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post #241 of 281 Old 06-09-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

Weird twist from folks who don’t want to discuss the subject of the OP, huh.

Waited for the SG to read 69%, and voltage now reads 12.5v under load. The battery monitor says we’ve used 71 amps and the bank should be at 82%. It took almost 24 hours of normal non-sailing usage (with just two of us aboard) to discharge to this point.

I turned the charger back on in Bulk and it began accepting 80 charging amps, into the batteries. It only took 5 minutes to get to Absorb voltage and switch over. Still accepting 80 amps. The fast Bulk stage suggests to me that it was not down to 69%, as the SG thought. Note: this SG was booted up at the beginning of the season and has made at least a dozen cycles off the dock by now.

We’ll see what happens when charging flips to float, which I expect to take many hours.


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post #242 of 281 Old 06-09-2019
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

I just came across this device in another forum; https://www.amazon.com/LPHUS-Bluetoo...cm_wl_huc_item



For ~$31 it is about 1/10th the cost of a Smartgauge and it gives you much more information via BlueTooth.

From what I can read it reports SOC, Real-Time Battery Voltage and graph of BV over time, Real-Time Charging Status... The only drawbacks that I can see are that it reads 0.03V low in several YouTube reviews, and does not understand batteries other than FLA.

Heck, I just ordered one.
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post #243 of 281 Old 06-09-2019
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

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Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
I just came across this device in another forum
Ö
From what I can read it reports SOC
I do not see how it can do that last, just reading voltage,

but it does look interesting and thanks for the link.
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

Why did you start the recharge at such a shallow DoD?

I thought the current hypothesis we're testing is, the SG is not learning well enough from your usual dockside usage pattern.

Making the goal now to manually control cycling to ensure the next 12-20 cycles go down to 50% or so, for enough deep cycles in a row for learning.

Just for testing the hypothesis, to get the SG tuned in, trying to get meaningful SoC numbers must require some "exercising".

Let the bank carry the loads without charge input until that point, then reconnect manually.

If you just keep doing what you've been doing, likely you'll just get the same results?
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
I just came across this device in another forum

From what I can read it reports SOC
I do not see how it can do that last, just reading voltage,

but it does look interesting and thanks for the link.
The SmartGauge also reports SOC based on voltage input and some internal black magic.


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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

Van Gogh and my kid's artwork are both paintings, it's those "extra little magic details" that make the results so very different.

If a voltmeter's all you want, can get a collection of dozens for that price, why waste your $30 on all that unit's bells and whistles?
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

John, Iíve already cycled the batteries down to near 50% more than once this season, which has me at this stage.

I decided I would recharge, when the SG said 70% (although the amp counter said 82% SOC). 24 hours with out recharging is a pretty normal cycle for us, so itís real life.

The verdict........ crap again.

Took the charger somewhere between 2 and 3 hours to get the bank back to accepting <2amp, ie 0.005c and switch to float. Whatís the SG say? 85%. Same as it was before I manually reset it to 100. It simply thinks Full is 85%.

I recall @Maine Sail talking about incredibly accurate bench testing. I wonder if itís ever really been tested well IRL, plugged into shore power most of the time in Float and cycles that rarely get all the way down to 50%. Thatís is, until now.


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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Van Gogh and my kid's artwork are both paintings, it's those "extra little magic details" that make the results so very different.

If a voltmeter's all you want, can get a collection of dozens for that price, why waste your $30 on all that unit's bells and whistles?
Both the device that I posted about above, and the SmartGauge use voltage as the only inputs to determine State Of Charge. SmartGauge has some special-proprietary-seceret sauce that makes it, and it alone, better?



Minne's and my experience with the SmartGauge show that we are not true connoisseurs of SOC gauges. In my case, I have become skeptical of the device. Several other posters here that have experience with the device seem to be of like mindset.



I will conceed that the SmartGauge has provisions for alternate battery chemistries, but the question raised by Minne in this thread is how accurate the magic inside the SmartGauge is at translating from the voltage input into SOC. After having a SmartGauge on my boat for the past five years I now have my doubts as well. In my experience the SOC seems to drop precipitously from the mid-90s to the mid-70s when I have applied little to no load (keeping my cellphone above 80% charge and powering an LED pilot light for about 2 hours) on my 220AH House bank.

