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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey,

My 'new' boat used to have an inverter / charger (there is a remote panel for a heart / freedom unit, but no unit) but now just has a 40amp battery charger. I would like to install an inverter.

The big defender sail starts Wednesday so I want to order the unit soon.

The A/C loads would be mostly small - like charging computers and phones, and running a small TV / DVD player. But I might run a blender or my wife may want to use a hairdrier.

Am I better off buying just an inverter or should I buy a new inverter / charger? I was thinking of this:
Xantrex Freedom HF 1800 Power Inverter / Charger
Xantrex Freedom HF 1800 Power Inverter / Charger
which is around $500

or this:
Xantrex Pro Series XM 1800 Power Inverter
Xantrex Pro Series XM 1800 Power Inverter
Which is around $350

I don't feel qualified to install this myself. Any ideas on installation cost? Any other suggestions on make / models?

Thanks,
Barry
 

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Super Moderator
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The answer is:

D None of the Above
:)

If you want an I/C get a Magnum, Mastervolt, Outback or Victron. My preference is Magnum but the Outback is a sweet product too. They have EXCELLENT tech support and actually build products that work. If you want an ear full on why not to buy "X" brand PM me.....

If you must buy a "X" stand alone inverter the Pro-Watt SW series is not a horrible value and it is pure sine. The least expensive way to tie in a stand alone inverter is to not tie it in to your ships AC system. Instead wire a couple of dedicated AC outlets that are only connected to the inverter.

Inverter chargers are much easier to wire because they auto-transfer but they may also "auto transfer" your hot water heater if you are not paying attention...
 

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I'm kinda wondering about something similar... Brian (cruisingdad) gave a recommendation as one of the more reliable pieces of equipment on his boat, but I believe that was a much more expensive model- although I can't recall the brand, it was near $1000. My needs are nearly identical to yours, although I won't be plugging in a blender or hair dryer..

I'll be interested to hear about peoples' suggestions.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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The answer is:

D None of the Above
:)

If you want an I/C get a Magnum, Mastervolt or Victron. My preference is Magnum. They have EXCELLENT tech support and actually build products that work. If you want an ear full on why not to buy "X" brand PM me.....
I concur completely. You can PM me too about why "D" is the right answer. I happen to prefer Victron but Magnum makes good gear too.

Inverter vs Inverter Charger:
If you are, as I suspect, in the US and intend to stay in the US then a stand alone inverter might work for you. If you intend to travel outside of North America I would consider an inverter/charger That runs off 220V 50 htz power. You can already charge from 110V 60 htz this would give you a charger capability in the rest of the world. Although there are stand alone "world chargers" that will take 90V to 250V 50htz to 60htz input most inverters are either 110V 60htz or 220V 50 htz. So with an inverter/charger you have to pick the input side.

Fair winds and following seas. :)
 

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I've not had good luck with inverter chargers and have switched to separate chargers and a separate inverter. The chargers are Iota's for both the 12 and 24 volt systems, the inverter draws from the 24v bank. Reading Morgan Cloud's web page it appears they have also made the switch away from inverter chargers.
 

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The answer is:

D None of the Above
:)

If you want an I/C get a Magnum, Mastervolt or Victron. My preference is Magnum. They have EXCELLENT tech support and actually build products that work. If you want an ear full on why not to buy "X" brand PM me.....

Inverter chargers are much easier to wire because they auto-transfer but they may also "auto transfer" your hot water heater if you are not paying attention...
I'll second the vote for Magnum. I've got one of their 3KW inverter/chargers and it's great. Maine's point about the auto-transfer is a good one. It'd be nice if you could set these up with a conditional auto-transfer that only works below a certain AC draw, ideally averaged over the last hour or so in case the heater element happens to be off when you flip the shore power breaker or the power goes out while you're away from the boat...
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Friends don't let friends buy Xantrex.

I agree that Magnum, Mastervolt, and Victron make substantially better products than Xantrex. I have a predisposition to Mastervolt but that is probably because 1. that's what came on my boat and 2. I used to hang out at the regional Mastervolt facility and learned a lot. I've worked with all three of those brands with good results. Xantrex has been a pain in the neck although a steady stream of work.

I prefer separate inverters and chargers - there is more flexibility if there is a failure.
 

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Old enough to know better
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I'm kinda wondering about something similar... Brian (cruisingdad) gave a recommendation as one of the more reliable pieces of equipment on his boat, but I believe that was a much more expensive model- although I can't recall the brand, it was near $1000. My needs are nearly identical to yours, although I won't be plugging in a blender or hair dryer..

