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Old 10-18-2021, 02:23 PM   #1
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Another inverter & a separate gen circuit

When we first bought our boat, I bought and installed an inverter to be able to operate the usual AC stuff while underway, since we don't have a generator. I, and my dubious wisdom, decided to save a few $$ and bought a 3500W off of ebay. It was advertised as a sinewave inverter and I paid in the neighborhood of $350 for it, remote included. Why in the hell I thought we would need 3500 watts since I never planned on having more than a 400ah house bank is beyond me. Why in the hell I believed it would actually be a sinewave as advertised was also another lapse in my judgement. It works fine but when we run our digital microwave on it, I don't need an oscilloscope to know that it's outputting current that's just as square as sponge bob's pants.
This new Samlex is only 1500 watts but it's all that we need and it's way quieter. I boiled a cup of water in the microwave to test it and the microwave performed just as it does on shore power...smooth and quiet.
The good thing is the wiring was already there so it was a relatively painless swap.
The other thing I did was add a 15A shore power receptacle that is designated for the portable generator we have. Our 30A shore power goes through a transformer and that was just one more thing to load the generator and rob wattage that could be used elsewhere. I am very hopeful that we'll be able to run the reverse cycle heat/AC with the generator after I add a start capacitor to the AC. I have it but haven't gotten around to installing it, since I need to remove the refrigerator to get access to the unit. I did try the AC on the gen while it was going through the transformer and it was definitely a no-go. Hopefully bypassing the transformer and adding a capacitor will allow it to start. It only takes a few amps to run ,once it's going.
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Old 10-18-2021, 02:28 PM   #2
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The old faithful square wave inverter.
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Old 10-18-2021, 02:41 PM   #3
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The new Samlex 1500 sinewave inverter, the inverter remote on/off switch & the Blue Seas remote control battery switch to power the inverter and the AC source selector switch to select shore power through a transformer or the portable generator ,bypassing the transformer. Also, a picture of the generator connection receptacle in the cockpit.
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Old 10-18-2021, 03:24 PM   #4
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I installed a Victron Phoenix 1200VA unit that I leave on 24/7 to run the fridge and other appliances, it will run my microwave just fine and charges the laptop. Very happy with the unit and it's it the same price range as the Samlex you are using. It draws 1.5 amps while idle, so the idle current is very low.

What is the idle current of the Samlex?
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Old 10-18-2021, 03:45 PM   #5
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I installed a Victron Phoenix 1200VA unit that I leave on 24/7 to run the fridge and other appliances, it will run my microwave just fine and charges the laptop. Very happy with the unit and it's it the same price range as the Samlex you are using. It draws 1.5 amps while idle, so the idle current is very low.

What is the idle current of the Samlex?
The manual says idle current draw is less than .9 of an amp but I haven't checked what the actual battery SOC meter shows in the real world. I did plug in the crock pot, since we plan on using that while heading South next month. On low power it's drawing 10-11 amps of DC and on high, around 17. I'm quite happy with those readings since the stock alternator will be able to keep up while running. The microwave is a power hog @ 110A on high power.
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Old 10-18-2021, 03:52 PM   #6
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On the rare occasions we watch TV, we have a separate 300w portable inverter that I plug into a 12v socket. I bought that when we were using the square wave inverter and will probably continue to use it for the TV but I don't doubt the Samlex wouldn't be just as efficient as the smaller one.
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Old 10-18-2021, 05:44 PM   #7
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When buying an inverter one must be very careful. There is an amazing amount of misleading marketing. I have seen some vendors market as True Sinewave XX 40. Then when I read deeper I discover that True Sinewave is a brand name and has nothing to do with the sinewave. Buried in the manual I discovered it was your standard modified sinewave. Don't be fooled by names like True or Pure. Read the details.

