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Old 01-01-2010, 10:53   #1
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Open Letter to Victron

Hi. am installing a victron Inverter charger on my boat.
All new wireing, new shore power cord, plug, and wire.

I just have to say that I can't believe that the person/people that designed this unit ever had to install one.
This is a plea/request/demand to Victron to rethink how this otherwise excellent piece of marine equipment is made when it comes to installing and printing the book on installing it.

First off, the instructions that came with the unit, and are located on line, are not like the unit I was shipped. It shows a internal fuse, but there is none on my unit. NONE. So maybe upgrading the install manual is called for... take you 10 min, ok?

Then there is the way you planned for the ac wire to come into the unit.
I mean, come on... no way you ever tried to do this yourself. If you had, you would have seen, how it is next to IMPOSSIBLE, to thread stiff 6 awg wire from the locknut, then a tight 90 degree bend left, then a very tight 90deg bend right, to put it in the plug. The only way to do it is to pigtail it. (Special thanks to Charliej for that )Of couse using 6awg wire there is barely enough room to force it thru there.... might make it a bit larger.
Next is the way you connect the wire itself to the unit. The screwdown post. This is marine STRANDED wire. That means that the strands can come undone when pushing it into such a TIGHT place. And its next to impossible to see it there are strands under poking out. There is no room. Maybe next time design a better system. Like a terminal strip for lugs. That would make sense. This way... not so much. So a stright in approach to the connector, and the connector is a 50 amp terminal strip... yeah that makes sense. Easy to wire, easy to see it there is anything amiss. Sure you might have to make the unit a mite bit larger. Thats ok by me.
Moving over to the DC side. Again your instructions show 1 large wire for pos and neg, but you have 2 connectors for each. Not sure why 2 2/0 cables are better than 1 4/0, but ok. No problem. But then you mess it up by putting connections for the temp sense, voltage sense, and trickle charge BEHIND those wires... again what are you thinking ? They should not be behind them, but on the side. And again, your instructions are poor in that regard. They show things that are not there. LIke a pos and neg for the trickle charge when its just a positive. Not a big deal by itself, but then add it all up and its like, doesn't anyone proof read this?

Then there is the case ground. its put in a place that makes it hard to get to.
Why?
Why can't it be in a better position, with better access? Do americans have such fat fingers vs the dutch? or is it another poor thought out idea.

Now don't get me wrong. The unit is beautiful, it does a lot. I look foreward to many many years of good service from it. But the s ev era l days of trying to install it, will remain in my mind for a while. It didn't have to be that way. A little fore site would have made a lot of difference.
one last thought.
Maybe you make it hard so the average guy will just go and hire a marine electrican to install it. You even have a disclaimer on it that indicates such.
Take a hint. If you really want that you would make it next to impossible for the average sailor to purchase one. In which case we would go with a less capable system like xantrex. And you would loose money. So please, take the time to plan the install and the documentation out before releasing it.

Bob
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Old 02-01-2010, 16:46   #2
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One of the reasons I suspect is that the unit was designed for 230 VAC 50Hz operation and modifed to 110. in europe the main cable would be half the thickness and quite flexible ( in fact very flexible).

Also the DC cables would never be thined in europe, hence take up less space and be smaller.

However you are right in general and its a tricky unit to install, ( reminds me of the ICOM 802 SSB in that regard).
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:08   #3
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
One of the reasons I suspect is that the unit was designed for 230 VAC 50Hz operation and modifed to 110. in europe the main cable would be half the thickness and quite flexible ( in fact very flexible).

Also the DC cables would never be thined in europe, hence take up less space and be smaller.

However you are right in general and its a tricky unit to install, ( reminds me of the ICOM 802 SSB in that regard).

Hmmm... good point. Didn't think of that.
Either way, its marketed for the US and it is a 120volt unit. So they need to understand that.
I have very real concerns about any piece of equipment that doesn't take into account the real possibility of failure, either due to installation or just wear and tear over the years.

For instance, the blue sea system main breaker I installed, is another piece of equipment that I feel just did not get the thought thru it should have. There is no seperation between L1, Neutral, and L2, except for a small space. If the nuts loosen over time, the lugs can rotate and short each other out. A very real possibility. A small piece of plastic ridge, similar to what the terminal blocks have, would have solved this problem. Also, why is it that they only supply one nut and one washer ? Once dropped, your screwed. For a few cents more, I would have been happy to pay, give me a couple extra, just in case, I drop one.(which I did of course.) and its not recoverable. Oh well.

I just wish that these companies would put a lot of thought into these inc readably complicated pieces of equipment. They evidently do not. Pity.
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Old 05-01-2010, 08:27   #4
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I feel your pain.

Did you write the company directly about your installation problems?

