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replacing charger with inverter/charger


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#1 marvmarcy

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:04 PM

My fiver came with a charger. It is also prewired for a generator and has a transfer switch. I want to maybe add batteries and install an inverter/charger, or maybe just add an inverter. I think I want between 1k and 2k from the inverter. If 1k, I may just stay with the two U2300s, but will likely add two more U2300s if I go with a 2k inverter. I know cheaper made-in-China inverters are available, but I want something reliable and lasting. I will run the tv, sat rcvr, a couple of computers and other light loads off the inverter. I want to be able to turn the inverter on and off so it doesn't draw down the batteries when I'm not using it. I like the 1k Tripp Lite inverter I installed in my truck a few years ago, but it may not be the best choice for my fiver. I was a journeyman electrician, specializing in low voltage applications, so I can install this myself. I know there is a wealth of knowledge and talent available on this forum, so I'm asking for suggestions, recommendations and source information.

Thanks!
Marv
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#2 Jack Mayer

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Posted 15 February 2012 - 05:41 PM

My website addresses many of the wiring and parts questions.

You really have to decide what you want to accomplish. If you just want to run the TV infrequently that is a whole other thing than running the mw, and most of your house. Are you planning long-term boondocking? Do you have a residential refrigerator? Etc. You really need to think your need through carefully first and figure out how much power you need. Then you can design the system.

If you are looking for a relatively economical system then a TrippLlite is probably not a bad place to look. I happen to like them for a cheaper inverter. If you are lookinng for a better product, that of course costs more, then my preference is Magnum. Make sure if you put in AGM batteries that you get an inverter/charger that can handle them. Most can, these days.

On the in-between area you can look at the Xantrex Freedom line.....I generally don't recommend them these days, since they are all Chinese built - but they have not had a bad run in the market since they changed the line. Most people are having good luck with them.

If you have specidic questions, feel free to ask....

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#3 dontay

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 07:20 AM

We have a 1K inverter/charger and I strongly recommend a 2K. If you want to make a pot of coffee or run the microwave for a few seconds a 1K doesn't hack it. As long as you are installing from scratch I think you should get a 2K.
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#4 dmcb

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 08:06 AM

As Jack mentioned your use is important when selecting a system.
As we boondock a lot with our motorhome and we anchor out the entire short boating seasons (about 100 days) our system is geared towards battery charging with minimal genny time.
We have an Xantrex 2000W inverter/100 amp battery charger in both the boat and motorhome.
Also as said it takes a lot of amps to make coffee so the larger inverter is necessary.
If you boondock a lot getting the batteries charged with a smart charger (3 stage charger) will be important to avoid genny time.
When boondocking you don't want to try to charge the batteries fully. It just takes to long for that last 10% or so and you don't want to discharge them below 50% if you want battery life.
So a good monitoring system becomes important. My Xantrex systems also had the Link option which does this. There are several other systems that do the same.
Like so many things, there is no one thing fits all and the pieces need to fit together for your usage.
For what its worth, when living on the boat we have satellite tv, the fridge always runs on electric, lights, water pump and so on. The TV is 32 inch and is our biggest draw and with all of this we are able to charge the batteries with 2 hours or less of genny time. I am switching the lights to LED so I expect to get even better performance.
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#5 marvmarcy

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 09:17 AM

Thanks for great replies. We have dry camped about 1/3 of each of the past 11+ year fulltiming. We don't run the microwave or ac at all in dry camp, even with generator going. We don't drink coffee, and we run the wh and frig on gas. That leaves a 42" tv, dvd, sat and up to three conputers - and occasionally a blender. I will likely replace the current Panasonic surround system with the Yamaha & Paradigm system out of my previous fiver. Adding it all up, I think I will be better off with two more batteries and a 2kw inverter. I have to study my current converter/charger to see if I should replace it. I was mostly looking for brand recommendations and cheaper sources. You've helped already.

Thanks,
Marv
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#6 Rif

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:49 AM

Marv,

I replaced my Freedom 2500 MSW with a Magnum MS2812 PSW late last year. I purchased it from IMarine. They had the best prices I could find anywhere at the time. Shipping only took a couple days by UPS. I don't know what their current prices are.

