Monitoring your batteries
So you've chosen your batteries, connected your solar panels or wind turbine; what now?
It is well worth taking a little time to monitor how your system is performing. Not only is this fascinating in itself (well, it is to us!) but keeping an eye on the state of your batteries will enable you to greatly extend their life.
To keep them at their best, batteries should be kept at least 50% full, and charged up as soon as possible after use. The only way to know the state of your batteries is to use some sort of monitoring device.
The simplest battery monitor is a basic voltmeter, though with experience this can tell you a great deal about how everything is performing. Generally speaking, a 24V battery bank is full at 25.6V, half full at 24.4V and in dire straits at 21V.
But it's not quite that simple; when your batteries are charging you will see voltages of up to 28.8V, and when they are working hard the voltage might drop as low as 21V. To get an accurate reading, you need to check the batteries when they are not charging, after they have done some work then had a little time to recover. Quite a pain.
The other failing of the humble voltmeter is that it tells you nothing about current, and hence the power that you are actually using or generating.
This is why a more sophisticated monitor such as our NASA Marine BM-1 is such a god send. It constantly tells you the voltage and current in or out of your batteries, so you can see at a glance how much energy you are using or generating. For the technically minded, voltage (in Volts) multiplied by current (in Amps) gives you the power (in Watts).
Better still, it has an 'intelligent' state of charge meter that will show you exactly how full your batteries are at any moment.
A battery monitor is a worthwhile investment that will help you to save energy, prolong the life of your batteries and give you something to watch in those quiet moments!
Our sister company Midsummer Energy sell 24V battery monitors