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Old 09-04-2014, 21:48   #16
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

My 18-year old Heart Freedom 25 goes in and out of service periodically. Every time it goes out I research new inverter/chargers. When it dies for good and I shoot it in the windings, I think I'll install a MasterVolt. I was seriously considering a I/C from Magnum but in an email to me they said they would not honor the warranty if it was installed in an engine room.

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Old 09-04-2014, 22:02   #17
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

Dave, weight used to mean something but these days? You know, transformers are SO 1890's, so steampunk, so...unlikely to be in there, aren't they?

And of course, unless you've got a rack full of gizmos in your hands, you can't really tell much by weight. Even when they list a weight or shipping weight...some of the numbers seem to come from the same folks who built that "Oh, was that Imperial or metric?" Mars lander that went kablooey.

I saw a collapsible water jug advertised recently as being incredibly durable 180 micron thick plastic. Probably the same nano-technology that keeps the magic smoke in some of the new electronics, right? (sigh)

Leaky caps, underrated parts, bad heat sinking....and to think, many years ago when CompUSA was a radical new idea (computer parts in a retail store?!) I saw a young couple looking for video cards. She says to him "Honey, this one looks nice" referring ot the pretty four-color packaging.

This one looks nice. Great way to make technical decisions. At least if it dies, it will LOOK PRETTY BACK THERE.
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Old 10-04-2014, 04:34   #18
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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You are kidding, right? I have a large toroidal coil in ours that would beg to differ…



Mark

While both are switched mode systems , the requirements for inverter circuitry are significantly different from battery charging. One being a boost controller ( with bells on ) and the other a buck technology. Not to mention pure AC sine wave generation and even frequency and waveform matching technology like in the latest victron.

Hence without an depth review of such circuit topology, the common features are likely to be in the control circuitry and perhaps internal power rail (s) generation. The real difference in cost between say a PCB with an independent charger and inverter circuit on it and one with some codependencies is very little. Combination products are more either feature driven then technology driven.

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Old 10-04-2014, 04:42   #19
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Dave, weight used to mean something but these days? You know, transformers are SO 1890's, so steampunk, so...unlikely to be in there, aren't they?

And of course, unless you've got a rack full of gizmos in your hands, you can't really tell much by weight. Even when they list a weight or shipping weight...some of the numbers seem to come from the same folks who built that "Oh, was that Imperial or metric?" Mars lander that went kablooey.

I saw a collapsible water jug advertised recently as being incredibly durable 180 micron thick plastic. Probably the same nano-technology that keeps the magic smoke in some of the new electronics, right? (sigh)

Leaky caps, underrated parts, bad heat sinking....and to think, many years ago when CompUSA was a radical new idea (computer parts in a retail store?!) I saw a young couple looking for video cards. She says to him "Honey, this one looks nice" referring ot the pretty four-color packaging.

This one looks nice. Great way to make technical decisions. At least if it dies, it will LOOK PRETTY BACK THERE.

Technically evaluating invertors is of course quite a complex task , beyond most people here. One of the big issues in any inverter design ( I have a background in this from many years ago ) is keeping typically the switching FETS within their design envelopes. Hence things like susceptibility to load spikes, transients etc are what separate a bad design from a good one.

High frequency switching popular in cheap ( er) inverters tends to be more susceptible to output stage failure, unless a lot of thought and cost goes into protection circuits. Often in design iterations such circuits get trimmed down or eliminated to produce cheaper products which of course mitigates reliability.

The best invertors ( from a rugged reliability POV ) are low frequency units. There a reason units like victron are heavy. I currently have a very very rugged unit from TBD power in china aimed at telecoms backup. But it has serious deficiencies for marine use ( high quiescent current, startup times etc ) it's a trade off.

But weight is still a useful rule of thumb ! ( just check it isn't a dummy metal plate inside though , I've seen that )

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Old 10-04-2014, 05:27   #20
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

On every SINGLE ...

Harbor Freight Inverter....
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Old 10-04-2014, 09:14   #21
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
While both are switched mode systems , the requirements for inverter circuitry are significantly different from battery charging. One being a boost controller ( with bells on ) and the other a buck technology. Not to mention pure AC sine wave generation and even frequency and waveform matching technology like in the latest victron.

Hence without an depth review of such circuit topology, the common features are likely to be in the control circuitry and perhaps internal power rail (s) generation. The real difference in cost between say a PCB with an independent charger and inverter circuit on it and one with some codependencies is very little. Combination products are more either feature driven then technology driven.

