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Old 09-11-2012, 03:40   #1
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I've Had It With Victron Equipment

When I bought my boat three years ago, I started gradually replacing the 9 year old electrical gear with Victron, which seemed to me on the cutting edge of functionality, and look to be absolutely beautifully crafted.

I installed a Victron isolation transormer, then a Victron battery monitor, then a Victron Multiplus charger/inverter with control head.

The isolation transformer was dodgy from the start -- the breakers would trip for no apparent reason. I got used to running out to the lazarette sometimes several times an evening to reset them. A real PITA. Then, just about a year into my ownership of this unit, it dead failed. Apparently there was a service bulletin on these units -- just bypass the breakers -- they're defective and not needed anyway. FFS. Not worth the hassle of removing the unit and shipping it in -- I planned to do it myself, but haven't gotten around to it -- so the isolation transformer sites uselessly in my laz gathering dust, bypassed.

Then the control panel for the inverter/charger failed. No problem -- two year warranty -- send it in. But this happened two days before my summer cruise this year, so I just bought a new one.

Now I'm on the boat trying to get her ready to be lifted out of the water at Cowes for her refit. And what happens but the bloody inverter/transformer goes offline, with warning of overload/overheat. WTF? What overload? I used a 1500kW [EDIT: OBVIOUSLY, 1500 WATTS, NOT KW] coffee machine with the genset running, while doing a morning battery charging session. 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.

The Victron is indeed hot -- 40 degrees. I can only surmise that a cooling fan has gone down. I guess THE cooling fan -- there most only be one of them. It took two full days of work for two people to get that bugger in -- it is in my engine compartment in an inaccessible spot -- we had to lift it in with a block and tackle. So now how much labor is it going to be to get it out again, box up and send in the unit, wait, get it back, horse it back into position, connect it up again

The warranty is no good, if it takes $2000 worth of labor to change out a $5 cooling fan!! Victron pays for the fan, but the labor is on me, plus the boat is out of commission for what, a month?

Victron is starting to look to me like Lopo -- expensive, pretty, sexy, but basically unreliable. And reliability is the number 1 (and number 2, and number 3) criterion of value for this gear.

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.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:05   #2
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

FWIW given I am coming from the position of minimal electrics I do have a Mastervolt charger which when i am on shore power keeps my batteries charged. this has been running away happily for about 4 years. However do not get me on the subject of Merlin Electronics - they have been not as bad as your experience with Victron but have certainly caused me a few hours of elevated blood pressure over the last few years.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:42   #3
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

A 1500 kw coffee machine ? Woweee ! You sure must make a kickass brew.
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:44   #4
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

It seems like it's maybe not a cooling fan, or not only a cooling fan.

When supplied with AC power from the genset and charging batteries, it overheats and shuts down in 20 minutes or so, with warning lights "overload" and "temperature". I checked with a DC ammeter and there is no overload -- putting out maximum 70 amps per the specs.

Now what's weird is that if I supply the Victron with DC power from the main engine, it works as an inverter. But the voltage fluctuates from 200 to 240 volts rapidly. With a heavier load (1.5kW from my coffee machine), it fluctuates between 100 volts and 240 volts, but works. It will work for a long time as an inverter with a light load, but eventually also gives a temperature warning.

Weird.

I have written to tech support. I'm pretty sure they'll reply "Send it in; we'll fix it", which is little comfort
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Old 09-11-2012, 05:46   #5
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

I've got an espresso machine that eats up 1500w, while only 1/1000 of your requirements I find it a lot as well And my Victron inverter has no problem dealing with it.

To the thread - I've been quite happy with my 2 Victron units so far and the only problems I've had were by using incorrect settings; particularly the DIP switches are complicated and error-prone, but since I started using the direct PC interface I've had no issues at all.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:18   #6
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
I've got an espresso machine that eats up 1500w, while only 1/1000 of your requirements I find it a lot as well And my Victron inverter has no problem dealing with it.

To the thread - I've been quite happy with my 2 Victron units so far and the only problems I've had were by using incorrect settings; particularly the DIP switches are complicated and error-prone, but since I started using the direct PC interface I've had no issues at all.
Yesterday I had a problem like Dockhead's with the inverter section. Generator running the inverter would shut down and not even pass generator power through the system. I was running a large shop vac that does draw a good bit of power but well within the capacity of the system.

I do have the same setup, Victron isolation transformer feeding the Victron inverter/charger. I switched power on and off on the I/C and problem went away but now I'm a bit nervous.

I also had a problem setting my Victron inverter/charger with the DIP switches. Bulk charge voltage was maxed out about 13.5 V, for standard lead/acid batteries way too low. So I went through the configuration to set up for lead acid batteries and nothing. Read the manual again and again, tried the switches again, still no change. Called Victron USA and was given the email for the tech guy. Emailed the problem and he emailed back the instructions from the manual.

I emailed back and again explained I had read and followed the instructions from the manual including every potential variation on the sequence of switching the DIP switches. Tech guy was very nice, very patient and replied to every email with suggestions but nothing we tried would change the charging voltage.

Finally gave up and ordered the PC interface unit and downloaded the configuration software and after tinkering with the settings for about an hour I found the problem and got it working.

From my experience I do not think you can configure the unit with the DIP switches as shown in the manual. Very annoying and does concern me to find such a significant problem. These things are not cheap and I'm hoping after this I won't run into more headaches. They are beautifully built but may be overly complex in their design. I say this even though I do have a degree in electrical engineering. That was a while ago and my studies were more focused in IC and digital logic but still I think I can at least remember how to read instructions and flip a switch. If I can't do it how do they expect an average boater to get it done?
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:07   #7
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

Crikey, that's what happened to me.

