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Old 10-11-2012, 01:36   #16
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At this stage it is very important to know the size and length of the battery cables.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:55   #17
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
I would suggest this has caused ALL your problems. The installation manual does say:

Excessively high ambient temperatures will result in the following:
Reduced service life
Reduced charging current
Reduced peak capacity, or shutdown of the inverter.

On a boat you don't get much higher ambient temperatures than the engine compartment.

The manual also says: Never position the appliance directly above the batteries. I hope that is not also part of your problem.

It also says: the interior of the product must remain accessible after installation.

It's not fair on Victron that you knock their product when their installation guidelines have not been followed. You may have a case for suing the installation engineers for not following Victron's instructions!

You should be able to hear when the fan comes on. Any full charge current or high inverter load will make it start.

There was a problem with some models that overheated because they only had one heat sink. Victron have now fitted two.

Overheating may have permanently damaged some of the components so a new circuit board may be the only solution.

I agree with Skipmac that the DIP switches can lead to errors so I think the serial interface connector that you can use to change all the setting from your computer is a must. You also need a serial to USB interface for most modern laptops.
Well, the unit is installed in the spot specifically designated for the battery chargers in the original build. The previous battery charger lived happily for ten years there. The engine space is really a whole room and is ventilated with huge blowers. There is plenty of clearance around the unit, it's just hard to get to.

Besides that, even if there had been some damaging high ambient temperature (which there was not), the unit should have shut itself down prior to frying itself. Ditto in case of a cooling fan failure.

So I'm not buying installation as the cause.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:59   #18
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
At this stage it is very important to know the size and length of the battery cables.

I don't remember, but they are a size bigger than recommended in the Victron installation manual, very thick and cost a lot of money. They are sized to deal with the short-term 5kW rated inverter load, which I never use.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:50   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead

I don't remember, but they are a size bigger than recommended in the Victron installation manual, very thick and cost a lot of money. They are sized to deal with the short-term 5kW rated inverter load, which I never use.
Well in case it helps... Mine was very erratic with overload coming on until I replaced the cables which had too long a distance for the size.
mine are 70mm with high quality crimps and ends

You can test if its a fan problem by blowing another very powerful fan over the vents on the unit

Another thing if possible..... Can you point an infrared temp gun at the cable ends near the unit and see if they are warmer
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Old 10-11-2012, 04:09   #20
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
......I'm not buying installation as the cause.
Your initial post suggested a much smaller and therefore hotter environment - sorry if I misunderstood you. So what is the temperature in there when then engine is running???
I would suggest that it is still too hot for chargers or batteries.

I repaired a Victron on my friend's boat who had similar problems. It turned out to be loose connections on the AC wires in and out that had burned and blackened the circuit board and caused a high resistance at the joints. This would explain your voltage fluctuations. Take off the front panel and check the tightness of all AC cables and the crimping on both ends of the DC cables - another area he had problems. His boat was all-electric so any installation errors like this cause malfunctions.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:53   #21
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
Your initial post suggested a much smaller and therefore hotter environment - sorry if I misunderstood you. So what is the temperature in there when then engine is running???
I would suggest that it is still too hot for chargers or batteries.

I repaired a Victron on my friend's boat who had similar problems. It turned out to be loose connections on the AC wires in and out that had burned and blackened the circuit board and caused a high resistance at the joints. This would explain your voltage fluctuations. Take off the front panel and check the tightness of all AC cables and the crimping on both ends of the DC cables - another area he had problems. His boat was all-electric so any installation errors like this cause malfunctions.
That's a hot tip! Thanks, I'll do that.

