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Old 07-08-2020, 09:41   #1
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Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

I am perplexed. I have added a 2300W Champion for the sole purpose of supplying 1600W to power a 4kg washing machine (the machine will only run if on shore power). I assumed I could supply the output into the 16a shore power socket via the Victron multicontrol.

I tested the generator with domestic appliances - all was fine. The moment I plug it into the 16a socket the generator goes into overload.

Here's the rub. It does this even if the multicontrol is at its lowest setting - 1.5 -and even in the off position. My understanding us this should mean no load as the multicontrol is off.

Others seem to run their portables ok. Whay am I missing?
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:53   #2
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Is anyone able.to shed any light on this please?
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:56   #3
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

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Is anyone able.to shed any light on this please?
16A? is this is European 230V system, or a US 120V or a US 120V/240V system?

I believe the Victrons will do pass through transfer are the boat AC loads active?
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Old 10-08-2020, 13:33   #4
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

European 230v. The inverter (sockets and water heaters) is disabled when the multi control is off or charge-only. Don't know about pass through but as only appliance would be washing machine (which is within the load of the generator) this should not be an issue. What would you test?
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Old 10-08-2020, 13:42   #5
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Have you tried running the washing machine directly off the generator using an extension cord ? Are you sure it is a cold wash cycle ? Some warm cycles activate heaters for the wash water, those heaters could easily exceed the 1600w system capacity.
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Old 10-08-2020, 13:46   #6
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

does your battery charger come on when it detectors incoming AC power?
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Old 10-08-2020, 13:51   #7
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

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European 230v. The inverter (sockets and water heaters) is disabled when the multi control is off or charge-only. Don't know about pass through but as only appliance would be washing machine (which is within the load of the generator) this should not be an issue. What would you test?
Is the only AC load the washing machine? Just trying to rule out other loads. Do you have a master AC breaker? If so try turning that off. Connecting the generator and starting it up. If it overloads with the master breaker off the issue has to be the inverter/charger. If it doesn't and it only overloads after you turn the master AC breaker on then a load (or loads) is the issue. As pointed out above you can try power the washing machine directly via an extension coard.

The real way to test this would be with a clamp meter. Measure the amps being drawn. If it is if it is <10A then it has nothing to do with loads and it is some miswiring or an issue with the generator.

If it IS >10A well then something is drawing power too much power and causing the generator to shutoff for safety. Possible causes could be the inverter/charger pulling power, washing machine, washing machine plus some other load.

Without a clampmeter to measure the actual amps it is a bit of guessing.
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Old 10-08-2020, 14:07   #8
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

@NaughtyCat
What model Victron inverter/charger do you have?
When powering with the portable genset, do you get an indication on the inv/chg remote panel or on the inv/chg unit itself that AC is available? If not, it is possible that, after sampling, the AC produced by the genset is not within specs for the inv/chgr; i.e., it is not qualified.
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Old 10-08-2020, 15:14   #9
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

This is because some gensets cannot tolerate even momentary power surges. Something on your circuit is sucking in power - even if just for a split second (ever seen a laptop supply throw a spark when plugged into the power point?) - that is causing the genset to shut itself down. Some gensets are more tolerant than others in this regard.
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Old 10-08-2020, 23:29   #10
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Victron inverters have good-sized input capacitors to buffer energy. The inrush current may be fooling the generator into shutting down just a bit too quickly.

You can test for this by pre-charging the input capacitor and seeing if your problem goes away. One way to do that is to plug the inverter into shore for a moment, and then quickly move the plug over to the (running) generator. (The input caps will stay pretty charged up for at least 20 or 30 seconds.)

Most Victron inverters do not switch the AC input into the power circuit until it has been qualified by the computer for a while. But the buffer caps are before the switch, and they would be one way to produce the instant results you see.
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Old 11-08-2020, 00:29   #11
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

do you have an isolation transormer? they can also cause in rush currents when plugging the boat in.
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:26   #12
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Thank you for the responses.

Re the washimg machine, it is off, therefore not drawing, and I have tried connecting it directly successfully (albeit with a lead running outnof the bathroom, up the side of the boat to deck etc. - not an elegant situation but a workaround 8f required.

I will try switching shore power to generator when I next have access to it.

