What Do You Need to Install A Marine Battery Monitor?

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Banner of mokoenergy's blog installing a marine battery monitor

In our last post, we introduced what a battery monitor is and what it is used for. One of those uses is for marine use. A marine battery monitor can monitor the status of a marine battery to know various battery measurements including state of charge, current draw, overall battery health, and voltage. This makes it easy to know how much power is left in the battery and when and at what rate to draw or add that power. You can decide to turn off non-critical accessories or start the engine or generator to help charge the battery. Now we’re going to start to figure out how to install it to your marine.

I. Understanding Marine Battery Monitors

Before we install the marine battery monitor, we need to get close to it. There are types of battery monitors for marine, and each one has its own functions. We can classify them into three types: basic voltage monitors, advanced SoC monitors, and smart Bluetooth-enabled monitors. Basic voltage monitors are simple devices that display battery voltage. Advanced SoC monitors provide detailed information on battery capacity and usage. And smart Bluetooth-enabled monitors can offer remote monitoring via smartphone apps. Users can monitor the battery status remotely.
When you buy a battery monitor, here are some functions you need to pay attention to:

  • Accuracy of readings
  • Multiple battery bank monitoring
  • Programmable alarms
  • Backlit display for nighttime visibility
  • Waterproof construction

II. Choose the Right Marine Battery Monitor

Selecting the perfect marine battery monitor is crucial for optimal performance. Consider these factors:

FactorWhy It Matters
Battery TypeDifferent monitors work best with specific battery types (e.g., lead-acid, AGM, lithium)
Number of BatteriesEnsure the monitor can handle your boat’s battery configuration
Display ReadabilityEasy-to-read displays are essential for quick checks
Installation ComplexitySome monitors are easier to install than others
BudgetPrices range from $50 to $500+

Popular brands like Victron, MokoEnergy, and Blue Sea Systems offer reliable options across various price points. Here we use MokoEnergy’s battery monitor. Remember, investing in a quality monitor can save you money in the long run by extending battery life and preventing costly failures.

III. Step-by-Step Installation Guide

Now, let’s get our hands dirty with the installation process. Follow these steps to install your marine battery monitor:

1. Gather Your Tools and Materials

    • Marine battery monitor kit
    • Screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead)
    • Wire cutters/strippers
    • Crimping tool
    • Heat shrink tubing
    • Marine-grade wiring (if not included in the kit)
    • Terminal connectors
    • Multimeter (optional, for testing)
    • Heat gun (for heat shrink tubing)

*Notice before installation: Carefully read the instruction manual that comes with your marine battery monitor. Disconnect all power sources, including shore power and battery switches, and wear safety glasses and gloves for your safety. Also, find a suitable location for the display unit where it will be easily visible and accessible. 

2. Start Installation

1. Install the Sensor

  • Connect the ground wire on the supplied wire harness to the sensor’s ground bolt. Take care not to damage the sensor while tightening the screw.
  • Mount the ground cable (that had been attached directly to the battery) to the sensor’s post. Clamp the sensor to the large-diameter secondary negative lug on the house battery.

Mount the sensor

2. Mount the Display Unit

  • If the mounting template is provided, trace the holes for the structure of the display unit with it.
  • Mark the position of the screws on the display unit and drill holes through them to fix the unit in its position using the screws.Connecting the shunt, display unit and wire the monitor

3. Install the Shunt

  • The shunt is another important item that is used to measure the current entering and leaving the battery.
  • Mount the shunt just near the battery. Make sure it is placed in a proper circulation of air area.
  • Screw one end of the negative cable from the battery to one of the terminals of the shunt.
  • The other terminal of the shunt is connected to the load/charger negative cable.

4. Connecting the Shunt to the Display Unit

  • Attach the shunt to the display unit through the cable that you are given. Low current signals are usually carried in this cable.
  • This has to do with connections that are explained in the manual in terms of color coding or labeling.

5. Solder the Positive Supply Wire

  • Solder the wire coming from the positive terminal of the battery, which may be incorporated in a fuse, to the positive terminal of the display unit. This powers the display.

6. Check All Connections

  • Ensure that all connections have been made correctly and very tightly.
  • On all terminals exposed to air, it is recommended to cover them with heat shrink tubing to avoid effects like corrosion and shorting out.

7. Reconnect the Battery

  • Connect the black cable back to the negative terminal of the battery.

8. Initial Setup and Calibration

  • Power on the display unit.
  • Refer to the monitor’s manual guidelines for configuring the monitor, it may require battery capacity, type among other features to be set.
  • It may be necessary to follow the monitor calibration instructions which may include charges and discharge of the monitor’s battery..

Configure the system

9. Test the Installation

  • Check the operation of the shunt and display unit with the help of a multimeter.
  • Make sure that voltage, current, and other parameters are shown on the monitor without distortion.

Tips: Take your time with the wiring. A proper connection is crucial for accurate readings and safe operation.

IV. Best Practices for Using a Marine Battery Monitor

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed your marine battery monitor. Now, let’s make sure you’re getting the most out of it:

Reading the Display:  V

Setting Alarms:  Set low voltage and low state of charge alarms to ensure you do not deep discharge your batteries.

Regular Maintenance:

  • Clean connections periodically
  • Loose wires or signs of corrosion also should be looked at.
  • It is advisable to recalibrate at least once a year or according to the manufacturer’s advice.

Troubleshooting Tips:

  • Inaccurate readings? Check connections and recalibrate
  • Display not working? Check on the power supply and the condition of fuses.
  • Inconsistent data? Make sure that the monitor you are going to purchase can support the type of battery you are using.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Marine Battery Monitors

Installing a marine battery monitor is a smart move for any boat owner. Hope this guide can help!

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