Victron is known for its high-quality products in the off-grid and power management space. One area they particularly excel in is battery monitoring. Not knowing the true state of charge of your batteries can cause all kinds of problems with a power system.
That’s why getting a quality battery monitor is crucial, and there’s no better choice than a Victron battery monitor. But which one is right for you? Let’s explore the options.
What Is a Victron Battery Monitor?
To fully answer this question, let’s break things down to the basics. First, we’ll explore battery monitors.
As their name suggests, these devices help track how much energy remains in your batteries. But quality battery monitors do a lot more than just that. The most accurate varieties are installed via a shunt on the battery’s negative side, providing real-time voltage and current information. They can also provide information on the remaining time, voltage levels, and battery temperature.
Now to the Victron part. Victron is a Netherlands-based energy accessory company that offers some of the top battery monitors on the market. Operating since 1975, the company also manufactures high-quality inverters, battery management systems, solar charge controllers, and more. Victron became well known in the marine space for building high-quality electrical components that were reliable. Today, they offer a wide range of high-quality power products for those with off-grid and grid-tied power systems.
How Does a Battery Monitor Work?
A battery’s state of charge is not an actual measurement but a calculated one based on many different factors. Some battery monitors only use voltage to give you a battery charge reading. This is the least accurate type of monitor.
Others, like all of Victron’s offerings, use voltage and current to calculate the discharge and subtract it from the known capacity. This method can take into account the temperature, charge/discharge rate, chemistry, system losses, and more. This is a much more accurate way to calculate charge level, but can still be somewhat subjective depending on the programming used to run the calculations. It’s critical that the manufacturer of the monitor get these calculations right for you to see an accurate reading.
Victron is known as a leader in battery monitors as they use high-quality components to both monitor the power and make accurate calculations.
How Do I See My Battery’s State of Charge?
Generally speaking, there are three different ways to actually see the charge level in your battery. Some battery monitors have an integrated screen that will display battery level and other information right on the device itself. Others may transmit that information via Bluetooth, allowing you to check it on your phone or other devices.
Finally, other setups use a separate control system that provides a suite of features, including checking the state of charge. Each works well for this crucial task, making it somewhat of a matter of personal preference.
The Best Victron Battery Monitor Fits Your System
When it comes to quality, no Victron monitor is really better than another. They build all their monitors with quality components that will get the state of charge right. However, everyone has different power needs and budgets, meaning the best Victron battery monitor is the one that works for your system. Likely your system size and complexity will dictate which monitor is right for you.
Other things to consider are the type of information you’d like or need your monitor to provide, how easy it is to read or check, and other features you want. Naturally, you should consider what you want to spend, including any installation costs, if you’re not confident doing it yourself. But don’t worry. There are plenty of Victron battery monitors that fit all sorts of combinations of needs and wants.
Which Victron Battery Monitors Are Available?
Victron battery monitors come in four major varieties, along with a few subtypes within these. Let’s explore what each offers when it comes to features, price, and more.
The BMV-700 is the classic, standard model of Victron battery monitor. This high-precision device works with batteries from 6.5-95V. It provides all the information you need on a handy on-device display, from voltage to current used to energy remaining.
BMV-702s have all of the same great features as the 700 model but also include an auxiliary port to measure the voltage of another battery, battery temperature, or other inputs. The BMV-700 sells for just over $140, with the 702 slightly more expensive at just under $180.
While it’s far less common, Victron does make a BMV700h which offers the same functionality as the 700 series but is designed for high-voltage battery systems from 60V – 385V. You mainly find these needs in the commercial space like Telcom and substations.
The BMV-712 is Victron’s “smart” battery monitor. The key is integrating Bluetooth technology into the battery monitor, putting all of the device’s information at your fingertips, right on your phone or another mobile device. This makes it much simpler to set up, monitor, and control your battery function. Like the 702, it also includes an additional port for different uses. For this convenience, you’ll need to pay a bit of a premium, with the BMV-712 selling for a bit more than the 700 series.
