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Old 24-01-2012, 20:45   #1
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Heads Up - Victron Isolation Transformer

A couple of days ago my Isolation Transformer (IT) started acting up, popping one of the 16A breakers whenever some serious load was put on but still well under the maximum load.

After a quick contact with Victron, it turned out that the breakers themselves are to blame and that new models do not have these anymore. I was advised to replace them with jumpers.

Here's the transformer:

Remove shorepower before opening the unit.

When opened, this is what appears:

The circuit board is mounted with 6 screws: 2 at the top and 4 at the bottom.

Here are the two breakers:

Also check the tiny FAN cable. It has a connector on the circuit board and needs to be pulled to do the patch. The green ground cable in this picture is the shorepower input ground. This cable is right in front of one of the screws so had to be removed too.

I tried to de-solder a breaker but my PortaSol butane powered iron doesn't have enough power for the large leads which are in fact spade terminals. So I decided to leave the breakers in place and mount small jumpers onto their leads on the back of the circuit board:

If you make the jumpers as tight as I am doing here, it will fit behind the circuit board while mounted in the unit. The terminals on the right show my attempt at removing the solder with vacuum pump which utterly failed. I resoldered the connections and added a jumper like for the other one.

When done re-assemble and do not forget the chassis ground cable which is attached to one of the circuit board screws:

When the unit is closed, mark that the breakers are disabled.

I do not exactly know when Victron started selling these without the breakers, so check your unit. The materials I used for this patch should be aboard every cruising sailboat so there is not really a need to do this before a breaker fails.
The unit has a temperature based safety to protect itself besides these breakers.

Also note that your installation might have counted on these breakers for code conformance. You should add external breakers in that case.

This patch can be done in an hour incl. coffee break.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 25-01-2012, 12:33   #2
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Thanks for the heads up Nick.
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Old 25-01-2012, 13:04   #3
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Interesting, how old is your unit?
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Old 25-01-2012, 13:26   #4
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

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Originally Posted by westsail42 View Post
Interesting, how old is your unit?
Not sure but let's say 18 months.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 25-01-2012, 14:30   #5
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Damnation. I was tortured by mine for almost two years, with the breaker popping at the drop of a hat. Then, my unit went DOA a couple of months ago and I just bypassed it. A total PITA. On the top of my list of jobs next week was to remove it, somehow find a box for it, and ship it back for warranty service. Nick, you may have just saved me that PITA job. I owe you by now some dozens of beers -- when do you come to the UK to collect?
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Old 25-01-2012, 15:23   #6
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

I would think twice about this modification, as it surely will increase the chance of a fire.

The UL rating on these push on connector only allow for sustained resistive loads 6 amp 250v and 10 amp 125 v, and that is using the hi-temp connectors for appliance. The typical marine push on is not hi-temp rated.

Now add to the mix the corrosive marine environment and you double up your chance of fire.

Ask me how I know.

I rewired a 1996 TolleyCraft that just about burnt the marina down, I worked with the Insurance company investigator and the tech rep from Carling Technologies, and since Tolly was long BK, no help from them.

There were 8 breakers in the panel that all suffered this damage.

Here's a couple of pictures of why you don't want to do it.

Lloyd



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Old 25-01-2012, 16:47   #7
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
edit..

After a quick contact with Victron, it turned out that the breakers themselves are to blame and that new models do not have these anymore. I was advised to replace them with jumpers.

edit...
Nick
Ok as far as it goes. But heed 'Flying Cloud' post. An important question to Victron "Are there any other changes to the design/components other than elimination of the breakers/"

I think external breakers would be a must.

You really do not want to be talking to an insurance company after a fire if there has been DIY changes to electronic devices.......
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Old 25-01-2012, 17:14   #8
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armagh View Post
Nick
Ok as far as it goes. But heed 'Flying Cloud' post. An important question to Victron "Are there any other changes to the design/components other than elimination of the breakers/"

I think external breakers would be a must.

You really do not want to be talking to an insurance company after a fire if there has been DIY changes to electronic devices.......
External breakers must be fitted if they were not already installed. Most shore power installations do not rely on breakers on individual components. For example, almost every boat I have seen has an external breaker right after the shore power inlet, which would be in front of the IT and you can remove or deactivate the IT breakers without a problem. Remember that these breakers are just to protect the cabling against overload; the transformer still has it's own temperature safety.

On amp ratings... the blue terminals I used are rated for 27A at 450V. I will have to check the UL ratings stated by Flying Cloud. If true (where would a big difference like this come from??) then it is better to bend the contacts of the breakers together and solder them. I would have to find and borrow a big enough soldering iron for that, but let's just see if I can find UL ratings.

It is also a moot point because when you look closely at the pictures I posted, you see the leads from the torroidal transformer connect to the top of the circuit board... using the same spade terminals. These carry the exact same amperage as the jumpers I made because the breakers are in series with the primary windings.

