Looking for the best RV battery monitors for your campervan conversion or upgrade? These are our top 5 recommended van life battery monitors.
During our first two years of RVing full-time, we knew that monitoring our power consumption and the health of our battery bank was important.
But like most RV newbies, we weren’t fully aware of how to gauge a precise measurement of the battery voltage of our RV batteries at any given time. Still, we knew that it was good practice to keep an eye on battery voltage and try to determine how much power we used with different appliances and devices.
As we were just getting started, we had a basic RV battery setup. Because AGM and Lithium batteries were so expensive when we set out in early 2018, we settled on two standard deep-cycle flooded lead-acid batteries.
We had 200 watts of solar panels and a 600-watt inverter tied into the RV house electrical system.
But we relied on a simple display screen on our inverter to gauge our battery’s voltage. While this is a decent, primitive form of keeping track of battery voltage, it did not provide us with an accurate reading of our battery’s capacity, especially since we would later find out that we had wired our inverter incorrectly!
Then we met someone who completely revolutionized the way we looked at battery power and the importance of having a correctly installed RV battery monitor to report an accurate reading of our battery’s capacity at any given point in time.
Since that day, we’ve become power junkies in that we always put our electrical system first, our water system second and everything else third in our RV.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the 5 best RV battery monitoring system options on the market and share a little about what you should look for in an RV battery monitor. We are not going to provide a long list of product options. An RV battery monitor system is simple and doesn’t need to be overthought and over-shopped.
On that note, let’s get into our top choice, a tried-and-true RV battery monitor that we’ve used in all of our RVs over the past few years.
Our Pick – Renogy 500A Battery Monitor
Customize the data you want to see
Easy to install
Mounts easily wherever you want to see it
Best Product // Our Top Picks at a Glance
Table of Contents
Best RV Battery Monitors
The most important aspects of an RV battery monitor are precision, strong construction and convenience or ease of installation. You’ll also want to keep in mind how easy it is to use and whether there are added components or features such as a battery shunt, temperature sensors and alarm functions.
All the products we recommend are evaluated in these 5 basic points and all truly are worth your investment. But we’ll get into the details of each so you can decide which one is best for your budget and the overall health of your deep-cycle batteries.
Best Overall: Renogy 500A Battery Monitor
- Price Range: Around $100
- Bluetooth: NO
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.4 x 0.7 inches
- Programmable: YES
- Alarm Settings: YES
Renogy is among the best RV and campervan power component manufacturers in the industry. As they’ve developed as a company they offer products that complete your entire power setup.
This 500A battery monitor is the best RV battery monitor on our list for a variety of reasons.
The affordable monitor is an incredibly useful accessory. It has a bright backlit LED display with soft buttons to scroll through different options.
It is an all-in-one monitor that provides an accurate voltage reading along with current, battery capacity (in amp hours), and battery life estimate at current consumption.
We love how it concurrently displays both the current amp hours as well as the percentage of remaining battery so we can quickly see how much energy we’ve used or, more importantly, how much energy is left before we risk damaging our battery bank.
The voltage range is 10V to 120V with a current range of 0-500 amps, which is more than any device and more than you’ll ever have to worry about. Moreover, it is compatible with all of the RV battery types: Lithium iron phosphate, flooded lead-acid, AGM and gel batteries.
What we really appreciate is how the Renogy 500A battery monitor measures accurate current and battery status without overwhelming bells and whistles. It is affordably priced and very easy to install.
The Renogy 500A battery monitor also comes with a high and low current voltage alarm. The backlight and voltage alert you when the alarm is activated so you can quickly assess how to preserve your RV batteries before damaging them.
The battery monitor also has data storage ability. In case of power loss, the monitor will save the last reading.
In the box, you’ll also find that you have all the useful accessories. It has a 500A shunt with a transparent shunt holder to easily mount the shunt. Moreover, you’ll get a 3ft B+ wire and a 20 ft shielded wire.