I also remember a company whose product line was called Lifetime. If you bothered to read the manual you discovered it had a 90 day warranty.
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Old 10-19-2021, 07:37 AM   #8
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Is your air conditioner compressor a rotary style?, if so, it will probably start just fine without upgrading the capacitor to a soft start.
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Old 10-19-2021, 08:57 AM   #9
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You're better off with a Honda 2K generator on the swim platform. Using the batteries to make coffee, run the microwave, outlets, AC, etc still requires that you recharge the batteries. Plus it requires a much larger battery bank.

I use a 2K puresine invertor to run my TV, Apple TV and Hotspot. That is so I can watch TV late at night without needing to run the generator.
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:18 AM   #10
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Is your air conditioner compressor a rotary style?, if so, it will probably start just fine without upgrading the capacitor to a soft start.
It is but it killed the generator while trying to start. That's why I ran a separate generator circuit so as to bypass the transformer. Maybe it will now have enough umph to start it without the additional capacitor but if not , I'll install the cap and hope for the best
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:26 AM   #11
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You're better off with a Honda 2K generator on the swim platform. Using the batteries to make coffee, run the microwave, outlets, AC, etc still requires that you recharge the batteries. Plus it requires a much larger battery bank.

I use a 2K puresine invertor to run my TV, Apple TV and Hotspot. That is so I can watch TV late at night without needing to run the generator.
I think that's why I bought a 3500w inverter in the first place...I had a vision of running a small AC for the stateroom only for maybe a few hours but I quickly realized that even a small AC unit on an inverter would require more battery capacity than I was willing to install. We bought a Wen 2000 (or 2200?) watt inverter generator that we do run on the swim platform to charge the batteries through the onboard charger and heat water with the AC current side of the water heater and we're happy with it. It sure would be nice if we could use it for intermittent heating and cooling though.
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:48 AM   #12
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I think that's why I bought a 3500w inverter in the first place...I had a vision of running a small AC for the stateroom only for maybe a few hours but I quickly realized that even a small AC unit on an inverter would require more battery capacity than I was willing to install. We bought a Wen 2000 (or 2200?) watt inverter generator that we do run on the swim platform to charge the batteries through the onboard charger and heat water with the AC current side of the water heater and we're happy with it. It sure would be nice if we could use it for intermittent heating and cooling though.
Interesting, a friend is running a small AC on a Honda 2kw inverter gen, i don't think he had a soft start but I will have to ask him.

Edit: he just got back to me and he does, it is a 16kbtu cruisair and he did install a soft start.
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Old 10-19-2021, 09:58 AM   #13
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Another data point: my new honda 2.2k starts my Dometic 12k BTU with no soft start mods.
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Old 10-19-2021, 10:00 AM   #14
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My friend is running a 16kbtu dometic with this capacitor:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08H72RSD8...p_mob_ap_share
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Old 10-19-2021, 10:03 AM   #15
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There is more to a system than just the plain numbers. A deep-cycle wet battery such as 6v Trojan golf carts are designed for longevity but when a hi-amp draw hits them, voltage can drop dramatically and cause a low-voltage cutout on an inverter. What's hi-amp? Depends on size of battery bank. I can tell you from recent experience on my van that running a 700W electric teakettle off a 220AH battery bank (two 6v GC batteries) immediately took the battery voltage from 12.8v down to 12.0v (it recovered to 12.7v a few minutes after the load was removed). If I had four GC batteries, voltage drop would be minimal, but point being is for FLA batteries, there is a significant drop across the posts under relatively hi-amp draws.

When replaced with two 100AH LIFePO4 batteries, there was virtually no voltage drop. I am able to run a small, 5000 Btu window AC for a couple hours on the LiFePO4 bank.

One last observation. In my van, I have some space constraints so could only fit a 1500w PSW inverter. I wish I could have fit a 2000W. The start-up surge on my small Dewalt table saw trips the 1500w over-current of the inverter. If I'm fast enough to reset the inverter while the saw blade is still spinning, I can avoid the hi-surge of start-up and get the saw running, but I would definitely recommend a 2000W PSW at a minimum.

