keeping watch you may get a sense for the way you're doing.
However there's a BIG catch. To get an accurate and meaningful voltage reading, your batteries should have been sitting idle for at the least six hours, and preferably twenty four. Meaning no lights on, no charger related, no solar running – essentially no use whatsoever.
If the battery just isn't nicely rested, particularly if it is currently being used (even if just to power a light), the voltage reading goes to be off – and due to this fact practically useless.
Imagine if your automobile’s fuel gauge was only accurate after you had been pulled off the highway for six hours. That isn't particularly conducive to getting anywhere….
Consider the voltage meter to be essentially just a "guess gauge", and not a fuel gauge.
Specific Gravity Testing:
You can also very accurately test the state of cost of effectively rested flooded lead acid batteries by utilizing a hydrometer to measure the particular gravity of every particular person battery cell. But doing this entails sucking up battery acid right into a glass tube. Not fun, or typically practical.
In a automotive, this would be akin to pulling off the road, letting your engine cool, and then sticking a hose into your gas tank to see how much fuel remains. You really don’t want to be doing this. Trust me.
A real battery monitor works by measuring the current flowing into and out of your battery by way of a very accurate shunt. As soon as the monitor detects that your battery is full, it retains track of each amp of outflow, and it offers you a share remaining readout or a simple to read empty to full bar graph.
This at last gives you a usable "gasoline gauge" view of the sate of your batteries.
Battery displays aren't cheap, but they are price it. If you're actually going to be using your batteries for more than a day or two of disconnected camping, I consider a correct battery monitor to be essential equipment