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Victron Electrical Update

My electrical plans have taken a change. Many may remember my pension for data collection and online access. My original installation plans were based on the Simarine PICO battery monitor.

It was a great looking unit, had a lot of features, especially the ability to monitor multiple dc shunts. The big problem the unit did not have was data logging features. While I could have accomplished this with some coding and extra equipment, I decided a more off the shelve solution was one that I was looking forward. That brought me to the Victron Cerbo GX.

It provides attachment to other Victron products for monitoring, tank monitoring, temperature, etc. The biggest feature was being able to connect to the Victron Remote Management (VRM) portal. This enables it to send data to online cloud for access, and it also stores data locally for a couple of days, or more with an extra storage card.

One could build their own Cerbo, with a raspberry PI set up, as Victron allows access to the software side of things. While this is something I am quite capable of doing, I decided to stick with the solution being off the shelve.

Of course, this system works even better when connected to other Victron Equipment, so I decided that I would switch to a Victron Multiplus II inverter/charger

and a SmartSolar MPPT Charge 150/60 Tr Controller. I also added a Victron smart shunt for battery monitoring and will add a couple of more for load monitoring. This is the one area that Victron could improve, their shunt line is lacking.

The Cerbo GX can pair with a 5- or 7-inch monitor, this will give you full control over most of your connected Victron devices.

The Cerbo GX also comes with a variety of connection options. There is the standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet connections. After that it is connections for other Victron equipment. The VE. Direct attachments are for items like the solar controller or smart shunt. The VE. Bus connection attaches to inverter/chargers like the Multplus II 3000. There are also Can bus connections and specifically a BMS-Can for Victron BMS’s There is the HDMI output and one of the USB ports is just for power. The other two USB Ports will support additional items such as a GPS puck, or even a USB to VE. Direct cable if you want to add additional items. The Cerbo will support a USB hub.

Since it supports a GPS puck, I added one to the system, the standard

GlobalSat BU-353-S4 USB GPS Receiver.

I added it, this enables your location tracking via the VRM portal. It also allows an easy geofence set up, notifying you if the unit moves outside the area.

The other side of the unit provides connections to 4 resistive Tank inputs. The tank level ports can each be configured to work with either European (0 - 180 Ohm); or US tank senders (240 - 30 Ohm) standards

or to configure a custom Ohm resistance range between 0 Ohm and 264 Ohm. If you do not have resistive tank sensors, you can purchase a USB connected GX Tank 140 Monitor. The 140 provides four additional tank sensors that voltage level or current level sensors. My first choice was the using pressure sensors for water tank size, these were voltage level sensors, so I needed the GX Tank 140. The problem I found with the pressure sensor was the effects of temperature on the output. I saw the need for more USB connections and purchased a Coolgear USB 2.0 7-Port hub with Surge Protection Din Rail mounting - NEC chip.

The next inputs are temperature inputs, I was a little disappointed with the temperature support, Victron supports a limited amount of temperature sensors, for these inputs. They do not support a standard 10K Temperature Sensor Probe 1M NTC3950 Thermistor Stainless Steel Temp Sensor Probes. These are a cheap solution. While they fail (IMO) in this area, they make up for it with their Bluetooth connectivity of RUUVI temperature sensors. The battery run sensors can be attached to various locations to give you the temperature data you want. Connectivity and setup are easy. Some newer units may have fixed this but the older unit I have has a Bluetooth chip that is challenged at higher temperatures. So I purchased a separate Bluetooth dongle Insignia - Bluetooth 4.0 USB Adapter .Digital inputs also provide access to measuring status of various devices.


So now all I had to do is implement the changeover. The first thing was rerouting a few things, I needed to find a little bit of room. Removing the Simarine shunts helped. The Multiplus II is a heavier than the Xantrex (42 lbs. to 17 lbs.). This is because the Multiplus II has a transformer. For better airflow I also mounted it vertically.

So I have a layout for my Transit electrical updates. As you can see I pretty much have a full Victron setup. I am not using their Lynx Distributor or Lynx Modular Bus Bar. It did not seem like it would be a better fit, or at least not a good retrofit. I might think differently in a new build. The change over was easy, the Victron Multiplus II is much quieter in charge mode and I suspect will be quieter in inverter mode than the Xantrex predecessor.

Both the Multiplus II and SmartSolar MPPT Charge 150/60 Tr Controller are connected to the Cerbo GX with VE Direct cables. Another reason for the USB hub, was the need for USB to VE Direct cable.

All this is great, but the real thing is that it gives me access to a lot of data and control. The Cerbo easily connects to the Victron Remote Monitoring (VRM) with Ethernet, WIFI, GX GSM, Mobile Cellular Router, USB tethering. I am currently connecting with WIFI to my home network, but will soon be connecting via my Mobile Cellular Router. More importantly, it also stores logged data until it can reach the cloud, so even when camped outside of any access, I will still be able to come home and check the data.

As I said they lack some of the multi shunt options that Simarine had, But I have heard it is a priority. I did take a couple of smart shunts, and configured them as load shunt, for my refrigerator and fans. While it works, it is a costly practice. I would also like to see more data, it will currently give Amps & Watts. I would like to see that in an hourly rate, and maybe for the last 24 hours. In any event the data can be downloaded and you could make those calculations yourself. The Victron data is also stored in a Modbus format, so one can access this data using that protocol. For those are into Home Assistant it ports very well into that.

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