EDIT: and the jumpers on the component side for selecting 120/240V service are also the same type and carry the same current.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 25-01-2012, 17:42   #9
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armagh View Post
Nick
Ok as far as it goes. But heed 'Flying Cloud' post. An important question to Victron "Are there any other changes to the design/components other than elimination of the breakers/"

I think external breakers would be a must.

You really do not want to be talking to an insurance company after a fire if there has been DIY changes to electronic devices.......

It's true, now a days Insurance Companies are in the business of denying claims. That's just what happened in the case of the Tolly...Claimed Denied, for the stated reason that the equipment was used for a purpose exceeding the manufactures ratings. In this case Tolly was the boat manufacture, but Carling Tech. was the CB manufacture, and their defect analysis determined that Tolly was the responsible party for the improper use. Which gave the insurance company the reason to deny the claim.

Their answer was go after Tolly, but Tolly was long out of business and BK. Now Imagine if the boat burnt down, and the marina burnt down...with no insurance.

A worse case scenario is if there was a loss of life. In the states it would end with a full Coast Guard investigation. It's manslaughter until a paid electrician does the job, then it's negligent homicide.

Not on my watch.

Lloyd
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Old 25-01-2012, 17:53   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingCloud1937

It's true, now a days Insurance Companies are in the business of denying claims. That's just what happened in the case of the Tolly...Claimed Denied, for the stated reason that the equipment was used for a purpose exceeding the manufactures ratings. In this case Tolly was the boat manufacture, but Carling Tech. was the CB manufacture, and their defect analysis determined that Tolly was the responsible party for the improper use. Which gave the insurance company the reason to deny the claim.

Their answer was go after Tolly, but Tolly was long out of business and BK. Now Imagine if the boat burnt down, and the marina burnt down...with no insurance.

A worse case scenario is if there was a loss of life. In the states it would end with a full Coast Guard investigation. It's manslaughter until a paid electrician does the job, then it's negligent homicide.

Not on my watch.

Lloyd
This isn't quite the same, this would be a " latent defect" and is excluded from cover. However of the user had fitted these, the insurance company would have little ground to refuse cover. Negligence in itself it not a reason to refuse a claim. In most accidents there is some percentage of negligence.

Dave.
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Old 25-01-2012, 19:13   #11
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

@FlyingCloud,

Assuming the breaker you show is UL listed, then it is rated at 250V 18A. It has contacts for these disconnect terminals, so I assume they are rated for 18A minimum.

But one of those connections is what is often called a piggy-back version, that can accept two terminals. I am starting to think that this is what derates the connectors while you had used it for current carrying connections. That second position is really only meant for a LED indicator lead.

What I see with all blue terminals (is AWG 14-16 size) is that they are rated for 450-600V, 27-35A, depending on brand/type. All are UL listed but that is just for temperature and voltage ratings, never for amperage. The idea with these terminals is that they carry the amperage that the wire that fits them will carry.

Like I wrote before, the whole product is filled with these connections that all carry the same amperage at the same voltages.

The real failure from posted photo's is the terminal with the white wire. It has failed at the crimp. 99% of cruisers carry a toy from the dollar store for crimping instead of a decent tool. Those will not make a good crimp.

-> use high quality crimp tool
-> use high quality wire terminals for AWG14 wire
-> use tinned marine quality AWG14 wire

I find the above safest practice for the average cruiser. If you are experienced in soldering circuit boards and have a 60W-100W soldering iron, then bending the contacts together so that they are partly parallel and soldering them creates a better connection.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 25-01-2012, 19:32   #12
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
@FlyingCloud,

Assuming the breaker you show is UL listed, then it is rated at 250V 18A. It has contacts for these disconnect terminals, so I assume they are rated for 18A minimum.

But one of those connections is what is often called a piggy-back version, that can accept two terminals. I am starting to think that this is what derates the connectors while you had used it for current carrying connections. That second position is really only meant for a LED indicator lead.

What I see with all blue terminals (is AWG 14-16 size) is that they are rated for 450-600V, 27-35A, depending on brand/type. All are UL listed but that is just for temperature and voltage ratings, never for amperage. The idea with these terminals is that they carry the amperage that the wire that fits them will carry.

Like I wrote before, the whole product is filled with these connections that all carry the same amperage at the same voltages.

The real failure from posted photo's is the terminal with the white wire. It has failed at the crimp. 99% of cruisers carry a toy from the dollar store for crimping instead of a decent tool. Those will not make a good crimp.

-> use high quality crimp tool
-> use high quality wire terminals for AWG14 wire
-> use tinned marine quality AWG14 wire

I find the above safest practice for the average cruiser. If you are experienced in soldering circuit boards and have a 60W-100W soldering iron, then bending the contacts together so that they are partly parallel and soldering them creates a better connection.

ciao!
Nick.
Hi Nick,

The rating for 18 amps at 250 is the nominal rating, but the additional rating to meet UL, is the sustained resistive loads amp trating, which was what I posted. The push on connectors mean a derating based on the that temp rating of the terminal, the hi-temp terminals are rates at 194F -250F.

