CampLite > General Q & A

Does bluetooth work in an aluminum camper? Victron vs. Renogy


RV Squirrel:
Does bluetooth work in an aluminum camper?  Ideally, I'd like to monitor bluetooth-enabled devices in my trailer, while I'm driving in my TV.

I've recently purchases a couple of lithium batteries for my Camplite 14DBS.  I know that I need a DCDC converter to charge the battery from the TV.  I also need a solar charge controller that will be compatible with the lithium batteries.

I've been considering two combinations of equipment:
1) Victron Smart Orion DCDC converter (18A) + Victron Bluesolar charge controller (30A with bluetooth dongle)
2) Renogy 20A DCDC converter (no bluetooth) + Renogy Rover charge controller (40A with bluetooth dongle).

The Victron equipment is considerably more expensive, but there are a few things that are making me consider it nonetheless.  My concern is that, unlike the Renogy Rover (which has a built-in display), the Victron relies entirely on bluetooth for configuration and monitoring.  I know that the Victron Bluesolar has an optional display module, but I'll likely be using that port for a bluetooth dongle... I like the idea of bluetooth dongles, because it allows me to "turn off" bluetooth when I am not using it.

It would be a real bummer to spend additional money for equipment that depends on bluetooth, only to realize that it will only work if I'm holding my cellphone next to it!

General comments about Victron vs. Renogy are welcome too!  Thanks!

Brij Liu007:
Anyone can help with this ? I also came across the similar situation when I was camping near Blacktown area last month. I'm also not sure if I can make things wirelessly with bluetooth


RV Squirrel:
If you have an aluminum travel trailer, then I would not expect that you would be able to reliably monitor devices inside the travel trailer from the cab of your tow vehicle.  Since both are enclosed in a sheet of metal, they both act as Faraday shields, and wireless signals have a hard time getting from the inside of aluminum trailer to the inside of the truck cabin.  If you were standing inside your travel trailer, I would expect that you would be able to use Bluetooth to configure a device from your cellphone though.  I purchased a Victron Orion, and am planning to configure it while standing inside my aluminum trailer using my iPhone.  Once configured, I do not expect to get good reception inside my Chevy pickup.

A week or so after making my initial post, I did a test.  I used a high-tech approach to testing bluetooth reception... it included my iPhone and my wife's fit-bit wristwatch.  I used the fit-bit as a bluetooth source.  I downloaded a free app called "Bluetooth BLE Device Finder" on my iPhone.  It's supposed to help you find lost BT devices.  The hard part was finding out which device was my wife's fit-bit... I had to put it in an empty aluminum cat-food can (with another can on top) to see which signal went away.

I laid in on the counter in my trailer, put my cellphone next to it, and looked at the "signal strength" associated with the fit-bit.  It was around 72.  I then put the fit-bit on the aluminum floor of the TT, where I planned to mount the DC2DC.  The aluminum floor may have interfered with the BT signal, because I got a signal strength around 53.  I then went outside the TT (closing the door and leaving the fit-bit on the floor of the TT) and stood right next to where I thought the fit-bit might be... the strength was around 35.  I walked around to the other side of the TT (driver's side of the TV) and the signal strength was 19.  I got inside the truck and the signal strength was between 0 and 5.  (The second time I tried the test, the fit-bit strength was 0, and it dropped off the list of observed devices).  I'm inclined to think that both distance and metal are attenuating the signal.  When I stepped inside the house (which has a brick front), the signal dropped significantly, so I think that the BT signal might have problems getting through other materials as well.

I would go with Victron Energy charge controller, best charge controller on the market and easy to connect to from a smart phone or computer.
I ran a bogart engineering charge controller and battery monitor for the first years and connecting remotely is complicated and the web only interface is like MS-DOS or linux environment, not worth the it in my opinion, hence why I switched to Victron Energy battery monitor and charge controller.


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