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Author Topic: Bye Bye Trace inverter charger  (Read 3234 times)
offthegridandy
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« on: December 23, 2012, 07:23:03 PM »

Tuesday breakfast time  (18th Dec) Sun and rain and all is well then the lights went dim.  Trotted out to the power house to find the inverter failing to invert.  I turned the bypass switch and started Mr Lister so power was restored.

After some tests I discovered that the Trace charger side was still working so I tried connecting Trace back in to keep the batteries topped up and reconnected batteries direct to a cheap Chinese 3000w inverter as a temporary set up, bearing in mind that Christmas shut down is shortly approaching.  Well as an experiment it was interesting and quite clearly demonstrated why the Chinese junk is cheap. It really can't handle varying loads at all well no matter what it says on the tin. 24 hrs of living with the fluctuating and unreliable output was enough

By Thursday, 'twas decided that regardless of unplanned expense (at this time of year) a proper replacement was required.  A quick call to a trusted supplier gleaned the info that an Outback VFX3024 (24v 3000w) would be an excellent replacement and in stock.  So I decided to pay the price although only strength of character stopped me holing at the cost, more stiff upper lip was needed  on Thursday night when I realised that in my haste I'd failed to realise that for the Outback to actually be any use the "optional" Mate was in fact a necessity as otherwise you can't modify the default charge settings etc.

Friday AM the Superior Being (SB) went armed with Debit card to Herefordshire and extracted further discount and came home with 2 boxes for the princely sum of £1700 inc VAT.  I had already disconnected existing cabling and arranged support to hold the dead Trace inverter whilst removing.  God these units are heavy.

Whilst awaiting return of SB I decided that I'd better fit the new 1000Ah cells that were sitting ready to go into service.  These new cells needed soldered ring connections!!!!  Well there is a first time for anything so blowtorch in one hand and stick solder in tother I nervously made up 12 cells into a battery.  I found the idea of naked flame and hydrogen producing cells more than a little worrying but it was blowing a hooly with the door open in the power house and the operation was completed safely.

Now SB is back and cardboard is removed to expose nice black shining inverter charger.  Easy fit on the wall and by judicious positioning I only had to make up /alter one DC lead.

So comes Saturday morning and I had read many many words in the 3 manuals supplied by Outback.  I already have an Outback charge controller so I figured 20 minutes would get the thing basically set up.  Weeeell no, not quite. There are so many options and permutations (no doubt all for very good reason), but what appears to be missing in the manuals is a quick start guide, as in the old Trace handbook. I.e a 5 step guide to get charge rate set and gen start set.  For example, there are seemingly 2 Gen start menus available and nothing to tell in the instructions in one page to also see page XX where you also need to set up another Genstart menu.

I have now got the thing (Outback) set up although I will need to do some more tweaking, get the quiet time set up and other finer points. I really liked the old Trace product.  It was easy to read the meters, easy to set up and Tweak; and it must be said has never missed a beat in 10 years of continuous, never off, heavy work. Wish I could get the Trace repaired but where to get parts.

I've been told that the new Outback is my Christmas present, huh, I'd rather have had a bottle of Malt and no aggro.  The SB also lashed out and purchased a camera so once instructed in its use I will try and do some piccies and will hopefully get back to the magic metal gluing device and record progress with the PV tracker which even now is languishing part made in the shed.  I have been told, but I don't really believe it that with these new digital cameras you don't have to hide under the bed sheets when you put in a new film. We shall soon see or not as the case may be!

Oh and before you ask, I run the magic metal gluing device direct from Mr Lister with the house completely isolated so it wasn't that that killed the Trace.

Merry Christams

Note deliberate Pyto

Andy
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8 KVA Lister TS2 Startamatic Genny
24 Volt 1000amp battery bank
Outback VFX3024
4.6 Kw PV array ground mounted
Outback Flexmax 80
2 X Flexmax 30 PV CC
2.5 Kw WT H Piggot design 4.5 Mtr Dia AC coupled
12 Mtr free standing Tower.
u/floor heating from oil boiler cross linked to 12 K wood stove
camillitech
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2012, 10:10:24 PM »

Hi Andy, sorry to hear of your Trace's demise, they were a fine inverter let down only by terrible back up from the company  Cry I do love the simplicity of my SW4548e. It has all the functions and more of other inverter/chargers yet is idiot proof and can be tweaked without a laptop and optional £100 interface cable. It's rugged and does all that is asked of it, it'll start a genny, backfeed to batteries, can be used to switch on and off dump loads and much more. You just can't get parts anymore and Schneider don't give a toss  Cry I've just been given another SW4548e with a minor fault so hope to keep mine going for a few more years.