By the way, I love this inverter.
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#7 Jack Mayer

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 04:31 PM

On todays market if you want a quality inverter you can't beat the Magnum MS2812. That is what I am putting in my new rig, and it is my first choice for any RV unless you have specific needs it does not support. JMO.

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#8 dmcb

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for great replies. We have dry camped about 1/3 of each of the past 11+ year fulltiming. We don't run the microwave or ac at all in dry camp, even with generator going. We don't drink coffee, and we run the wh and frig on gas. That leaves a 42" tv, dvd, sat and up to three conputers - and occasionally a blender. I will likely replace the current Panasonic surround system with the Yamaha & Paradigm system out of my previous fiver. Adding it all up, I think I will be better off with two more batteries and a 2kw inverter. I have to study my current converter/charger to see if I should replace it. I was mostly looking for brand recommendations and cheaper sources. You've helped already.

Thanks,
Marv

Marv, just a thought. The larger the inverter, when used, takes more amps out of your battery. You should not discharge your batteries below 50% if you want long life from your batteries.
Now the question I think you should ask yourself. How do I charge my batteries when they reach 50%?
If you seen a need to do this and have or will get a generator, now the last key to a good system is a fast battery charger.
One thing leads to another, eh? :D
But that is why many of us suggest an inverter/charger.
But then there is the means to power the charger.
Basically I live on batteries for a 100 day period. Never plug in to dock power and this is a subject I explore from every angle. I look at the power required for anything I buy and try to get the most efficient.
One thing I see is your tv. If you use it much it will deplete your batteries. 2 or 3 days and you need to charge. Maybe sooner. I don't know your battery capacity but if you boondock 1/3 of the time you may want to do some math. Our boat has 4 golf cart batteries for about 420 amp hours. We use an average of 200 amp hours a day. Our fridge runs on batteries so that is a good part but the tv uses more than the full size 12 volt fridge. And its smaller than your tv.
You can often find good prices on Xantrex units on Ebay. I have used refurbished units with good success. At one time I had 2 boats and a motorhome, all with Xantrex inverter/chargers. In years of service they have done me well.
To keep up we need to run the genny about 2 hours during the day. We do this in the morning for coffee and heating water so while doing this, we are also charging the batteries. As I mentioned before I don't try to fully charge but quit at about 90% maybe a tad more.
So basically I am using about 40% of my battery capacity.

Edited by dmcb, 16 February 2012 - 05:32 PM.

Doug

#9 Stanley P. Miller

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Posted 16 February 2012 - 10:10 PM

Trying to figure out the actual power use of an inverter is an exercise in frustration until you have it hooked up in your system with a good metering system. Idle power use is usually given and is fairly reliable from the ones I've seen. The standby power use they quote in the specs is probably not going to be correct for your setup since it partly depends on the amount of load the inverter sees on the AC side, how much it is off is hard to predict. The efficiency will be a bit easier if the manufacturer puts an efficiency at load chart in the documentation but even then most of them don't show a curve for different battery voltages.

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#10 dmcb

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 05:50 AM

Trying to figure out the actual power use of an inverter is an exercise in frustration until you have it hooked up in your system with a good metering system. Idle power use is usually given and is fairly reliable from the ones I've seen. The standby power use they quote in the specs is probably not going to be correct for your setup since it partly depends on the amount of load the inverter sees on the AC side, how much it is off is hard to predict. The efficiency will be a bit easier if the manufacturer puts an efficiency at load chart in the documentation but even then most of them don't show a curve for different battery voltages.

Good point Stan. It is the last part of a good system. I should have mentioned I have the Link system with my Xantrex that enables me to know when my batteries have reached 50% discharge.
It is a very important part of battery management.
Doug

#11 marvmarcy

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 03:42 PM

Again, thanks to you all. I have a Magnum MS2812 and ME-RC50 on order, and I will pick up two more batteries in the next few days. Time to calculate currents and wire sizes now, something I've done many times. Fortunately, there is plenty of room for everything in the fiver.
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#12 Jack Mayer

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 11:26 AM

What are you using for a battery monitor? You may want to add the BMK to your system. That will integrate with the magnum remote panel. So a single display. Or, as an alternative if you like you can add a Trimetric 2025RV. But I'd go with the integrated system, although it will be slightly more $$. You really need to have a good battery monitor as part of your system. IMO. Some will argue this, but I think for MOST people it is necessary.

