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Old 04-10-2015, 04:52 PM   #1
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Balmar Smart Gauge

I'm finalizing my inverter design and came across an article on Panbo about the Balmar Smart Gauge. It's an SOC meter. Unusual setup as it doesn't use a shunt and measure current draw , just the voltage. Supposedly extremely accurate and doesn't require calibration as your batteries age. I already purchased the Victron SOC but now am wondering if anyone has one of these installed Would like to get some feed real world feed back.
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Old 04-10-2015, 05:07 PM   #2
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I have one and I think all the claims are true.

Very hard to say without going through the same tests Maine Sail has.

Next year I'll know better as I am completely redoing my electrical system and feel I have a better way to wire the Balmar according to how I have my battery busses set up.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:15 PM   #3
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Care to elaborate on "better way'.
I'll be tearing out all the big stuff power wise to accommodate the inverter as I go from 2 - 8Ds up to a total of 5 batteries and all the new stuff to support them.
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:19 PM   #4
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It may be peculiar to my system and the way my house banks are wired...but I think I need to move the negative sense wire to the farthest negative post from the joint buss bars.

Just a guess..a little experimentation may be required...
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Old 04-10-2015, 06:25 PM   #5
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Here is an in depth enthusiastic review, the guy sells these, but his articles are usually honest.

Smart Gauge Battery Monitoring Unit Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Old 04-10-2015, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
Here is an in depth enthusiastic review, the guy sells these, but his articles are usually honest.

Smart Gauge Battery Monitoring Unit Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
His article convinced me last year...at the same time Active Captain had them on the weekly good deal promo with Defender....way below regular pricing...

Sorry Hopcar...jumped on it but should have taken the time to check with you.....it was a really low price though...
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
It may be peculiar to my system and the way my house banks are wired...but I think I need to move the negative sense wire to the farthest negative post from the joint buss bars.

Just a guess..a little experimentation may be required...
It makes sense what you say. You'd have to monitor and decide.
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Old 04-10-2015, 08:33 PM   #8
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Here is an in depth enthusiastic review, the guy sells these, but his articles are usually honest.

Smart Gauge Battery Monitoring Unit Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
I read this as well. That's what got me rethinking my position. Since I already have the shunt version I might install both as the Balmar doesn't provide realtime current draw and my existing ammeter won't give me the inverter consumption just house draw.
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Old 04-10-2015, 11:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbevins View Post
I already purchased the Victron SOC but now am wondering if anyone has one of these installed Would like to get some feed real world feed back.
I have both! The Victron gives me all the amp info...amps in/amps out/total amps consumed, etc. It also gives me a state of charge value but the instrument needs synched every so often. (Very easy to do.)

The Balmar Smart Gauge deals in volts only. Main battery bank & starter bank. It is extremely accurate & as previously noted, the older it gets, the more accurate it is!
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Old 04-11-2015, 12:32 AM   #10
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Here's some good reading from recent past threads that were directed to or morphed into discussions on the Balmar Smart Gauge. Hopefully Codger2 will chime in with his experience with an SOC meter and a Smart Gauge.

(Edit: There he is above! Hey Walt!)

Balmar Smartgauge: Replacement for Link 2000?

Battery monitor may have ruined my batteries

Electrical systems 101

Understanding my Battery Monitor
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:42 AM   #11
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Balmar Direct Batty Connection?

I've read about the Balmar monitor and like the KISS concept.
My question has to do w/ installation...
Instructions indicate connection must be made directly to the batty terminal - anyone done this w/ auto type terminals?
I have 2 8D battys w/ auto type posts and conventional clamp type terminals on main leads to batt selector switch.
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:01 AM   #12
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Bacchus:

Balmar wants you to connect directly to the battery terminals to avoid any problem with connecting downstream and having a voltage drop. I can think of a couple of ways to do it, one easy but not strictly to Balmar's specs and another more expensive:

Easy- Connect at the first downstream cable point, usually a 1,2,all switch for positive and at a ground buss for negative. This will result in minimal voltage drop. But if either is a long distance away and you sometimes draw big DC loads that cause a voltage drop even in big cable, it could introduce errors.

More expensive- Replace the clamp on terminals with lugs at the end of each cable. Then use a automotive clamp on terminal to lug terminal adapter available at WM and Defender, like this one- Ancor Lead Battery Terminal Set. A lot of work and expense, but it meets Balmar's installation criteria.

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Old 04-15-2015, 09:22 AM   #13
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David
I thought of the second suggestion but hesitate to get into the rewiring & $ req'd.
Another thought I had was to use a ring terminal and attach it to the clamp bolt...
Any thought +/- of that approach.

Thanks
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
Another thought I had was to use a ring terminal and attach it to the clamp bolt...
Any thought +/- of that approach.

Thanks
Why not? It's the simplest way..
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:13 AM   #15
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Using the terminal clamp bolt is a little kludgey, but since there is minimal current flowing (a few milliamps I would suspect) it should work fine.

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Old 04-15-2015, 02:32 PM   #16
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As long as it has good contact with the current carrying horseshoe of the clamp (in other words not between a nut and washer if any) that works fine. Put a multimeter there and directly on the battery post and you will get the same reading.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:05 AM   #17
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My earlier Installation question is a mute point... after further reading & contact w/ Balmar tech rep I find their unit will not work in my situation.

The Balmar unit requires isolation of the 2 batteries (banks) being monitored - and will not work on any system w/ a batt sel sw.

My system has 2 8D batt'ys wired through a sel sw and are used for both start & house.
I've considered combining these into one bank and realize there are some advantages to doing this but I don't want to give up the starting back-up...
Looks like I'll have to rethink the whole system before going to a monitor.
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Old 04-16-2015, 08:49 AM   #18
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If one's battery bank is weak and won't hold a charge very well, will that affect the Balmar regulator operation?

Reason I ask is because I was seeing
low voltages of about 13v coming out of the regulator while underway, and at the end of 8-10 hours of running the batteries were all but depleted.

I always started out with a full charge after being plugged into shore power all night with the battery charger running. . Just wondering if weak batteries could somehow trick the regulator into a float charge scenario somehow?
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Old 04-16-2015, 09:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
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If one's battery bank is weak and won't hold a charge very well, will that affect the Balmar regulator operation?
Note - above thread is re: the Balmar Smartgauge - battery monitor.

There is another thread re: Balmar Regulator Settings
You might find some regulator users there that have more experience w/ their regulators.

If not I got a quick response from the Balmar Tech via email link on their site.
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Old 04-16-2015, 09:42 AM   #20
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Whoops! Thought that's where I was posting! Too may subscribed threads...

Thanks!
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