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Old 09-15-2018, 07:57 PM   #1
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What charger/converter and separate inverter

When I acquired my 1987 Excella, it had a combination charger/converter/inverter along with 4 12-volt AGM batteries (group 24 or 27). That combination unit had a board fail; the manufacturer had sold the business to Xantrex, so I had replaced it with the Xantrex Freedom 3012, a combination charger/converter & 30-amp pure sine wave inverter. Lately I've had an issue that when plugged into shore power (or using a 3000-watt generator), neither the air conditioner nor my Rigid air compressor will run - the compressor runs just fine plugged into a 15-amp receptacle in my house. I've got a service appointment scheduled in 2 weeks with the outfit that installed the Xantrex (apparently they supply and install them in the Toronto municipal vehicles, such as ambulances).

While it is nice to be able to have all my 115-volt receptacles live when the inverter function is enabled, I'm beginning to think that the KISS principle should be followed - in this case to have a good multi-stage charger/converter and a separate inverter. In addition, the Xantrex control panel freezes occasionally, requiring that it be removed, detached from its network then reconnected to reboot it. Given the number of different brands/models etc for this, what brand/model would be recommended. The current setup I have is two size 4D AGM batteries (420Ah), 540-watts solar into a Blue Sky MPPT controller. The 12-volt distribution panel is not part of the charger/converter, and has resettable circuit breakers.
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Old 09-15-2018, 08:19 PM   #2
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Hi

The Victron Mulit series seem to work very well. They are inverter / chargers. That's what you already are wired up for. You can get them in all sorts of power levels starting at the 2000 and going up into the 10's of KW.

Motor loads can pull a pretty heavy surge at turn on. The inverter turns that AC surge into a steep demand spike on the batteries. As batteries age their ability to respond to a major demand spike diminishes. If the voltage drops below some magic level ( maybe 11V, maybe less) the inverter kicks out.

Bob
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:31 PM   #3
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Why do you need a charger/converter? You have solar. Let it charge your batteries. I never plug mine in unless there is snow on the panels for a week. Used it again all summer and never plugged it in. Even with completely shaded spots it still charges. And I don't have a generator. Never will. I hate anything that makes noise.

You are better off to have all separate controls rather than one does it all. Especially if it's an Xantrex. They made good stuff back in the early nineties, but not since then. Personally I would buy the Magnum for an inverter and skip the converter, I think most off their stuff is still made in the US, but with globalization who knows.
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:22 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions.

Uncle_bob => The Victron Mulit is similar to the Xantrex which I now have. The issue is that all 115-volt power requirements is routed through the combined unit, which is why the surge needed to start a motor such as the compressor of the air conditioner or air compressor now fails – it didn’t used to until recently. The shore power goes directly to the Xantrex, and the output of the Xantrex is routed to the 30-amp 115-volt breaker panel. There is an automatic transfer switch that is supposed to transfer 115-volts back to the breaker panel (choosing between shore power and inverted power). My need for 115-volts using the inverter is to run my CPAP machine at nights, as well as my computer during the time I am boondocking (computer is a Dell Precision with a 250-watt power supply ) along with a Brother Laser printer). Camping at a dog show where the temperature was over 90 degrees and not being able to used the air conditioner because he Xantrex would no longer route enough power from my 3500-watt generator is unacceptable, hence the need for change.

gator.bigfoot => I still have need for a charger/converter as I still have a need for 115-volt 30-amps.
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:46 AM   #5
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Hi

The Victron has a 50A transfer switch built into it. Running it on a 30A or 50A service works very well. You can program it do do various things (like boost the shore power) if you really need to. That would allow you to run stuff that trips the breaker on the power post outside .... One very useful application is to let the Multi handle the starting surge while on generator. That *could* let you get away with a somewhat smaller generator.

====

Solar if fine right up to the point you park in the shade. We spend a lot of time at campsites in the woods. Our typical solar output drops at least 10X when we do. Keeping up with our power usage simply would not work "solar only" in those situations. Indeed we could camp out in the full sun and run AC instead. That also would not work "solar only" in our case.

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Old 09-16-2018, 10:43 AM   #6
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My way of getting around this problem was to install a completely separate secondary power system that was super-simple. I wanted to be able to have an auxiliary A/C, and be able to run heavier loads without going through my Xantrex Freedom HF 1800. The rig is an additional heavy-duty cord going into a small house panel and a single 30A breaker. Typically, I plug a Y-connector into the campsite's 50A plug, then run twin 30A cords from there.

