Everything You Need to Know About RV Solar Monitoring Systems

Campervans, motorhomes and camping trailers have exploded in popularity during the pandemic, and Aussies have seized the chance to explore more of their country. Recreational vehicles are essentially home away from home. All the necessities are there, and a few unexpected luxuries also thrown in the mix provide for memorable trips. To ensure that everything works as it should, and spend less time in maintenance, various solar monitoring systems provide campers and adventures with important information.

solar monitoring systems

You can keep an eye on the charge in the battery, the ambient temperature, water and propane levels, and even tyre pressure. Sensors provide all the info you need through apps on your phone or laptop. You’ll be able to correct minor issues before they become something that potentially ruins your trip.

Battery Monitors

These might be the single most important part of solar monitoring systems. Battery monitors have wiring directly connected to your battery or battery bank and tell you about the state of charge in the battery in real-time. You’ll know how much power all your appliances and devices are currently consuming and how much power is feeding into the batteries through the panels. You can also tailor your power needs to exclude unnecessary items from using power if the charge is low. In addition, better battery monitors will tell you how efficient your panels are during different times of the day and in different weather conditions. You’ll know if you have enough power, or need to move to other charging options, like a generator or mains connection.

Battery Monitor
Source: truckcamperadventure.com

There are several types of battery monitors. Simple voltmeters give readouts about the remaining voltage. They tell if the battery is charging and voltage is increasing, or it is discharging and you’re using too much power. Though most RV solar setups include charge controllers, voltmeters also come in handy to avoid overcharging your battery. They’re cheap but essential items to have, especially if you’ve spent quite a few dollars on your battery.

Multimeters and ammeters are more precise in measuring the remaining charge. They display the current feeding into the battery in Amp-hours, the voltage, how much power you’ve currently consumed, the time left until the battery goes flat and more. These can be used with different types of batteries, whether lead acid or lithium, and work equally well with each. Multimeters and ammeters are shunt-based monitors that connect directly to battery terminals by way of a shunt, or a metal resistor, and calculate voltage drop. Unlike voltmeters, they aren’t affected by changes in environmental conditions, like temperature. Though a little more expensive, shunt-base solar monitoring systems give precise real-time results and are best suited in more complex setups.

Temperature Monitors

Temperature monitors use sensors or probes to measure the temperature inside the RV. You can monitor if fridges and freezers are working as they should and that outside temperatures aren’t getting too high. Humidity levels are also shown. You might need to air out the RV or turn on the aircon to avoid condensation building up.

Water Monitors

Replenishing water doesn’t have to be guesswork. Probes installed in tanks give readouts about the remaining freshwater, how much greywater is collected from sinks and showers, and black water from the dunny. You can gauge your trip to empty black and grey water at designated sites, and fill up on fresh water on time. Apps show you how much water you’ve used thus far in your trip, and of course how much freshwater is left.

Propane Monitors

Checking on how much cooking gas is left is always a good idea. There’ll always be hungry mouths to feed, and whipping up a hot meal is the way to go. Gas monitors tell you how much propane is left in the canisters, and when you need to fill up or get a new canister. Apps can inform of your current gas use, but may also provide historical data about previous trips.

Propane Monitor
Source: faroutride.com

Other Monitors

RVs are big, complicated vehicles where everything needs to work just right. Tyre monitors may not be one of the necessary pieces of gear, but they do come in handy if you’re covering more miles on different road surfaces. You’ll avoid punctures and flats, and the hassle of changing a tyre in the middle of nowhere. Also, deflated tyres can pose safety risks and tyre pressure monitors help you prevent them.

If you have your RV parked, or it’s not in use, then door detectors keep peace of mind. They’ll show if doors and windows are open or closed, and at what time. Similarly, motion detectors sense if any animals or intruders have made their way into the RV. A good way to know if there are unwanted critters in your midst.

Displays and Apps

Monitoring the different parameters is done through the gear that shows readouts on physical displays or apps on your phone. Many solar monitoring systems have both. Battery monitors include small LCDs with all the vitals, and a ton of info accessible by apps. Other monitors generally rely on Bluetooth or wi-fi connectivity and apps, but also give detailed and precise info. With everything in the palm of your hand, you can ensure a pleasurable trip and no nasty surprises along the way.