Until recently I was convinced, that the electric energy on my sailing boat was well-taken care of.
I changed batteries three years ago and I expected that electric system on my sailing boat would function well. At that time I also integrated a solar panel and was certain, that the solar panel would solve all my demands for electric energy. But already on my last holidays, I had a feeling that I had to charge batteries more often with my engine, especially because we rarely made stops in marinas.
On a boat show, I saw Pico, a system for monitoring the use of the electric energy in batteries and also for controlling the volumes of tanks. After a little hesitation, I decided to buy a smart battery monitor Pico. I was a little concerned how to install the system in my vessel, but the company assured me that the installation was not complicated, especially for someone familiar with the basics of the 12V electric system. I asked my friend, an electrician, for his assistance.
After carefully reading the instructions, he offered to help me with the installation. Thus this spring we installed the battery monitor Pico. The installation itself, as well as the settings and the programming of Pico, took us little time since the last two can be made by means of a smartphone. The instrument can namely be connected to a smartphone, which is easy to enter data into. In fact, the procedures for entering various data (parameters) in the instrument are the same so, when you assimilate one, the rest of them follow the same principle.
I could hardly wait to see what the battery monitor would show about my electric system. I had to wait for a short time because the battery monitor first studies the electric system and only after a few moments it shows the correct measures. I have to admit, I was surprised by the results.
We found out, that my batteries were far from being in a good condition. The system namely measures voltage, current and battery temperature of the precisions to two decimal digits. Because of that, it is possible to see already a small voltage drop, which showed me that my batteries at that time were in a bad condition. The system allowed me to monitor small consumers and also different generators.
On one of the measuring modules, we installed the solar panel and I was surprised to discover that the values of charging the solar panel were considerably below the maximum values specified by the producer. I realize now, that the solar panel charges the electric system in accordance with the position of the sun:
in the morning 30%,
during the day 75%,
in the afternoon 25% of specified current.
The most surprising information for me was, that the solar panel charges the electric system in the maximum of 75% of specified power, the fact that I learned only after the installing the battery monitor Pico. Colored display nicely shows the volumes of the tanks. I was very happy, that for measuring the volumes of tanks I could use the existing floats in tanks.
Especially a new experience for me was the integrated barometer with the barograph. It has a very precise measurement of air pressure that is also displayed on barograph. Barometer warns you in a case of a sudden increase of air pressure and especially in a case of a quick drop of air pressure, which announces bad weather. After a day of test sailing with the new battery monitor, I learned, that in the end of the day it was necessary to recharge the batteries. Since Pico showed, that the batteries were only 45% full this was already a sign that the batteries needed to be recharged, otherwise they would begin to deteriorate, and their capacity would begin to drop respectively. Only then it was clear to me why I needed to charge the batteries with the help of engine so often. It became clear to me, that I did not charge the batteries often enough, which resulted in a deeper discharging of the batteries and thus in a slow destruction of them.
With the installation of Pico, I feel absolutely more secure because I can see when I need to charge the batteries and which consumers consume the most of the electricity and also how much. I am convinced that in the future Pico will help me maximize the battery life, reduce the costs of changing them, and nevertheless help me become more planet-friendly.