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Old 03-24-2018, 05:50 PM   #1
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Balmar Smartgauge

Has anyone put one of these into their trailer or have any other experience with them? I only recently learned of them and kind of now wish I’d known about them before I went with the venerable Bogart Trimetric. I’m particularly intrigued by its self-calibration ability that should eliminate a number of potential sources of error that other amp-counter meters are prone to.

Would love to hear any first hand experience with them.

Smartgauge Battery Monitor | Balmar
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Old 03-24-2018, 06:05 PM   #2
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+/- 5% accuracy during discharge and +/- 10% during discharge.

Self calibration?
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:12 PM   #3
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I would guess that the lack of a shunt is the reason for the Balmer’s wide range of accuracy. Most battery monitors use a shunt, using Ohm’s law they give accurate measurements. Yes, they do require heavy battery cables and common (but heavy duty) connectors.

What about the Victron as an alternative to the Trimetric?
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:17 PM   #4
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I went with the Victron. The unit that includes bluetooth connectivity without needing to add a dongle looks good to me. I will review it after install.

Oh, and don't even think about a monitor without a shunt - no shunt, no accuracy, marketing hype notwithstanding. Just my humble - the underlying measurements and charge algorithms are difficult with a shunt which measures amperage precisely - I'm guessing bloody near impossible without one.
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Old 03-24-2018, 09:05 PM   #5
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no shunt, no accuracy, marketing hype notwithstanding.
Well, the "mar" in Balmar stands for marketing and they're pretty good at that. They've been around a long time.

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Old 03-25-2018, 12:21 AM   #6
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I went with the Victron. The unit that includes bluetooth connectivity without needing to add a dongle looks good to me. I will review it after install.

Oh, and don't even think about a monitor without a shunt - no shunt, no accuracy, marketing hype notwithstanding. Just my humble - the underlying measurements and charge algorithms are difficult with a shunt which measures amperage precisely - I'm guessing bloody near impossible without one.
We also have installed the Victron 1 1/2 years ago. So far very happy with there monitor . Now will be installing the solar controller made by Victron. Pat
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Old 03-25-2018, 02:19 AM   #7
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This is the article that piqued my interest in the Balmar Smartgauge: https://marinehowto.com/smart-gauge-...nitoring-unit/

It sounds intriguing...

Still waiting to hear if anyone has any experience with it. Anyone?
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Old 03-25-2018, 09:28 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by sclifrickson View Post
This is the article that piqued my interest in the Balmar Smartgauge: https://marinehowto.com/smart-gauge-...nitoring-unit/

It sounds intriguing...

Still waiting to hear if anyone has any experience with it. Anyone?
While no experience with this specific device, the difference between it & a true battery monitor is the ability to measure current - the Balmar only measures voltage. There is no difference between the Balmar Smartgauge and the volt meter you plug into a 12V receptacle, or, for that matter, the LED monitor panel that Escape installs (that also reads tank levels).

While a voltage measurement provides an indication of the battery state of charge if made under the correct conditions, (i.e. no solar or converter charging, waiting for the surface charge to dissipate, etc) a true battery monitor measures current in & out of the battery, showing the amp hour deficit. Much more accurate.
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Old 03-25-2018, 09:42 AM   #9
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Jon, did you read the article I linked? I think there is more to the Balmar than a volt meter that plugs into a receptacle. The one just reads straight voltage, and the other uses fancy algorithms to infer battery capacity.

I’m not saying that it’s everything that it’s cracked up to be. That’s why I solicited real world input. It’s clearly more than a straight voltmeter though.

Would be interesting to see one side by side with a Trimetric or Victron...
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Old 03-25-2018, 09:53 AM   #10
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I think there is more to the Balmar than a volt meter that plugs into a receptacle. The one just reads straight voltage, and the other uses fancy algorithms to infer battery capacity.
Yes, but you said it yourself. It infers capacity using a calculation. That calculation is based on voltage. No shunt means no measurement of current flow, which means no amp hour measurement. If I'm going to the trouble of replacing the stock battery monitor's simple and inaccurate display, I'm thinking it's best to get a monitor that actually measures current. After all, the primary benefit of the better monitors is to show you what you are using.
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