The installation instructions are clear and easy to understand so you should have little difficulty getting this RV battery monitoring system up and running.
On the downside, the Renogy 500A RV battery monitor does not have the Bluetooth connectivity that other battery monitors offer. But it does include a 20ft shielded wire that can add to the versatility of the device by allowing you to install the monitor virtually anywhere in your RV.
- Precise current, battery capacity and state measurement.
- Big bright screen.
- Data storage capacity and alarm system.
- Does not have a temperature sensor.
- Does not have Bluetooth connectivity or an app
Most Popular: Victron Energy BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor
- Price Range: Around $200
- Bluetooth: YES
- Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 1 inches
- Programmable: YES
- Alarm Settings: YES
When it comes to a modern and cost-effective battery monitor, Victron Energy BMV-712 is among the best.
It has all the modern features with precise monitoring and built-in Bluetooth connectivity to conveniently monitor the battery system remotely on your mobile phone and laptop.
Moreover, it has an app for mobile and computer systems that allows you to toggle through all the necessary readings and information.
This battery-capacity monitor comes with all the accessories you need for operation and a beginner can easily install it. The Victron BMV 712 has a power cable, mounting plate and sleeve, RJ12 connectors and 500A shunt.
One of the things we really like is that it comes with a unique shunt designed to integrate into the dual battery systems in most RVs. It can read the voltage, battery temperature and midpoint voltage of two batteries in your battery bank simultaneously. This feature keeps your batteries in mint condition for a long time.
We also appreciate that the Victron Energy BMV 712 has a big screen with four control buttons. It is quite easy to program thanks to its user-friendly and intuitive menu.
You can see voltage current, consumed amp-hours, charge and other valuable measurements. Moreover, it also has a programmable alarm or buzzer.
On the downside, and really the only negative to the Victron energy BMV-712 is that it is not great at collecting reading history. You will lose all the previous data when the battery dies.
It is also quite a bit more expensive than other options.
- Bluetooth and app to easily monitor readings on mobile devices.
- Easy to install and comes with all accessories.
- Precise measurement.
- Does not collect history.
Best Premium: SIMARINE PICO Standard RV Battery Monitor System
- Price Range: Under $500
- Bluetooth: YES
- Dimensions: 9.9 x 7.5 x 4.4 inches
- Programmable: YES
- Alarm Settings: YES
SIMARINE PICO is a one-stop shop when it comes to combining one of the best RV battery monitors with all of the other gauges in your RV or campervan.
This innovative device monitors virtually every aspect of an RV or campervan. It acts not only as an RV battery monitor, but it also collects and displays information from your fresh, grey and black tanks, and your fuel gauge and even helps monitor temperatures throughout your RV.
The PICO monitor is super useful and packed with exceptional features.
As you would expect from a premium battery monitor, it is compatible with all sorts of deep-cycle batteries. The shunt has multiple battery voltage inputs and the tank level module allows you to accurately gauge each of your tanks.
Another useful feature is its ability to detect a malfunction in equipment and to provide a report of the individual power consumption of each appliance.
We like this feature because you can detect how much energy individual appliances such as your refrigerator/cooler, lighting, furnace or other large power draws are consuming and you can easily see if any may not be operating correctly.
One of the things that we really like about the SIMARINE PICO is that while most battery monitors have a simple black and white LCD display, the PICO has a beautiful and sleek colored display monitor that looks more like an iPad than an RV battery monitor.
The big screen displays detailed information about your RV’s electrical system plus the various other gauges if you opt to use them. And you can easily and intuitively toggle between screen options to see your various gauges.
On the downside, all these exceptional features come with a hefty price tag. It is among the three best battery monitoring systems but it costs nearly as much as our other 4 options combined!
We’re not just trying to sell you the most expensive battery monitor on the market. In fact, we think this is a great option if you’re looking to consolidate all of your sensors into one, sleek screen and if you were starting out renovating or building your RV or campervan from scratch.
