Inverter problem - please assist

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carmichael
carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
Hello


First post. i will try to be brief. I aplogize in advance if I posted to the wrong forum.

I have an Inverter connected to my home power. This way, if I have a power outage, I can provide several hours of backup without the need of a generator.

The small panel only provides power (AC or inverted AC) to my fridge, furnace and a few receptacles.

Yesterday, there was no AC to this small panel. The only way I could provide AC was via "Inverter". I only did this for a short while so as not to drain the batteries.

As I need my furnace, I have to figure out (quickly) why AC is not being sent to the small panel.

I should also note, even though the Inverter remote indicates "charging" it does not indicate the typical charging process @ near 14v - it still stays at 12.5v.

The Inverter is a Freedom Combi 20.

Please let me know any suggestions on how to fault find this or ideas how to bypass the Inverter entirely so I can get power to the small panel in order to run my applicances with direct AC in the meantime.


Thank you

Hugh

Comments

  • Blackcherry04
    Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    You can try to reset it by taking one of the 12V dc cables off for a minute or two and restart. Check and make sure it has 120V input from the main panel. To by pass it take the 3 wires ( hot, neutral & ground ) from the input and connect them to the 3 wires from the output.

    Cut the power to it before take the wires off !!!
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Welcome to the forum Hugh.

    It depends on how the wiring was done. What we'd normally expect to see is a sub panel (small panel) with circuits on it for things like your refrigerator. That panel would be provided power through a transfer switch, so that it could be energized either from the main panel (utility service) or the inverter but never both. Do you know what is used to provide this switching? It may have failed, or the breaker in the main panel that feeds it may have failed. Can you take some pictures of the wiring to show us?
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Thank you for the quick reply. Does it matter if I take off the Red or Black dc cable off? I dont want to get zapped when I reconnect and I am not sure if Red or Black should be last when connecting DC.

    I did some reading and is it possible that an internal F2 fuse on the AC board might have blown?

    Also, I thought about connecting the input to the inverter to the output wire but wanted a second opinion. Should I join them in a metal box for safety?

    Any other suggestions welcomed.

    Thank you

    Hugh
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Thank you so much for the quick reply.

    This installation was done a few years ago by an approved installer who has since passed. The original installation had golf cart batteries that I replaced last year with AGMs

    I will try to be brief on the installation and send a picture if this doesnt make sense.

    I have three panels, main panel, transfer panel (either Grid or Generator), and breakers for water pump, house receptacles, the inverter, and a small panel that the inverter drives.

    Yesterday, all the intems on the small panel went off. The only way to supply power to them was if I hit Invert on the Inverter.

    So - no AC is being sent as well as the Charger doesnt appear to be working as it had.

    please let me know if this help - and again - I appreciate it.

    Hugh
  • Blackcherry04
    Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    Thank you for the quick reply. Does it matter if I take off the Red or Black dc cable off? I dont want to get zapped when I reconnect and I am not sure if Red or Black should be last when connecting DC.

    I did some reading and is it possible that an internal F2 fuse on the AC board might have blown?

    Also, I thought about connecting the input to the inverter to the output wire but wanted a second opinion. Should I join them in a metal box for safety?

    Any other suggestions welcomed.

    Thank you

    Hugh
    I usually take the + ( red ) off . There is a slow blow fuse on the board. It's hard to find and change unless you know where it is. A new fuse is hard to find most places. With out disassembley it takes a curved set of pliers or forceps to change as it's down on a vertical board.

    I usually just use wire nuts to join until I get Inverter fixed or a replacement. Most Inverters I work on have plugs on the Input/Output.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    So the transfer is built-in to the inverter-charger and either the relay has stuck or the internal fuse has popped or, and this is important, there really is no AC IN present at the inverter.

    As well as checking what Blackcherry has said, get a test light or meter and see if the AC mains connection to the inverter is 'live'. That eliminates one problem.

    If it is then the inverter is at fault. But to get around it you need to shut that line to the inverter off, disconnect the wires, and reconnected them to feed the sub panel. If you don't feel comfortable doing this hire an electrician. That will at least get the power back if the inverter can't be fixed easily.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Hi again. Ok, I will go and take off the Red wire from the battery bank for a couple of minutes and reconnect. I would be thrilled if that is the problem.

    If it is the fuse, not sure why as Inverter has had limited use and we dont get power spikes (or at least not to my knowledge).

