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Satellite TV Receivers and Modified Sine Wave Inverters


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We have a 1000-watt modified sine wave *whole-house* inverter, a Xantrex PRO Series, Model XM-1000, Part Number 806-1010 (http://www.xantrex.com/power-products/power-inverters/pro-series-inverters.aspx) and a Dish ViP 211K receiver.

 

The receiver has been working fine since we left home at the end of October until a few days ago. Since we do a lot of boondocking, the TV and receiver usually run off the inverter (well, I should say just the receiver runs off the inverter...the TV is a 12-volt TV). Lately, we've been getting a lot of picture freezing/unfreezing (it's like watching still pictures in a flipbook/kineograph). Sometimes the picture will go black, but we'll still have sound...pressing the Guide button on the remote usually brings the picture back. During the Super Bowl, the receiver turned off all by itself two or three times...came back on each time, but it takes ~10 minutes to go through the reboot process.

 

We're thinking that the receiver is about to give up the ghost and I got to thinking that perhaps it doesn't like the modified sine wave inverter (although, as I said, it's been working fine until lately). We watched a half hour of Jeopardy this afternoon off the inverter and we had the same thing happen...frozen picture, black screen, receiver going off.

 

Tonight, as an experiment, we decided to run the generator while we watched TV instead of using the inverter. We watched a half-hour of national news and then an hour of NCIS. Didn't get any picture freezing, no black screen, no receiver turning off.

 

So now I'm thinking that the problem is the inverter rather than the receiver...??? Could the inverter be going bad? I really don't like the thought of spending the money to have a pure sine wave inverter installed, but will do so if that cures the problem.

 

(By the way, there is no 12-volt outlet in the cabinet where the receiver resides, so we can't get a smaller pure sine wave inverter just to run the receiver.)

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Linda,

We have been running our ViP 211K on a MSW for years with no problem.

 

Can you connect something else to the inverter like a small wattage bulb or a multimeter to monitor it's performance?

 

Are you running anything else on the inverter? Sometimes when a MSW inverter gets loaded close to max rated power the stair steps that make up he modified sine begin to look like much bigger steps and can cause problems for some electronics.

 

Lenp

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Inverters, when they are operating close to the max wattage, will power off for a second or two and then power up again. In my experience, this power cycle typically lasts for a second or two. Like Stan said, low battery voltage will cause the inverter to power cycle as well.

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Can you connect something else to the inverter like a small wattage bulb or a multimeter to monitor it's performance?

 

I'll have to check on that...the inverter is only accessible from an outside bin and I haven't looked at it closely to see if there's an outlet available on it.

 

 

Are you running anything else on the inverter? Sometimes when a MSW inverter gets loaded close to max rated power the stair steps that make up he modified sine begin to look like much bigger steps and can cause problems for some electronics.

 

 

Although I said it was a "whole house" inverter, only a few outlets are actually powered when it's on: The two by the bed which rarely have anything plugged into them (we use them to charge our Kindles on occasion and the pump for the air bed can be powered by the inverter which, again, is rarely used); the one at the dinette where we plug in a laptop computer, a tablet and two phones (not always at the same time and the power bar isn't always on); the one in the cabinet above the driver's head where the receiver and the controller for the Trav'ler reside, and the one on the other side above the passenger's head where there is a DVD player and an entertainment center management center, both of which are rarely on.

 

I usually turn off the power bar at the dinette off when the receiver comes on, but we have on occasion left it on. I do not remember whether or not it was on when the problem with the receiver cropped up. Even if the power bar was left on and everything I mentioned above was plugged in when the receiver was on, would that be close to 1,000 watts? Seems unlikely, but perhaps so. I'll make sure the power bar is off today when we turn on the receiver to watch Jeopardy and see what happens.

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Also the charge level on your batteries can have an impact, stuff that runs at full charge may get iffy at low charge levels.

 

The batteries get fully charged during the day via solar and we never let them get below 12.3 without turning on the generator or engine (if we don't have our leveling jacks down).

 

 

 

A small full sine inverter just for the dish box and your TV might be the cheapest way to go.

 

The TV is a 12-volt Jensen powered directly from the batteries, so works whether or not the inverter is on.

 

As I mentioned above, there is no 12-volt outlet in the receiver cabinet to power a smaller inverter. That would really be the ideal solution, but, for whatever reason, the manufacturer chose not to put a 12-volt outlet there.

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At a 1000 watts, you may well be over loading the unit.

 

Inverters, when they are operating close to the max wattage, will power off for a second or two and then power up again. In my experience, this power cycle typically lasts for a second or two. Like Stan said, low battery voltage will cause the inverter to power cycle as well.

