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Old 20-01-2009, 21:27   #1
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Magnum Energy charger/inverters..comments?

Last year the house bank of original (2000) 4Ds was replaced with 4 6V Trojan AGM golf cart batteries wired series/parallel and the start battery was replaced with a Trojan 12V AGM. The 2009 upgrade for this Catalina 320 is electrical system. The stock alternator will be replaced with a Balmar 60-100 alternator and regulator with harness. There is lots of information available on this product.

The stock charger will be replaced with a true sine wave charger/inverter as it has no program for AGM batteries. I am considering a Magnum 2812 model with a controller and battery monitor module. I'm Canadian and until last year Xantrex was a Canadian company and I have always supported buying local. I looked a Xantrex and can find both boosters and detractors for their products, apparently manufactured in China.The Magnum products are made in America and when otherwise comparing apples to apples there is still something to be said for US know-how.

I would appreciate comments and guidance from those familiar with Magnum products.

Regards;

Brian
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Old 20-01-2009, 22:20   #2
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You might want to check out Victron Energy, although they are made in Holland. There was a thread on here just a few weeks ago discussing them.
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Old 23-01-2009, 14:33   #3
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Beausoleil has been running with a Magnum Energy MS2812 sine wave inverter/charger since last June, and we've been living aboard since last July, and cruising full time since September. July/August/early September we were dockside, as was most of November and a couple weeks in December (due to an accident - hit by another boat while at the fuel dock!). All the rest has been at anchor, depending on our genset (Westerbeke 7.6 kw diesel) and to a lesser extent an Air Breeze wind generator. So what follows is not really six months of on-the-hook experience.

Our power requirements are fairly high right now, as my wife works full time - and a laptop actually draws a bit of juice over time.

So, for now, the MS2812 is working great - while charging it actually puts out 130A rather than the rated 125A. I have three minor complaints, though:
  1. While idling in invert mode, it draws ~ 5-7 amps with no AC loads other than an idle microwave (built-in clock) and a clock/radio. It does have a "power search" mode where it will put out AC power in a short burst and monitor if there are any active loads. You can set the threshold at as little as 5W. For us, it's not as great as it seems because of those pesky clocks. If I were to unplug the clock radio and the microwave, the feature would be useful to us.
  2. I wanted to team the MS2812 with an Iota Engineering DLS-75/IQ4 75A charger in order to blast our 800 amp-hour AGM house bank with 200 amps to cut down bulk charging times, but right now, they don't play very well together. They work ok when on shore power - but that's not when I need that kind of charging capacity. When running both off the genset, if I turn on the breaker for the Iota charger, the Magnum will shut down charging. It used to be worse - before I corrected the wiring done by an ABYC/licensed marine electrician who didn't quite follow my wiring plans, the Magnum would actually go into invert mode, and then shut down. It made it look like there was an AC overload condition, but the Iota charger is on another service leg (the genset is 120/240V split phase). Only when the Iota was turned off would it go back to AC pass-thru mode and begin charging.
  3. There is quite a bit of RF hash - enough to break squelch on a VHF handheld if it's within 10-12 of the unit. Since I haven't had time to finish the ham and SSB radio installs, I've been ignoring that one (other higher priority boat projects!).
Just today I fixed another minor problem with the Magnum install - the electrician mounted the temperature sensor to the positive battery post on the end of the bank rather than a negative post in the center of the bank. There's a possibility that having 12 volts on that thermistor lead may have been contributing to the dual charging problem - I'll know tomorrow when I charge again!

Another minor problem was that the original and a replacement remote display died (the original was DOA as shipped), and the controller board in the main unit (manufactured in 3Q07) had an older firmware revision, so I had to send that back to the factory to be updated...

All in all, having dealt with electronics for over 25 years, the infant mortality rate was higher than expected, but Magnum stood by their warranty. And their tech support is pretty good. They're waiting on me to get back with them regarding the results of their advice on the charging problem.

Don't get me wrong - the Magnum is nice, especially for the price. I chalk it all up to teething problems.