    The other gentleman was suggesting possible breaker issue. Again, that would be great if it was only that vs my Inverter.

    If you think of anything else please let me know

    thank you

    Hugh
  • Blackcherry04
    Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    Thank you so much for the quick reply.

    This installation was done a few years ago by an approved installer who has since passed. The original installation had golf cart batteries that I replaced last year with AGMs

    I will try to be brief on the installation and send a picture if this doesnt make sense.

    I have three panels, main panel, transfer panel (either Grid or Generator), and breakers for water pump, house receptacles, the inverter, and a small panel that the inverter drives.

    Yesterday, all the intems on the small panel went off. The only way to supply power to them was if I hit Invert on the Inverter.

    So - no AC is being sent as well as the Charger doesnt appear to be working as it had.

    please let me know if this help - and again - I appreciate it.

    Hugh
    You'll have to see if there is 120V input. You could have a bad contact ( stuck ) in the transfer relay. If it's loose you can drop it from a inch on to a hard surface and see it breaks loose. Take a piece of 2x4 and hit the case with a good bump a few times if it's mounted on the wall, that will knock them loose sometimes. boB hit's them with a screwdriver if they are open on the bench.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    The Inverter is wall mounted.

    I will make sure that the panel is off before doing any of this.

    Dumb question, what is the best way to confirm 120V input?

    thank you

    Hugh
  • Blackcherry04
    Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    The Inverter is wall mounted.

    I will make sure that the panel is off before doing any of this.

    Dumb question, what is the best way to confirm 120V input?

    thank you

    Hugh
    I think it's a wire to wire connection inside the Inverter electrical box / compartment, so you could stick the probe of a multi meter in the connectors . You could go the the main panel and take a reading from the breaker output.

    Honestly, it's probably a bad charger board. Hard to trouble shoot from here. I did tell you how I'd check one out without pulling it.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Would a bad charger board also stop AC transfer?

    If that is the problem, the unit is getting a bit old (although not from heavy use).

    Is it cheaper to replace the board, or considering the age, cheaper to buy a new one?

    thanks

    Hugh
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Electronics over ~5 to 10+ years of age can be difficult to find parts/repair facility. And at 10+ years, other things may fail too after you get it repaired.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    I just looked at some past paperwork and this inverter is now 16 years young. So, I suspect you would recommend replacement?

    What is the recommended unit and cost to replace the Freedom 20? I would like to keep as muh of the current wiring and the remote (Heart Interface/Xantrex).


    Also, is it possible to get one with a manual AC transfer? I cannot have the backup appliances at the mercy of an automatic transfer. I do not keep Invert switch on, I just turn it on when the power is out.

    thanks

    Hugh
  • Blackcherry04
    Blackcherry04 Solar Expert Posts: 2,490 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    I just looked at some past paperwork and this inverter is now 16 years young. So, I suspect you would recommend replacement?

    What is the recommended unit and cost to replace the Freedom 20? I would like to keep as muh of the current wiring and the remote (Heart Interface/Xantrex).


    Also, is it possible to get one with a manual AC transfer? I cannot have the backup appliances at the mercy of an automatic transfer. I do not keep Invert switch on, I just turn it on when the power is out.

    thanks

    Hugh
    You can probably find a new one like you have, they are discontinued but I see them around on e-bay and some dealers have old stock. Xantrex has a New SW 2012 PSW that about $1,000 , but you have to have a new remote ( SCP ) $160 or so. You could wire one of them or any inverter to manual operation. Just install a bypass and a disconnect for the batteries. I have almost that exact system in my house. Then you have a stand alone charger to keep batteries charged. There plenty of Inverters without battery chargers.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Given the age and the failing replacing the inverter sounds like the way to go. Things have change a little bit since that unit was made, so some rewiring may be needed.

    It is also possible to install a bypass switch for the inverter. This is a transfer switch which takes the loads off the inverter output and puts them on the line feeding the inverter input (or other AC source). It is essentially a redundant transfer switch used to couple the loads to the AC line in the event of an inverter failure (such as you have suffered).

    Ordinarily the built-in transfer switches are quite reliable. But they are a relay and as such can fail in windings or contacts or control circuitry.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Hi again.

    I did the reset (unplug dc - wait reconnect) and no change.

    I also checked the breaker for 120v - no problem.

    So, must be the Inverter board etc. Too hard to check on wall so I will take it down and see if I can get at the fuse....

