Victron Cerbo GX, good AC/DC power monitoring gets better

Victron introduced Cerbo GX and GX Touch 50 at METS

The existing Victron Venus GX and Color Control GX are both excellent AC/DC power monitoring products in my estimation, but with many boat systems it’s hard to decide which one to use. While the Venus blue box is less expensive with more networking capabilities, none of its display and control abilities are as fast and easy as the CCGX’s screen and button interface. I’m happy to report that this purchasing dilemma will end next year with the new Cerbo GX and GX Touch 50, and valuable additional GX features are included.

To put it another way, when the Venus-like Cerbo GX ships in February (“expected”) at a Venus-like retail price of $381, you’ll also be able to purchase a $287 GX Touch 50 for what looks like a direct color display even nicer than the CCGX. Moreover, existing GX products already have more display options than they did last year, and more to come.

section of Victron GX product range web page
Section of Victron GX product range web page

A good resource for understanding the Cerbo evolution is the Victron GX product range page. And if you’re not familiar with what a GX device can do, you might appreciate my first Venus GX testing entry last winter, and then what I saw as the MFD glass bridge integration feature underwent beta testing. (MFD integration is now an official feature, Raymarine just joined Garmin and Navico, and I was delighted to spot a Furuno engineer discussing it with Victron at METS.)

Meanwhile, I believe that the NMEA 2000 integration feature highlighted in the Cerbo introduction photo at top is just coming out of Beta testing (a little later than planned) and I hope to try it with the Venus GX soon. But while I can picture how the MFD integration, N2K output, or a dedicated GX display could be useful on a boat like mine — actually, there are good reasons to want them all — just using the Venus GX via WiFi and Ethernet has been quite satisfactory on and off the boat.

In fact, the detailed battery, inverter/charger, and solar panel data that Venus logs to the free Victron Remote Monitoring (VRM) service has vastly expanded my understanding of electron life on Gizmo. Individual loads aren’t identified, and neither is alternator output, but highly detailed voltage/shunt current graphing and other data can show you a lot about, say, the power cost of refrigeration or the performance of a smart regulator (and an odd recent example was checking out the power needs of my DIY hookah compressor).

You can see much of Gizmo’s VRM site yourself, though I suggest using the many date filtering options (and the Advanced section) to look into the April through October season. The boat is now without solar power, and often offline, in steel building at Journey’s End Marina where I am redoing most of the electronics. A test Cerbo GX will hopefully be a key aspect of the new scheme, and let’s look at the details.

While Victron’s new Cerbo GX page doesn’t include a datasheet yet, the aforementioned GX range page does enumerate the profusion of connection ports. Note, for instance, the increase in tank level and temperature sensing inputs compared with Venus. (Though so far the implementation and configuration of these extra beyond-power monitoring features seem hard to figure out, or perhaps underdeveloped, I remain hopeful. And, then again, my Venus GX can already make good monitoring use of an inexpensive USB GPS.)

Note too the BMS-Can port with support for many third-party battery systems. And to see how GX can scale up to a very large boat, or an off-grid eco-village in Corsica, check out this recent Victron Blog entry. Which makes this a good spot to note that the VRM cloud service — which can also be used to configure, update, and troubleshoot many Victron devices — means that a boat owner cowed by GX complexity can have a professional installer with powerful remote access.

And a big deal for both professional and DIY installers is that Cerbo is the first GX product with a “Smart” Bluetooth connection. So a Cerbo can be directly configured using the Victron Connect app I raved about here. In other words, while you can still use one of the several (somewhat tricky) initial Venus GX setup methods, instead you will be able to pull out your phone, have Victron Connect pair with your Cerbo automatically, and then walk you through the initial configuration.

I didn’t get to try the GX Touch 50 at METS but I’m very familiar with that animated and informative main screen, and how a user can drill down to further power detail (and many settings). And I imagine that besides looking good in this flat glass 5-inch format, the interface will be quite responsive with its HDMI connection to the Cerbo GX, which itself has more processor and memory than the Venus.

I also like the thin waterproof design, which is about 5 x 3.5 x 1/2 inches including the fixing bracket that permits surface mount with only a small hole in the underlying panel. Wouldn’t it be nice if a navigation electronics manufacturer developed a similar NMEA 2000 instrument display, especially if it too cost less than $300 retail?

Victron managing director Matthijs Vader — who is personally quite instrumental in GX development — says their strategy is to make the monitoring options flexible and affordable because it helps to sell other Victron devices. And given my GX experience on Gizmo, and having been inside the big and busy Victron U.S. distribution warehouse here in Maine, I believe the strategy is working.

Victron SmartShunts are in the works
Victron SmartShunts are in the works

This SmartShunt was also shown at METS though so far it’s only been mentioned online in a Victron Blog show preview entry. So the timing of confirmed product details and actual sales is currently uncertain. But I did gather that the SmartShunt is essentially a BMV-712 Smart battery monitor without the display or buttons. Which means even more elegant installs will be possible, with just Touch 50, glass bridge, N2K, and/or mobile app interfaces visible on a boat. Cool!

In fact, Ben Stein and I saw several other innovative AC/DC power monitoring developments at METS — from brands like MasterVolt, CZone, and Carling Technologies (Maretron) — and you’ll be hearing about them. I may be a little overfocused on this area personally, because my boat rarely has shore power, but isn’t it true that as marine navigation, communications, and comfort systems mature, the remaining mystery on many vessels is the mess of AC and DC components that power all the goodies? Are you well informed about electron life on your boat?

