Thursday, March 14, 2013


The instrumentation project is pretty simple setup whose purpose is to give me real time access to battery voltages and battery current readings while at the helm. Boats with a diesel usually have an instrument panel to monitor the internal combustion engine in the cockpit. On a boat with electric propulsion it's also good to monitor what is going on down below too though they are different parameters. So the initial setup for the project included a digital voltmeter on each battery, a total pack voltage meter and a current meter to monitor how much current the battery was providing (or how much current was flowing into it if charging).

The above schematic shows the DC Voltmeter wiring. Installing and wiring up the panel was not difficult. The hardest part was deciding what to use to connect the batteries to the panel. I decided to use Anderson Powerpole Connectors.

As this would allow the panel to be disconnected easily for repair or storage as needed. I've started to use them elsewhere on board with good results. They are quality connectors with wiping contacts that hold up very well in my experience.  I already had several  4PDT Heavy Duty Toggle Switches on board that I was originally was going to use for the solar bimini. But, after finding some 48 volt solar panels I no longer needed  to use the switches for charging. So I used it to switch the four digital panel meters for the individual batteries on and off. I installed the switch first since it is rather large and I wanted to make sure it fit correctly:

Then I found a location for the eight Anderson Connectors that connect to the fuses on the batteries:
One nice thing about Anderson Connectors there are various mounting clamps available to install the connectors securely in panels or enclosures like I am using for this project:

With the switch and the Anderson connectors installed it's time to wire the panel up:

I did a bench check of the DC Voltmeters using triple connection jumper. This allowed me to check three meters at a time.:

The second small switch on the side of the box is to turn the whole  pack voltmeter on and off. I did make one mistake with this whole pack voltmeter. I wired it just like the other four meters. The meters I bought can read up to 99 volts but, in order to measure a voltage over 30 volts the meter needs a separate lower voltage power source. If you are just measuring 12 volts you can tie the meter supply and measuring leads together and it will work. I did this for all the meters and tested them using a 9 volt battery. But, when I installed it in the boat the pack meter failed because the 48 volts was too much for the meter. I'll need to replace it and provide a separate voltage to power that meter to measure the whole pack voltage.

Another Anderson connector was installed to provide power for the current meter from the helm power distribution bus. So with the panel wired up and bench tested. It was time to move on the final connections from the battery to the helm. Which I will do in the next instrumentation post.

1 comment:

Marcova said...

It's really a knowledgeable and informative article about panel wiring. Your stuff is great and appreciable. Thank you for the post.