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Old 02-23-2011
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Xantrex Echo Charger Rant

Hi All,

For nearly six years I have been conversing with Xantrex and asking them to make important changes to the Echo Charger manual. Quite often I have had to spend time trouble shooting a device that is working properly but because the owners manual is INCORRECT, POORLY WRITTEN, MISLEADING and MISSING adequate WIRING DIAGRAMS customers have had to pony up money for me to tell them their device is either fine but the XANTREX manual is wrong or wired incorrectly because the owners manual is completely lacking.

Over the last two years or so I have spoken with Xantrex multiple times documenting changes that need to occur in this manual. I have spoke with Mariana twice, she is their head of technical support and numerous tech support folks. I have spoken with service reps in Indiana and also Prashant one of lead tech guys up in BC.

Promises have been made and yet its now been nearly TWO years and the horribly written manual is still UNCHANGED!

I told them today that I was at my wits end and was taking this to the net to clear things up for users who happen across my post. So here I am.


The Facts:

1) The manual is VERY, VERY unclear that this device MUST be fed from the HOUSE bank and that ALL charge sources, solar, wind or alternator MUST be attached to the house bank. Competent installers know this but DIY's RARELY pick up on this.

This device should NOT be used with a factory wired 1/2/BOTH/OFF switch where the alternator feeds back through the starter cable. The Alternator MUST be re-routed to the house bank for the Echo Charger to work properly.

2) The Echo Charger does NOT EVER work BACKWARDS and WILL NOT work in reverse. If your starting bank is wired to position #2 on the battery switch and the charge sources are feeding it first because of the battery switch position, eg: factory wiring scenario, the Echo Charger will do NOTHING other than sit there and look pretty.

3) I will quote the manual here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xantrex
When the input voltage is 13.0/25.5 volts DC or higher, echo-charge automatically switches ON. The LED glows a steady green.
So far so good but the input voltage for the Echo is ALWAYS measured at the HOUSE bank therefore ALL charge sources must be fed to the HOUSE bank first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xantrex
When the input voltage is lower than 13.0/25.5 volts, the echo-charge automatically switches OFF, and the LED blinks green.
Again this is correct information. When the house bank voltage drops below 13.0 Volts the unit turns off.

Additionally the unit NEVER turns off otherwise!!! This is NOT made clear and should be! The Echo DOES NOT turn off when the start battery is full as many owners AND professional installers think it does.

13+ volts is ON, less than 13 volts is OFF. The state of charge of the start or reserve battery DOES NOT turn the device on or off UNLESS it is greater than a 10V difference and then the Echo shuts off or won't turn on at all. They NEED to make this clear that the Echo does NOT turn off when the start battery is "full"..


Back to the manual:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xantrex
If the input voltage is above 14.4 volts (or 28.8), output will be limited to a maximum of 14.4/28.8 volts.
This is accurate and good because who wants to feed a fully charged battery at 14.5-14.8 volts despite the "low current".. The limit of 14.4 volts is a good one.



So in summary:

1) The Echo DOES NOT shut off when the start battery is full.

2) Charge sources like wind, solar, alternator and charger need to be fed directly to the house bank! A wiring diagram is needed.

3) The Echo Charger is a ONE WAY device. Senses voltage FROM the house bank TO the starter bank. It will NOT work backwards.

Hopefully Xantrex will FIX the misleading and incomplete manual.. I guess after waiting and asking for these fixes for two years I could be considered impatient? Not!!!
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-27-2012 at 07:55 PM.
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Old 02-23-2011
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I Do NOT Agree

Maine,

As you know, I deeply respect your skills and your opinion....with just a couple of exceptions (like the need to separate completely house and start battery banks).

However, I do not agree at all with your characterization of the Xantrex EchoCharge device.

I have one on my own boat, and have carefully watched it's operation over the past five years or so. Including most every day. Including today.

My Victron Multi-Plus was in the "repeated absorption" mode, putting 14.5 VDC into the house batteries. The charge on the start battery, occasioned by the EchoCharge, was 13.6 VDC....a proper float voltage.

I have watched the EchoCharge when in the equalizing mode...over 15.5V going into the house batteries. The EchoCharge never put more than about 13.6 volts into the start battery.

On my boat, and on a number of client boats on which I have installed the EchoCharge, I find it absolutely flawless. It works perfectly...does not overcharge the start battery, and just sits there and does it's job as it's supposed to.

Xantrex, by the way, bought this device from another company and, thankfully, has resisted the temptation to change it. As far as I know, anyway. It's one of the very few Xantrex devices that I can and do recommend and install.

By the way, I completely agree re: the instructions: they need to make the connection info more clear.

Bottom line: Yes, the EchoCharge is a "voltage-follower device", but it is a VRD with smarts. It won't harm your start battery and, if properly connected (which is VERY VERY easy) it will just do its thing and you don't have to worry anymore about your start battery.

Bill
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Old 02-23-2011
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I'm an idiot... what regulates the charge going into the house bank? Is there a seperate device there, or do the individual chargers (alternator/solar panel/wind generator) have to monitor their own voltage seperately?
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Old 02-23-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
On my boat, and on a number of client boats on which I have installed the EchoCharge, I find it absolutely flawless. It works perfectly...does not overcharge the start battery, and just sits there and does it's job as it's supposed to.

