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Old 09-16-2020, 10:44 AM   #1
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Upgrade to inverter/charger system Victron??

I am considering upgrading my inverter/charger and related systems.

While I am NOT going to change to LIFEPO4 batteries (at this time) my charging system still cannot produce the charging current my FLA batteries can accept, which is costing me generator run time.

My decade old Xantrex SW3012 inverter has done a great job but it is starting to fault out at high charge currents.

I want the new system to integrate the charging system into a single display that incorporates...

Two inverter/chargers for redundancy and increased battery charging capability.
Battery monitor system showing SOC and current flows, voltage etc...
Solar Energy status
Advanced communication capabilities.
Alarm contacts to tie to my boat alarm system.

Looking at the options out there Victron seems to offer the most capability in terms of system integration. They have a couple of controller/display options that have what appear to be impressive capabilities.

Does anybody have experience with Victron?
How do they rate in terms of reliability?

Thanks!
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Old 09-16-2020, 12:50 PM   #2
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I think most would consider Victron to be pretty top-flight gear. And they have a comprehensive universe of integrated equipment from solar controllers to monitoring to charging/inverting. I installed a Victron 2000W/12V multiplus on my boat several years ago and have been very happy with it. It's been trouble free.
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:22 PM   #3
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I have a victron unit and have mixed emotions . I also have their solar controller/charger. The solar controller and inverter charger do not interface with each other which is odd given the level of sophistication victron touts. Also programming the batter bank is important as well. Somewhere along the line , my victron inverter lost its programming and defaulted to a different battery bank profile and burnt up a start battery which resulted in a costly repair. Besides that quirk, the unit has done well, but now I have the solar charger disconnected as I am unsure how the units interact with each other and I only turn it on when I am on the hook.
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:54 PM   #4
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That's disappointing to hear. Sounds like you have identified a weakness and work around. But I would have expected it to all work together given their reputation. Your situation is a reminder, when shopping for a new system, make sure it will do everything you intend it to do.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:12 PM   #5
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I too am considering changing out my old Freedom 3000 for a Victron. One of the questions I need to resolve is that the installation info seems to show that I would need to run two positive and two negative cables-haven't converted the metric to gauge size-as opposed to using my current 4/0 cables. As my buss bars are full, I would need to install new larger buss bars to meet that need. I am admittedly old school and don't quite understand the different remote monitors and controls.

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Old 09-16-2020, 02:31 PM   #6
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I too am considering changing out my old Freedom 3000 for a Victron. One of the questions I need to resolve is that the installation info seems to show that I would need to run two positive and two negative cables-haven't converted the metric to gauge size-as opposed to using my current 4/0 cables. As my buss bars are full, I would need to install new larger buss bars to meet that need. I am admittedly old school and don't quite understand the different remote monitors and controls.

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You do not have to run double cables. There is provision to run double cables simply as an accommodation so you don't have to use such a huge single cable.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:32 PM   #7
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I’ve had a Victron multiPlus inverter/charger for 10 years. I continue to to be impressed by its capabilities, reliability, configurability and ease of integration. I Added Victron Global Remote for monitoring via smartphone app, which gives great peace of mind.
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Old 09-16-2020, 02:48 PM   #8
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I see that Victron offers a Hybrid inverter/ charger. my understanding of the way these work is that in case of extra loading on the AC side. If AC is being supplied by shorepower or the genset and that load exceeds a predetermined amount. the inverter will provide additional power until the load is reduced. At least that is the way I under stood a hybrid inverter to work.... and this begs the question, how is the ground neutral connection handled?
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:06 PM   #9
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I see that Victron offers a Hybrid inverter/ charger. my understanding of the way these work is that in case of extra loading on the AC side. If AC is being supplied by shorepower or the genset and that load exceeds a predetermined amount. the inverter will provide additional power until the load is reduced. At least that is the way I under stood a hybrid inverter to work.... and this begs the question, how is the ground neutral connection handled?
You are correct. It provides seamless ”assist” to weak shore power or even UPS-like power replacement if shore power fails completely. You can, for example, limit the shore power draw for charging and consumption to only a few amps if you’re faced With a situation with 4 boats pigtailed on a single outlet on the dock and you don’t want to be the guy that blows the circuit that can’t be re-set in the middle of the night ;-)

I can’t comment on the ground. I am not an electrical engineer. Sorry.
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Old 09-16-2020, 03:18 PM   #10
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Not pushing one product or another, but Mastervolt can do all of the things you mention. I have a Mastervolt system; inverter, chargers, solar, shunt, control and monitor screen, etc. everything talks to everything else on the network.
For day to day programming, the controller/ monitor works well. For more advanced programming, I can plug a laptop into the system and monitor/ program from there.
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:44 PM   #11
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I have a single Victron Multiplus 12/3000 currently and will probably be adding a second this winter. But if I were starting fresh I think I'd go with Outback.

