This is my hands-on review of the Renogy 500A Battery Monitor.
I spent about 2 months testing it alongside 3 other top battery monitors for RVs, boats, and solar systems. After installing the Renogy monitor, connecting it to a 12V battery bank, and running it through charge and discharge cycles, I think it’s a great option for those who like the big screen and don’t need Bluetooth monitoring.
It works with 12-48V lithium and lead acid batteries, the predominant types found in vehicle and solar electrical systems. It doesn’t have as much customizability or as many extra features as Victron battery monitors, but it has a low-capacity alarm and does basic battery monitoring well.
Renogy 500A Battery Monitor
A good mid-range battery monitor
This is a solid and simple battery monitor with a large screen and a handy low-capacity alarm. It doesn’t have Bluetooth or extensive customizability, though.
|Battery voltage range:||10-120V||Bluetooth?||No|
|Shunt current rating:||500A||Max battery capacity:||9,999Ah|
|Claimed accuracy:||± 1% A, ± 1% V, ± 1% Capacity||Operating temperature:||-10 to +60°C (14 to 140°F)|
Renogy 500A Battery Monitor vs Top Battery Monitors
If you’d like to know how the Renogy 500A compares to other top battery monitors — such as the Victron SmartShunt and BMV-712 Smart — check out my full review of the best battery monitors, or watch the following YouTube video I made of my testing.
Renogy 500A Battery Monitor Review
The Renogy 500A has a shunt and a screen, both of which should be mounted before setup.
To mount the shunt, you can use double-sided mounting tape to tape it to the battery or a nearby surface. Or you can use the included screws and a drill to mount it to a wall.
To mount the screen, you use a jigsaw or drywall saw to cut out a rectangular hole in your wall. Then you friction fit the screen inside.
At this point, I recommend you charge your battery bank to 100% and then disconnect all loads and chargers. You then connect the shunt’s “B-” terminal to your battery bank’s negative terminal. I use a properly-sized black tray cable to do this.
Then use a precision flathead screwdriver to secure the shunt’s included red power cord into one of the B+ terminals on the shunt. Connect the power cord’s ring terminal to your battery bank’s positive terminal. Lastly, connect the screen to the shunt. It should automatically turn on.
The Renogy 500A is relatively easy to set up, largely because there aren’t that many settings to adjust. You hold the up arrow for a few seconds to set your battery state of charge to 100%. (You can also hold the down arrow for a few seconds to set state of charge to 0%.)
Then hold OK for a few seconds to enter the settings menu. There you can input your battery bank’s effective capacity — “effective” being the key word here.
Lead acid batteries typically have 50% effective (i.e. usable) capacity, so for a 100Ah lead acid battery I’d recommend setting your capacity to 50Ah. Most lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries have 100% usable capacity, so for my 100Ah LiFePO4 battery I set my capacity to 100Ah.
There are a couple voltage setpoints you can set which reset the battery’s capacity to either 0 or 100%, and another which puts the monitor in a low power mode. I tinkered around with these settings during my testing. The low power mode voltage was nice, but the capacity voltages were mostly useless. Basing battery state of charge off voltage when the battery is connected to loads or chargers is quite inaccurate.
Then there’s the low capacity alarm setting, which you turn on by inputting the capacity at which you want the alarm to go off. For my 100Ah lithium battery I set the alarm to trigger when the capacity hit 10Ah.
Lastly, there’s a very poorly explained battery attenuation ratio. I haven’t seen this setting in any other battery monitor, so I was confused as to what it was and what value I should input.
I reached out to Renogy customer support to get some guidance. They responded by saying that “generally speaking, the Battery Attention Ratio parameter does not need to be set.”
My guess is that it’s some sort of capacity retention factor — basically, how much capacity your battery retains each time it’s discharged. But, without further guidance from Renogy, that’s just a guess. So I left it blank.
Charging & Discharging
With the monitor installed and all my settings dialed in, I connected a 2000W inverter and started discharging the battery at a rate of 20 amps.
I monitored the discharging using the Renogy 500A’s big, beautiful screen. It displays all the most important specs, so I could easily see voltage, current, wattage, battery percentage, and remaining amp hours.
There’s also an estimate of time remaining which is helpful for getting a sense for how much long your battery will last. It’s most helpful when your system is using a relatively constant amount of power. Otherwise it can vary widely based on moment to moment fluctuations in power usage.
Once the battery capacity hit 10Ah, the alarm went off. The monitor started beeping and flashing to alert me that the battery capacity was low.
