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Old 06-25-2017, 08:46 AM   #1
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Exclamation 2 inverters in 2 mos., both SMOKE!

Hi folks. Looking for ideas on what could be wrong with our inverter setup, or if this is normal behavior?

We have a brand new Victron Multiplus 3000 (120V) hybrid inverter/charger. The cooling fan kicks on after about a minute running the 1500W water kettle or any other appliance in that wattage ballpark, then we see/smell smoke.

The inverter is 3000W, so this load should be no problem. It's installed in a interior storage closet in the bedroom. The closet has a door and is approx. 15L x 15W x 30H in. The inverter is upright and mounted to the back wall with 5 in. or more of space around all surfaces except the back.

After seeing a lot of smoke coming from the closet (on the first day we used it! scary!!), we installed a smoke alarm in the closet. It now goes off every time we run a "heavier" load but there are never any warning lights on the inverter itself (i.e. overload, high temperature, etc.).

The smoke smells the same as the normal electrical smell when the inverter is running, only a lot stronger...no rubber smell. Our previous (also brand new) Victron 3000W inverter did the same thing, so we replaced it with this unit because our installer (an AM Solar certified tech) thought the last one was faulty. It also smoked on Day 1. Our electrical system is 30A btw.

I will say that even while smoking, the inverter seems to be functioning fine. I'd be surprised if smoke is a byproduct of normal operation, but this is our first inverter and first RV, so I can't say for sure. This situation stinks on more than one level...

Thanks for any replies from those more familiar with these issues.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:15 AM   #2
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I would NOT run the converter until the problem is solved. Fire is not your friend... especially in an RV.

Is there a fuse in the converter for the DC output? Do you have batteries?
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:28 AM   #3
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It seems highly unlikely that 2 new Victron units are faulty; wiring is more likely. You are pulling more than 100 amps at that load so there should be evidence that something smoked. Get the cover off your I/C and look at the cables and connections. If you had a tech do this and you are not comfortable with the troubleshooting, get him back to fix it.
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Old 06-25-2017, 09:32 AM   #4
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Have you gone to the manufacturer's web site or called their support line? Provide them with the same information you have given here and see what they say.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:05 AM   #5
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Hi

I'd bet you a warm can of beer that the wires to the inverter are not fat enough or that the connector(s) on the wire are to small / poorly connected.

The inverter is going to try to deliver the required load. Let's say that's 1350 W and the inverter is 100% efficient. It will pull 100A off of a 13.5V fully charged battery to do that with monster large wires. If the wires have 1V of drop, it will try to pull 108A. The drop will be more with the higher current so now you are maybe at 12.0 V and 112A.

If you have the "normal" battery setup, you have about 200AH of battery. (Your custom setup may be very different). Pulling 100A off of a 200AH battery is going to drop the output voltage more than a little, up goes the current some more. It can quickly turn into a death spiral. At some point the inverter will cut out to protect it's self. Depending on the design, that may not be util a pretty low voltage (like 9.5V on your unit).

If you are right at the magic 9.5V point on the inverter, the 1500 W load will pull 173A from the battery. That's at a 90% efficiency on the inverter. That's a lot of current .... 2/0 cable is the smallest you should risk at that point. If you *do* go that small, you will get > 5V of drop in a 20' long cable pair. For a ~1V drop you would need to go to something in the 6/0 to 8/0 range.

None of this gets you to the 3KW rating on the inverter, we're still poking around at 1/2 output ....

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Old 06-25-2017, 11:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwf View Post
I would NOT run the converter until the problem is solved. Fire is not your friend... especially in an RV.

Is there a fuse in the converter for the DC output? Do you have batteries?
@cwf: Thanks for the reply Channing. I agree wholeheartedly, but we're full-timing, so not much choice if we want to have electricity. We have four 6V sealed AGM batteries rated at 220Ah each. Yes, there's a 400A fuse between the DC output and the inverter.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by lsbrodsky View Post
It seems highly unlikely that 2 new Victron units are faulty; wiring is more likely. You are pulling more than 100 amps at that load so there should be evidence that something smoked. Get the cover off your I/C and look at the cables and connections. If you had a tech do this and you are not comfortable with the troubleshooting, get him back to fix it.
Larry
@lsbrodsky: Thank you for the reply. I agree, but it's been difficult to find the source of the smoke. When I took off the cover on the first unit, I didn't see any evidence of burning whatsoever. Same with all of the wires. The tech who installed the replacement unit inspected the wiring and couldn't find any fault or evidence of burning, and I haven't seen anything on this one either when removing the face plate.
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Old 06-25-2017, 11:53 AM   #8
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Have you gone to the manufacturer's web site or called their support line? Provide them with the same information you have given here and see what they say.
@richw46: Thanks for your reply. I called Victron early last week right after we had the new unit installed and it smoked. They were super duper unhelpful. The woman just repeated that they service dealers first, so basically no customer service for owners. ::{