Victron's documentation is challenging to wade through and their support is in The Netherlands and mostly/all online. I found Outback's documentation clearer and several installers I've spoken with have raved about their support (based locally for those of us in the NW USA).

The Victron solar controller I had on a previous boat was generally good, but had some flaky behavior (it indicated bulk charging, but didn't output any power) that Victron wasn't helpful in solving (at the time the only support I could reach was via a Disqus thread).

If you're thinking about stacking inverters, Victron seems to have much higher idle power consumption, since both inverters are always running. Outback, as I understand it, only powers the "slave" when it's needed, saving ~25-35 watts continuously. Not a huge amount, but it adds up.

The Color Control GX looks pretty and connects to the internet for remote monitoring (with an additional dongle), but it doesn't really allow all that much control. Changing advanced settings (like charging voltage) still requires breaking out a laptop, USB dongle, and ethernet cable.

The inverter/charger itself has been reliable.
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Old 09-16-2020, 05:16 PM   #12
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Thanks for the great and candid replies!

It seems like Victron makes some good reliable equipment, abet with some quirks.

Regarding the integration of battery monitor and inverter. Does anybody know if you can set a max charge current so that the inverter backs down if you have a alternative charging source like your main engine alternator. I see a situation where if I have the generator re-charging the batteries to max input current and Decide to make a short cruise my engine alternator could easily exceed what is allowable.

Also... Regarding the solar charge controller interfacing with the inverter. One goal would be to reduce my energy bill while at the dock by utilizing solar. The challenge with doing that is inverters transfer loads to the incoming shore power (or generator) when present. That means that all my solar would do is top off the batteries that never get used except to support native DC loads. It would be sweet if the inverter would just be in invert mode when solar power is present.

As others have noted, one drawback is that there is really no support over ther phone. It is all online via the community.

I have not looked at outback closely, or Magnum although it is my understanding that they both make robust, reliable systems.
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Old 09-16-2020, 06:10 PM   #13
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If you want the advanced features, Victron and Mastervolt are the tops. If you want just basic, I’ve heard good things about the others too. I went with Victron quite a few years ago when the multiplus was just starting to be sold in the US. I’m on my second unit as over the years my transfer switch wore out. As you can see, I bought a second one. Prices now are much less than what they used to be.

Reason I got into Victron was because at the time they were the only unit on the market that could phase match to the shore circuit or generator and actually “power assist”. Lots of the outback guys for some reason have claimed to me that their inverters do this too. No, they don’t. Unless it’s a really new change, I don’t follow them anymore. When the old school inverters switch it’s either all shore power or all inverter. Victron on the other hand, can use 30 amps from your shore or generator and supply an additional 5 or ten amps, actually all the way up to its capacity, so you could have up to 60 total amps being used with only a 30 amp cable.

The power assist function is something I personally use a LOT. Because I have 50 feet of boat, but my marina only has 30 amp power. That’s not a lot for my boat. But, on average, over the course of a few hours I will use much less than a continuous 30 amps. The inverter then acts as a buffer and with my battery bank supplies the little extra when my loads creep over 30 amps and then Automatically charges during the periods when the draw is less than 30. It works really well for me. I can run my boat as if I had more than a single 30 amp cable plugged in. When I bought my Victron Mastervolt was not out yet, but I understand they can do this as well.

Support wise, most, nearly all of the inverter suppliers are stuck back in the Heart/Magnum/Outback days, even the Victron dealers. They were of zero help to me when I was putting together my system, however well meaning. I used the Victron white papers for the vision and ignored the dealer by necessity. There are some interesting gotchas, such as the inverter then by its nature is in series with your shore power and running everything, not just a couple inverter outlets. This is not a bad thing, but introduces some things to think about. Namely, when the inverter fails, how will you quickly bypass it so you can get shore power working? Also, what if somebody trips over the shore power cable and doesn’t plug it back in? Your boat is left running water heaters, and other heavy loads with nothing but the inverter and your battery bank is going to go down really really quickly. So you best have some automatic load shedding capability that sense whether the shore power is connected.

