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Old 25-02-2017, 14:15   #1
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Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

I know there have been lots of discussions on this, but as products change and get more efficient, data changes. Plus wanted input as to my specifics, so reason for a new thread.

My boat is 1 season old, I have 3 x 140 wet cell, 2 starts, and 560 w of solar off the davits, with a cristec 40A charger and 110 input. The boat didn't come with an inverter. I want to add one, not quite sure what size, thinking of either 2 or 3k. Boat has no generator or AC.

Main panel has switches (I am assuming not breakers) to enable charger and AC outlets.

I am thinking that putting in an inverter/charger might be pretty simple? Or get plain inverter, leave charger in place. Not sure how to prevent AC from dock to not be switched through if Inverter is going to be used?

Thoughts from experts here on whether I should get combo unit, and what brand and size. Also thinking of adding 1 more battery of another 140, so have 560 AH total, 280 useable vs. 210. Use about 100Ah daily.
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Old 25-02-2017, 14:29   #2
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

Actually there is a very current thread going now on the best inverter/charger here http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...er-180254.html

Regarding separate inverter vs an inverter/charger unit, I went for the combined unit. In your case with the battery capacity you have it might be a good time to add a little more charging capacity and go with the combined unit.

Regarding size, depends on what you plan to run off AC power. If nothing bigger than charging a laptop or running a blender then go small. If you plan to run a microwave or hotplate or heater of any kind then go with at least 2000 Watts.
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Old 25-02-2017, 14:47   #3
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

Victron seems to be a highly popular brand that many people here use (me included).

I have a Victron MultiPlus 3,000w with 120a charger built-in. I got it for roughly $1400 and it is one of the best pieces of equipment on my boat.
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Old 25-02-2017, 17:08   #4
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

The combo unit if high quality likely won't save you money, but yes the automated switchover, balancing loads with charging, add great convenience.

But if you can choose mostly DC appliances so you only need a small inverter, and don't mind some manual babysitting, throwing switches sometimes, you'll save money just upgrading the charger.
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Old 25-02-2017, 17:20   #5
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

just need some reasonable AC power. 2k is fine, but if the 3k doesn't cost too much more, probably should go with that.
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Old 25-02-2017, 17:51   #6
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

I just went with the Victron 12/2000/80 (2000 watt inverter and 80 amp charger), so there is my vote. Victron support is very good thus far with my questions.

It is pricey, but I found it cheaper than a stand alone 50+ amp charger and 2000 watt pure sine inverter from a reputable brand.

I am using a Honda 2000 as my generator (along with 440 watts of solar) so the Power Assist and Current Limit functions of the Victron (and the one or two other high end brands) really appealed to me. These aren't available with separate inverters and chargers.
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Old 25-02-2017, 17:53   #7
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

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Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post
just need some reasonable AC power. 2k is fine, but if the 3k doesn't cost too much more, probably should go with that.


Something to consider, the 3k will be physically larger than the 2k. I actually couldn't fit the 3k where my 2k is now.
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Old 26-02-2017, 01:20   #8
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

The magnum 2000 and 2800 is same case

Yiur house bank is on the smaller side for a 2k or 3k inverter.
If you don't have a gen and Rarly use shore power you probably don't need an inverter charger. But get a pass through inverter. If you access shore power often. You will want the more charging power. As you will be draining batteries more from inverter. And also because you should have more of them
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Old 26-02-2017, 06:34   #9
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

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The magnum 2000 and 2800 is same case

Your house bank is on the smaller side for a 2k or 3k inverter.

Not that I didn't believe you, but was interested in the comparison. I suppose the Victron 2k is the outlier in being "small," which is I guess why it earns the "compact" name even though it still have some weight. The Magnum 2k/2.8k is about the same volume as the Victron 3k.