Looking for a high-quality, full-featured battery monitor but don’t need a display? The SmartShunt may be precisely what you’re looking for. This simple device attaches directly to your battery and reduces clutter. It transmits information via Bluetooth to your phone or other device. The SmartShunt comes in three different models ranging from 500A to 2000A, with prices from $130 to just under $300.
The Lynx is a smart shunt designed to work directly with the Lynx power distribution system. It would not make sense to use this shunt without the distribution system. Victron Lynx system is a fantastic way to clean up power distribution by integrating the battery monitoring and distribution fuses into one clean package.
It’s the priciest of the Victron battery monitor lineup but also offers the most integrated and sophisticated features.
Victron Battery Monitors Are Great, But Sometimes You Need More Information
By now, it should be clear why battery monitors are a vital part of any battery-based electrical system. But sometimes you want even more information and control of your system.
That’s where control systems come in. These more full-featured setups typically include solar output monitoring, charging and discharging rates, and so much more. As a result, they’re a crucial component of large systems or ones where you’d like a high degree of customization and monitoring.
Victron Battery Monitor Control Systems
Victron offers a few different battery monitor control systems. Let’s break them down to find the right one for your power situation.
Victron bills this all-in-one device as giving you “complete control over your system while maximizing performance.” Through Victron’s Remote Management system and VictronConnect, owners can monitor a wide variety of measurements and parts of their battery system. Access the data through your Bluetooth devices or the helpful GX Touch display, custom designed to work with the Cerbo. It costs just over $340.
The Color Control GX is another excellent option for those who want a simple, easy-to-read-and-control interface for their battery system. With the touch of a button, owners can check the battery charge levels, power consumption, solar generation, and other external power sources.
It can even automatically start your generator if the voltage drops or energy demand spikes. Control all this from anywhere in the world thanks to the Victron Remote Management System. This powerful control system can also work effectively with other third-party items.
Many users prefer a touchscreen interface, and Victron has them covered as well with the GX Touch. Available in both five-inch (the 50) and seven-inch (the 70) versions, it connects easily to a Cerbo GX with just one cable. It’s also waterproof and very thin, making it easy to mount or stow just about anywhere.
Which Victron Battery Monitor Is the Best?
Once again, the best Victron battery monitor is the one that best fits your needs! But for those who still need a bit of help deciding, we think these stand out in their respective categories.
Simplest — If you’re looking for an ultra-simple but still full-featured Victron battery monitor, try the SmartShunt. It has no additional wires or displays and functions within one modestly sized unit. You can easily access and evaluate the information right from your cell phone or other Bluetooth device.
Most Integrated — For a well-integrated battery and power system, opt for the Lynx shunt. When used with a distributor block, users can create an all-in-one power management center. It can monitor input from up to four DC fuses. Combined with the smart technology of the Lynx and the optional monitoring system, you’ll have a complete way to control and monitor your batteries and power flow.
Most Popular — All of Victron’s devices are popular, but the BMV-712 remains the most desired of all. It makes sense, as it offers the quality functions of the original 700/702, along with the benefits of smart technology. The integrated screen makes it easy to read without a control system or even a phone, a welcome feature for those who prefer to keep things simple. You can also check and control your monitor remotely via Bluetooth.
Best Contol System — When it comes to a complete battery monitoring and control system solution, the Cerbo GX is the unquestioned top choice. It includes the most features and can pair with simple-to-use touchscreen monitoring systems that allow anyone to monitor their battery and power systems easily.
Which Is the Best Victron Battery Monitor for You?
Like many pieces of technology, purchasing a battery monitor or control system is a careful balancing act between price and features. Consider your needs and desires before purchasing. Some may not need the full integration of a Lynx shunt and Cerbo GX, while others may find themselves missing information they’d like to know with other models. Whether you’re looking for the most features and monitoring capabilities or trying to find a quality monitor on a budget, there’s almost certainly a Victron battery monitor that’s right for you.
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