Victron is good quality, but you need someone who actually knows how to use it in a well thought out ecosystem. An ecosystem that is not just a dumbed down “wire the inverter to a couple outlets” level of thinking. Given the capabilities of most inverter/charging systems of and brand, that should probably be the standard anyway, but usually isn’t.
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Old 09-16-2020, 06:36 PM   #14
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.... snip....

The Color Control GX looks pretty and connects to the internet for remote monitoring (with an additional dongle), but it doesn't really allow all that much control. Changing advanced settings (like charging voltage) still requires breaking out a laptop, USB dongle, and ethernet cable.

The inverter/charger itself has been reliable.
Yes, the Colour Control GX is a huge disappointment in relation to 'Control' aspects compared to the Blue Power Panel, its predecessor in mono. With the BPP you could go down menu tree's to program anything you wanted. Now its the dongle etc.

Back in 2012 I installed a Quattro 3000/12/120 inverter-charger, a BPP and a Victron battery controller. The latter 2 are no longer available as far as I know, but were very good products. Unfortunately they are incompatible with the current Quattro firmware. Hence the Colour GX plus a BMV 712. The latter I like a lot.

My old Quattro was trouble free for 6 years, but then developed an intermittent over-heating issue when charging. The inverter was fine fully loaded. My local dealer was eventually, with support from the Netherlands, able to determine it was not repairable and although I could not find out what the issue was they offered me $1000 discount on a new Quattro with same specs. I took that to mean they had found a design fault in the unit. The new unit was somewhat upgraded though, particularly in regard to overload/heat management and firmware was significantly upgraded.

I realised on my first trip with the new Quattro what had happened to the old one. For years I had been able to run the clothes dryer while underway, but the new Quattro (same model specs) tripped when trying to do it. The Quattro unfortunately sits in the ER, and I quickly determined that when underway the combined ER temp and inverter load put the Quattro up to 50°C. It cannot deliver its full 3000VA at that temp! The old unit kept on trying, but eventually cooked something inside itself to the point it was starting to fail.

So, try and keep you house bank and inverter out of the ER if possible. Also, go one size larger (or stack two units if you must) to ensure you get adequate capacity at the ambient temp where they are installed. The VA rating is also somewhat misleading, the actual wattage able to be delivered continuously is lower than that.

For integrating various charging sources, I have decided to set different charge profiles for each source. I have just installed a new AGM battery bank, and it has ranges quoted for absorption and float voltage. So I programmed my Balmar 612 (2 x 200 A alternators) for the top of those ranges to get rapid recharge. I also have solar (2070 W, Outback Controllers) and set a profile to the midpoint of the battery specs. And for shore power, via the Quattro, I set to the bottom of the battery spec range. In this way, when at the dock on shore power for long periods, float voltage is kept low (13.4V) to avoid drying out the AGM's by still trickle charging even when they are fully charged. The Quattro also has a 'storage' mode where voltage is dropped to 13.2V, which I see as a bonus. My final mod was to reduce minimum time for absorption phase of the solar controllers down to 6 minutes. This was to keep the period of high absorption-level voltages to a minimum when solar starts up in the morning at the dock, at a time when shorepower already has the bank fully charged.

So far these profiles are performing the way I had hoped they would. For example, when leaving the dock with fully charged batteries the Balmar dropped alternator charge current back to basically what the engines required to run, and after a short period voltage reduced as well. The solar controllers turned themselves to 'Silent' (off) without any action from me.

I believe Victron offers top quality products. In recent years they have been moving to increase integration and capacity to monitor via bluetooth on a phone, as well as via the internet. Its been a couple of years since I installed the new Quattro, which may by now have the bluetooth connectivity that my unit lacks. If I were doing it all from scratch, I would happily go all Victron where they had products available.

One aspect I might change would be to seperate the charger and inverter functions. Victron make some great chargers that will take any voltage and any frequency. Well, both Euro and USA voltage and Hertz at least. So if you are moving from one country to another with Hertz and voltage differences your shorepower flexibility is enhanced. On the other hand, Victron inverters, and inverter-chargers, are set for just one Hz/V spec only. So changing when moving between countries your shorepower input design gets more complicated.
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:09 PM   #15
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Yes, the Colour Control GX is a huge disappointment in relation to 'Control' aspects compared to the Blue Power Panel, its predecessor in mono. With the BPP you could go down menu tree's to program anything you wanted. Now its the dongle etc.

. ..
Actually you can program the multicontrollers through the Venus OS ie color control. You basically create the configuration file with the same software used n the dongle method and upload through the web interface, no dongle required.