Xantrex, by the way, bought this device from another company and, thankfully, has resisted the temptation to change it. As far as I know, anyway. It's one of the very few Xantrex devices that I can and do recommend and install.

By the way, I completely agree re: the instructions: they need to make the connection info more clear.

Bottom line: Yes, the EchoCharge is a "voltage-follower device", but it is a VRD with smarts. It won't harm your start battery and, if properly connected (which is VERY VERY easy) it will just do its thing and you don't have to worry anymore about your start battery.

Bill
Bill,

I know you and I have discussed this before and both seen different results from the Echo? I am going to remove my part about the float, for now, even though I just witnessed it this morning. I want to do a full controlled bench test and will have one soon as I have an install to do with one.

I don't disagree that ti is a great device but do think the manual SUCKS and I've come across to many owners baffled on this install that does not need to be so difficult..

Will let you know after I finish my bench test.. The one I had on my own boat followed the house bank and I doubt Xantrex made any changes from the Heart Interface days..
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Old 02-24-2011
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EchoCharge Bench Tests 02/24/11

Maine,

Happened to have a spare EchoCharge on hand, so did my own bench tests this morning.

These are indicative, not definitive since I didn't have the "right" batteries or enough time available.

For the "house bank", I used two 6V gelled golf-carts in series. These are 14 years old and are in pretty fair shape. They were not fully charged.

For the "start battery", I used a small 18AH West Marine AGM. It's about 3 years old and in fair shape. Also, not fully charged to begin the test.

Voltmeter was a Fluke 189. Ammeter was a Mastech MS-2108 clamp-type.

At the start, the resting voltages were 12.736 for the gels and 12.672 for the little AGM.

Note that voltages thruout are a bit higher than they would be with flooded cells, since both gels and AGMs typically have higher voltages.

Here are a couple of pix of the setup, and the results.

EchoChargeTest_0014

EchoChargeTest_0016

Voltage delivered to the "start" battery was never more than 14.4, even when charging voltage was near 15.

The multiple readings at the same indicated time were because I varied the charging voltage to see what the EchoCharge would do. Then, between times, I left the charging voltage at 14.8.

Not sure what all this means, yet.

My EchoCharge had the Heart Interface name on it. Xantrex may or may not have fiddled with the circuitry over the years....don't know for sure.

FWIW,

Bill
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Old 02-24-2011
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Bill,

I just looked at your data and it appears to be what I have seen. The Echo seems to have between a .35-.45 voltage drop of some sort? So when the house bank is below its limiting voltage of 14.4V the Echo is usually outputting about .35-.45 volts less. It is interesting that it only had to limit the voltage once at 11:20 #1 and it capped it at 14.1volts and was outputting only .38A.

11:20 #2 Your seeing 14.4V input/13.97 Out .18A= .43 VD
12:20 #1 Your seeing 14.73V input/14.38 Out .1A = .35 VD
12:20 #2 Your seeing 14.38V input/14.03 Out .09A= .35 VD
12:20 #3 Your seeing 14.06V input/13.69 Out .04A= .37 VD


As I mentioned it looks more like a voltage drop of some sort rather than a true electronically controlled or dictated "float"... 0.1A acceptance would put any good charger into a voltage float mode and we're seeing over 14V at just .09A of current? Not really a true float?

As I said the manual is odd, and so is the information, or lack there of, behind it. Either way still a good device and even if it was doing 14.4 it would not "ruin" batts but I still don't see it doing a true "electronically controlled" float voltage...

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Last edited by Maine Sail; 02-24-2011 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 02-24-2011
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MS, I had a similar "issue" with a good friend when he first purchased his Duo Charge a few years ago. And we also ran into this when folks purchased their Link Pros and Link Lites. In those cases, I recommended that they download and review the Link 2000 manual, which provided a ton more information as to how they really work for both the wiring and the old Gotcha algorithm. I believe Xantrex, in their infinite stupid reasoning, has now removed the older manuals from their website, which makes helping people that much harder. I have no idea why these corporate trogs remove valuable stuff from their websites - it's not like it's killing their damned bandwidth. If only they'd look at customer feedback positively instead of ignoring it.
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Old 02-24-2011
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They're still there Stu. Discontinued Power Accessories

When I am searching for a manual I don't go to Xantrex directly, but search google for "Xantrex link 10 manual" for example, and go to the link at Xantrex directly from the search results. Saves navigating difficult sites.
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Old 02-24-2011
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Brian,

Ain't that the truth? Most of the vendor websites are so damned convoluted that you can't find what you're looking for without spending an inordinate amount of time, and raising the frustration level!

Some of these folks turn out good products, but websites ain't amongst them :-)

Thank heavens for Google.

Bill
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Old 02-25-2011
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Another Data Point

Maine,

Here's another data point:

After sitting overnite with the EchoCharge connected to both battery banks but no charging current on, voltages this morning are:

Gel-cell house battery bank: 13.02

AGM start battery: 13.02

Charge current from the EchoCharge to the AGM battery: 0.25A

Because the resting voltage of the gels is above 12.9 or so, the EchoCharge light has been on all night and the device is still active, putting a tiny charge into the AGM "start battery".

Later today I plan to test the setup by putting a really high voltage on the gels for a short time, and see what the EchoCharge passes thru.

Stay tuned :-)

Bill
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