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That big transformer in ours would need to be duplicated in separate systems, so I am pretty sure it is being used for both inverting and charging.

I had the opportunity to take apart our previous Outback inverter/charger due to a board failure. The board that failed was the main MOSFET bank power board, and that board was used for both the charging and inverting functions of the unit. Likewise, the large transformer was shared.

For sure, the controlling circuitry is different - particularly for the high-end ones that match phase, allow stacking and shape sine waves in their inverter component. However, the circuits between the AC and DC flow direction are shared in the system. Just look at Victron's separate chargers and inverters - they are almost the same size and weight separately as they are in the combo units.

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Old 10-04-2014, 10:19   #22
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
That big transformer in ours would need to be duplicated in separate systems, so I am pretty sure it is being used for both inverting and charging.

I had the opportunity to take apart our previous Outback inverter/charger due to a board failure. The board that failed was the main MOSFET bank power board, and that board was used for both the charging and inverting functions of the unit. Likewise, the large transformer was shared.

For sure, the controlling circuitry is different - particularly for the high-end ones that match phase, allow stacking and shape sine waves in their inverter component. However, the circuits between the AC and DC flow direction are shared in the system. Just look at Victron's separate chargers and inverters - they are almost the same size and weight separately as they are in the combo units.

Mark
It makes complete sense for them to be combined since they can share some of the expensive bits. It's also why you can't run the charger and inverter portions at the same time.
Wouldn't that be cool though: A single unit that accepts universal input power (95-250 VAC 45-65Hz.) for charging and simultaneously invert to ships power. If done right it would eliminate the need for an isolation / step up/down transformer. Shore power converters for the big yachts sort of do this, but I don't think they can charge batteries.
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:22   #23
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

So Dave, with all those factors, haven't you missed the most important one in Chinese power supply designs? The components must be laid out with proper feng shui, to ensure the magic smoke will not be visible to evil spirits residing in the batteries, who might otherwise be tempted to steal the magic smoke.

I know what you mean about those weights. When private companies started making and selling telephones, there was this rattling noise in the handset on one I had. Yup, cheap glue on the weight. Which they insisted was in there because, well, it just made the handset feel so nicely balanced.
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Old 10-04-2014, 15:57   #24
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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It makes complete sense for them to be combined since they can share some of the expensive bits. It's also why you can't run the charger and inverter portions at the same time.

Wouldn't that be cool though: A single unit that accepts universal input power (95-250 VAC 45-65Hz.) for charging and simultaneously invert to ships power. If done right it would eliminate the need for an isolation / step up/down transformer. Shore power converters for the big yachts sort of do this, but I don't think they can charge batteries.
Victron units can run simultaneously
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Old 10-04-2014, 16:03   #25
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

So is Victron generally considered one of the better options? I just installed one of their battery monitors a few days ago. Nice product.

But now you guys have me thinking about the drawbacks of having all the eggs in one basket. I'm having mixed emotions about that very subject as I shop around to replace the rest of the electronics, too. I guess I'm a little bit retro-grouch, but I think I am going to prefer separate chartplotter, radar, AIS, VHF, systems, etc. I don't necessarily WANT them all to be one manufacturer, etc.

These days, after much experimentation and years of experience, I will only buy Chinese made equipment if there is absolutely no other option. And I will happily pay three times as much.
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Old 10-04-2014, 16:27   #26
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Victron units can run simultaneously
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That is news to me, and I have one. I don't think this is correct, and do not see how it is even possible on the unit. Having a transfer switch that passes AC power through it while the charger is operating is not both functions operating simultaneously.

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Old 10-04-2014, 16:43   #27
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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So is Victron generally considered one of the better options? I just installed one of their battery monitors a few days ago. Nice product.

But now you guys have me thinking about the drawbacks of having all the eggs in one basket. I'm having mixed emotions about that very subject as I shop around to replace the rest of the electronics, too. I guess I'm a little bit retro-grouch, but I think I am going to prefer separate chartplotter, radar, AIS, VHF, systems, etc. I don't necessarily WANT them all to be one manufacturer, etc.