 

Even if I left the power bar on at the dinette with everything plugged in (small laptop computer, a tablet, and two phones) while the receiver was on, would that come close to 1,000 watts? I find it hard to believe, but I will make sure the power bar is off today when we turn on the receiver and see if that makes any difference. I'll report the results.

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Check all of the connections/terminals between the battery and the inverter. You might also want to check the wire size between the battery and the inverter.

 

Connections at the battery can be checked, which we will do, but the connections on the inverter side would require removing the inverter since only the front of it can be seen where it's installed in an outside compartment. I don't know what would be involved in removing the inverter (if we end up replacing the inverter, we'd have someone knowledgeable do it...and that's not us ^_^ ) . Don't know what the wire size is that the manufacturer used...wouldn't be something we could change, or would want to change, by ourselves. The inverter and the batteries are right next to each other, so it's not like there is a long run requiring a massive cable.

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The fact that your could run with no issues on the generator tells me that it's probably the inverter. We have a tailgater carry-out and the 211 receiver and the entire draw (satellite receiver, the antenna and the television) is less than 200-watts. Your inverter *should* have no difficulty providing that so something is up.

 

As others have said, remove and clean up all the connections to the battery bank (use a wire brush on the the battery terminals and the connectors) and then tighten them securely. The inverter itself should be easy to get out but if it's 8 years old it might be heavy. It's possible that there are no connectors on that inverter at all... just hard wired into the device itself.

 

Replacing it is not difficult. There is 12vdc in and 120vac out and both should be clearly marked. And a ground wire (to the chassis).

 

It is VERY common for inexpensive (coughchinesecough) inverters to divide their full output among two or more plugs. Even the cheap Xantrex PROwatt 1000 does this (I just checked). Most manufacturers hide this information as best they can so it's often only in the fine print somewhere. On Amazon many prospective buyers have become astute enough to ask questions about the units so read the Q&A (or ask). Some of the inverters have a panel connection where you can connect the inverter to a fuse or circuit breaker panel and this would probably give you full inverter output.

 

If you replace it you might want to get a 1500 or 2000 watt model capable of being wired to a panel. Metal cases are preferable as they cool better. Remotes are nice.

 

Just a quick search on Amazon reveals this 2,000-watt $319 model that could work for you: http://www.amazon.com/forum//ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B00MRGOSX0&cdSort=best as they indicate that each plug handles 15A at 120VAC and it does have a terminal block to connect to a fuse or circuit breaker panel.

 

If you are at all nervous about this you probably should find someone reliable and have them check it out.

 

WDR

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The fact that your could run with no issues on the generator tells me that it's probably the inverter. ... Your inverter *should* have no difficulty providing that so something is up.

 

That's my feeling, too...but what I know about electricity wouldn't even fill a thimble! B)

 

 

As others have said, remove and clean up all the connections to the battery bank (use a wire brush on the the battery terminals and the connectors) and then tighten them securely. The inverter itself should be easy to get out but if it's 8 years old it might be heavy. It's possible that there are no connectors on that inverter at all... just hard wired into the device itself.

 

I can't imagine that the inverter is 8 years old! We bought this 2014 Aspect in December 2013, so it's just over a year old. While the inverter may not be as *new* as the motorhome, I don't see why the manufacturer would put in an old inverter...although anything is possible, I guess.

 

I'll have DH clean the battery terminals and see if he can figure out how to get the inverter out in order to check the connections at the back...I have no idea whether or not the inverter has been hard-wired to the system.

 

 

If you replace it you might want to get a 1500 or 2000 watt model capable of being wired to a panel. Metal cases are preferable as they cool better. Remotes are nice.

 

Just a quick search on Amazon reveals this 2,000-watt $319 model that could work for you: http://www.amazon.com/forum//ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B00MRGOSX0&cdSort=best as they indicate that each plug handles 15A at 120VAC and it does have a terminal block to connect to a fuse or circuit breaker panel.

 

As long as a higher-rated inverter has the same physical size as our current inverter, it probably wouldn't be a problem. I'm not sure a physically larger inverter would fit in the space available, though. Any replacement inverter would have to have a remote (our current one does)...there's no way I'm running outside each time I want to turn the inverter on or off!

 

Anyway, I'll know more this afternoon after we watch Jeopardy and I've made SURE the power bar at the dinette is off. Stay tuned!

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I can't imagine that the inverter is 8 years old! We bought this 2014 Aspect in December 2013, so it's just over a year old. While the inverter may not be as *new* as the motorhome, I don't see why the manufacturer would put in an old inverter...although anything is possible, I guess.

 

Sorry... I dunno where I got the idea that your inverter was 8 years old. Generally, the only thing on an inverter that can wear out is the fan; in which case the device could overheat and that might result in the type of issues you're having.

