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  #1  
Old 08-27-2011
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Inverter/Charger questions

Recently when returning to my slip on my Yorktown 39CC, I ran into a problem that is threatening to be expensive to repair. The problem happened after tieing up, and shutting down the engine, and hooking up shore power, I went below and switched the ship to shore switch to shore. Upon doing that there was 2 loud pop's, and 2 puffs of smoke came out of my inverter/charger. (It's a Freedom Model 20 P/N 81-2511-12). My understanding is that particular model 2500 watts. My research say's there is no direct replacement, requiring me to upgrade to the 3000 watt, bad news $ wise. Good news is the newer ones are true sine wave inverters. As with everything I have done to the boat, if I have to replace something, I bite the bullit and try to improve it.
To describe the problem that I have, I believe I did something to the charge portion. I have the Heart Interface basic remote panal, and when I cycle through and the charge led illuminates, the batteries show less than 12 volt and turn into red led's. I left it alone and returned the next day, and the batteries were green but only 12 volts. When I switched on basic equipment the voltage started dropping. the charger was still indicating it was in a charge state, and there was a annoying humming coming from the unit. The fan cycled on and off but no joy with charging resulted. I read in the owners manuel that "Equalizing" the batteries might be necessary. I tried that, and although the lite show was entertaining for about a minute, I left it running only to get the same results. (Before anyone asks, I checked the batteries for fluid level, all ok.) I am running 4 house batteries, and one engine battery. All of them are marine deep cycle group 27.
I invited my local marine electrician (@ $100), and he said it's probably the battery charger half of the unit, but he wasn't sure.
What I need to know is, "Has anyone else had these problems, is it worth trying to have the unit repaired, any ideas of what a dumb a** could try to possibly fix the situation, and in lew of that, are there some troubleshooting techniques to narrow down the problem.
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Old 08-27-2011
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Your electrician could be correct as the charging section is not working. Battery equalization could be needed but the charger should still work as normal if their voltage is around 12 - less than half charged.

It is worth removing the inverter and at least getting an estimate.

Xantrex does have modified sine wave inverters in the 2500 watt size.
RV Series GS

Magnum makes a good inverter as well. I recently replaced a Xantrex Freedom for a customer with the Magnum ME-2512 and rate it at least as good as the Xantrex, also modified sine wave.
http://www.magnumenergy.com/Literatu...20Rev%20E).pdf
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Old 08-28-2011
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Brian, Thanks for the quick reply. I agree with you on most of what you said. My electrician could very well be right, I would like to know for certain before I remove the unit. I think tomorow I am going to remove the shore power and try to start the boat and after the ship/shore has run in the ship mode, annotate the voltage from the engine driven alternator and compare to the inverter/charger, then shut down the engine and re-establish the shore hook-up. If that shows nothing signicant, I might have to replace the unit.
I think you mis-understood about the units from Xantrex. According to the suppliers I researched, the particular model I have is discontinued. I can drop from the existing 2500 to 2000, or increase to 3000. All these new models have true sine wave converters, which I understand stabalizes the AC output protecting sensitive electronic equipment. If I have to replace the unit, this would be a positive step forward as my existing inverter is a modified sine wave. If I can repair for a reasonable amount, I will go that route.
Again, thanks for the response.

Steve
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Old 08-28-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trlrtrsh View Post
...... I went below and switched the ship to shore switch to shore. Upon doing that there was 2 loud pop's, and 2 puffs of smoke came out of my inverter/charger. (It's a Freedom Model 20 P/N 81-2511-12). ........
Sounds like the switch may have been a make-before-break type which is NOT OK for ship-to-shore AC switching. That would allow for a phase-mix, i.e., mixing the AC output of the inverter with that of the incoming shore power.

Whatever the reason, it would be good to check thoroughly to be sure your basic wiring is set up OK. The electrician should be able to do that.

Also, he should be able to do more than guess that it's the charging side of the inverter/charger at fault. He could, e.g., check the voltage level and amperage being delivered by the charger.

As mitiempo said, 12VDC is WAY too low, and you may have a problem with the batteries as well.

Your idea about checking the alternator charging rate against the inverter/charger charging rate is a good one.

If you do decide to replace the Xantrex, a true sine-wave inverter charger is a good way to go. The Mastervolts are good, and I'm very partial to the Victrons. Excellent quality and good technical support.

