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Old 10-11-2013, 12:58 PM   #21
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I'm loathe to jump in here as I don't know much about inverters. but I did want to share how ours is set up in case it helps to consider another alternative. A friend gave us a Xantrex inverter. Not wanting a free inverter to cost us an arm and a leg, we went through several months of researching how to install it and ultimately chose to spend an arm and a leg to have it professionally installed. After much discussion with the installer, we chose to have the inverter wired to only two of the six switches on our AC panel, the port and starboard outlets. It does NOT power the hot water heater, the battery charger (there is a separate charger for the starting batteries, the house batteries are charged by the inverter) the refrigerator (gets DC power if no shore power) or the range. If we need any of those other things while away from shore power, we have a generator.

The invertor has a control panel where we can turn off and on the charging and inverting functions and select "power share" to tell the unit how much of the incoming power it can use for charging. That is handy to limit how much power the xantrex is using so the generator does not overload and trip if we are also using other power sucking items.

So if we are leaving the slip and about to turn off shore power, we make sure the inverter is "on". this does not mean it is inverting, just that it is ready to invert if shore power is removed. Then when we do turn off the shore power, the inverter automatically takes over. If we have shore power on and we do not want the inverter to take over if the power goes out for some reason, we just make sure the inverter is "off". The inverter powers the two switches for outlets regardless of what the selector switch is set to (generator, off, shore power). now say the switch is on generator and the inverter is "on". If the generator is on and providing power, the inverter does NOT provide power, the charger will come on and charge as long as power is coming in. Instantaneously when we turn off the generator, the inverter takes back over and powers those two switches. If we left any other switches on when we powered down, they would lose power. they are not connected to the inverter.

I hope that makes some modicum of sense. I cannot explain how the wiring was done since we did not do it.

I have to tell you though, they did make one mistake and it was a pretty big one. We went out for a multi day trip shortly after we had this done and were having power issues on the 12 volt side. we were running the generator to charge the house batteries but after a couple of days our lights were dimming--the battery monitor looked like we should be ok and the batteries seemed to be charging up fine when we ran the generator. When we went to leave we could barely start the motors, we had to turn on the generator and turn on the separate charger for the starting batteries for a bit. The pros had wired the house panel to the starting batteries and only the inverter was wired to the house batteries!! oopsies.
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:31 PM   #22
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There is a LOT of misinformation going on in this thread. A lot of armchair electricians giving advice they don't actually understand. To the original poster, if you don't REALLY understand how an inverter / charger works, and should be integrated into your ac power system, I strongly suggest you hire a marine electrician that does. I'm not trying to be a smartass, just trying to protect you and your boat.
By the way, I am an ABYC certified marine electrician, and have installed dozens of inverters of many brands. I do know what I'm talking about.
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Old 10-14-2013, 11:52 PM   #23
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Pineapple Girl gave a very good explanation of how a good inverter system works, and should be used. I always recommend turning the inverter off when you leave the boat so in case of power failure, the inverter doesn't run batteries down and cause you to lose bilge pump function.
A few quick points as I don't have a lot of time right now.
The GROUNDING conductor (the green shore power wires going to and from the inverter) should NEVER be switched. The neutral to ground connection is broken inside the inverter when on shore power.
I would never wire an inverter between the shore power inlet and dist panel. First, you have to have it on it's own breaker for safety. Second, you may think you will always remember to manage the heavy loads, like water heater, stove, air cond, etc but you won't. It needs to be wired like others have suggested, fed by it's own breaker and it's output connected only to the loads you intend to use it with.
As for that chassis ground: The inverter will have a spot for a large chassis ground connection. ABYC says that the chassis ground needs to go to the main dc negative buss, and needs to be no more than one size smaller than the positive battery cable feeding the inverter. I ALWAYS install that cable. It's purpose is to protect the ac grounding conductor in case of an internal short in the inverter between the ac and dc circuits.
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Old 10-15-2013, 12:24 AM   #24
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By the way, I am an ABYC certified marine electrician, and have installed dozens of inverters of many brands.
Silly install issues aside, what is your ranking of charger/inverter brands.
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Old 10-15-2013, 03:26 AM   #25
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With some expertise online, can I ask something. I`d like to have an inverter, just to run a TV at night, without running the genset, nothing else. LED TV says it draws 65 watts. I can buy a stand alone pure sine wave inverter putting out up to 300 or 600watts, they use alligator clips going to the battery. Is that an ok way to go, or must I wire it in properly. I have a charger I`m ok with. Thoughts?
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Old 10-15-2013, 04:56 AM   #26
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With some expertise online, can I ask something. I`d like to have an inverter, just to run a TV at night, without running the genset, nothing else. LED TV says it draws 65 watts. I can buy a stand alone pure sine wave inverter putting out up to 300 or 600watts, they use alligator clips going to the battery. Is that an ok way to go, or must I wire it in properly. I have a charger I`m ok with. Thoughts?
Why not just buy a 12V TV? This is what we have on Siesta, in fact all of the loads on board are run from the 12V house battery.