I'm thinking that probably any inverter system that you install will have limitations on the amount of amperage that it'll allow to pass through. Maybe my solution will inspire you to come up with a fix, rather than spend the huge $$$, and maybe not solve the problem?
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Old 09-16-2018, 01:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blkmagikca View Post
Thanks for the suggestions.

Uncle_bob => The Victron Mulit is similar to the Xantrex which I now have. The issue is that all 115-volt power requirements is routed through the combined unit, which is why the surge needed to start a motor such as the compressor of the air conditioner or air compressor now fails Ė it didnít used to until recently. The shore power goes directly to the Xantrex, and the output of the Xantrex is routed to the 30-amp 115-volt breaker panel. There is an automatic transfer switch that is supposed to transfer 115-volts back to the breaker panel (choosing between shore power and inverted power). My need for 115-volts using the inverter is to run my CPAP machine at nights, as well as my computer during the time I am boondocking (computer is a Dell Precision with a 250-watt power supply ) along with a Brother Laser printer). Camping at a dog show where the temperature was over 90 degrees and not being able to used the air conditioner because he Xantrex would no longer route enough power from my 3500-watt generator is unacceptable, hence the need for change.

gator.bigfoot => I still have need for a charger/converter as I still have a need for 115-volt 30-amps.
I'm not following why you need a converter? If you have 115 plugged into shore power you will have 115. The converter just runs your 12volt side which you have connected to your batteries which are charged by solar.

As for the C Pap get the mini which runs on batteries and is portable. See minicpap.com
Even with a few batteries you can invert enough power to run your current device when boondocking. They're not that power hungry.

Sounds to me like you have over complicated your system. Why are you routing through the Xantrex? That makes no sense. Connect the shore power to your 115V 30amp connection then the Xantrex is out of the loop and your only going to use it when you need an inverter. I'm not sure who sold you that system but you need to find someone else who knows what they're doing. All these fancy systems are only going to give you grief and less reliability. I met a guy this summer who had an issue with their ATS. In crazy heat he had no AC. Sorry I can flip a switch myself when I need it.

But it's your money.....
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Old 09-16-2018, 02:47 PM   #8
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gator.bigfoot -> I think you misunderstood my post. When I acquired this AS it had a predecessor to the Xantrex combined charger/converter/inverter. That failed, and the company that bought out the predecessor was Xantrex. They had no spare parts, so I replaced that unit with the Xantrex Freedom 3012.

When I am in a FHU site, there is no problem with running my CPAP, but there is one now for the air conditioner, which is why I am looking to simplify things. The CPAP runs just fine through the inverter. When boondocking, which I regularly do, I need the inverter to run my computer as well as my CPAP. The computer is essential as I manage several commercial web servers including some content management. As long as the Xantrex Freedom 3012 ran well, there was no issue. However, since it is no longer performing to its requirements, I have to look at alternatives, one of which is having the inverter separate from the charger/converter.
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Old 09-16-2018, 03:00 PM   #9
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Just to add to this, I have an appointment with WE Enterprises, the Xantrex dealer, on October 3rd. I also have my regularly scheduled service for my AS at JC on November 20th. If the cost of repair will be high, I will likely opt to have JC put in a multi-stage charger and a separate inverter, with 3 or 4 additional 115-volt receptacles wired.
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Old 09-16-2018, 04:41 PM   #10
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Im not sure Jackson Center is the answer because they may not have experience with your components and/or wiring scheme. You need one of AM Solar's guys like Lew Ferber, *(541) 490-6357‬, to help you straighten out your system. Also, your batteries maybe getting old enough that they can no longer keep up with initial start up loads. You may need MicroAir's EasyStart on your A/C to reduce start up load or maybe new batteries or both. Try lifeline AGMs. A good system should stay trouble free for years.
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Old 09-16-2018, 05:07 PM   #11
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Batteries are 3 years into a 7-year warranty - two Pearl River AGM's size 4D (420Ah). They are fine condition. The Xantrex is the only component that is causing an issue - until very recently it worked well and the whole system worked well. The only change to the existing wiring if I go to the 2 component configuration is that the shore power input would need to be connected directly to the 115-volt breaker box (this is just redoing the conection at the junction box where the shore power comes into) and in that same junction box remove the connection from the Xantrex output. That output line (currently colored differently from the regular 115-volt lines) would connect to the output of the new inverter and would feed the 3 or 4 new receptacles. As a licensed ham radio operator, I understand what it is I am doing - I want to make sure that the components I end up installing are going to reliably provide the level of service I need.
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Old 09-17-2018, 06:54 AM   #12
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Just to add to this, I have an appointment with WE Enterprises, the Xantrex dealer, on October 3rd. I also have my regularly scheduled service for my AS at JC on November 20th. If the cost of repair will be high, I will likely opt to have JC put in a multi-stage charger and a separate inverter, with 3 or 4 additional 115-volt receptacles wired.
JC is the last place I would go and have electrical done. They can't get new AS right. The way they wire them and the components they use I would fire the lot of them. It's all a "dogs breakfast".

