sv Manna

Beta Test: Curtis DENMARK “TAO Demonstrates a Deep Understanding of the Challenges Faced”

The first TAO EMS units were shipped and installed in December 2023 to begin a beta-testing phase. This is the first in a series of articles presenting our beta testers and their user experience with TAO EMS.

We begin this series with Curtis DENMARK.


Curtis Denmark

For the past seven years, he and his wife have lived full-time aboard their sailboat, the s/v Manna, a 48-foot Tayana, cruising around the Pacific.

They sailed from Washington State to the Marshall Islands via New Zealand, before returning to their home port of Ketchikan, Alaska. They are currently cruising off Mexico in the Sea of Cortez.

Curtis has a professional background in electro-mechanical systems engineering but has transitioned to developing software solutions for the healthcare industry.


Curtis's Feedback on TAO EMS

“The TAO EMS system stands out as a meticulously designed Energy Management System that fulfills all the criteria I seek. Its programmability via the CAN bus interface elevates it above standard Battery Management Systems (BMS), allowing for sophisticated management of my Victron components along with other non-smart systems like Balmar, Watt & Sea, and Silent Wind. The TAO system provides an array of advanced features I look for in an EMS.

sv Manna

These include multiple configurable relays, active balancing, support for separate Load and Charge buses, multi-level alarm pre-warnings, wireless setup and monitoring, customizable State of Charge (SOC%) charging algorithms to enhance battery longevity, and the ability to validate system setup through configurable fault simulation.

Despite its comprehensive and customizable capabilities, the TAO EMS system is remarkably user-friendly, offering simple installation, setup, and various uses from basic BMS compliance to advanced EMS.
What truly sets TAO apart is the value added beyond the product itself. TAO demonstrates a deep understanding of the challenges faced in marine off-grid settings and provides exceptional expertise and support. This includes a valuable user forum and extensive, detailed documentation, such as for Victron CAN bus programming, which is uncommon in the marine sector.”

Curtis's Installation

On board, electricity is generated by two photovoltaic panels, a wind turbine, and an alternator, then stored in two parallel 400Ah lithium-ion battery packs (safety redundancy for protection in the event of a pack failure) made up of Winston prismatic cells.

The batteries are charged by various chargers:

  • Victron chargers: Multiplus 3000/120/12V, Skylla IP-65/70A, SmartSolar 100/50 controlled by a Cerbo GX ;
  • Balmar MC-618 charge controller for the alternator.
Curtis installation

Each battery is supervised by a TAO EMS, which monitors cell voltage and temperature at all times, as well as charge/discharge current (with the TAO shunt) and State Of Charge (SOC) of the packs.

The two TAO EMS coordinate with each other via CAN bus communication. They protect the system and control it through a set of customized triggers.

Precise charge management is achieved by centralizing control of all chargers:

  • CAN bus communication with the Cerbo GX for control of Victron chargers;
  • Balmar regulator control via a relay output.

Relay outputs also enable the control of a set of four Blue Sea 12V relays (two per battery pack) to isolate chargers or loads to protect system equipment in the event of malfunction.

At all times, Curtis knows exactly what the operating status of his system is, thanks to the TAO monitor screen, which displays key information. He can also be sure of being alerted in the event of a problem, thanks to the TAO LED panel, which emits an alarm coupled with an indicator light.

A great installation that works perfectly despite the complexity of a system equipped with two batteries in parallel.


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