We also have a 300W inverter, only for use when we are away from the marina and essentially this is only used to charge devices such as iPads, laptops and my electric razor.... Inverters are frankly too inefficient, but they do have their uses.

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Old 10-15-2013, 05:05 AM   #27
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I should have added that I try to only run the inverter when we are underway, so that I don't use valuable battery power.

Mike

p.s. This weekend I am replacing the house battery bank and also installing a Victron battery monitor. The main reason is that our load profile has just changed due to installing an Eberspacher diesel heater a couple of weeks ago that uses 12V DC to run its' fan. The heater is great but not too good on the current house battery.
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Old 10-15-2013, 06:25 AM   #28
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The heater is great but not too good on the current house battery.
The old ones started with a glow plug and huge resistors , talk about BIG AMPS!!!
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Old 10-15-2013, 06:32 AM   #29
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In reality the new heater is not too bad as it draws less than 3A when running at the maximum level. Also at that level it is only using around 0.28 liters per hour of diesel. These two combined and I am now getting around 2.2kW of heat.

My real issue is the batteries which have a 10 year life are 10 years old, so time to change!

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Old 10-15-2013, 06:55 AM   #30
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I would like to have my inverter be more integrated with my house AC system, but looking at my panel, I don't see a way to separate the loads easily without a complete dismantling of the breakers (there are steel "bars" between the two AC 30A legs that span the entire bank of breakers) and I will be damned, with all due respect Brent, if I want to pay a marine electrician $100+/hr. to redo the whole bit. Besides, learning how to do it myself is 99% of the fun and I am okay with the risk ;-) Anyway, it takes very little effort and time to thrown out an extension cord/power strip to plug in only what I need to run on the inverter at any one time. It sure keeps me from ever overloading it or killing the batteries.
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:22 AM   #31
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Many installations remove the steel bars and use jumper wires so that the breakers which are to be powered only by shore power and those powered by the inverter can be selected by routing the jumper wires. I can't recommend that a non-electrician do this, but it is relatively easy.

A do suggest that a boat owner know how this works as the boat owner should always be double checking the work of a hired worker.

Marty
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:37 AM   #32
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Inverter brands

For a brand ranking, I was one of the last hold outs on Xantrex, as I has mostly good luck with the last Freedom series inverters and I loved the Link 2000 controller. When they came out with the newest SW series, I started seeing infant failures and recalls. I finally moved away from them.
I've used Victron, and think they make a great unit, but their tech support sucks. This reason alone keeps me from recommending them.
Outback seems to make a good unit, but I'm not a fan of their controllers.
The brand I recommend, (and have on my own boat) is Magnum. Great units, nice controllers, and great tech support. You can actually talk to someone that knows what they are talking about, and speaks clear English! They also have the BMK (Battery Monitor Kit) that adds complete battery management info to the controller. The only issue I'm aware of with these units is that the 2000 watt series doesn't seem to play well with some of the all in one washer / dryers like Splendede. However, the 2800 watt, which I have, works just fine with them. (I also have the washer / dryer). Still don't like the controller as much as the old Link 2000, bit it's as close as it gets.
Full disclosure, I work for a service company that are dealers for all of the above and more.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:04 AM   #33
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As for that chassis ground: The inverter will have a spot for a large chassis ground connection. ABYC says that the chassis ground needs to go to the main dc negative buss, and needs to be no more than one size smaller than the positive battery cable feeding the inverter. I ALWAYS install that cable. It's purpose is to protect the ac grounding conductor in case of an internal short in the inverter between the ac and dc circuits.

Brent, my inverter chassis ground is connected directly to the engine block and not the ground bus bar. Is this incorrect or just another way of connecting to the boat's grounding system?

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Old 10-15-2013, 09:33 AM   #34
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I would like to have my inverter be more integrated with my house AC system, but looking at my panel, I don't see a way to separate the loads easily without a complete dismantling of the breakers (there are steel "bars" between the two AC 30A legs that span the entire bank of breakers) and I will be damned, with all due respect Brent, if I want to pay a marine electrician $100+/hr. to redo the whole bit. Besides, learning how to do it myself is 99% of the fun and I am okay with the risk ;-) Anyway, it takes very little effort and time to thrown out an extension cord/power strip to plug in only what I need to run on the inverter at any one time. It sure keeps me from ever overloading it or killing the batteries.
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Many installations remove the steel bars and use jumper wires so that the breakers which are to be powered only by shore power and those powered by the inverter can be selected by routing the jumper wires. I can't recommend that a non-electrician do this, but it is relatively easy.

