It’s the question every remote-area caravanner or camper wants to know, every day. How long will my batteries hold out?
The answer matters when you have a freezer full of perishables, whether they are steaks or freshly caught barra, or at the end of a long, stinking day when all you want is a cold sundowner. And in both cases, a shortfall in 12V power will not only ruin your evening but quite possibly your entire holiday.
Many caravans are fitted with multi-function panels that will show you the remaining charge in your batteries and the amount of water in your tanks, but often this is displayed as a rather inaccurate bar graph.
More upmarket systems, most of them supplied since 1968 to the RV industry by Australian technology pioneer BMPRO to fit as original equipment, will show you the battery system’s current status in volts and the input from any solar panels.
The most comprehensive, usually found on expensive caravans, will express its remaining charge as a percentage, and display in real time the drain of an appliance, such as a 240V appliance run through an inverter, or the effect on your batteries’ life of a compressor fridge, your laptop, or perhaps – if you have a large enough inverter – a coffee pod machine.
However, a simpler, more convenient and more accurate and portable way to take charge of your 12V power consumption is via your phone and the app that connects to Setec’s innovative BatteryCheck.
The easy-to-install mobile phone-sized BatteryCheck, developed by BMPRO, connects to deep-cycle batteries and communicates by Bluetooth with your smartphone to provide real-time battery status data that will allow you to modify or change your power usage before your fish go off or the beer goes warm.
The BatteryCheck costs around $299 (RRP) and the downloadable app is free. All you need to do is run your battery’s current through it via simple universal connections and your battery, or batteries’, status and the current drain and replenishment of it will be displayed on your Apple or Android smartphone app.
If you have multiple deep-cycle batteries, as many caravans have, you simply connect it to one and as long as they are joined in parallel (as most are) the device will provide a total battery system readout that includes volts and amps, time remaining, temperature, battery status, state of charge and battery health.
While the BatteryCheck, which comes with a two-year warranty, will be an added convenience to owners of upmarket caravans, which may already be fitted with a Setec system, it will be a real boon to those with campers who spend even longer away from 240V mains power.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #536 April 2015.