 

Have your DH touch the inverter while it's operating and see if it's hot (not just warm) to the touch.

 

Your generator probably puts out a decent sine-wave and your inverter (which is, IIRC, modified-sine-wave). You can buy a little doodad called a "Kill A Watt" at any Lowe's or Home Depot for less than $30 which will tell you the frequency and voltage output of your inverter and that would probably help you troubleshoot it. You want to see the frequency (Hz) which should be 60 even with MSW. If it's not then there is an issue. If the voltage is higher than about 128 or lower than about 105 then that is an issue.

 

It should be 120 volts ac at 60Hz.

 

WDR

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To help answer the 1000 watt usage question:

 

I power a Dish DVR (receiver) a 32" LCD/LED TV, and two laptops and even when the laptops are being charged and used, my total 12V DC current is about 16-20 amps, which equates to about 200-250 watts.

 

So no, just powering the receiver and laptop doesn't come anywhere near using 1000 watts.

 

Low battery voltage at the inverter from loose or dirty terminals going to the batteries could be the problem. Also batteries going bad could be the cause.

 

If you have a volt meter or can find someone with one, monitor the 12V DC voltage at the connectors on the inverter to see if you have 12.6 volts or higher (assuming the batteries are fully charged) when using the TV & receiver.

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I power a Dish DVR (receiver) a 32" LCD/LED TV, and two laptops and even when the laptops are being charged and used, my total 12V DC current is about 16-20 amps, which equates to about 200-250 watts.

 

So no, just powering the receiver and laptop doesn't come anywhere near using 1000 watts.

 

That was my thought, too...even if I forgot to turn off the power bar that the computer, tablet and two phones are plugged into, the total watts, including the receiver, would not be close to 1000 watts.

 

 

 

Low battery voltage at the inverter from loose or dirty terminals going to the batteries could be the problem. Also batteries going bad could be the cause.

 

I'll have DH clean and make sure the terminals are tight. Batteries going bad is unlikely to be the problem since the two that we have are brand new AGM batteries installed before we left home this past fall.

 

 

If you have a volt meter or can find someone with one, monitor the 12V DC voltage at the connectors on the inverter to see if you have 12.6 volts or higher (assuming the batteries are fully charged) when using the TV & receiver.

 

We do have a volt meter. Getting to the inverter's connectors, however, will be a PITA since it is enclosed in a metal box that is screwed to the back wall and the floor of an exterior compartment. The only thing visible of the inverter is the electrical outlet where something could be plugged into it.

 

OK...the results of our testing this afternoon when watching Jeopardy: I made sure the power bar at the dinette was OFF so that the only thing being powered by the inverter was the satellite receiver. It started doing the freezing thing again, the screen went black, and the receiver turned off. I turned on the generator and there were no further problems with the remainder of the show. So...something is definitely wrong with the inverter. It could be the wiring as indicated (we'll have to check further into that), but we may go ahead and bite the bullet and get a new inverter installed, this time a pure sine wave. We're going to check into places that can do the work since neither of us feels competent to tackle a job involving electricity.

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When checking the AC voltage from the inverter do not be surprised if it is showing around 80-90 volts. Since it is not a sine wave inverter the multimeter can be confused by the waveform unless the meter lists "RMS AC measurement" or something very similar in the spec sheet. Many meters, even very good expensive ones don't offer that as it is expensive to add and rarely needed. Well rarely by folks other then MSW inverter users anyway. :-)

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Any suggestions for brands of pure sine wave inverters? Or, perhaps more importantly, any that we should avoid?

 

Another question: If we change brands and/or wattage of inverters, or change from a modified sine wave to a pure sine wave (which we will definitely do), can the same remote be used, or would we have to change remotes, too?

 

Thanks.

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Any suggestions for brands of pure sine wave inverters? Or, perhaps more importantly, any that we should avoid?

 

Another question: If we change brands and/or wattage of inverters, or change from a modified sine wave to a pure sine wave (which we will definitely do), can the same remote be used, or would we have to change remotes, too?

 

Thanks.

You will need a new remote. Make sure you get an inverter that has one; might be an extra charge but might not.

 

Make sure that you know that some inverters divide up the total power by the total plugs available so that a 1500 watt inverter might be only 500-watts for each plug. Get one that can be wired to a panel (fuse or circuit breaker).

 

It's easy to "over buy" an inverter (get far more than you actually need) and equally easy to "underbuy" (get an inverter that won't do what you want it to do or won't fill the role if you upgrade something in the future).

 

This is why so many RVers just buy the "Magnum" inverters. They're not cheap but you can depend on what you are getting.