Chances are it was designed by an electrical engineer who has never had to install his own designs. Its amazing how much stuff there is for boats that seemingly was never field tested before being sold to their customers.

Slip a couple layers of heatshrink, spiral wrap or wire loom over where the L1, Neutral and L2 crimp connectors have the chance of touching each other. Use a few of those tiny wire ties to hold the insulation in place. Yes, that's a poor design when they don't provide a physical insulative barrier when electrical terminals are that close.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:43   #5
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I am convinced most engineers are brain damaged....
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:00   #6
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I feel your frustration Bob. Ive come across this type of poor design many times and im convinced its the work of kids who just left college and never did a days work for real.

Be patient and remember, the one thing you should never do when you call yourself a professional is lose your temper. Ggrrrrrr
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:02   #7
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This is a good point to think of when purchasing European designed electrical equipment.
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:20   #8
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I am an engineer and when I look at some of the designs and equipment on the market I am astonished. If I had turned in a design like that in school the professores would have flunked me out of the class. Things like the Victron that are almost impossible to install. An old Dodge car I had that required loosening the motor mounts and jacking up the engine to change the two back spark plugs. An old Volvo with the oil filter installed over the motor mount and behind the suspension. Guaranteed to spill oil on the mounts which dissolved the rubber over time, requiring new motor mounts every few years. A boat with a V-drive that puts the stuffing box under the engine. Need to hire a trained octopus to adjust that.

Oh well.
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Old 05-01-2010, 16:12   #9
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I feel your frustration Bob. Ive come across this type of poor design many times and im convinced its the work of kids who just left college and never did a days work for real.
Too much LSD in the bongwater? LOL
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Old 06-01-2010, 02:07   #10
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...There is no separation between L1, Neutral, and L2, except for a small space. If the nuts loosen over time, the lugs can rotate and short each other out....
I just came across this very same thing on a Spectra 380 water maker control box. The box is painted metal (gee - could that be an issue on a boat??), the terminals are on the edge of the front panel, and they are stupidly close to each other. Silly bare stud w/no insulating shield between little nuts that won't prevent the cables from rotating and shorting out, so I have to make sure that the cables are strapped down well enough to provide the mechanical strength of the connection. Ugh!!!!

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Old 06-01-2010, 04:52   #11
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There's no end to it....

An Austin-Healy Sprite/MG Midget with a short water hose connecting the head to the block....no way to change it without removing the head from the engine!

A catamaran with engine installed so that raw water pump face is an inch from a non-movable bulkhead -- actually have to undo motor mounts and slide engine forward to change impeller. An all-day job to change, re-align, etc.

A high-end marine water heater with heating element installed in such a way that it's impossible to change without dropping nuts into slot between tank and liner.....extremely difficult to fish out and nearly impossible to replace.

A Boeing jumbo jet with electrical wires bundled and run thru a fuel tank. Saay whaaaaat???

Glad no one on this Board ever did anything stupid like that :-)

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Old 06-01-2010, 09:57   #12
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LOL... now I don't feel so bad.. THANKS!
The letter was forewarded to a representive of victron usa.
I don't expect much though. Like anjou said,
Quote:
im convinced its the work of kids who just left college and never did a days work for real.
its a pain in the ass..
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Old 06-01-2010, 10:33   #13
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Bill -- I used to have one of those Healy's -- Loved to drive it, hated to work on it.

I can think of several engineers I'd like to sentence to their own personal hells, of repairing their own designs!

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Old 06-01-2010, 10:49   #14
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ID,

Yeah, oh a whim I bought a new one and traded in my beloved 2-year old VW beetle. That hose blew ONE WEEK later, and the dealer had to remove the head to replace it.

Never mind the fun and games with the Lucas ignition and mud puddles :-)

Let me know if you ever catch up with those engineers, OK?

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Old 06-01-2010, 12:05   #15
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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
I am an engineer and when I look at some of the designs and equipment on the market I am astonished. If I had turned in a design like that in school the professores would have flunked me out of the class. Things like the Victron that are almost impossible to install. An old Dodge car I had that required loosening the motor mounts and jacking up the engine to change the two back spark plugs. An old Volvo with the oil filter installed over the motor mount and behind the suspension. Guaranteed to spill oil on the mounts which dissolved the rubber over time, requiring new motor mounts every few years. A boat with a V-drive that puts the stuffing box under the engine. Need to hire a trained octopus to adjust that.

Oh well.
Dodge as well?.. I remember having to do that to Chevy Monza models back in the 70s - terrible memories

Had a 18 hp Volvo on my old Beneteau - it used copper pipes that connected through compression fittings - talk about building character...

How about boat manufacturers changing their minds about what engine they'll install on a boat and never think about whether regular maintenance components are accessible or not?

Sad thing is this is not even quality control, it is common sense

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