Friday, November 20, 2009

Inverter Converter...


It seems like such a simple thing - replacing our old inverter with a new one. I hated the old Xantrex/Heart 2500. It's modified sine wave output destroyed a sewing machine and a variety of electronic equipment over the years. It stopped working in 2007 in Vero Beach when I wasn't able to do much more than just replace it with a duplicate. I had been waiting for the new one to give me trouble so I could yank it out. That day finally arrived.

An inverter is the device that gives us normal AC/120 volt power from our batteries. Many also include a large battery charger used to re-charge the batteries when connected to shore power or a generator. It's an important component providing power and balancing the battery charge with efficiency. It's a pretty complex piece of gear with a lot of wiring.

The old Xantrex remote stopped working during this cruise. This meant that every time we wanted to use it, we had to crawl through the lazarette to turn it on.  That got pretty old and we just left it on all the time - not great for efficiency but better on the knees. With time and access here in Charleston, I ordered a new Magnum MS2812 true sine wave inverter. It's rated a little larger than the Xantrex but is supposed to be a lot more reliable. It puts out a real sine wave AC that all electronics will love. The new remote and battery monitor provides a lot more information to help us monitor and control our power usage. There's a temperature sensor on the batteries to provide efficient charging and there's even an option to automatically start our generator when the batteries get low (we're not installing that yet).

It should have just been some wire disconnects, a swap of the 60 lb boxes, and some wire attaching. But I decided that I'd rather re-route the wiring properly and keep everything neat and clean. The old Xantrex, to my horror, had no fuse - a possibly dangerous situation if the unit ever had a major failure. I corrected that and installed a large 400 amp fuse to protect the large cables coming off the battery. The battery monitor required a negative bus shunt and it seemed like the right time to clean up the ground wires for that end of the engine room.

It took a whopping 30 hours to install and clean everything up. It really looks so simple but there's a lot going on behind the scenes. I'm extremely pleased with the results - it's clean, efficient, and well-installed. It's now keeping the batteries at full charge and giving us all kinds of data on the remote to let us know what's happening. And next time we need a stern anchor to stop the boat from swinging, I'm attaching a line to the old Xantrex and throwing it off the back of the boat.

6 comments:

Stephanie said...

You must be one of those new-fangled boaters who don't appreciate the good old days of sailing without charts and other modern stuff! Not a real boater - ahhh for the good old days!

FLUKE - Carol, Wayne 'n Eddie said...

Congrats on getting rid of the Heart. I dumped ours after our first trip to the Bahamas.

One small note, I suspect the fuse is not 400 Watt, may be 400 Amp! Definitely good to have.

wayne

TakingPaws said...

You're right Stephanie - give me back my porta-pottie or better yet, a bucket.

Wayne - you're right - 400 amp - I'm fixing the posting so your comment won't look correct afterwards but thanks for catching it.

Norm said...

Good job, Jeff. We removed our old Hart and replace it with two Magnums. We think this electrical upgrade was the most significant improvement we have made for comfort and safety.

Mike said...

Just curious. What is plugged into the receptacle top right in the picture that emits the erie blue glow?

TakingPaws said...

That blue light generates the most questions...

It's just a night light. It's plugged into the outlets that power the 12 and 24 volt chargers. The chargers have no indication that they are on and I wanted a positive indicator showing that they are getting power. They give an interesting glow which is really good to know that all chargers are working.