Also not sure what connection between multi and solar is desired, but they each can connect to a Victron battery monitor shunt to get the battery status and both will connect to the Venus OS to show status. They play nicely together on my system.
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Old 09-16-2020, 10:43 PM   #16
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I am in the process of upgrading our system with Victron....i attached the schematic of the plan...I have all the parts, will probably run a few cables this weekend ..

We are removing a Xantrex Freedom 2K unit and a Blue Sea Systems monitor.

Although touchscreens are nice to have, I am sure there will be glitches so I also have a basic On/Off controller as a backup as part of the plan....
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:10 PM   #17
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I am in the process of upgrading our system with Victron....i attached the schematic of the plan...I have all the parts, will probably run a few cables this weekend ..

We are removing a Xantrex Freedom 2K unit and a Blue Sea Systems monitor.

Although touchscreens are nice to have, I am sure there will be glitches so I also have a basic On/Off controller as a backup as part of the plan....
Since you are in the middle of this...

I see you chose the battery monitor with a panel mount. That connects using a USB to the CRBO controller. Did you consider the VE Net battery controller? Does it add any functionality over the one you chose?

Do you know if the VE net is just 802.1 Layer 1 and layer 2 ethernet, or is it a proprietary layer 1 and layer 2 signal. The reason I ask this is that it makes it easiter to transport signals around my boat if it is a later 1 and 2 compliant device as I have an existing network and router. I could easily make a separate Vlan for the VE net.
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Old 09-17-2020, 06:23 AM   #18
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I prefer a separate charger and inverter.
If one craps out, the other will be fine.
Plus, if one wishes to upgrade either the charger or the inverter, ideally, it will be less expensive.
But that is just MY opinion.
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:07 AM   #19
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You do not have to run double cables. There is provision to run double cables simply as an accommodation so you don't have to use such a huge single cable.

Be careful. I know of multiple Victron systems that had problems throwing errors and shutting down under heavy loads because of excessive ripple voltage on the DC lines. You need to pay careful attention to their recommended cable sizes and length limits.
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Old 09-17-2020, 08:24 AM   #20
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I have a single Victron Multiplus 12/3000 currently and will probably be adding a second this winter. But if I were starting fresh I think I'd go with Outback.

Victron's documentation is challenging to wade through and their support is in The Netherlands and mostly/all online. I found Outback's documentation clearer and several installers I've spoken with have raved about their support (based locally for those of us in the NW USA).

The Victron solar controller I had on a previous boat was generally good, but had some flaky behavior (it indicated bulk charging, but didn't output any power) that Victron wasn't helpful in solving (at the time the only support I could reach was via a Disqus thread).

If you're thinking about stacking inverters, Victron seems to have much higher idle power consumption, since both inverters are always running. Outback, as I understand it, only powers the "slave" when it's needed, saving ~25-35 watts continuously. Not a huge amount, but it adds up.

The Color Control GX looks pretty and connects to the internet for remote monitoring (with an additional dongle), but it doesn't really allow all that much control. Changing advanced settings (like charging voltage) still requires breaking out a laptop, USB dongle, and ethernet cable.

The inverter/charger itself has been reliable.

I agree with all of this.


I set out to use Victron on my N68 build, but gave up and went with Outback.


I don't doubt Victron makes good products, but they are such a jumbled mess of products, overlapping capabilities, things that work with some products but not others, and documentation that is scattered all over the place. I found myself wasting so much time trying to figure it out that I just walked away. And I consider myself to be pretty good at figuring out electrical sorts of things.


It all reminds me of a scene from Me, Myself, and Irene. Charlie goes to work for the day, leaving the kids at home. When he returns, they have built an airplane and are about to take off. Brilliant kids, but no adult supervision.


With all manufacturers, beware of the lure of getting redundancy from two inverters. With all of them you need to configure the inverters as a stacked pair, and that makes them co-dependent, and in many cases actually reduces reliability.



With Outback, you get partial redundancy. If the slave fails, things keep running. But if the master fails, everything stops and you need to reconfigure the slave to be the new master. So the mean time to failure is the same as for a single inverter, but you can get the other one on line quickly, so you essentially have quick repair.


With Victron, if either inverter fails, they both stop. So two inverters actually has 1/2 the mean time to failure, so is half as reliable as a single inverter. To get the surviving inverter running, you need to reconfigure it as a stand alone device. So you have half the reliability, and quick repair.
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