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#13 marvmarcy

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:54 PM

What are you using for a battery monitor? You may want to add the BMK to your system. That will integrate with the magnum remote panel. So a single display. Or, as an alternative if you like you can add a Trimetric 2025RV. But I'd go with the integrated system, although it will be slightly more $$. You really need to have a good battery monitor as part of your system. IMO. Some will argue this, but I think for MOST people it is necessary.


Thanks Jack! I didn't realize it wasn't part of the remote. I only have the basic three-lights as part of my nearly-useless monitor panel. I ordered the BMK from iMarine today.

Thanks RIF for the MS2812 and iMarine recommendations!. I couldn't find anyone cheaper, and they are here in FL so I can have it in a few days.

Again, thanks to all!

Marv
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2012 Landmark Key Largo fifth wheel
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#14 pacecar

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 08:23 PM

I don't mean to Hi-jack this topic, but I wondered why no one seems to go to the 24volt units for the higher wattage? It would be a simple matter of wiring to still get your 12 volt for the unit's systems and have a higher output for a few dollars more.
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#15 Stanley P. Miller

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:09 PM

I looked at higher voltage options and the hassle and/or expense of keeping the higher voltage bank balanced when drawing just 12 volts off it wasn't worth it. Run the panels at as high a voltage as your controller likes, easy and zero hassle but for the inverter I'll pass.

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#16 Desolation Roe

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 09:22 PM

If you are going to higher voltage on your primary DC system, you should seriously consider using a DC-DC converter to drop back to 12v as required.

Pulling 12v off a partial bank is generally a poor idea.

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#17 Jack Mayer

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 09:14 AM

Like George said, "tapping" a 24 volt bank for 12 volts is a poor design. It is not going to help your batteries any....but it can be done if you insist. Much better is the DC - DC converter, and that adds some expense. And complexity. But again, for a large enough system it can be done. In fact, if you don't have large current demands on the 12-volt side you can even use a "spare" MPPT controller to do it. Although I'd use a specialized device, if it was me. If you are really into it, you can build a DC/DC converter....But people that can do that are not going to be asking questions here... :)

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#18 pacecar

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 10:06 AM

Thanks for the quick replies. So how are those with a 50 amp 240 volt RV's splitting the load on these inverters? Are you actually adding 2 sub-panels and 2 inverters? When I looked the Magnum 2812 I did not see a dual inverter in the specs.
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#19 Stanley P. Miller

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 12:46 PM

Another couple drawbacks of the DC-DC converter are standby current and conversion losses. Depending on what you buy these could vary from minor to a good part of your power budget.

These looked interesting but I've no idea how they work: http://backwoodssola...48 VOLT BATTERY

The 240 volt inverter setups I saw were simply two 120 volt inverters each hooked to the one of the hot phases and the grounds to the neutral. They had an interconnect that kept them running 180 degrees out of phase giving the 240 volts across the two hots or 120 to neutral.

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#20 marvmarcy

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 02:09 PM

Thanks for the quick replies. So how are those with a 50 amp 240 volt RV's splitting the load on these inverters? Are you actually adding 2 sub-panels and 2 inverters? When I looked the Magnum 2812 I did not see a dual inverter in the specs.


I have my MS2812 installed now, and it is wired for dual 30A in and dual 30A out through a single sub-panel. I have three breakers on each leg of the output in the sub panel. If needed, I could have 30A @240V in by-pass mode (limited by the 30A dual breaker added to the main panel because of the 30A limit of the inverter transfer switches). I have two in-phase 30A @120v legs inverted. Since my potential max load inverted approached 40A, it seemed logical to wire the inverter DI/DO.

Marv
2001 Volvo VNL42T420, ISX450/1650, ET air hitch
2012 Landmark Key Largo fifth wheel
Fulltimer - resident of Polson, MT
Mostly in CO, MT, NC & KW FL
USAF Retired