New Batteries Coming From Northstar

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
I'm getting ready to possibly replace all three batteries in my Power Wagon, and that prompted a call today to Northstar. Found out that they are planning to introduce Bluetooth-enabled batteries at SEMA in November. Batteries will allow you to monitor state of charge in real time on your phone, and also to monitor and evaluate your charging system while in use. They have tested the system with Apple's somewhat proprietary Bluetooth system and say it works just fine. Probably overkill on a single-battery truck, but a great idea for a setup like mine with three batteries to worry about. But I may not be able to wait that long.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Personally I feel that an accurate volt meter and amp meter are more valuable by far. If you need Bluetooth connectivity Victron has several options in their charger and monitor line up.

Does this system have a shunt and SOC monitoring? I am assuming these are lead acid?
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Volt meter and amp meter are great, but three batteries means three separate voltmeters and associated wiring. And my dash and console are getting short on real estate for new gizmos. Don't have any details on the new batteries because they are still in the testing stages, but tech support guy said they would monitor SOC. These are all AGMs. Personally have no interest in new chargers because I already have too many sitting around.
 

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luthj

Engineer In Residence
I guess it all comes down to value. How much extra cost will it end up adding? I would guess more than a decent monitor.
 

teotwaki

Excelsior!
If the money is spent on a hardwired monitor then we are free to buy any brand of "dumb" battery :cool:
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
OK, how do I get real-time, on-road info on three separate batteries with one monitor? No dash space for any more gauges. I already have a hardwired voltmeter for the primary battery and an electronic gauge pod pulling data from the OBD-II port, but that only shows system voltage when engine is running. Also have National Luna monitors on all three batteries, but these monitors are crap, waste of money. Open to ideas that are simple and cheap.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
So you have three batteries. If they are all in parallel during charging then a single volt meter would show the combined voltage. Do you have three separate banks? If so why? Typically most vehicles need two banks (which may have more than one battery).
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
So you have three batteries. If they are all in parallel during charging then a single volt meter would show the combined voltage. Do you have three separate banks? If so why? Typically most vehicles need two banks (which may have more than one battery).
Three batteries, one for starting, two for house. The house batteries can be independently switched in or out of the charging circuit, switched in or out of powering the fridge, switched in or or out of the starting circuit, switched in or out of the winching and OBA activities, combined or disconnected from the starting battery in just about any configuration you could imagine. I can jump start myself from either or both of the house batteries, without pulling out cables. Can be isolated when the truck is off, or can be combined into one, two or three battery combos when truck is off. When charging, I can charge one or two or all three in parallel, but starting battery is always being charged when truck is running, unless I delete charging to all. Except that if starting battery is removed from the truck, it won't charge, but I can still start and drive the truck on the house batteries. When charging, it's all one bank, but the bank can consist of one or two or three batteries. So, my voltage gauge and my gauge pod show system voltage when charging, but not SOC of the individual batteries. The Nat Luna battery monitors were supposed to give me info on individual batteries but those monitors are nearly useless.
 

ajmaudio

Adventurer
I think part of your problem is that your battery setup seems overly complicated for no apparent gainunless I missed something. Do you want a real SOC or just voltage of each battery?
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Battery setup is actually pretty simple (and elegant) because switches are all mechanical except for the isolator solenoid. I'd like to see actual SOC, but voltage of individual batteries would be an acceptable proxy. I'm not planning to add any more monitoring or diagnostic stuff to the truck, but I thought the Northstar Bluetooth idea would be pretty slick if it works as the tech rep said it would.

The gain in my setup is that I can always do winch pulls or run lights or fridge or compressor and know that the truck will start and run on any one of the batteries. But I carry a lithium jump pack anyway.
 

ajmaudio

Adventurer
I guess the separating of the house batteries from eachother is what I dont get.... but if it does what you need then hey, who am I lol. If your using them as a house bank ideally they should stay together to keep them in identical shape. This is the best way to keep them happy and keep one from dragging the other one down...or one from hurting the other in an unbalanced situation. Obviously if/when one died, assuming you dont replace before death as preventative maintenance, you might have to manually take it out of circuit to keep going if you couldnt replace immediately and needed the house bank. This is just the price of admission with a parallel battery bank. In my mind the compromise might be to just put an accurate volt meter on the starting battery... and then a Victron or Bogart battery monitor with an actual shunt for current monitoring on the house bank to give you a more accurate SOC. You can still combine them when needed or jump one from the other etc, but in theory this keeps your house bank in the best possible condition, and somewhat simplifies your monitoring needs. I'm sure you know this, but draining one house battery any significant amount, and then reconnecting to the other is a no no... hence my thought of just treating them as one. Just my 2 cents, if its even worth that.
 

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Ducky's Dad

Explorer
I guess the separating of the house batteries from eachother is what I dont get....
It's the belt and suspenders and an extra piece of rope approach. When I only had two batteries, the single G34 (Odyssey at that time) could not keep up with the fridge load in the desert, so I added a third battery. Now I can keep up with the heat, but only for about 24 hours on a full charge. FWIW, I'm home this weekend and it was 115 yesterday. The truck came from the factory with a big Warn winch, G65 FLA battery, and 160 amp alternator. Problem is that the winch pulls 440 amps under full load, so long pulls can be problematic with the stock setup (corrected on later models of the PW). When I'm running the fridge, I'm usually draining both house batteries simultaneously, and I almost always charge them simultaneously, but if I need to do a hard pull (engine running), I can switch one of the house batteries out of the winch circuit so that I have the ability to start the truck, no matter happens to the other two batteries. This may be TMI, but the Dodge spec for the Warn winch included a Low Voltage Interupt (LVI) and a thermal protection switch, which Warn claims are unnecessary. But, if the factory winch has not been modified to eliminate those "features," a hard pull on the stock system can cause both of those switches to kick in. Stock truck can't produce 440amps, but I now can get close (theoretically) with the 270 amp alternator feeding the G31 and a single G34.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
A "really correct" system would be a large enough battery bank - all one bank - to handle the peak current loads without much voltage drop.

Plus a big enough alt setup to fully support the biggest load while running at high idle.

At that point cranking the engine is like 1.5% of the overall capacity so not an issue.

Such a large robust system would be very very expensive, possible more than what many spend on the base truck.
 
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