I haven't contacted the dealer yet, because what more more can they do? They were super cool about replacing the first unit under warranty, without any hassle at all. The dealer even worked together a bit with the installer before I bought the final setup to make sure it had all the right components.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:00 PM   #9
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So if you have the cover off, where is it smoking when you run it?
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by GinaParmesan View Post
@cwf: Thanks for the reply Channing. I agree wholeheartedly, but we're full-timing, so not much choice if we want to have electricity. We have four 6V sealed AGM batteries rated at 220Ah each. Yes, there's a 400A fuse between the DC output and the inverter.

You do have a choice if you do not want to burn your trailer to the ground. Stop using the inverter Immediately. Find a professional to look at your system ASAP.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:21 PM   #11
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So if you have the cover off, where is it smoking when you run it?
Larry
@lsbrodsky: It must be coming from somewhere deeper inside the unit. All I see is smoke coming out of the closet into the bedroom. Nothing comes directly out the front of the unit or the wires below or around it, either, even when I looked with a flashlight.

The second tech who installed the replacement unit said a lot of inverters have a coating on the interior coils that burns off with use... most people probably install these in an exterior storage bay and wouldn't notice burn-off... but visible clouds of smoke seem too much to be normal in my mind.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
You do have a choice if you do not want to burn your trailer to the ground. Stop using the inverter Immediately. Find a professional to look at your system ASAP.

@AWChief: Thank you for your concern! The certified tech who looked at my setup last week at an RV repair center had 30+ years of experience and he didn't see anything amiss. I specifically asked him to look for problems and evidence of burning. The dealer is shipping the first unit back to Victron, so maybe they'll be able to tell. Neither unit displays a warning light, even while smoking.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:59 PM   #13
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Hi

I'd bet you a warm can of beer that the wires to the inverter are not fat enough or that the connector(s) on the wire are to small / poorly connected.

The inverter is going to try to deliver the required load. Let's say that's 1350 W and the inverter is 100% efficient. It will pull 100A off of a 13.5V fully charged battery to do that with monster large wires. If the wires have 1V of drop, it will try to pull 108A. The drop will be more with the higher current so now you are maybe at 12.0 V and 112A.

If you have the "normal" battery setup, you have about 200AH of battery. (Your custom setup may be very different). Pulling 100A off of a 200AH battery is going to drop the output voltage more than a little, up goes the current some more. It can quickly turn into a death spiral. At some point the inverter will cut out to protect it's self. Depending on the design, that may not be util a pretty low voltage (like 9.5V on your unit).

If you are right at the magic 9.5V point on the inverter, the 1500 W load will pull 173A from the battery. That's at a 90% efficiency on the inverter. That's a lot of current .... 2/0 cable is the smallest you should risk at that point. If you *do* go that small, you will get > 5V of drop in a 20' long cable pair. For a ~1V drop you would need to go to something in the 6/0 to 8/0 range.

None of this gets you to the 3KW rating on the inverter, we're still poking around at 1/2 output ....

Bob
@uncle_bob: Thank you for your detailed reply, much appreciated. I prefer my beer warm, so I'll take your bet. : I included a pic of the inverter in another reply above, and I'm attaching the diagram of the components here. Looks like #4/0 wire was used for the inverter...was that too small?

Just checking that I get what you're saying... do you mean that when draw is getting closer to the battery-bank's capacity, no matter how charged up they are, the batteries will have trouble delivering the necessary voltage to the inverter? And bigger cable from the batteries to the inverter is the solution?

A few more details: The inverter is almost directly above the battery bank—under 5 ft. of cable between them. Victron claims a max efficiency of 93% for this unit. The batter bank is 220Ah, from four sealed 6V AGMs. The water kettle for example, shows about -145Ah on the BMS...for about 2 min. I now shut off/unplug whatever I can before turning it on, so I'd guess around 6-8Ah of that is the inverter itself, plus solar charger and maybe a couple LED bulbs.
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Old 06-25-2017, 01:12 PM   #14
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4/0 wire is plenty big. But, I just installed one of these in November, inside, under the bed. I got no smoking at startup or now. The biggest load I have put on mine is my microwave.

Larry
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