I looked at the Victron models, but at the time the exchange rate made them prohibitively expensive - the Quattro was more than $4000 USD!

For me, the nice feature is the Magnum's ability to pass through two independent 30 amp service circuits, but I wish they'd have two AC neutral inputs/outputs rather than one. ABYC recommendations call for boats with multiple shorepower inlets to maintain separate neutrals throughout the boat and all the way back to the shorepower pedestal. The Magnum doesn't adhere to that...

Finally, Magnum seems to believe in openness, rather than keeping their protocols all locked up like some software vendors up in there neighborhood in Washington state . They publish their networking protocol, and I'm investigating how much work it would take to write a little translation program so I can have my PC relay the inverter information out an NMEA interface...
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Old 09-02-2009, 14:32   #4
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Cap'n Jon:

I sincerely hope that living aboard works out for all.

Reading your post I immediately rushed to look at the manufacture information on my new MS2812 which is sitting in my dinning room. I had a boat show special (Toronto) to good to pass up. The charger unit is a 09/01 make which should be compatible with the controller. I added to the controlled the battery monitor module. Magnum Energy will be offering a battery echo charger by May and this will likely be the solution to charging the house battery.

I am now set for the spring install once the boat splashes in early May. Your after sales experience with Magnum mirrors what I have heard elsewhere and from the hardware vendor; response is quick and from engineers rather than off-shore help desk. I remain hopeful.

Brian
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Old 09-02-2009, 16:54   #5
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Cap'n Jon:
Magnum Energy will be offering a battery echo charger by May and this will likely be the solution to charging the house battery.
Brian
Have you considered the attached. It is what I bought. I don't have it install yet, but have not heard anything bad about it. I would think that this would take care of charging your house battery either by the alternator or your charger. It can even be setup for a different battery type.
Just a thought.

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Old 09-02-2009, 17:24   #6
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Extemp:

I have looked at this product and it is my fall back choice. In 'phone contact with Magnum Energy I asked them what the solution to the functional need would be, given that they did not have a similar product on offer. At the time, I suggested the Balmar unit.

Magnum said that if I had to install immediately that the Balmar was an excellent option but that if I could wait until May, that they had a new product SBC (smart battery combiner) in testing and that it would be available not later than then.

Call me crazy to consider a commercially untested product over one with good reports, a recommendation from its competition, and a strong following (and I may live to regret it) but the communications I have had with Magnum were prompt, helpful, and I am certain that the new product will integrate with the other products from the same company that I have sitting in the dining room awaiting the snow melt.

Besides, some one has to be the first to buy it. Regardless of how it turns out I will have an experience unique to the forum; for the first time putting me in the position of being able to give someting to the form rather than only taking from it.

Regards;

Brian
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Old 09-02-2009, 18:47   #7
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Magnum SBC charger

The Balmar dual charger will only work when the alternator is putting out. The SBC will work any time any charger is on one bank or the other (it can transfer power bidirectionally as long as there is a charger).
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Old 09-02-2009, 19:17   #8
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The Balmar dual charger will only work when the alternator is putting out. The SBC will work any time any charger is on one bank or the other (it can transfer power bidirectionally as long as there is a charger).
Rick,
Could be, but that is not what I read in the literature. It says "When the Duo Charge senses charging voltage at the house battery, it works like a DC to- DC battery charger, providing up to 30 amps of regulated charging current to support the starting battery." "When connected directly to house battery voltage, the Duo Charge will remain in a sleep mode whenever input voltage remains below 13 volts in a 12-volt charging system, or 26 volts in a 24-volt charging system. When voltage at the Input terminal exceeds that voltage threshold, the Duo Charge will provide charging current to the starting battery." It would not appear to care what is supplying the charge. It is not hooked up to the alternator (I don't think). I'm I missing something or do you have additional info?

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Old 09-02-2009, 19:53   #9
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Guys:

My take also is that the Balmar dual charger is not connnected to the alternator, but only to the batteries. It thus operates independently of the source of the charge to the house battery bank. It is therefore the solution to both how to charge the start battery from the alternator and how to do the same from shore poawer throught the MS2812.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Brian
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