The standard marine terminals don't meet this rating. The hi-temp terminals are used in heating elements and other appliances.

The reason for the UL reduction is that these terminals depend on friction fit as a result of tempering of the terminal. This spring temper fit begins to fail after the dsignated number of cycles. The continued heating and cooling cause the terminal to lose it's spring temper, then the excess heat heat of the loosening terminal exacerbates this, now add the corrosion factor, and vibration of the marine environment.

Also to note is that the breakers on your unit have a separate rating, and duty cycle, exclusive of the crimp ends.

I think it would be worth emailing Victron(thus to create a paper trail) of confirming their recommendation to repair with jumpers as you did. Circuit Breakers are considered service items, meang they need replacement from time to time, and soldering them onboard certainly makes that a hard to repair unit. And most likely why they decide to change their current manufacture procedure.

I think when pressed they might offer to effect a repair if you were to send them the board back. It would at least be worth the request.

Lloyd
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Old 25-01-2012, 20:21   #13
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingCloud1937 View Post
Hi Nick,

The rating for 18 amps at 250 is the nominal rating, but the additional rating to meet UL, is the sustained resistive loads amp trating, which was what I posted. The push on connectors mean a derating based on the that temp rating of the terminal, the hi-temp terminals are rates at 194F -250F.

The standard marine terminals don't meet this rating. The hi-temp terminals are used in heating elements and other appliances.

The reason for the UL reduction is that these terminals depend on friction fit as a result of tempering of the terminal. This spring temper fit begins to fail after the dsignated number of cycles. The continued heating and cooling cause the terminal to lose it's spring temper, then the excess heat heat of the loosening terminal exacerbates this, now add the corrosion factor, and vibration of the marine environment.

Also to note is that the breakers on your unit have a separate rating, and duty cycle, exclusive of the crimp ends.

I think it would be worth emailing Victron(thus to create a paper trail) of confirming their recommendation to repair with jumpers as you did. Circuit Breakers are considered service items, meang they need replacement from time to time, and soldering them onboard certainly makes that a hard to repair unit. And most likely why they decide to change their current manufacture procedure.

I think when pressed they might offer to effect a repair if you were to send them the board back. It would at least be worth the request.

Lloyd
Loyd,

I wrote above that the terminals I used are UL listed and rated for 27A at 450V... well over the 16A 250V max as used. You must have used a different brand.

Also, I wrote that Victron does not install these breakers on current ITs sold. They have jumpers or a modified circuit board.

Last but not least, I wrote that the IT has loads of these disconnect fittings as can be seen on my photo's. Yet it is UL listed and conforms to worldwide codes. This means these disconnect terminals are okay. It looks like the crimps were the cause with your problem, which it most often the problem with these terminals (but not when done right with high quality materials and tools).

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 26-01-2012, 00:06   #14
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Loyd,

I wrote above that the terminals I used are UL listed and rated for 27A at 450V... well over the 16A 250V max as used. You must have used a different brand.

Also, I wrote that Victron does not install these breakers on current ITs sold. They have jumpers or a modified circuit board.

Last but not least, I wrote that the IT has loads of these disconnect fittings as can be seen on my photo's. Yet it is UL listed and conforms to worldwide codes. This means these disconnect terminals are okay. It looks like the crimps were the cause with your problem, which it most often the problem with these terminals (but not when done right with high quality materials and tools).

ciao!
Nick.
Nick,

It's your boat. you are the chief engineer. I don't want to try to convince you that you are wrong and that I'm right.

Everything electrical that I have touched in the last 30 years has had a duty cycle and a de-rating factor.

I just have one question.

DO YOU PUT YOUR FULL FAITH IN THE SOLUTION?



Will this solution hold? Will you warranty everyone that decides to do this?

Considering that at 230 volt, that connector at the rated voltage will need to support potentially 3680 watts heat dispation...ie 230 v X 16 amps? 24-7

Lloyd
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Old 26-01-2012, 01:15   #15
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Re: Heads up: Victron isolation transformer

I'm confused, Carling designed an 18 amp breaker designed for push on connectors that you can only get in 6 or 10 amp ratings? Or there are some that are nominally rated at 18 amps that you're not supposed to use at that current because it will fail? I know I'm missing something here.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyingCloud1937 View Post
It's true, now a days Insurance Companies are in the business of denying claims. That's just what happened in the case of the Tolly...Claimed Denied, for the stated reason that the equipment was used for a purpose exceeding the manufactures ratings. In this case Tolly was the boat manufacture, but Carling Tech. was the CB manufacture, and their defect analysis determined that Tolly was the responsible party for the improper use. Which gave the insurance company the reason to deny the claim.

Their answer was go after Tolly, but Tolly was long out of business and BK. Now Imagine if the boat burnt down, and the marina burnt down...with no insurance.

A worse case scenario is if there was a loss of life. In the states it would end with a full Coast Guard investigation. It's manslaughter until a paid electrician does the job, then it's negligent homicide.

Not on my watch.

Lloyd
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