Apart from all that pish about having to buy the 'Mate' as an extra I think you've made a good choice, it was after all the original designers of the SW series that sold out to Xantrex and went on to build the improved Outback and then the Midnite Classic controller. These dudes really do know about living 'off grid'  genuflect

Good luck, Paul 
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http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/

'Off grid' since 1985,  Proven 2.5kW, Proven 6kW direct heating, SI6.OH, 800ah Rolls, 4.75kW PV ,4xTS45, Lister HR2 12kW, , Powerspout pelton, Stream Engine turgo, 60 x Navitron toobs and a 1500lt store. Outback VFX3048 and 950ah forklifts for backup,
Justme
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« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2012, 10:34:00 AM »


Wish I could get the Trace repaired but where to get parts.




Try these people

Sellweb Ltd
Unit 11
Tame Valley Business Centre
Wilnecote
Tamworth
Staffs
B77 5BY

01827281976


I have no connection just gleaned the info from a canal boat forum cos they have been using off grid stuff for longer than any one else.
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Navitron solar thermal system
30 x 58mm panel 259L TS
1200watts solar 120vdc
FX80 Solar controller
Victron 12v 3000w 120a
6kva genny
6 x 2v cells 1550amp/h 5C
24 x 2v cells 700amp/h 5C
Total bank 4350 amp/h 5C
offthegridandy
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« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2012, 01:01:39 PM »

 thanks Justme, I'll get in touch after the break.  At the cost of these inverters to replace, if a repair cost a few hundred quid it would still be worthwhile.  And being off grid I do like to have spares of everything here rather than being at the end of a supply chain.

Thanks Paul for your kind regards.  Re batteries, do you have to make up and solder cell terminals?  I really didn't enjoy flashing a lit gas torch around the top of a hydrogen "bomb"!!

Cheers.

Andy
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8 KVA Lister TS2 Startamatic Genny
24 Volt 1000amp battery bank
Outback VFX3024
4.6 Kw PV array ground mounted
Outback Flexmax 80
2 X Flexmax 30 PV CC
2.5 Kw WT H Piggot design 4.5 Mtr Dia AC coupled
12 Mtr free standing Tower.
u/floor heating from oil boiler cross linked to 12 K wood stove
clivejo
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« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2012, 04:28:18 PM »

awww that is a crying shame.  When you say the inverter was failing to invert, what was happening?  Can you describe the sounds, any lights or error messages?
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camillitech
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« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2012, 05:07:44 PM »

Hi Andy,

'fraid I've absolutely no experience of soldering batteries but don't worry about  sh*tfan they only gas when working, an idle battery in a well ventilated place should be OK  fingers crossed!  signofcross

Good luck  horror
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http://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/

'Off grid' since 1985,  Proven 2.5kW, Proven 6kW direct heating, SI6.OH, 800ah Rolls, 4.75kW PV ,4xTS45, Lister HR2 12kW, , Powerspout pelton, Stream Engine turgo, 60 x Navitron toobs and a 1500lt store. Outback VFX3048 and 950ah forklifts for backup,
Justme
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« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2012, 05:55:08 PM »

When I went to look at buying my last ex forklift bank the engineer was explaining to me how they solder up the terminals on the cells by using 2 or 3 cells linked in series & a stick of lead as the solder.

I passed on that & asked him to do the alterations I needed before shipping it to me.
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Navitron solar thermal system
30 x 58mm panel 259L TS
1200watts solar 120vdc
FX80 Solar controller
Victron 12v 3000w 120a
6kva genny
6 x 2v cells 1550amp/h 5C
24 x 2v cells 700amp/h 5C
Total bank 4350 amp/h 5C
offthegridandy
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« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2012, 06:52:15 PM »

Paul Hi,

I've soldered the cells now using some lead that was knocking about. As you say they only gas when charging but it felt a bit freaking.
.
Clivejo.  When the inverter died it was showing a flashing green light indicating that Trace was looking for  power source (search), with the Genny running there was a steady 6 amps (measured at 240VAC) charge to the battery bank but no Ac pass through to AC out.  I had to replace the dead un immediately as we have a family member resident who is 90 yrs old . The famous black clad granny. Our heating system has to have power  even though we can cook and illuminate with out leccy.  A job that is speeding to the top of the list is to make the power supply to the complete heating system either independent or capable of being back up independently of main power sources. Of cause well never ever loose Genny, Batteries and inverter all at the same time!!!! But just in case i think belt to go with braces could be a good idea.

Any way we are all warm dry and illuminated now and looking forward to Christmas excesses.

Trust you all have a good break and an excellent New Year.

Andy


« Last Edit: December 24, 2012, 06:54:56 PM by offthegridandy » Logged

8 KVA Lister TS2 Startamatic Genny
24 Volt 1000amp battery bank
Outback VFX3024
4.6 Kw PV array ground mounted
Outback Flexmax 80
2 X Flexmax 30 PV CC
2.5 Kw WT H Piggot design 4.5 Mtr Dia AC coupled
12 Mtr free standing Tower.
u/floor heating from oil boiler cross linked to 12 K wood stove
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