These days, after much experimentation and years of experience, I will only buy Chinese made equipment if there is absolutely no other option. And I will happily pay three times as much.
Victron makes very good gear, but it is very expensive, requires a working knowledge of Sanskrit to understand the operator manual and to set up the unit, and much of the superb functionality it offers is not needed on most cruising boats. They are mostly ideal for larger boat systems with more complicated needs and off-grid use on land.

I would not be worried much about putting charger and inverter eggs in one basket. Especially with a quality unit. I would bet that the probability of having a inverter/charger fail is half that of having one of the two separate systems fail. These systems really are rugged. Every time someone brings up an example where one half of a combined system fails, that example always seems to be a 25yr old Heart/Freedom unit. You will pay almost double to get separate units, so the economics do not work out well either.

We have now owned Trace (before Xantrex), ProSine (after Xantrex), Outback and Victron inverter/chargers. The only mistake in that bunch was the Xantrex ProSine. I have cruised closely with people who own Mastervolt and Magnum and have worked with those systems.

If I was buying again, I would get a Magnum.

Good luck with that Chinese thing. You may find units that are not assembled in China, but you won't find any without a majority of Chinese made parts in them. At any price.

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Old 10-04-2014, 17:11   #28
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Victron makes very good gear, but it is very expensive, requires a working knowledge of Sanskrit to understand the operator manual and to set up the unit, and much of the superb functionality it offers is not needed on most cruising boats. They are mostly ideal for larger boat systems with more complicated needs and off-grid use on land.

I would not be worried much about putting charger and inverter eggs in one basket. Especially with a quality unit. I would bet that the probability of having a inverter/charger fail is half that of having one of the two separate systems fail. These systems really are rugged. Every time someone brings up an example where one half of a combined system fails, that example always seems to be a 25yr old Heart/Freedom unit. You will pay almost double to get separate units, so the economics do not work out well either.

We have now owned Trace (before Xantrex), ProSine (after Xantrex), Outback and Victron inverter/chargers. The only mistake in that bunch was the Xantrex ProSine. I have cruised closely with people who own Mastervolt and Magnum and have worked with those systems.

If I was buying again, I would get a Magnum.

Good luck with that Chinese thing. You may find units that are not assembled in China, but you won't find any without a majority of Chinese made parts in them. At any price.

Mark
+1 on Magnum. I have 2 friends with Magnums and they have had nothing but good thing to say about it. One has had absolutely no problems and the unit just works and works providing clean power. The other had a problem and the customer service was exemplary. He admitted the problem was his own fault but I don't know the details. He spoke with a technician at Magnum who helped him diagnose the problem to the board level. This permitted my friend to only need to send the board for repair, and not the entire unit. This was an advantage as he was out of the country and shipping etc. would have been expensive and a hassle. He had the new board in under a week and the unit has been fine since.

Mark, I mentioned earlier in the thread that I thought one disadvantage of a combined inverter/charger is the lack of a universal input for the charger. You're obviously out there doing it. How do you manage in marinas that don't have your "flavor" of dock power? Has it been an issue? Or do you have an isolation transformer? I've considered getting one as they solve a lot of issues, but I'm having trouble justifying the bulk and weight for the very occasional visits to a marinas I foresee.
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Old 10-04-2014, 20:39   #29
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

I just purchased a Magnum MS4024 with all the bells and whistles for my home's 700 aH 24 volt Lithium backup power supply.
It's made in the USA (actually close to where I live) well built, but I'd never put one on my trimaran because it weighs a TON !
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Old 10-04-2014, 21:08   #30
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Re: Inverter/Charger the way to Go?

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Mark, I mentioned earlier in the thread that I thought one disadvantage of a combined inverter/charger is the lack of a universal input for the charger. You're obviously out there doing it. How do you manage in marinas that don't have your "flavor" of dock power? Has it been an issue? Or do you have an isolation transformer? I've considered getting one as they solve a lot of issues, but I'm having trouble justifying the bulk and weight for the very occasional visits to a marinas I foresee.
We spend almost no time in marinas. So far, the 3 marinas we have been in over the past 5 years (Grenada, Panama, Guatemala) have both 110V and 220V service. Our Victron charger takes 45-65hz, so frequency isn't a problem.

Grenada had transformers for rent for those who needed them because only 1 dock had 110V power. The others simply rewire the service as needed on individual power posts.

Going forward, if we were for some reason going to spend time in marinas with only 220V/50hz power, I would get a charger rated for that and run the boat off the inverter. This would not work for the air conditioners, of course, but the rest of the electrics would be fine.

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