After constructing a solar panel and battery system to power a Raspberry Pi, I wanted to find a way to monitor how the battery and charger was performing. There are several ways to accomplish this task, usually involving a voltage sensor, a current sensor, or both.
A voltage-based sensor can be used to monitor the charge of the battery. Over a typical day, the battery voltage should rise as the solar panel charges the battery, and then discharge at night while the Raspberry Pi consumes power from the battery. A common technique for monitoring voltage is to use a voltage divider. If appropriate resistances are chosen for the voltage divider circuit, the drain on the battery from the sensor is negligable.
Another option is to use a current sensor. A current sensor placed off of one of the battery terminals will measure how much current is flowing into or out of the battery. Continue Reading