The more I think about it, the more this explanation makes sense to me. I'll check all the cables and crimps as soon as I can.
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Old 11-11-2012, 01:55   #22
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
Well in case it helps... Mine was very erratic with overload coming on until I replaced the cables which had too long a distance for the size.
mine are 70mm with high quality crimps and ends

You can test if its a fan problem by blowing another very powerful fan over the vents on the unit

Another thing if possible..... Can you point an infrared temp gun at the cable ends near the unit and see if they are warmer
Thanks - that's also a good idea. I'll try that too.
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Old 20-12-2012, 02:57   #23
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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But it's worse -- since all my AC power goes through the charger/inverter, I not only have no charging and no inverting, but my whole AC system is down! The Victron won't even pass the power through from the genset to the main AC board.
Just a point on this as I guess you've got it out now. I installed a 40a bypass switch so that I am not reliant on the multiplus working to have A/C.
If you have the unit out, you could ask an electrician to make one up as now would be a good time.

Also, it would be interesting to know what size of A/C switch the multiplus has... I think they come in 16a, 30a and 50a. It could be that the unit had trouble if it was sometimes switching the amps from your generator if it was not the 50a version.
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Old 20-12-2012, 04:00   #24
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

As a general comment , high power electronics design especially inverters can be very tricky to keep alive. about 70% of inverter circuits are keeping the other 30% working.

Heat build up is a major problem and manufacturers often skimp (like the 1-2 heatsink issue). Even when temperature ratings are followed devices perform poorly at the higher end.

If I was you Dock head , Id take it out and bench test it.

I used to be a dealer for industrial Mastervolt, It is good stuff, though ive had units fail there too. Im surprised at Victron. I would say a good letter to the Times ( of Victron) especially your annoyance make shake things up.

I would never reccomend a inverter/charger combination, thats a lot of heat to remove from a fairly small enclosure.

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Old 20-12-2012, 04:21   #25
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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I would never reccomend a inverter/charger combination, thats a lot of heat to remove from a fairly small enclosure.
I strongly agree. I would definitely keep the inverter and charger discreet. In addition to probably higher reliability, fault isolation and troubleshooting is much enhanced by keeping them separate. Not much is added in terms of points of failure.
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Old 20-12-2012, 06:17   #26
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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I think I'm going to toss it all out and go with Mastervolt. I have enough things to fix on this boat without the electrical gear going t*ts up all the time Sorry, rant over.
Boy Dockhead, I really feel your pain….
This stuff is not only heavy to move around…. but also the cost of replacing it can break your balls!!

I think we have exactly the same Victron equipment and I agree with others that heat build up and loose wiring are probably the culprits.

I first installed my Isolation transformer (7000W 230V/32A) in my large Lazarette and it got too hot to touch, because I had no ventilation.
Transferred to Engine-Room with 4 in/out vents and is much cooler.

Also I did not hook up my Multiplus 24/3000/70 to manage my power as they recommend but applied KISS and wired via AC Panel to be Inverter only and on Victron Remote, when I have AC it is on “Charger Only”

My boat also came with a Victron Skyla 24/50amp charger that is about 20 years old… Still works great and I kept it on line.

For what it’s worth, I sort of grew up a bit with the principals behind both Victron and Mastervolt, working in Holland as Owner’s Rep on big yachts.

They were both good guys but inventive geeks that try to outdo each other in impressing very demanding super-yacht clients, who wanted everything automatic.
PM me if you need some extra help getting their attention

If I were you, stay with Victron but don’t put all your eggs in one basket as they suggest.

I would also get a strong back-up charger as I have and wear a truss when you move that stuff around!!
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Old 20-12-2012, 07:19   #27
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

I also had problems with a Victron Multiplus, but most of the problems were caused by the dealer. The dealer configured the unit prior to delivery, and totally screwed it up, then took two weeks to come to the boat to try to correct their mistakes. When they finally did arrive, their computer wouldn't recognize the multiplus, so the tech just threw up his hands and told me that I was on my own.

Of course I complained to Victron, and they arranged for another dealer to send me a new board that was properly configured. That solved most of the problems, and now Victron are sending me a computer interface gratis so that I can download the latest version of the operating software.

I now realize that I should have done a little more homework before I bought the multiplus. I did not realize that these things come from the factory pre-configured, and these settings should be changed only by someone who really knows what they are doing. And as others have alluded to, Victrons warranty is for parts only.