The overliad occurs too quickly for me to see whether the Victron panel registers power, but I suspect not given that there is normally a delay.

I was not aware that there was any draw when the panel is in the off position. Surely that is the.point of having an off position!

To answer another questuon it is a sine-wave inverter generator, so I am leaning towards the problem stemming from the Victron initial draw.

So it sounds as though I should have gone down the Honda route instead as it sounds as though people have success with those. Is there anything in the specs of portable generators that will tell me what sortnof surge tolerance they have?
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Old 11-08-2020, 04:22   #13
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Cat View Post
Thank you for the responses.

Re the washimg machine, it is off, therefore not drawing, and I have tried connecting it directly successfully (albeit with a lead running outnof the bathroom, up the side of the boat to deck etc. - not an elegant situation but a workaround 8f required.

I will try switching shore power to generator when I next have access to it.

The overliad occurs too quickly for me to see whether the Victron panel registers power, but I suspect not given that there is normally a delay.

I was not aware that there was any draw when the panel is in the off position. Surely that is the.point of having an off position!

To answer another questuon it is a sine-wave inverter generator, so I am leaning towards the problem stemming from the Victron initial draw.

So it sounds as though I should have gone down the Honda route instead as it sounds as though people have success with those. Is there anything in the specs of portable generators that will tell me what sortnof surge tolerance they have?

Unlike the electricity grid, gensets are physically unable to supply anything extra then the maximum VA rating (*). To calculate if an appliance will run off a generator, you need to know it's maximum power draw in watts and power factor. Highly inductive (like transformer and motor windings) or reactive (like inverter capacitors) appliances can have power factors as low as 0.7 or even 0.6 and these are also used to calculate maximum VA. Unfortunately it can be difficult to determine these values from most devices as running off a generator is of least concern when writing up the specs. If you know the numbers, though, the calculation is easy. For example an appliance that draws a (absolute) maximum of 800 watts at a power factor of 0.8 will require 800/0.8 = 1000 VA. Note that this calculation requires knowing maximum power draw and the typical nameplate rating is based on the running power. In reality, for example, a motor starting under load may require 3x the nameplate rating in VA to start. It is possible to use "power factor correction" devices to assist starting, but this isn't a common option on small installations.


Having written that, and as someone who used to sell gensets once upon a time, the easiest solution is often to borrow, beg or steal candidate units and try them on the actual job.


(*) Some generators are designed to provide addition power for starting loads, in some cases by a factor of up to three over the specification rating. The Honda 2000 for example, is rated as having a 2000VA start and 1600VA running capacity. Because starting capacity is actually a pretty big deal when it comes to gensets, this info is usually prominent on the spec sheet.
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Old 11-08-2020, 05:22   #14
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Sounds like an Apollo 13 restart sequence thing. Try switching SCE to aux...


If generator is capable of its rating, it's probably just not big enough to replace all of the regular shore power loads at one time. I would try direct to washing machine or figuring out what is 'on' shore power and tripping the generator.
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Old 11-08-2020, 05:40   #15
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Re: Portable Generator Overloads even when no apparent load. Why?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naughty Cat View Post
Thank you for the responses.

Re the washimg machine, it is off, therefore not drawing, and I have tried connecting it directly successfully (albeit with a lead running outnof the bathroom, up the side of the boat to deck etc. - not an elegant situation but a workaround 8f required.

I will try switching shore power to generator when I next have access to it.

The overliad occurs too quickly for me to see whether the Victron panel registers power, but I suspect not given that there is normally a delay.

I was not aware that there was any draw when the panel is in the off position. Surely that is the.point of having an off position!

To answer another questuon it is a sine-wave inverter generator, so I am leaning towards the problem stemming from the Victron initial draw.

So it sounds as though I should have gone down the Honda route instead as it sounds as though people have success with those. Is there anything in the specs of portable generators that will tell me what sortnof surge tolerance they have?
Assuming a honda of the same rating, I doubt it would make any difference. They are nice generators but nothing magical about them.

Does your victron manual have power specs? In particular initial draws. These inverter generators will usually handle a higher draw for a second or so but if it continues then they switch to overload.

Do the AC loads always go thru the victron or can you shut that off and power the boat without it from shore power? If that's the case, just turn the victron breaker off when running the washer.
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