However, to be honest, this is overkill if you’re just interested in battery monitoring. Installation and battery monitor setup can also be a bit challenging as you are tying multiple gauge systems into the display screen.
- Connects up to 6 batteries.
- Sleek and colorful screen with accurate and detailed information.
- Easy to use.
- Complete RV battery monitoring system.
- Very Expensive.
- Complicated setup involving multiple systems
- May be overkill for simple RV and campervan uses
Best Budget: AiLi RV Battery Monitor
- Price Range: Under $50
- Bluetooth: NO
- Dimensions: 2.0 x 1.0 x 3.6 inches
- Programmable: NO
- Alarm Settings: NO
The AiLi Battery monitor is our top budget pick and many full-time campers recommend this device because of its versatility.
It is a great RV battery monitoring system but also functions properly with other battery-operated appliances such as electric bikes that you may take on the road with you.
Moreover, it is compatible with all lithium iron phosphate and lead-acid battery options.
AiLi is another multifunctional battery meter.
It serves as a voltmeter, and ammeter and can measure the remaining battery capacity. It also has memory functions that keep a record of previous readings in case of power failure.
The big screen of this battery monitor is a plus. It has a bright green backlight and displays accurate readings. You will never have any difficulty reading the screen from a distance. If anything, it may be too bright at night.
On the downside, the permanently green backlight cannot be dimmed. It can be annoyingly bright when you are trying to sleep. We’re also on the fence about whether toggling between the display screen options is a big deal or not.
And if you’re not familiar with how shunts and RV battery monitors work, you might be a little overwhelmed by the installation as the instructions are on par with its price.
For the price, this is the best RV battery monitor you will find if you are looking for a simple, affordable and easy-to-install option.
But if you are an entry-level camper just trying to keep track of the basics, we’d recommend that you consider spending a little more for the Renogy and the features it has to overcome the deficits of this budget-friendly purchase.
- Multifunctional device.
- Versatile and compatible with many types of batteries and equipment.
- Affordable and easy to install.
- No button to turn off the backlight.
- Must toggle between screens to read different measurements
- The instruction manual is not great
Best Budget Runner Up: Bayite DC 6.5 100V Battery Monitor
- Price Range: Under $50
- Bluetooth: NO
- Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.2 x 0.9 Inches
- Programmable: NO
- Alarm Settings: NO
Bayite is among the most popular battery monitors due to its more affordable price tag and simple design.
Like the Renogy and Victron options, the 4-in-1 device has all the functionalities of a voltmeter, ammeter, energy meter and multimeter. This means it can measure the current, battery voltage, power and energy of the battery.
Despite its incredibly modest price tag, the power meter has a big LCD display with a blue backlight, which can be turned off manually and it stores the previous readings when the battery loses power, so you don’t have to reset the battery monitor.
The most appealing quality of this product aside from its price point is its solid construction. The heavy-duty battery monitor can stand bumps in the campervan and make sure that you don’t have to replace the RV battery monitor anytime soon.
Moreover, it comes with a 100A shunt which is capable of detecting a battery voltage reading as well as any of the other options on our list.
On the downside, the Bayite battery monitor comes virtually a la carte. Aside from the monitor and shunt, all of the wires and mounts are sold separately.
But you cannot expect more at this price point. And if you know what you are doing, you may have the wires and ability to mount it lying around your shop.
We purchased this battery monitor before we left for the road on our initial journey in 2018. We didn’t understand how it worked and the installation was not clear. Because it did not come with all of the wires and mounting hardware out of the box we could not figure out how to install it correctly.
We actually carried it with us for over two years (because it is so small) before we finally jettisoned it and purchased the Renogy battery monitor.
- Affordable price tag.
- Functional design and operation.
- Solid construction.
- No mounts and wires for installation.