I have since the unit was new had "Overload" warning light with any load of more than 1kW, although the unit is rated for 2.5kW and even for 5kW for a short time. I wonder if that is a fault, somehow related? I have been ignoring it because there were no other symptoms.

I could only clear the fault condition by disconnecting the remote panel and switching the switch on the unit (very hard to get to). But unlike your case, mine did not go away

I have not had any problems with configuration. The unit as shipped gave 100% charge rate (70 amps at 24 volts nominal), and gives all the proper charging voltages. I have always liked it, and thought I could rely on it. In vain, it seems.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:29   #8
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Crikey, that's what happened to me.

I have since the unit was new had "Overload" warning light with any load of more than 1kW, although the unit is rated for 2.5kW and even for 5kW for a short time. I wonder if that is a fault, somehow related? I have been ignoring it because there were no other symptoms.

I could only clear the fault condition by disconnecting the remote panel and switching the switch on the unit (very hard to get to). But unlike your case, mine did not go away

I have not had any problems with configuration. The unit as shipped gave 100% charge rate (70 amps at 24 volts nominal), and gives all the proper charging voltages. I have always liked it, and thought I could rely on it. In vain, it seems.
Well I can see your problem right away. You are using two different kinds of wrong electricity, 24V DC and 50 Hz 240V AC. You need to change your boat to 12V DC and 60 Hz 120V AC like us smart guys over here.

Seriously, if you have been getting alarm modes from the inverter since new, even with minimal loads it may be time to bite the bullet and haul the damn thing out of its hole. Which does bring up another thought. If the unit is crammed into such a tight hole is it getting adequate ventilation and cooling? The installation instructions with my smaller unit, only 1.6 kW emphasized proper clearance and ventilation. I would think with a 2.5 kW unit it would be even more important, especially since you are using that wrong kind of electricity.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:33   #9
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Well I can see your problem right away. You are using two different kinds of wrong electricity, 24V DC and 50 Hz 240V AC. You need to change your boat to 12V DC and 60 Hz 120V AC like us smart guys over here.

Seriously, if you have been getting alarm modes from the inverter since new, even with minimal loads it may be time to bite the bullet and haul the damn thing out of its hole. Which does bring up another thought. If the unit is crammed into such a tight hole is it getting adequate ventilation and cooling? The installation instructions with my smaller unit, only 1.6 kW emphasized proper clearance and ventilation. I would think with a 2.5 kW unit it would be even more important, especially since you are using that wrong kind of electricity.
My machinery space is very well ventilated with both intake and extraction fans. And it's about 8 degrees here. I'm sure that's not the problem. The unit has plenty of clearance around it, it's just that you have to crawl on top of the engine (and under the genset platform) to get to it. And then it's pretty heavy, and there's hardly any way to move it around once your in there. A real PITA, but I agree with you -- taking it out is looking to definitely be in my future
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:50   #10
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

I have also have bad luck with Victron. My Phoenix 750W inverter died suddenly after 2 years of light use. No warning lights, no error lights, no lights at all. Just totally dead.
It was then that I learned that the manual has no trouble shooting information for this situation. It only discusses the various light displays. It also gives no contact information for support. Except for a phone number in Europe.
When I finally managed to contact Victron by email I was told they don't handle support, I had to go through the dealer. The dealer, Jamestown Distributors, told me it was 3 months out of warranty, sorry.
It was located in a dry, well ventilated space, and wired per the specs. I am very disappointed with both the unit and the support.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:55   #11
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

Quote:
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My machinery space is very well ventilated with both intake and extraction fans. And it's about 8 degrees here. I'm sure that's not the problem. The unit has plenty of clearance around it, it's just that you have to crawl on top of the engine (and under the genset platform) to get to it. And then it's pretty heavy, and there's hardly any way to move it around once your in there. A real PITA, but I agree with you -- taking it out is looking to definitely be in my future
Oh no, sounds like you have a real PITA. Both of these things weigh a ton. Good luck and don't strain a back.

My units are mounted where access to the area is much easier than yours but access to the actual spot on the bulkhead is tight. There was no way I could hold the unit up and get it hooked in by myself but there really wasn't much room to get another person and another set of hands in the space. We did manage to get two of us in there to do the job but it did get a bit intimate for a few minutes.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:03   #12
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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A 1500 kw coffee machine ? Woweee ! You sure must make a kickass brew.
I want one. Would hate to have to replace my power transformer because of it, however.

This afternoon I'm going to have to check to see what brand of transformer I have. I guess that the test of how well it's working is that I don't know its brand name offhand.
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:05   #13
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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This afternoon I'm going to have to check to see what brand of transformer I have. I guess that the test of how well it's working is that I don't know its brand name offhand.
Or it could be a sign of your failing memory.
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Old 09-11-2012, 21:57   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead

My machinery space is very well ventilated with both intake and extraction fans. And it's about 8 degrees here. I'm sure that's not the problem. The unit has plenty of clearance around it, it's just that you have to crawl on top of the engine (and under the genset platform) to get to it. And then it's pretty heavy, and there's hardly any way to move it around once your in there. A real PITA, but I agree with you -- taking it out is looking to definitely be in my future
When I bought my boat I had a similar problem with the victron inverter charger 24v 2500w.

how big and how long are the battery cables?
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:18   #15
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Re: I've Had It With Victron Equipment

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The Victron is indeed hot......it is in my engine compartment in an inaccessible spot
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.
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