I'll be interested to hear about peoples' suggestions.
If your needs are like his minus the hair dryer and blender (Waring makes a good 12 volt blender anyway) then I think it would make sense to just find 12 volt chargers and a 12 volt tv. Why complicate things, and add the inefficiencies of an inverter. You can get 12 volt chargers that work with all phones and most laptops. So I would think that should work best. Go to a truck stop and they sell LCD TVs with dvd players built in that run on 12 volts and you are set.
 

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Forgot about the truckstop places! I think my needs are definitely off the usual path for most- I grind coffee by hand (even on friend's bigger boats). Do plain inverters waste that much energy?
 

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Well my boat has a 13 year Freedom 2000 inverter/charger and it has worked just fine without any problems! The only thing I don't like about it is that the inverter consumes a fair amount of power when on and just in standby, So just turn it off when I don't need AC power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the information. My O'Day came with an old Heart Freedom inverter charger and it has worked great since I bought the boat in 2006 so I figured I would most to Xantrex. Since it appears there is little good to say about them I will have to rethink my plan.

Considering my boat spends maybe MAYBE 5 days a year connected to shore power, the batter charging side of the equation is not very important. Actually, the inverter isn't that important either. I can certainly charge phones with 12V and it makes more sense to charge my computer from 12V than to convert DC to AC and then back to DC (I read Maine Sail's report on that), So maybe I just forget the whole thing and stick with what I have?

I usually do a few long weekend (3-4) day trips with a bunch of friends and everyone is charging phones, ipads, and that sort of stuff. It was nice to be able to charge 5-6 devices at a time by just plugging in the chargers to AC sockets but I suppose I can add a few more 'cigarette' type outlets and then I'm about good to go.

Am I missing something here? I can see spending $500 to have AC power but not $2000.

Would just buying a cheap piece of crap like this
PowerDrive 300 Power Inverter
PowerDrive 300 Power Inverter
be so terrible?

Barry
 

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Mainesail - I'm a little bit in the same boat. I have a True Charge 20 Amp charger and Xantrex Link 1000. I would like to take advantage of the more sophisticated charging functions. The good folks at Xantrex say I need a Freedom charger/inverter. Is that true and do you have an alternative?
 

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I would say one of the single most reliable pieces of equipment that is on my boat is my Xantrex Prosine 2.0. It has been beyond fantastic. It has saved me some real heartaches - including a few times when I got dirty power from the marina and it shut off the power to the boat. THe system monitors itself and what comes into the boat and the switchover is seamless. You can program it to charge at any custom rate you want and I have found it generally user friendly. I would recommend this piece of gear to anyone, and believe me, any gear on my boat has been through a real shakedown and gets heavy use. I do not have experience with the newer Xantrex products. I installed this piece of equipment myself - but it is an adventure and should not be done by anyone that is not very comfortable working on boats and understands electrical systems on boats very well.

Do be aware that the larger inverters, such as mine, require very large cabling. My cabling was the smallest cables recommended (because I kept it at a short run from the battery) and still came in at 4(0)... which is 0000, or most likely much bigger than what feeds your house from the city. It is basically the same size or a bit larger than my thumb. Pulling that cable, bending it, installing the lugs, etc is a right pain and can be very labor intensive. Also, the cable should be marine grade and is quite expensive. In essence, if installing a large inverter, the inverter itself will only be a percentage of your cost... and possible not the biggest percentage. You have been warned!!

I also disagree with not installing a dual system - but it depends on how you are going to use the boat. We are Fulltime cruisers and Live aboards and the inverter has made life much more enjoyable and comfortable. I have used my inverter to heat my water for periods so it is wired into that panel. But if you are really that worried about your water heater sucking down your batteries, you could probably just wire outside of it. I would think just putting it on its own circuit that can only be fed by shore power. It all depends on your system and what you want to accomplish with your boat.

The most unreliable piece of equipment I have ever installed on any boat ever in twenty years of boating is a Mastervolt (generator). How many stories do you want?? How about my fuel pressure switch that went out. Had to be custom made in Italy, shipped to Holland, and shipped across from there!! It is proprietary and nothing else will work anywhere in the world (and there are none in the US) and guess how much that cost???!!!! I have lost my caps, multiple oil pressure switches, just rebuilt my water pump (a new one was $600+ IIRC and I think I paid a bit under $200 for the rebuild kit), etc. My control panel has gone out which I refuse to pay $600 for and just ignore the false warning lights. I do not mean to speak poorly about the company. The tech service manager has been fantastic (I should know, we have spoken enough) and I suspect I just got some bad luck... but it has been a real love-hate relationship with that piece of equipment and incredibly expensive. There was a point not long ago that I was just going to rip out the generator and use a Honda or drop in a Fischer Panda which, for all the negative talk here and on other forums, never gave me a bit of problems. Then, the generator started running again and has been for some six weeks now. Anyways, that has left such a bad taste in my mouth I would really have to think long and hard before buying any of their stuff again. I am sure their inverters are a different story, but DANG it ain't been fun with their generator... and parts are EXPENSIVE and may have to be procured from Europe. Just FYI.

