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Inverter Fun

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Black Diamond View Drop Down
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Joined: 24 October 2015
Location: Newport, RI, US
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    Posted: 18 June 2020 at 04:47
So I was finalizing systems and cleaning on the boat prior to our upcoming sailing vacation.   As usual my wife and I took it for a weekend out to make sure anchors went up and down,  batteries lasted thru the night, and making water worked as expected.  Nothing like a few days away from the dock to tell you what is working and not working.....

At the dock, all things ran just fine.   When I fired up the generator at the dock,  all things ran just fine.   When I was on the hook, inverting off the batteries, things went bad.   The voltage needle on the panel kept hopping between 220V and 0.    The AC power (on my boat its 110V outlets) kept popping on and off, and the Autotransformer was buzzing and clicking.    

A quick check of the MasterVolt Inverter/Charger showed all the indicator lights where they should be.  My battery monitoring system (PICO,  counting amps approach) showed the batteries at 90%.   The voltage read 12.85V.

Puzzled..  I started looking at Victron Autotransfomer issues (it was making the noise) or the warranty on my Inverter/Charger.  

(drum roll)

Turns out its the most likely culprit in the power chain.     Batteries.   My 2 1/2 year old Victron 165AH batteries in the house bank are (likely) bad.   The theory is this:

1.   Inverter sees the battery at 12.85V and tries to make AC.
2.   As soon as it does,  voltage level in the battery drops to 11V (or some such) which is the cutoff voltage for the inverter.  It stops inverting.
3.   As soon as it stops inverting (placing a load on the battery) the voltage level pops back up to 12.something.
4.   Seeing the voltage back up to 12.something,  the Mastervolt inverter/charger tries to invert for AC again.

(rinse and repeat) - this is why it comes on and off,  and the needle pops from 220 to zero volts and back

I've tolerated the Victron 165AH AGM batteries but was never happy with them.    I normally got to about 75% before my refrigerator/freezer would cut out.  It would not give decent voltage at what felt like only 30% discharge at best.

I'm replacing them with Firefly Carbon Foam.    Slightly less AH per battery but much less fragile when it comes to temperature, charging, etc..  I will start with 4 but probably expand the box to 6 if I like them.  Right now the standard box is 3/4" too small in one dimension to put tin 6.   The Firefly's are smaller than the Victron but not small enough.   

Before someone asks,  I looked at Lithium and they required other changes on thee boat I wasn't willing to make right now.  They did have advantages, but also more of a project than take out the old and put in the new.

Anyway... if any of you see this behavior you might now check your batteries first.


Rick
S/V Black Diamond
Hanse 575 Build #192, Hull# 161
Newport, RI
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JNH View Drop Down
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Joined: 14 March 2020
Location: Stamford, CT
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JNH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 July 2020 at 20:43
Thanks for sharing Rick, good information to have.   I replaced the two 165Ah Victron batteries in my house bank with three FireFly batteries and so far been very happy.   
DEFIANCE
418 #92
Stamford, CT
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