 

WDR

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You will need a new remote. Make sure you get an inverter that has one; might be an extra charge but might not.

 

As I suspected, although DH thinks we can use the same one.

 

 

 

Make sure that you know that some inverters divide up the total power by the total plugs available so that a 1500 watt inverter might be only 500-watts for each plug. Get one that can be wired to a panel (fuse or circuit breaker).

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "total plugs available." Do you mean the outlets on the inverter or the outlets inside the coach that are powered by the inverter? How would I know whether or not a particular inverter divides the total power (i.e., what wording do I look for in the specs)?

 

Our current inverter has a fuse (which we've already had to have replaced once).

 

 

 

This is why so many RVers just buy the "Magnum" inverters. They're not cheap but you can depend on what you are getting.

 

"Not cheap" is putting it mildly! The cheapest one I found on Amazon was this one, http://www.amazon.com/Magnum-MMS1012-1000-Inverter-Charger/dp/B004L051HW/ref=sr_1_14?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1423156474&sr=1-14&keywords=magnum+pure+sine+wave+inverters, at just under $1,000! And it has a charger which I don't want...just want an inverter. Most of the others were well on their way to being $2,000!

 

If we were still fulltime RVers, it might be worth it to spend that kind of money, but I don't think I can justify that kind of outlay now. I just want to get a pure sine wave inverter that will do the job, won't crap out on us after less than a year of use, and won't break the bank to get.

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If we were still fulltime RVers, it might be worth it to spend that kind of money, but I don't think I can justify that kind of outlay now. I just want to get a pure sine wave inverter that will do the job, won't crap out on us after less than a year of use, and won't break the bank to get.

They divide the total wattage by the number of sockets on the inverter. So if there are two sockets on a 1,000 watt inverter you only get 500-watts per socket.

 

The one I linked to at Amazon (for $319) has a way to wire it into your RV's system and will give full power (if the specs are accurate, which seems likely). This will make it easier to put in place of your existing inverter. You can actually see the terminal block on a magnified view of the photo. It's 2,000 watts. It does not have a "pass through" capability I don't think. A "pass through" means that the inverter detects shore power and will switch any of the outlets in the RV that it's connected to so they have shore power not inverter power. Usually that's only for inverters with built-in chargers, though.

 

No idea what will crap out in a year any more. Magnums don't seem to but you know about those. We are going to move to a load-sharing Magnum when the DW retires in 2 years but for now it's just not in the cards. For now we'll stick to the 1500-watt PSW (500-watts per socket on the inverter) and run the generator if we need more.

 

Look at the specs, check the dimensions, and it might do the job. No reason you can't just hire someone to install it. You can use that link to compare to others. Just make sure it can be wired into the coach like you want.

 

WDR

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Since you have a volt meter, put the meter on the battery terminals and then run the TV, etc. If the voltage starts off, w/o the inverter being on, at 12.6V or higher, assuming a fully charged battery, that is good. Then turn on your TV and see what happens. If the battery voltage stays at within 0.2-0.3 volts below whatever voltage you started with, then you batteries are probably good. If on the other hand the voltage drops to 12V or 11.8V with the TV on, then you may be looking at a bad battery.

 

Just because the batteries are new, that doesn't mean they couldn't go bad. Inverters are designed to drop the AC voltage when the battery input voltage drops below a certain value. The Magnum inverter I have and the ones I had in the past could be set, with the remote panel, for a low voltage cutoff value.

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Thanks for all of your help.

 

We're starting to think that *maybe* the problem isn't with the inverter after all.

 

Today we checked into an RV park and are hooked up to 30-amp electric. We've had brief episodes of the picture freezing (this is a quick freeze...almost looks like the picture *jiggles* -- don't really know how to accurately explain it) and the screen has gone black a couple of times while we still have sound (but pressing the Guide button on the receiver remote brings the picture back). So far, the receiver has not turned itself off like it did when working solely from the inverter.

 

So why would the receiver act like it does under inverter power (picture freezing/jiggling, black screen, turning itself off), not do any of that when the generator is on, but do it when using A/C power from an RV park pedestal (except for turning itself off...yet)? I'm really at a loss!

 

Could it be that the receiver is going bad as I originally thought? Another thing that I've failed to mention is that the top of the receiver feels hot. Now, I'm not in the habit of going around feeling the top of the inverter ( :blink: ), so I don't know how hot is *normal.* How hot is too hot? I can keep my hand on the top, so it's not so hot it burns, it's just hotter than *warm.*

 

We're considering staying at the RV park for at least a week, so we'll see how it goes. We're in Quartzsite, so may drop by Satellite Advantage and talk with them about the problems we've been having to see if they have any ideas.

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