- Can be complicated to install if you’re not familiar with battery monitors
How to Choose the Best RV Battery Monitor
RV battery monitors are an essential device inside your RV or camper. After spending money building a great RV battery bank, the last thing you want to do is damage the batteries by running them too low or exerting too much load on them.
The best RV battery monitors will extend the battery life and keep them in great working condition. But simply choosing a random battery monitor can be dangerous for the battery bank and may end up costing you much more in the long run.
If you are not already sold on which battery monitor is best for your RV, here are the features that you should consider before choosing one.
Every battery monitor has a display screen to give a better idea of the battery’s health. Monitors can show loads of data and being able to interact with the data is important.
Some display monitors require you to press a button to toggle through the different readings, while others will show full readings in one screen.
So, it is up to you whether you prefer a small screen with basic information like battery capacity, and voltage temperature or a big screen battery monitor like SIMARINE that shows detailed insight about the battery performance and life.
You will also likely want the ability to dim the screen if you are not otherwise able to install it where it will not create an annoying distraction at night.
Another thing to look for is Bluetooth connectivity. While it seems more like a luxury, these days nearly every similar device is connected via Bluetooth.
This adds up to the versatility of the device as you can conveniently connect your mobile phone or laptop to remotely monitor the battery status.
Whether you tend to worry about your RV battery bank health while you are away from your RV or you just don’t want to get out of bed to check the health of your battery, Bluetooth is a feature that divides the RV battery monitor systems.
Ease of Installation
Ease of installation is another crucial factor because some battery monitors can be quite hard to install, or the instructions may be challenging and difficult to understand. In our journey with our basic Bayite battery monitor, we have faced these problems because of improper installation guides or insufficient accessories.
So, look for an RV battery monitor that is easy to use and comes with all the necessary accessories for mounting. This is why both the Renogy and Victron battery monitors appear at the top of our list of recommendations.
User Interface (Ease of Use)
A battery monitoring system has to be convenient and easy to use. A complicated screen is not good because the whole point of adding RV battery monitor systems to your battery bank is to make it quick and easy to evaluate the health and functioning of the battery.
Some RV battery monitors allow you to easily toggle to select battery types and set an alarm function for high or low voltage.
With basic battery monitors, you’ll get what you pay for. So if you’re OK with the basic displays then you may not need a higher-end option for your RV.
A battery shunt is a vital component of battery monitoring systems as it is the literal link between your battery bank and your loads. A shunt measures the current flowing in and out of the batteries and provides real-time data to analyze the battery percentage and display it on the monitor itself.
The shunt is attached to the negative terminal of the battery and installed close to the battery. The best RV battery monitoring systems come with a battery shunt because it is an important component of battery monitors.
Finding a shunt separately can be quite difficult, so choose a monitor that comes with a good-quality battery shunt. You’ll also want to look for one that includes the necessary wires and mounting accessories as this can be challenging to figure out on your own.
Accessories are an important part of a campervan battery monitor. The cables and mounts are necessary for a proper installation regardless of which battery monitor you select.
Some manufacturers also include some extra but useful accessories like temperature sensors. But at the least, you’ll want to make sure that you have the display monitor, shunt, shield wire (between the shunt and battery monitor) and positive wire (connects between the positive battery terminal and the shunt).
Mounting plates are a bonus as you don’t want the shunt moving around while you drive.
Price can also be a major deciding factor. Like every electrical appliance, prices for RV battery monitoring systems are quite diverse. You can get a working device for as little as $30 and the price can go as high as $500 or more.
The prices are usually proportionate to the quality and features, built-in technology, capacity and included accessories. Expensive battery monitors are great as they tend to have sleek screens with Bluetooth and mobile apps for remote monitoring.
Moreover, they usually provide every kind of information about your battery and electrical system you can imagine needing. So if you are not overly worried about price and want a top-end monitor to handle all of your systems, the SIMIRINE PICO is a great option and will actually consolidate the costs of other monitoring systems.
