Now for a review on something a little left of field. Don’t get me wrong, more often than not at RV Daily, we get our resident tech-head Wes to put some of the biggest brands and best-quality gear to the test. But sometimes, we like to break the mould a touch and have a swing at something way out of left field. Enter, the DC Battery meter from the team over at Sales67.
This came about while Wes was on a random internet forum having a conversation with a bloke from WA about digital ammeters, and how there were few options floating about that just gave amp draw, voltage, and some sort of State of Charge (SoC) information, that was accurate, cheap, and was essentially stand alone. Now, of course, if you’ve got a full Redarc Manager system or the ARB LINX, this may not be the thing for you. What Wes wanted was to have something ‘cheap’ that just fed him the information he needed for the back of his HiLux canopy set-up.
So the bloke he was chatting to, Chris at Sales67, explained he had a digital ammeter that would tick all the boxes, and maybe a couple more, and proper cheap. To the tune of sub-$40 cheap. But, had been tested on a Fluke lab-spec power supply, and was accurate. This then led to Wes spending the 36-quid and having one delivered from over in WA to his place on the east coast, and a little bit of testing ensued. So with the story out of the way and the details on the bit of kit he bought, Wes is now happy he can stop referring to himself in the third person, and get on with the review.
Right. This ammeter is, in a word, magic. For the price I paid, it gives me everything I wanted out of an ammeter, in a rectangular package, that cost near-enough to a tenth the price of some of the other gear you’ll find online. The DC battery meter I received gives me all the information I wanted; namely amp draw, battery voltage, and a nice SoC meter that works off the voltage of the battery. The kit included a 300-amp shunt, that was simple enough to connect up, a few 100mm long wires to connect it, and the meter itself. Where it gets a little carried away, is that it will also give you current in watts, watt-hour usage, the impedance of both the current drawn and battery, and how long the system has been running for.
Set up was fairly straight forward, with just needing to set the high and low limits for the SoC display, and the meter itself is self-ranging, so it will show milliamps all the way up to 300 amps across the meter. If you’re running on a 24-volt system, it will work just as well, all the way up to 200-volt systems. To get this mounted on the electrics board in the back of the HiLux, I just needed to run some new four-core cabling from the shunt on the battery, and the positive and negative poles to the back of the unit itself. I did this with an old computer networking cable I had laying around, as the Cat5 cables are eight-core, and the wiring is purely for signals; next to no current goes down the cabling to the unit, so the small wiring was fine. From there it was just a matter of fusing the positive wire that went to the battery, connecting the shunt to the negative terminal, and it was all done and dusted.
So, if you’re looking for an ammeter that won’t break the bank, and will just do one specific job well, this could well be the thing for you. As I said above, if you’re after one, you’ll find it one the Sales67 website, it was well worth the $36 I outlaid to get my mitts on one.
Worth noting, there are more advanced ammeters out there, and many higher-end DC-DC systems come with their own inbuilt; such as the Redarc Manager 30 system, and the ARB LINX system. That said, I’ve got a Redarc DC-DC charger (with solar controller) and the rest of my 12-volt set-up with top-brand gear that I’ve forked out for sorted, but if you’re just after something that’ll get the job done with no fuss (on the cheap, mind you), and you’ve already got the rest of your DC-DC charging system sorted (like I do), this could be the DC battery meter for you.