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

26 Responses

  1. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    The installation simplicity of the new SmartShunt shouldn’t be overlooked. All it takes is getting the shunt between the first negative distribution and the battery and then connecting a source of 12v positive (probably the battery the shunt is going to be right next to) and you’re off. From there, fire up VictronConnect and configure the shunt. As Ben said, at that point you’ve got a fully functioning battery monitoring system and the option to connect it a myriad of display and management products from Victron.

  2. Victron has been doing everything right for the last few years – adding more and more connectivity options, devices that people need, and ways to combine and configure them that does not take a PhD. I love the direction they’re going with componentized bits that you can combine together as you want to make a full system.

    I have a nice Victron system on my boat, and have been testing the CCGX to NMEA 2000 feature for a bit. This has been a long time coming, and it only reports battery info right now, which is a bit limiting given everything else the CCGX sees. I hope this will expand, perhaps with the new products above.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I just tried the Venus GX NMEA 2000 output today, and saw in Maretron N2KAnalyzer that it’s identified as coming from two devices, the Venus and also the attached BMV 712. The BMV is putting out house battery info — SoC, Current, Voltage, and Temp — which will be nice to have on the network. It’s also transmitting a Switch Status PGN, which may have to do with its relay status? Meanwhile, the Venus N2K device isn’t putting out any data PGNs, but seems ready to.

      • Are you running the beta firmware? 2.40…?

        • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

          Yes, I’m pretty sure the latest, but can’t check remotely now because I shut everything down. Sounds Charger/Inverter info is coming soon (at least to the beta):

          “Add NMEA2000 out function: transmit battery monitor out on the VE.Can/NMEA2000 network so it can be picked up by Marine MFDs. Currently it only transmits battery monitor data. Inverter/charger data will follow soon.”

          • Yes I saw that a couple of days ago on the Victron forums. Having the battery information is helpful, although I can get most of that through the Venus+SignalK plugin and then having SignalK spit it out onto NMEA 2000, but that is not native and requires more pieces. I always like simplified things.

            Really looking forward to the inverter/charger data, though!

  3. Keith Pleas says:

    Last line on the METS list of bullets: “Works with most MDF brands”. Ouch.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool! NMEA 2000 output is now official in GX update 2.40 and it includes charger/inverter information as well as battery bank monitoring:

    Victron BMV-712 to NMEA 2000 via Venus GX

  5. I had a conversation with a Victron fellow at a recent SSCA Gam, and he alluded to what I think must be the Smartshunt device.

    “My problem is that I have two Link 10s, one for each house bank, and while I am very interested in updating them, I would also rather get rid of the mental arithmetic to add the two together for overall status. If the system can accommodate two such “smartshunts” into a single instrument that can integrate the two inputs, that would be wonderful (especially if it can do it with a Bluetooth port, as I have now with my Victron solar controller)!”

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I’d really like to see Victron GX supporting multiple shunts, but I’m not sure that’s the intention with their SmartShunts. Also, I think that the Bluetooth will be strictly app to shunt, and mainly for configuration, while the V.E. Direct port will connect to a GX device (like the “Smart” solar controllers).

      Meanwhile, the Simarine Pico can already handle many shunts though they have stopped talking about the NMEA 2000 integration that was supposed to come out in late 2017.

      • David A says:

        Agreed; I had all but decided on the Simarine Pico for my main RV monitoring (battery and charging status, tanks) with Victron on the power side (inverter/charger/MPPT) until I saw the Cerbo GX and GX Touch 50. The Cerbo GX/GX Touch 50 seems SO CLOSE to the holy grail; yet without discrete load monitoring, it gives up something to the Simarine.

        I wonder if Victron have any interest in energy monitoring a la Sense, or at least with major loads like A/C, refrigerator, etc.

  6. jan-kees says:

    The BIG advantage of these management devices are the digital inputs. I have connected them to my bilge pumps, and now I get an email from the Victron VRM site when any of them are being used. And it is FREE, it saved me the monthly fees all these other monitoring systems charge. It paid for the Venus in a year !!

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I like to think that it makes great sense for the Cerbo GX and the GX Touch 50 to be awarded a Pittman…

    … and am also happy to report that preorders will start soon with shipping expected in late March.

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Great to see that Cerbo is now officially released, manual included:

    And very nice that the Victron Blog entry about it makes good use of Panbo 😉

  9. matthew-s says:

    Any indication on timing and price of the SmartShunt? I am doing a complete refit of my electrical and would like to use the SmartShunt and Cerbo GX with the touch to replace the BMV-712.

  10. jan-kees says:

    Call Peter Kennedy..he can tell you 1 410 280 2267

    Or call Justin the US Manager. 1 207 3540493

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Very cool! My free VRM monitoring site opened up this morning with a much improved power data dashboard presentation. You can see it too…

    … and, yes, Gizmo refrigeration and gadget loads are outpacing the solar panels, but I’m getting underway soon and a big burst of engine alternator power should show by this evening (though that’s the one major component VRM can’t specifically identify).

  1. February 6, 2020

    […] Victron Cerbo GX, good AC/DC power monitoring gets better […]

  2. February 8, 2020

    […] Victron Cerbo GX, good AC/DC power monitoring gets better. […]

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published.