Take it to someone who specializes in solar and trailer wiring. Although in the area where you live I am not sure who that would be. Even a panel shop or a high end auto electronics shop would be a better choice. Personally I would do it all myself since then I understand what was done and how to maintain it. And if anything goes wrong I only have myself to blame.
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Old 09-17-2018, 08:49 AM   #13
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Hi

Hauling the trailer out to the west coast from just outside Ottawa is *not* a cheap proposition. Google pegs it at 2,900 miles via the "fast route" or 2,700 miles via the "other route". Both are well over 40 hours of driving. All that is one way, you probably also want to drive back .... Oregon *is* pretty though ....

I'm by no means knocking the guys at AM Solar. They do fine work. The only point is that this is a pretty small issue ( swap broken gizmo for new gizmo ). Driving that distance for a full up 800W solar / 900AH lithium setup ... ok, you already are spending a big pile of money. That's not the case here ....

Bob
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Old 09-17-2018, 11:35 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by blkmagikca View Post
When I acquired my 1987 Excella, it had a combination charger/converter/inverter along with 4 12-volt AGM batteries (group 24 or 27). That combination unit had a board fail; the manufacturer had sold the business to Xantrex, so I had replaced it with the Xantrex Freedom 3012, a combination charger/converter & 30-amp pure sine wave inverter. Lately I've had an issue that when plugged into shore power (or using a 3000-watt generator), neither the air conditioner nor my Rigid air compressor will run - the compressor runs just fine plugged into a 15-amp receptacle in my house. I've got a service appointment scheduled in 2 weeks with the outfit that installed the Xantrex (apparently they supply and install them in the Toronto municipal vehicles, such as ambulances).

While it is nice to be able to have all my 115-volt receptacles live when the inverter function is enabled, I'm beginning to think that the KISS principle should be followed - in this case to have a good multi-stage charger/converter and a separate inverter. In addition, the Xantrex control panel freezes occasionally, requiring that it be removed, detached from its network then reconnected to reboot it. Given the number of different brands/models etc for this, what brand/model would be recommended. The current setup I have is two size 4D AGM batteries (420Ah), 540-watts solar into a Blue Sky MPPT controller. The 12-volt distribution panel is not part of the charger/converter, and has resettable circuit breakers.
I have always suggested and still recommend separate converter/charger and inverter. The combo units do work and we move a bunch of them but if one side fails, you have to replace the whole unit. Having them separate is less expensive and if your inverter side should fail for some reason, you can still charge your batteries. Conversely, if you charging section fails, you can connect a battery charger and still have the ability to invert.

COST. It is less expensive to have them separate. Just never been a fan of units that do every thing good but nothing great. You already have a converter and can upgrade that to one as good as it gets for around $200. Coupled with a good pure sine inverter, you are always money ahead and have the ability to change one or the other should one side fail.

I agree with the solar analogy that when it's not there, you need a back up charging plan. Many people forget where the live/camp and follow advice from folks they want to follow but don't get the same results. Some get better!

We send equipment to JC all the time for customers to have installed there and they seem to agree but I also sometimes question their recommendations on other stuff. They are trying to help as always but don't always have the best solutions depending on how you plan to use your Airstream. I do think they are well intended though.

With 11 years on my AGM batteries with a 4 stage converter/charger, I'm not easily swayed into Inverter/Chargers that cost 3-4 times as much while at the same time we send them all over North America to those that demand them
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