A do suggest that a boat owner know how this works as the boat owner should always be double checking the work of a hired worker.

Marty

As Marty indicated above, the buss bars can be removed, cut, and re-installed.

Jumper wires can be installed to connect the buss bars around the breakers that will then be used for the inverter.

As with anything on a boat, hiring a professional isn't necessary, but taking the time to learn to do the job correctly and safely is.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:48 AM   #35
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As Marty indicated above, the buss bars can be removed, cut, and re-installed.

Jumper wires can be installed to connect the buss bars around the breakers that will then be used for the inverter.

As with anything on a boat, hiring a professional isn't necessary, but taking the time to learn to do the job correctly and safely is.
I cut my bus bar into two pieces. Then ganged the inverter powered circuits in the bottom right hand corner of the main panel. The breaker to feed the inverter ac power is on the main panel set of breakers. The inverter powered breakers are essentially on a sub panel. They are powered with shore power through an automatic transfer switch when connected to shore or generator.
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Old 10-15-2013, 09:55 AM   #36
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As Marty indicated above, the buss bars can be removed, cut, and re-installed.

Jumper wires can be installed to connect the buss bars around the breakers that will then be used for the inverter.
Mine was done (by a professional electrician - I know because I found the receipt) exactly as Marty and Kevin indicated. The bar was cut, the three bottom circuits have their own, smaller bar. These are jumpered through the switch that selects between inverter and shore power. This is the switch I've already ordered the proper replacement for, shown on the first page of this thread. I suspect the undersize switch that's there now was installed by a subsequent owner. I don't think an electrician would do that.
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:01 AM   #37
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So it sounds like you removed the bar(s) that buss all the breakers together and have, for a lack of a better way to describe it, a remote buss for the breakers? Y'all got any pics of this type of install? I am not at all uncomfortable doing it myself, but it would require a great deal of dis-assembly and time. My breaker panel is in a pretty awkward place.
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:24 AM   #38
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I`d like to have an inverter, just to run a TV at night, without running the genset
Google car inverter review 2013
These may be the thing
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:42 AM   #39
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So it sounds like you removed the bar(s) that buss all the breakers together and have, for a lack of a better way to describe it, a remote buss for the breakers? Y'all got any pics of this type of install? I am not at all uncomfortable doing it myself, but it would require a great deal of dis-assembly and time. My breaker panel is in a pretty awkward place.
I dont have photos, but here it goes.

Most AC panels are made up of columns.
Each column is made up of breakers.

The breakers are connected together on the power feed side using tin plated copper bars, with holes drilled in them for attachment to the breakers.

The best method is to separate the AC panel into two panels. One being fed from shore power, and one being fed from the inverter. This is done by removing the copper bar, and cutting it into two sections.

This is the best method because it logically separates the inverter loads from the shore power loads. This is the method I've used several times. The challenge with this method, is that you have to re-arrange the load wires to put all the inverter loads in one physical section. This can make for a messy looking panel, and possibly require splicing wires, something I almost never do. As an electrical professional I seriously dislike butt splices. Installing a terminal strip is a much better solution.

Another method, which I've also used is to pick the breakers that you want to have on inverter power, and remove the buss bar from that breaker only. You then jumper around the removed section using a 10AWG wire (on a 30 amp panel). Then you wire the breakers that you freed up to the inverter output through a buss bar. Then you mark the breakers that are on inverter power. A colored tye wrap through a hole in the handle works great

I've done it both ways, and prefer the first method, although the second method works just fine as well.
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Old 10-15-2013, 11:49 AM   #40
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So it sounds like you removed the bar(s) that buss all the breakers together and have, for a lack of a better way to describe it, a remote buss for the breakers? Y'all got any pics of this type of install? I am not at all uncomfortable doing it myself, but it would require a great deal of dis-assembly and time. My breaker panel is in a pretty awkward place.
I'll try. As you look at the picture, the lower left and right and the upper 2 on the right are non inverted; shore power or generator only. All the others are inverted. You can see where I cut the buss bars and added the jumper from the third breaker on the right to the third breaker on the left. You can also see the jumper on the bottom two. I hope you can make some sense out of this.

Nigel Calder's book gives several examples as a reference.
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