As far as what inverter to buy (true sine versus not), it all depends on what you are going to run. Our toaster never has really cared less. I have heard talk that microwaves are less efficient without a TSW, but I have not measured this myself and will let others comment. I will say though, that there may be some truth in electronics being sensitive. We bought a very nice radio (110v) which we used aboard for about two years... primarily off the main inverter which puts out clean power and a TSW. Well, we were at the dock and decided to use it for a few dock parties so plugged it into a cheap, portable inverter from which it lasted about three weeks before it died. Coincidence??? No idea, but I am now real careful what I plug into cheap inverters.

For a cruiser or liveaboard, a good inverter is fabulous and one of the pieces of equipment I highly suggest investing in. It has made our life much more enjoyable. Tom Neale has had very similar comments (read 'All in the Same Boat). However, for weekending or whatever, I doubt I would ever spend that kind of money.

My opinions which are obviously very different from those above - both of whom I respect.

Brian
 

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Hi Guys,
Would just buying a cheap piece of crap like this
PowerDrive 300 Power Inverter
PowerDrive 300 Power Inverter
be so terrible?
Barry
For $500, you can buy a used Freedom on eBay to replace your old one and I think you'll be a lot happier than throwing away $300 on a POS. If you were in Seattle, I'd sell you my old Freedom but it's heavy enough that you probably want to get it locally.

FWIW, if you do go with an inverter/charger, one of the nice things about the Magnum is that the company was founded by a bunch of old Heart Interface guys, so their remote fits in the same mounting hole as the old Freedom remote, they network cable is the same, etc.
 

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Hey,

My 'new' boat used to have an inverter / charger (there is a remote panel for a heart / freedom unit, but no unit) but now just has a 40amp battery charger. I would like to install an inverter.

The big defender sail starts Wednesday so I want to order the unit soon.

The A/C loads would be mostly small - like charging computers and phones, and running a small TV / DVD player. But I might run a blender or my wife may want to use a hairdrier.

Am I better off buying just an inverter or should I buy a new inverter / charger? I was thinking of this:
Xantrex Freedom HF 1800 Power Inverter / Charger
Xantrex Freedom HF 1800 Power Inverter / Charger
which is around $500

or this:
Xantrex Pro Series XM 1800 Power Inverter
Xantrex Pro Series XM 1800 Power Inverter
Which is around $350

I don't feel qualified to install this myself. Any ideas on installation cost? Any other suggestions on make / models?

Thanks,
Barry
You had me up to the hair dryer. I would just get a cigarette style: cheap and KISS. As for the hair dryer.... well... how important is your wife's happiness on the boat? That ups the ante.

Our hairdryer is 1875 watts and pulls 150 amps (12v). I just plugged it in and checked it. My opinion is to reconsider your power needs or reconsider your budget. One of them is going to have to budge.

Brian
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I would say one of the single most reliable pieces of equipment that is on my boat is my Xantrex Prosine 2.0.
Good. Statistically Xantrex has reliability problems. Very glad you got a good one. A dependable inverter can be a bigger deal than a battery charger when cruising.

The most unreliable piece of equipment I have ever installed on any boat ever in twenty years of boating is a Mastervolt (generator).
Mine has been great when it worked, and when it failed it was a long time diagnosing - generally cheap and easy repairs, it's figuring it out that has been hard.

Mastervolt sold off their entire range of generators.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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I use a standalone charger, and have a power adapter for my laptop that you can use with AC or DC. I also have a 400W plug in inverter, if needed (plugins at nav station and other end of cabin). Has worked well for me.
 

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I'll second the vote for Magnum. I've got one of their 3KW inverter/chargers and it's great. Maine's point about the auto-transfer is a good one. It'd be nice if you could set these up with a conditional auto-transfer that only works below a certain AC draw, ideally averaged over the last hour or so in case the heater element happens to be off when you flip the shore power breaker or the power goes out while you're away from the boat...
The solution to auto transfer draining batteries is actually quite easy:

AC in to inverter from an appropriately sized breaker on the main AC panel.

AC out of inverter to a small sub-panel that only powers outlets.

When on shorepower the AC pass through will power both panels. When away from shorepower only the items (outlets) fed from the sub-panel can be powered by the inverter.

I agree Magnum is an excellent choice.
 

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Sailboat Reboot
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I have had real problems with the newer Xantrex gear. I was told by several service techs that the new stuff has problems, the old stuff is bulletproof. My biggest complaint about the HF line is it can not be repaired. Its all on one board. If it goes sneakers up Xantrex says "too bad, so sad, send money and we will sell you a new one." Not much for customer service.
 
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