On the house bank size with no generator versus a 2k or 3k inverter, I tend to agree. The inverter eats through amps quickly. Maybe if only used for short periods like for a microwave/toaster (high amp, but short time), you'd be fine on solar alone. But for a cooktop or other large amp, but long usage, you'll want a generator (or willing to run an engine with a decently sized alternator) or be able to plug in shore power every few days.

And if you aren't planning on high amp loads, why not save money and buy a small inverter? Or if you can plug into shore power often, but perhaps your current charger is fine. Just some food for thought.
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Old 26-02-2017, 06:46   #10
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

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Originally Posted by jbinbi View Post
Not sure how to prevent AC from dock to not be switched through if Inverter is going to be used?

If you end up with an inverter/charger with pass through, you can wire the shore AC directly to it and avoid this issue. Otherwise you will want an AC selector switch that physically prevents you from selecting both shore and the inverter.
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Old 26-02-2017, 09:53   #11
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

FYI i have a Mastervolt combi 4000 watts works great no problem for last 7 years and can be controlled by the masterview panel need a larger battery bank to run large loads this will run my A/C
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Old 26-02-2017, 10:02   #12
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

Make sure you get a " PURE SINE WAVE", other wise it will not power some things like a micro wave.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:00   #13
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

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Originally Posted by fallingeggs View Post
Not that I didn't believe you, but was interested in the comparison. I suppose the Victron 2k is the outlier in being "small," which is I guess why it earns the "compact" name even though it still have some weight. The Magnum 2k/2.8k is about the same volume as the Victron 3k.

On the house bank size with no generator versus a 2k or 3k inverter, I tend to agree. The inverter eats through amps quickly. Maybe if only used for short periods like for a microwave/toaster (high amp, but short time), you'd be fine on solar alone. But for a cooktop or other large amp, but long usage, you'll want a generator (or willing to run an engine with a decently sized alternator) or be able to plug in shore power every few days.

And if you aren't planning on high amp loads, why not save money and buy a small inverter? Or if you can plug into shore power often, but perhaps your current charger is fine. Just some food for thought.
Not sure I understand this. Are you saying that the quiescent load from the inverter to the batteries when NOT using AC, but just the inverter turned on is high for the 2k/3k and will have a large parasitic drain on the batteries?

I would want to run a hair dryer for 3 minutes, or possibly a small microwave for 5 minutes. Nothing simultaneous. A 600w microwave uses 50AH @ 12V for an hour, I would use up 5AH with it.

I already have a small inverter that plugs in a 12 V adapter, runs small stuff. Need something bigger.
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Old 26-02-2017, 11:33   #14
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

One thing I didn't see mentioned was inverter efficiency. Generally speaking, inverters are most efficient when running near their rated load. Running a 3KVA inverter to charge a laptop will push you down on its performance curve to efficiencies as low as 60%, versus 90%+ when running 2-3KW. It's just one more tradeoff to think about when selecting the inverter.

I'm in the process of selecting an inverter/charger for my own boat. Realistically, most of the time I'm using less than 25 watts through the inverter to keep a laptop running as a backup chart plotter, so I really don't need much. However, the same 350 watt inverter will not let me run an electric drill due to the inrush current for the motor. In my case I'm wrestling between a 1KW or 2KW inverter/charger with the primary motivation being consolidation of the charger and centralizing the 120VAC supply in the boat.

Hope this helps!
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Old 26-02-2017, 12:24   #15
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Re: Inverter vs. Inverter/charger and which brand

Victron for my vote, we have a Quattro 5kw version that is great, no problems in 5 years liveaboard all year.
The ability to set shore power maximum draw is great
The power management system auto switching between generator, shore and invert means we never lose power.
Powerful charging 120amp at 24v
The ability to set to charge only, to prevent discharging batteries if the shore power gets interrupted
All in one case.

The one precaution would be that when off shore power to turn off the inverter function at night to save power losses.

If you are dependant on any one function ( we charter with guests ) I think you also need a backup of some kind for each function, obviously depending where you sail.
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