I am impressed that both Victrons NA office, and Customer Service in The Netherlands are genuinely doing their best to correct the problems. Their biggest mistake was to appoint a dealer who didn't know what they were doing, and didn't care either.
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Old 19-02-2013, 05:19   #28
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

I might just throw in a few pointers here - since I service Victron gear for a well know Australian company.

Firstly like all brands - Victron too have their issues, but in all fairness they do design a good product. As for inverter and charger problems - I will point out the following, of which some details apply to any type and brand:-

As for Victron units, they come with factory default settings in the control boards -software which should be set up by the new owner in accordance with the system design. Many revert to licensed electricians rather than unlicensed Electronics Technicians and often run into all sorts of problems when using electricians. There is a big difference between using a competent Electronics Technician and an Electrician - as far as technical ability. Unfortunately legal licencing is the main hurdle to getting the job done by the system owner and so the Electrician often gets the job.

Added top this - Victron do not supply schematics, or circuit diagrams, to anybody outside the company, not even their own service agents. This restriction of technical data is to prevent competitors copying their products - intellectual copy-write.

Those techs like myself who service their gear, cannot get parts after 3 years for any of their products, nor can we access circuit diagrams for component level board repair work and any technical questions which are thrown at their engineering staff don’t always get answered in detail, but often ignored or a watered down reply is given. We can though attain PCBs for replacement if the unit is under warranty.
On that note - the transfer switch PCB is the most common failing board - as it switches the AC mains generator and inverter lines. And has a number of relays fitted. Lack of schematic information unfortunately ties our hands as to diagnosing the nitty-gritity faults.

Now as for inverters ( all brands here ) - many loads are not just resistive, but also inductive - and in such cases, an inductive load will draw at switch on, up to 8 times its operational current. In my Tech workshop, I have a Mitsubishi air-conditioner which pulls 550 watts from the 230 volt Ac mains. To reliably drive that air-con, the inverter needs a minimum continuous power of 3.5 kW, if not 4 kw to do the job without letup. Anything lkess will blow fuses or result in electronic shut down of the inverter. On very small inverters is may result in the destruction of the unit.

A 24 volt, 3000 watt Victron Phoenix pulls a measured 170 amps at 24 volts at switch on with a 550 watt air-con on the inverter outpur. During the air-cons normal running phase, the inverter ( loaded with the compressor from the air con ) pulls 22 amps at 24 volts Dc.

Do the sums and you'll find the load requirements for an inverter on inductive loading is massive.

As I recall, Victron rate their inverters at about 6 times the nominal output on inductive loads, which I find a bit over rated. This output is not continuous but very short transient for too short for many air compressor start-up periods. Additional to this, all Victron inverters use some form of heavy toroid transformer in the inverter output, which is a good thing; unlike switch-mode inverters which lack this big transformer and are virtually direct drive to the load.

The magnetic flux “stored” in the transformer core during normal inverter operation aids in driving heavy inductive loads. Items like - microwave ovens, most refrigerators, air conditioners, large motor driven winches and pumps, etc; are all inductive loads. Items such as navigation gear, computers, lights, heating devices and radios, etc; often are resistive loads. Inductive loads needs lots and lots of current to activate them, while resistive loads don’t, as the voltage pressure is in phase with the load current, aiding its operation.

This leads me to my final point on charging ( all brands which employ a charge curve profile and some sort of voltage sensing electronics).
If you try and charge your batteries whilst driving heavy loads, or cranking your engine - you are guaranteed to cook your batteries and over heat your charger. The amount of people who call me each day at work blaming the charger as destroying their batteries - is ridiculous. Older simpler transformer-rectifier chargers would be more forgiving with engine cranking while the charger is running, but not so with the more advanced types, such as the Victron units.

If you load a battery with say a bow thruster pump of which can pull a peak current of up to 800 amps, while charging your batteries - your asking for trouble.
The issue is – the battery terminal voltage is being pulled down by the load and the charger sees this as a discharged battery ( and not a loaded battery).
As a result, it supplies bulk mode current into the battery bank ( some single victron charger units will pass 120 + amps into a battery ) at the same time your trying to extract another 300 amps out of the same battery with a bow thruster pump ( as an example ).