On the other end, budget-conscious shoppers may be disappointed by going on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to RV battery monitor prices. If all you are looking to do is to save money, plan to add some frustration into installation, and only have the bare minimums when it comes to data.
Now you know why battery monitors are essential to keep the batteries in great working condition. And this small investment also extends the battery life. After reading to this point, we hope that choosing the best battery monitor for your RV is effortless.
However, if you are still on the fence, we’ll remind you why the Renogy 500A model is the best product on our list. It checks all the boxes of a great and functional battery monitor and comes at a fairly affordable price.
The high-quality monitor has a big bright screen that displays all the necessary readings (and can be turned off at night!). It is easy to install and comes with everything you need right out of the box.
We have installed this battery monitor in each of our RVs over the years and have always been 100% confident in the accuracy of the measurements and build quality.
This battery monitor does everything you want and need it to do without overcomplicating things. By default, it displays voltage, amp-hours, amperage in/out, battery percentage, wattage in/out and estimated battery life at current consumption rates.
You can program it between different battery types and capacities and set high and low-voltage alarms as well. Plus its simple rectangular shape and long wire connections make it easy to install virtually anywhere inside your campervan.
It comes with an easy-to-install battery shunt with a plug-and-play configuration to connect the monitor to the shunt for real-time battery monitoring with ultra-low power consumption.
What does an RV battery monitor do?
As the name implies, an RV battery monitor measures various factors about the health and operation of your battery bank. Great batteries are almost always the most expensive component of any RV electrical system.
All batteries, even the illustrious lithium batteries, have a point at which they should not be discharged. This is called your “depth of discharge” and ranges from 50% with standard flooded lead-acid batteries to over 80% with lithium-iron-phosphate batteries.
A good battery monitor will not only tell you the current state of charge but also other factors such as the amperage drawn from appliances you are using as well as the recharge rate if you have solar panels or are using shore power.
We consider them essential components of our RV electrical system and include the modest cost in our budget anytime we are adding to or overhauling our power system.
Do I really need an RV battery monitor for my campervan, RV or trailer?
While your battery bank is likely the most expensive component in your entire RV or campervan, adding a few extra dollars to your budget to protect this investment should be a no-brainer.
At this point in time, RV battery monitors are affordable and relatively easy to install and should be considered absolutely essential components in your RV.
Whether you’re building a new battery bank or want to simply monitor your existing one, you can add a battery monitor with little to no effort and you will find it is a game-changer in understanding your power use and battery health.
How do I install an RV battery monitor?
Although the exact installation process for each battery monitor on our list varies (consult the instruction manual accordingly), the general principle is as follows.
The best RV battery monitoring systems will come with the display monitor, shunt, shielded wire, B+ wire and a mounting bracket of some sort.
- Display Monitor – Communicates with the shunt via the shielded wire to display the various data such as voltage, amperage and state of charge.
- Shunt – A simple device that you connect with heavy gauge wire between your battery and your load and attach both the shielded wire and B+ wire to inform the display monitor of various data.
- Shielded Wire – Relays the information collected in the shunt to the display monitor. These are usually long wires so that you can mount the display monitor 10-20 feet from the battery shunt.
- B+ Wire – Connects between the positive terminal of the battery bank and the shunt to allow the shunt to accurately measure the data inside and between the battery and load
- Mounting Bracket – Holds the shunt in place to avoid disconnection and damage during transit
The most important part of installing the RV battery monitor is ensuring that your shunt is connected properly between the battery bank and the load and solar panels (in other words, your entire electrical system).
In order for the shunt to work correctly, it needs to be directly in line and before any load on the battery.
So you should use a large wire to connect between the negative terminal of the battery to the shunt, and then between the shunt and your load (usually a negative bus bar). In this way, there is no parasitic draw on the battery from any other appliance or device connected to the battery that is not monitored by the shunt.
For further installation instructions see the product user manual and/or seek the assistance of professional installation.
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