Low Power LED Battery Voltmeter

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

This is a low power voltmeter circuit that can be used with alternative energy systems that run on 12 and 24 volt batteries. The voltmeter is an expanded scale type that indicates small voltage steps over the 10 to 16 volt range for 12 volt batteries and over the 22 to 32 volt range for 24 volt batteries. Power consumption can be as low as 14mw wh

Low Power LED Battery Voltmeter
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en operated from 12V and 160mw when operated from 24V. It is possible to set the meter to read equal steps across a variety of upper and lower voltages. The meter saves power by operating in a low duty-cycle blinking mode where the LED indicators are only on and consuming power briefly during a repeating 2 second cycle. The circuit may be switched to a high power mode where the active LED stays on at all times. Different colored LEDs may be used for the voltage level indicators, this allows the battery state to be read in the dark. With the new blue LEDs, it is possible to have a nice looking rainbow of colors using two each of red, amber, yellow, green, and blue LEDs. The circuit will also work with inexpensive and common red LEDs. If the circuit is to be used in sunlight, ultra-bright LEDs should be used, although even those may be hard to read without some kind of sun shield. The heart of the circuit is the LM3914N dot-bar volt meter IC, U2. This chip is operated in the expanded-scale mode so that the circuit responds in the 10-16V range. U2 outputs a steady voltage on pin 7 from the internal voltage reference. This is fed via voltage dividers VR2 and R5 to the internal reference input pins to set the range that the meter is sensitive to. The measured voltage is fed in on pin 5 via the voltage divider consisting of R4 and VR1. This divider scales the input voltage down to a range that is useful to the IC. The U2 positive...

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