Bill
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Old 08-28-2011
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"Upon doing that there was 2 loud pop's, and 2 puffs of smoke came out of my inverter/charger."
That typically means two components inside exploded, and I would not connect anything--battery or otherwise--to that device until after it was examined and fixed, because you now have no idea what kind of voltage (AC, DC) or level is coming out of it.
It is possible that you can have a shop open it up, spot two craters, replace whatever blew up, and be back in business. Or, the damage may go into "not economically feasible". There's really no way without having someone get inside it.
But until then? I'd call it unsafe and perhaps dangerous to have anything connected to it, either as a load or a supply.
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Old 08-28-2011
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Again, thanks for the input, It is helpfull. I went down to the boat today and as I said I was going to do, I ran the engine for about 30 minutes.While I had the shore power disconnected, physically at the plug, and at the ship or shore switch, I noticed I was not putting out any 120 AC. When I shut it down and hooked up the shore power, carefully turning the shore pwr on, no pops or smoke. The alternator was putting out 13.5+ volts, but shore pwr I'm getting 12 or less. I think all but the fat lady have sung, gonna check out a few people tomorow who are "In the Bussiness", and go to Heart Interface Freedom inverter/charger website to see if there's a easy way to get readings on Volts/amps etc.
Bill, I appreciate the recomendations for replacement units, I just thought by staying with Xantrex/Freedom, I wouldn't have to change too much and simplify the installation. I will also check out the make before break switch with my electrician and see wha he say's.

Again, thanks for the suggestions. They have helped.
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Whichever inverter/charger you change to the basic wiring is the same. AC input/output and DC in with a fused positive.
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Old 08-30-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"Upon doing that there was 2 loud pop's, and 2 puffs of smoke came out of my inverter/charger."
That typically means two components inside exploded, and I would not connect anything--battery or otherwise--to that device until after it was examined and fixed, because you now have no idea what kind of voltage (AC, DC) or level is coming out of it.
It is possible that you can have a shop open it up, spot two craters, replace whatever blew up, and be back in business. Or, the damage may go into "not economically feasible". There's really no way without having someone get inside it.
But until then? I'd call it unsafe and perhaps dangerous to have anything connected to it, either as a load or a supply.
TrlrTrsh,

What HelloSailor posted (quoted above) matches my knowledge of this type of failure, especially with a Freedom 2500 watt product manufactured just before or after Xantrex purchased Heart Interface.
I am not an EE but I work in the power conversion industry and have met with some of the EEs that worked at Heart Interface. When diagnosing some oddities with Calypso's Freedom 2500 / Link 2000 Invertor and batt charging system I was warned of a fire risk failure.
As described to me (verbally so I may have some details incorrect), some versions of the Freedom Invertors will experience MOSFET or Diode failures that will create a fire hazard that may be increased by the cooling fan pushing hot debris out the vents.

In short, I recommend the advice above and not connect any power source to the invertor until it has been checked out by a competent technician.

Calyspo43
(ex eteach)
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Old 08-30-2011
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Long shot here, but if you heard pop(s) and saw or smelled smoke around the unit, but didn't see it come directly OUT OF the unit, the pop or pops may be related to fuse(s) in the wiring external to the Xantrex box. Those things typically require big fat fuses on both the pos and neg sides of the DC circuit. I realize this is a shot in the dark, but it's an easy check before you sign up for a costly technician. good luck.
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Again, Thanks to everyone for the input. This morning my electrician inspected and declared it safe to be used as a pass through. I am keeping it hooked to shore power and it lets the 110/120 A/C threw. I turned the charger off via the remote panal, and hooked up a 6 amp battery charger to the bus connecting the Battery's. I have 4 for the house set and one for the engine. I've attempted to shut down most of the DC systems Except the refrigerator.
Last Night I ordered a replacement inverter/charger, I ordered the Freedom 3000 unit, and it's an upgrade besides it's rating, it's a pure sine wave converter. I think I got a good price, and shipping is free, and no sales tax.
My Electrician is a little concerned about some of the wiring, so we will get that sorted out prior to hooking the new inverter/charger up.
Again, thanks for all the help, and I'll post the results of all this when I get it going.
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