Battery "Fuel Guage"

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RoySalisbury
RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
I'd like to be able to monitor my battery bank charge level (is it low, fully charged, over charged, ect). I currently have an Outback FM 60 charge controller and it displays the battery voltage but not the amps. I have read that you can determine the charge of a battery based on its voltage but only after it has been idle for about 2 or 3 hours.

Is there anyway that I can get an instant "fuel guage" type reading (either directly or calculated) from the charge controller. If so, how. And if not then what would be the recmoended hardware that would allow me to get this information? I would prefer something that I could interface with my computer (like the Outback Mate for the charge controller).

Thanks!

Roy

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  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    You probably already know that Voltage is a less-than-perfect measure of battery power.

    What you want is a battery monitor. Take a look here:
    http://store.solar-electric.com/metersmonitors.html

    More money, but the most accurate way to keep track of your batteries' SOC aside from SG readings.
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Outback has the FlexNet series battery monitor that interfaces with your FM xx charge controller.

    I do not know anything more about the hardware...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    BB. wrote: »
    Outback has the FlexNet series battery monitor that interfaces with your FM xx charge controller.

    I do not know anything more about the hardware...

    -Bill

    Well for one thing it's the most expensive of those on the NAWS page. :cry:
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    You probably already know that Voltage is a less-than-perfect measure of battery power.

    What you want is a battery monitor. Take a look here:
    http://store.solar-electric.com/metersmonitors.html

    More money, but the most accurate way to keep track of your batteries' SOC aside from SG readings.

    Yes, I understand that voltage is less than perfect way, that is why I wanted to know what my other options might be. But at the very least, its possible. Only issue is the 2-3 hours at "idle" before measuring.. That is pretty much never going to happen in a live system.

    The meters that you suggest are nice, but I don't see anyway to interface them to my computer. That is what I really need (the site is remote so a physical meter only works if I am local).

    Roy
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Take a look at the Victron Battery Monitor--there is a computer interface option of some sort available.

    A couple people here have said nice things about their products.

    The Xantrex LinkPro also appears to have a Windows comm kit + software available too.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    BB. wrote: »
    Take a look at the Victron Battery Monitor--there is a computer interface option of some sort available.

    A couple people here have said nice things about their products.

    The Xantrex LinkPro also appears to have a Windows comm kit + software available too.

    -Bill

    OK.. I have looked over all 3 of the suggestions and here is what I have found.

    LinkPro - $239-$319
    LinkPro Comm Kit - $175

    Outback FlexNet - $322
    Outback Mate - $239

    Victoron BMV-602 - $252
    Data Link Kit - $??? (guessing $100)

    Plus whatever DC shunts I need.

    Since I already have (or have ordered anyway) the Outback Mate, the logic (and cost effective) choice is the Outback FlexNet.

    So, can anyone tell me what shunts I need for the Outback FlexNet (and whatever it monitors) to hook into my 420a 24v battery bank and my Outback FM60?

    Man this stuff gets expensive! Perhaps once I get all the software written I can sell it to offset the costs a bit. :)

    Roy
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Flexnet specs: http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/wind-sun/flexnet-dc.pdf
    Uses up to 3 500 Amp 50mV shunts: http://store.solar-electric.com/mkb-500-50.html
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Thanks. Was not sure if it was the 250 or the 500.

    I also just noticed that I would ALSO need a hub for the outback devices (the mate does not connect connect directly to the Flexnet. What a racket they have going).

    Roy
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Yup. If you want two or more OB units to talk to each other ... it's hub time!
    Great equipment - but pricey. :grr
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    Roy, how do you propose to 'monitor' the output remotely?

    EJ
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    Yup. If you want two or more OB units to talk to each other ... it's hub time!
    Great equipment - but pricey. :grr


    Yes.. it is at that.

    Thanks for all the help.. I have ordered the Outback FlexNet, a 4 port Hub, and 3 of the 500 amp shunts (figured I might as well get them all at once to avoid the shipping costs when I need them in a month or two).

    Hopefully it solves my monitoring issues with the whole system now.

    Roy
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    westbranch wrote: »
    Roy, how do you propose to 'monitor' the output remotely?

    EJ

    I have a PC running at the location that has a cellular connection. That PC talks to my weather station, security systems/camera and also will be talking to the Outback Mate. That PC sends the information over the cellular connection (internet) to my home server which stores it all in a database. That allows my applications (web pages, windows/mac apps) to query the data and display the information.

    Roy
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,439 admin
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"

    You might also try a PM to TallGirl--She sells software (and hardware?) for communications solutions.
    Julie in Texas greenMonitor(tm) for OutBack Power Systems from greenHouse Computers. Now available on your phone, too.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RoySalisbury
    RoySalisbury Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery "Fuel Guage"
    BB. wrote: »
    You might also try a PM to TallGirl--She sells software (and hardware?) for communications solutions.



    -Bill

    Someone else recommended her as well (my first inquiry into how to monitor the battery). I've looked at her site and she has what I would need, but most of the software will be custom for my whole building (its an observatory for my telescope), so its not going to be that hard to add in the Outback mate communications to my weather and security software that I wrote.

    Roy