For reference- my SmartGauge was installed with AWG 14 wire, and uses an ATC 3A fuse on each lead to the battery bank's positive lead. There are no shunts or inverters in my electrical system, and my boat spends most of the time in the summer on a mooring.

The BlueTooth device above graphs voltage over time which is something that the SmartGauge does not do. If I am understanding the directions, this doo-hickey also records up to 35 DAYS of information at 10mS intervals AND it makes this information available via BlueTooth, which means that I don't have to stop whatever it is that I am doing at any given time to push a button on the SmartGauge or mess with the probes on any of the several DVMs that I keep aboard.

The ability to graph battery voltage over time at the sampling interval will allow me to analyze; how powering my cellphone and the pilot light are really affecting the battery voltage over time, how running my 12VDC refrigeration impacts my battery bank voltage - that is when I choose to run it, how *exactly* my alternator's output (Leece-Neville 90A) affects my battery, and what happens to my battery when I am at anchor.

Your comment about my "wasting $30 on this unit's bells and whistles" makes me suspicious. What is YOUR connection in Balmar or SmartGauge? My relation to SG is that I am a customer, and I have helped sell a couple of them to my clients. Before I decided to purchase my SmartGauge I spent several hours reading everything at their UK website: SmartGauge Electronics - SmartGauge battery monitor

My experience is this: after I spent/invested/wasted $331 for a SmartGauge in April of 2014, I have never feelt "warm and fuzzy" about the SOC that the SG tells me that I have in my battery bank. I believe that the <$32 spend/investment/waste to record and analyze battery voltage history with this device is worth it to me. YMMV.


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Last edited by eherlihy; 06-09-2019 at 03:52 PM.
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

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Iíve already cycled the batteries down to near 50% more than once this season
I believe the SG may need in this case a dozen true deep cycles to complete its learning after your 100% calibration.

Ideally in a row, but at least within a few weeks if interspersed with your usual pattern barely-cycles.

Maybe more, possibly less, varies by all the factors unique to your setup. But "more than once" in a season, or anything like your usual automated patterns, IMO just won't cut it for learning purposes.

Once dialed in, then hopefully no need to worry about it.

Meantime ignore its readings, go off the Ah counter, voltage and your gut, but lower SoC the better each cycle.

48hrs, five days without charging whatever, or if you want put an intentional high load on to speed things up.

This is IRL testing, not of its usual accuracy, but for the purposes of facilitating its **learning** process.

Last edited by john61ct; 06-09-2019 at 04:17 PM.
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post #250 of 281 Old 06-09-2019
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Re: New Balmar SmartGuage experience

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Both the device that I posted about above, and the SmartGauge use voltage as the only inputs to determine State Of Charge. SmartGauge has some special-proprietary-seceret sauce that makes it, and it alone, better?
No Merlin's SG does not just use voltage.

As you say, secret and magic proprietary algorithms involving measuring changing impedance behaviour compared to SoC/voltage changes, comparing against an internal database of known behaviours, takes time to learn, maybe some bayesian neural net / fuzzy logic stuff.

"AC impedance spectrography" is in the ballpark maybe?

Anyway, no not just voltage. Just because we don't know or understand its algorithms, "secret and magic" to me is accurate, does not mean they don't work.

And no not unique, Balmar calls it "Active Impedance Compensation" and in their SG-200 combines that data with old-school Ah counting, but as other quality BMs like Victron, Mastervolt and Xantrex do, not like the $30 varieties (another option unrelated to your voltage logger)


> Your comment about my "wasting $30 on this unit's bells and whistles" makes me suspicious.

That was tongue in cheek, obviously $30 is pocket change. That voltage logging is indeed useful, but has nothing to do with getting an accurate objective SoC reading, more like additional data for using your intuition to do so. Not disparaging that approach either, but also not related to the goals of a proper BM.


Are you sure your SG is actually installed properly? Strictly complying with every detail of the manual's instructions is critical.

I would also parse this carefully https://marinehowto.com/smartgauge-b...nitoring-unit/

Last edited by john61ct; 06-09-2019 at 04:21 PM.
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