The 2 current flows clash and produce friction, which produces lots of heat. If the charger does not overheat in the process, it causes the battery to go into thermal runaway and create a virtual core melt down, as its battery cell voltage falls and it draws more charge current – some what like in a nuclear reactor melting down internally.

If a fire does not start in the battery bay, the battery bank at least melts and collapses ( flooded lead acid cells are a bit more forgiving, as they can be topped up with water; but even so, you can still kill them this way).

The charger may survive; - but if its mounted in the engine room, or some concealed and restricted location for air flow and low ambient temperature, its bound to be problematic if it does not fail. Electrolytic capacitors dry out and other parts start to fail with excessive heat stress, eventually killing the charger and inverter.

To get around this problem of battery destruction, I recommend 2 sets of batteries in place - one set always on charge and the 2nd set driving the loads. When the load battery drops to its critical value, its swapped over to the charger and the freshly charged battery bank goes into work supplying the loads. A simple, but expensive fix to a common problem.

A second solution is to, not run any heavy loads whilst charging your batteries.

I trust this may clear up some technical issues for some.
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Old 19-02-2013, 06:23   #29
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

Kimbal, I think you are overstating the "battery meltdown" scenario by quite a bit.

Leaving the charger alone for a moment, many boat alternators can output more than the charger. These boats usually have their engines running charging the batteries at high current while drawing the large loads you describe - and the batteries do not go China Syndrome.

In the case of concurrent charging current and withdrawal current, the flow path through the batteries is not charger->"full plate battery chemistry charge"->"full plate battery chemistry discharge"->load. In this case, the battery is acting more like a ballast or capacitance in the system.

On the other hand, any load drawing 800 amps for a period longer than a millisecond or two should be installed with power sources and generation separate from the main bank and charging system. That is simply a load that is not reasonable for most small boat systems.

Loads drawing 100-300A for a minute or two at a time will have no issues with concurrent charging sources unless the supporting battery bank is very small or in very bad shape.

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Old 19-02-2013, 07:06   #30
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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The issue is – the battery terminal voltage is being pulled down by the load and the charger sees this as a discharged battery ( and not a loaded battery).
As a result, it supplies bulk mode current into the battery bank ( some single victron charger units will pass 120 + amps into a battery ) at the same time your trying to extract another 300 amps out of the same battery with a bow thruster pump ( as an example ).

The 2 current flows clash and produce friction, which produces lots of heat. If the charger does not overheat in the process, it causes the battery to go into thermal runaway and create a virtual core melt down, as its battery cell voltage falls and it draws more charge current – some what like in a nuclear reactor melting down internally.

If a fire does not start in the battery bay, the battery bank at least melts and collapses ( flooded lead acid cells are a bit more forgiving, as they can be topped up with water; but even so, you can still kill them this way).

The charger may survive; - but if its mounted in the engine room, or some concealed and restricted location for air flow and low ambient temperature, its bound to be problematic if it does not fail. Electrolytic capacitors dry out and other parts start to fail with excessive heat stress, eventually killing the charger and inverter.
Ive sofar never had an experience like that on my boat.
I guess we are talking a large boat bank 12v and maybe 1000ah battery bank.
I see it like this 120a in from the charger and 300 out = a draw of 180amps.
I dont see a problem with that and I do a similar thing often. My batteries seem happy enough.
My setup is around 700a 24v battery bank. 150a alternator, plus another 50a alternator if I switch it on.
If the electric stove oven is on and I boil some water it is 2200w for water and 2400w for oven, 1000w for 50 liter water heater.
So this is a bit more than 200amps at 24v. So the alternator works flat out once the volts drop and the battery bank provides the rest.
If I put on the microwave/grill it would maybe add another 1200-1500w
270a at 24v with the alternator providing 150, so 120a drawn from the batteries.

Thats sort of how it all behaves, of course not all devices run at full capacity all the time, microwave might average 600w, stove element 800w etc.
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