I drained the battery close to 0%, then turned off the inverter, disconnected it, and then connected a lithium battery charger and started charging the battery. I also, at one point, connected a 300 watt solar array and solar charged the battery via an MPPT charge controller.
Charging worked as expected, and monitoring it was easy to do. The battery charged fully without issue via the charger and solar panels.
The Renogy 500A’s only real extra feature is its programmable low-capacity alarm. You tell the monitor at which capacity you want it to go off, and then, once it hits that threshold, it starts buzzing and flashing to alert you your battery is low.
It’s loud enough that it could alert you from the other side of your boat or RV. I imagine you’ll also be able to hear it when right outside your vehicle.
What I Like
- It has a big screen that lets you see all the important battery stats at a glance. You can see battery voltage, percentage, and current all at the same time. It makes monitoring your battery bank easy.
- It has a programmable low capacity alarm that provides both visual and audible alerts when your battery starts running low. This is useful for getting your attention when the battery needs recharging.
- It’s reasonably priced. It certainly isn’t a budget battery monitor like the AiLi 350A Battery Monitor. But, for a 500A monitor with a nice display and alarm feature, it’s a pretty good price. I’ve also seen it on sale often on Amazon.
What I Don’t Like
- It doesn’t have Bluetooth. There’s no way to monitor your battery bank remotely from a phone or tablet. (And there isn’t a port for the Renogy BT-1 or BT-2, so there’s no way to add Bluetooth later on.) You’re limited to viewing the stats on the monitor’s screen.
- The customization options are limited compared to more premium monitors. You can mainly just adjust the battery capacity, reset state of charge, set some voltage settings, and set a low-capacity alarm.
Who This Battery Monitor Is for
- You want a battery monitor with a good screen. The Renogy 500A had my favorite screen of all the monitors I reviewed because you can see all the main specs at a glance.
- You want a battery monitor with a low-capacity alarm. The Renogy monitor lets you set a capacity threshold, and then it starts flashing and beeping when your battery hits that level.
- You want a good battery monitor at a reasonable price. The Renogy hits a nice sweet spot between being affordable but also well-made. Price-wise, it’s a good mid-range option.
Who This Battery Monitor Isn’t for
- You want Bluetooth capabilities. The Renogy 500A does not have Bluetooth, so if remote monitoring via an app is important to you, this isn’t the best option. Consider the Victron SmartShunt or Victron BMV-712 instead.
- You want maximum customizability and settings. If fine-tuning lots of settings is a priority, or you’d like things like historical data and trends, I’d again consider the Victron monitors.
- AiLi 350A Battery Monitor. The AiLi performs the basic functions of a battery monitor at a very affordable price. It has even fewer features and settings than the Renogy — no alarm, for instance — but it will tell you your battery percentage, voltage, and current. Also, the AiLi’s shunt looks identical to the Renogy’s. Indeed, the only way I could tell them apart was by a manufacture date etched into the bottom.
- Victron SmartShunt 500A. If you’re willing to up your budget a bit, the SmartShunt is the obvious alternative. It has Bluetooth, tons of customizability, and impressive accuracy. It doesn’t have a screen, but you can monitor via Victron’s free mobile app. It was my favorite of all the monitors I tested. Check out my full Victron SmartShunt review to learn more about it.
- Renogy BT-1 or BT-2 Bluetooth Module. Certain Renogy solar charge controllers are compatible with either the BT-1 or BT-2 Bluetooth Module. Despite them occasionally being described as battery monitors by other reviewers, they do not come with shunts and thus roughly estimate battery percentage via the voltage reading from the charge controller. It’s an inaccurate way of measuring battery capacity, and the estimated capacity can bounce around wildly based on the rate of charging or discharging. But if you want to monitor stats like your solar array’s output using Renogy’s mobile app, then look into these options.
The Bottom Line
The Renogy 500A Battery Monitor is a solid mid-priced option that excels in 2 key areas: it has an excellent screen that displays all battery stats at a glance, and it features a handy audible/visual alarm for low capacity.
However, it lacks more advanced capabilities like Bluetooth monitoring and extensive customizability. Still, for many RV, boat, and DIY solar system owners who want a monitor with a useful display, the Renogy 500A is a strong choice to consider.
A small ask: If you found my Renogy 500A Battery Monitor review helpful and are planning to buy one, please consider buying through one of my affiliate links below — I’ll get a small commission which will help fund more reviews like this one. Thank you! 🙏