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Old 10-19-2021, 11:16 AM   #16
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There is more to a system than just the plain numbers. A deep-cycle wet battery such as 6v Trojan golf carts are designed for longevity but when a hi-amp draw hits them, voltage can drop dramatically and cause a low-voltage cutout on an inverter. What's hi-amp? Depends on size of battery bank. I can tell you from recent experience on my van that running a 700W electric teakettle off a 220AH battery bank (two 6v GC batteries) immediately took the battery voltage from 12.8v down to 12.0v (it recovered to 12.7v a few minutes after the load was removed). If I had four GC batteries, voltage drop would be minimal, but point being is for FLA batteries, there is a significant drop across the posts under relatively hi-amp draws.
...
I have 6 GC-2 on my system right now, and 2 more are to be added soon for a total of 8. The 6 handle 100+ amp loads with little voltage drop, as I cook with an induction stove or run the microwave at 1200 watts.
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Old 10-19-2021, 11:32 AM   #17
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I have 6 GC-2 on my system right now, and 2 more are to be added soon for a total of 8. The 6 handle 100+ amp loads with little voltage drop, as I cook with an induction stove or run the microwave at 1200 watts.
We have eight GC15 batteries (932ah). We have run our microwave, toaster, coffemaker, and, before we installed a permanent induction cooktop on a dedicated, non-inverter circuit, a portable induction cooktop, not all at the same time, of course. The batteries don't seem worse for the wear but, so what if they last six or seven years, rather than seven or eight.
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Old 10-19-2021, 11:41 AM   #18
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I just went through the inverter purchase maze. One has to look closely at the website specifications as the "sine wave," "true sine wave," and "pure sine wave" descriptions may or may not be what will work. I was originally sent a "sine wave" inverter that didn't work for an induction stove top. For an additional $20, the OP could have bought a 3,500W pure sine wave inverter by the same manufacturer. I finally purchased this exact model and have no problems (unless its ability to produce more power than I need is a problem). I do have momentary substantial voltage drop if I load it up (520Ah flooded lead deep cycle), but they recover to about .2V less when the inverter turns off, depending on how long I've run a heavy load. Best I can tell the batteries are 4 years old. Time will tell (maybe) as to whether I'm killing my batteries.
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Old 10-19-2021, 11:56 AM   #19
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I just went through the inverter purchase maze. One has to look closely at the website specifications as the "sine wave," "true sine wave," and "pure sine wave" descriptions may or may not be what will work. I was originally sent a "sine wave" inverter that didn't work for an induction stove top. For an additional $20, the OP could have bought a 3,500W pure sine wave inverter by the same manufacturer. I finally purchased this exact model and have no problems (unless its ability to produce more power than I need is a problem). I do have momentary substantial voltage drop if I load it up (520Ah flooded lead deep cycle), but they recover to about .2V less when the inverter turns off, depending on how long I've run a heavy load. Best I can tell the batteries are 4 years old. Time will tell (maybe) as to whether I'm killing my batteries.
That is the exact one as I ordered and it was advertised as a pure sine wave inverter. If you look at the pictures, I can't see anywhere on the actual unit that states it's a non-modified sinewave inverter. Does yours say sinewave on the case?
Also, just to be clear, I'm NOT attempting to run the AC off of the inverter. We have a 2000w inverter generator. That's what I'm hoping to be able to run the air conditioning/heating unit on.
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Old 10-19-2021, 12:08 PM   #20
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Another data point: my new honda 2.2k starts my Dometic 12k BTU with no soft start mods.
Interesting. All of the research I've did (it was actually all from this forum )
before buying the generator indicated that folks had good luck with a portable generator running an AC unit. Some said they had to use an aftermarket capacitor to help the compressor over the starting hump so that's why I ordered one, just to be sure. I don't recall anyone saying they ran their generator through the ships service that included a transformer in the line. That's why I'm hoping bypassing the transformer will allow our AC to start using the generator. I'm hoping the 200 watt difference between yours and ours isn't the straw that broke the camels back.
FYI our's ,I think, is a 10k btu unit and maybe the compressor is smaller than your 12k. I'll take the genny don to the boat maybe this evening and maybe that lemon will be squeezed!
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