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How-to Install a Battery Monitor in a DIY Camper Van Electrical System

How-to Install a Battery Monitor in a DIY Camper Van Electrical System

A battery monitor for your house battery bank in your DIY camper van isn’t a necessity, but then again, neither is a fuel gauge for driving. They both serve the same purpose.

Quick note before we get started.  This is just one part of an overarching “How to Install a DIY Camper Van Electrical System” series.  If you’ve just stumbled on this article directly without seeing that, there are likely some things we’ve already covered.  If you want to check out that step by step guide, you can do that here: https://www.explorist.life/diy-campervan-solar

Also, we have interactive solar wiring diagrams that are a complete, A to Z solution for teaching you exactly what parts go where, what size wires to use, fuse size recommendations, wire lug sizes, and all kind of other stuff to help save you time and frustration.  You can check that out here: https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams/

What does a Camper Van Battery Monitor Do?

The Battery Monitor, at it’s core, tells you three key pieces of information:

Victron BMV-712 Bluetooth app receiving data from the Battery Monitor

How does a Battery Monitor work?

A Battery monitor sits in-line between your batteries and ALL loads of your electrical system.

The battery monitor reads how many amps are going into or leaving your batteries at any given time.

What is a Shunt?

The shunt is the actual measuring device that you will wire in-line your negative cable that goes from your negative battery terminals to your negative busbar. There is usually a little data port to plug in the cable that runs to the actual monitor itself as well as a small power wire that supplies power to the monitor.

The Battery Monitor

The Battery Monitor is the actual little display face device that you plug into the shunt. If the shunt is the computer, the monitor is, well… the monitor.

Bluetooth Battery Monitor

The Victron BMV-712, in particular, actually has bluetooth capabilities that allow you to easily access more information from your phone than is easily available from your actual display face.

The user experience of the Victron Connect app is a highly welcome addition to a high-end camper van electrical system as it has a easy to use user experience as well as historical usage figures.

Now that you know how to wire a battery monitor into your system to keep tabs on your battery capacity, it’s time to actually use that battery capacity for something useful.  In the next lesson, you’ll learn how to wire 12v accessories like plugs and fans. Check that out here: https://www.explorist.life/how-to-wire-12v-plugs-fans-and-accessories-in-a-diy-camper/

Everything that you are learning here is put to use in our FREE Interactive Solar Wiring Diagrams.  If you haven’t yet, check them out as they are a complete solution for a camper van electrical system.  Check them out here: https://www.explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams/

Remember, this is just one part of a full camper van electrical educational series.  To see all of the individual guides, click here: https://www.explorist.life/diy-campervan-solar

Finally, If you found this guide helpful, It’d truly mean the world to us if you’d share it with somebody who can use it, pin it to pinterest for later reference, or share it to a facebook group when somebody has a question about this subject.  Click the bubble in the lower right corner to subscribe to be notified of future updates and as always, leave any questions you’ve got in the comments below.


Rees

Wednesday 28th of April 2021

Hi Nate,

I purchased the Victron BM 712 and I see it came with two +B leads that have their own port to connect into the shunt. I assume these both run from the shunt to the positive terminals in my duel house battery setup, correct? If so, and I decide to increase my battery bank later on, how do I hook up (say 4) batteries so the shunt can read from them all?

Tom

Monday 12th of April 2021

Can explain how to determine what size shunt I need to get: 500a, 1000a, or 2000a? Is there any downside to oversizing the shunt (other than unnecessary cost)? Thank you!

Justin

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

Nate, Which side of the shunt should I ground my batteries from?

Nate Yarbrough

Thursday 14th of January 2021

The battery bank goes to the "Battery" side of the shunt. LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE goes to the 'Load' side of the shunt, including the ground. Example: https://www.explorist.life/3000w-inverter-400-600ah-400-to-1200w-solar-camper-solar-kit

Dee Bez

Sunday 8th of November 2020

Hi Guys If I use the smart shunt in a dual battery 12v system with a smart solenoid to separate the batteries when camping. Will the smart shunt affect the separation of the batteries when both are monitored? ie will it discharge my starter battery when I’m consuming from the aux battery as both are connected to the shunt monitor terminals?

Kind regards

Nate Yarbrough

Friday 1st of January 2021

I'm not fully grasping your question, but all of the systems found at explorist.life/solarwiringdiagrams are dual battery systems. You should check these out and see how they play together.

Mathew Angel

Friday 18th of September 2020

Hi Nick - I hope all is well. Quick question. What is your thoughts on the Victron Lynx Shunt VE in lieu of using the Victron BMV-712? Do you have any resources that shows this set up wired and used with rest of the Victron products?

Nate Yarbrough

Sunday 20th of September 2020

The Lynx shunt is great but... it MUST be used in conjunction with a Victron GX device (Like the Cerbo GX) in order to actually view the data. So, by the time it's all said and done with; using the Lynx Shunt over the BMV-712 is about $400-$500 more expensive to accomplish roughly the same thing. I don't have any resources at this time covering usage of the Lynx Shunt.