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A practical, low cost solution to monitoring charging and batteries

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What is the issue?
How to keep an eye on the state of your battery at all times, at rest, in use, and when charging.

Why address this?
A low battery can mean serious problems when starting your engine or running your instruments. It can also mean a shorter battery life. If there is a problem you need to know.

How to address this?
A very simple and effective solution is to buy a basic 12volt battery and alternator tester and permanently install it on the control panel, as shown above, between switch panel and shipping forecast areas, or at another conspicuous point.

A typical 12volt battery and alternator tester
Photo: Courtesy of Litong
12volt battery and alternator testers are a very low-cost item to purchase, about the price of a modest bottle of wine, and although they do not give the detailed digital multidigit reading required to assess the state of charge, the illuminated LEDs are very good at flagging attention to a problem.

LED Battery testers are available on-line and in many Motor Factor Shops. Most LED scale indicates battery voltage (poor - red, fair - amber, good - green) and alternator output (low, normal, strong). The one I use and recommend has LEDs for six separate voltages: 5, 12, 12.5, 13, 13.5 and 14. It costs about €8!

I have had one of these permanently linked to my live battery connection for years. It tells me if the battery is switched on and lets me see from a considerable distance just what is happening. There are no buttons to press and you don't need to be a few inches from the meter to read it. In fact, you could wire one of these to each of your batteries. As with most LEDs, current consumption is minimal.

With thanks to:
Brian Lennon
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