    To be clear, please confirm the following method to remove the inverter from the system and provide power to the pony panel.

    Remove wire from breaker to Inverter (at panel). Remove wire from Inveter to pony panel (at panel). Install new wire from old Inverter breaker to old Inveter pony panel breaker.

    I have no heat in the house, so I need to do this sooner than later (I live in Ontario....)

    Please confirm that this will work (safely....)

    Hugh
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    Hi again.

    I did the reset (unplug dc - wait reconnect) and no change.

    I also checked the breaker for 120v - no problem.

    So, must be the Inverter board etc. Too hard to check on wall so I will take it down and see if I can get at the fuse....

    To be clear, please confirm the following method to remove the inverter from the system and provide power to the pony panel.

    Remove wire from breaker to Inverter (at panel). Remove wire from Inveter to pony panel (at panel). Install new wire from old Inverter breaker to old Inveter pony panel breaker.

    I have no heat in the house, so I need to do this sooner than later (I live in Ontario....)

    Please confirm that this will work (safely....)

    Hugh

    #1) Shut off power to the AC line feeding the inverter. You do not want any live wires anywhere.
    #2) Shut off inverter. You do not want any live wires anywhere.
    #3) Disconnect AC lines on inverter input and inverter output to sub panel.
    #4) Connect the AC line from the main panel to the AC line to the sub panel. Follow the colours of the wires: black to black, white to white, bare (ground) to bare, red to red (if it has red). You may not have enough wire to get the two lines together, in which case you'll have to splice more in (double the connections). These connections should be done with wire nuts, inside an electrical junction box (4" square) with strain relief on the cables and a cover on the box. Do not just twist the wires together and tape them.
    #5) Turn on power to the AC line at the main service panel. The sub panel should now be 'live' and everything should work.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Thank for the quick reply! Could I not just disconnect the Inverter from both panels and run a new wire from one panel to the other? This avoids boxes etc.

    Please let me know, thanks again.

    Hugh
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,477 admin
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    If you have not worked much with AC or larger DC systems before--Find a neighbor with a volt meter who can help.

    It is not difficult to work on electrical--But one wrong assumption/mistake, and you can be looking a whole bushel of problems/safety/health issues.

    Once you get the basic idea--Then you should be good to doing more of your own service.

    120/240 VAC power from the utility is one thing. Mixing AC + DC plus multiple sources of power--It is easy to overlook a possibly energized circuit if you have never worked on this stuff before. Please be careful. It is difficult for us to do this across the Internet.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist
    carmichael wrote: »
    Thank for the quick reply! Could I not just disconnect the Inverter from both panels and run a new wire from one panel to the other? This avoids boxes etc.

    Please let me know, thanks again.

    Hugh

    Yes you can if it would be easier for you to run the new wire. Not knowing the locations and distances involved I couldn't say which would be the easier option.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    I am being extremely careful.

    I turn off the entire main panel and will disconnect the batteries to ensure not surprises.

    What I want to do it to remove the Inverter from the system and provide power to the pony panel that gets fed from the Inverter.

    Can I not remove all AC wires from the Inverter and use a new wire from the old source breaker to the pony panel where the Inverter went?

    Please let me know and thank you to all that have helped here. I have complaining teenagers nagging at me...

    Hugh
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Whew- thanks. This way I do not have to monkey around disconnecting inside the inverter. I can take the whole unit, wire and all to a bench and take a look inside later. If I find the problem, quick reconnect afterwards.

    Thank you again for all your help.

    Hugh
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Hi again

    So, Inverter now disconnected and sub panel has power.

    Once I figure out what is wrong with the inverter (hopefully the f2 fuse) I would like to reconnect things, but this time more on a manual transfer of the inverter vs dependance on the transfer switch within the inverter.

    My current set up has the main panel, a transfer switch panel (genererator or AC) along with the breaker for the inverter, and the small panel from inverter (straight AC or invertered DC) for things like furnace, lights etc.

    If you can send me a hand drawn recommendation that I can include into my system that will avoid my recent experience that would be great.

    Even with my current set up - I never had "Invert" lit, I would do it manually if the power went out and managed the appliances manually so as to extend the life of the batteries during an outage.

    thanks again

    Hugh
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    So what you want would be a manual transfer switch to change the sub-panel from being powered by the inverter to being powered by the main panel? That's not difficult.

    With a 120 VAC line you probably need only switch the hot of the load side from the inverter output to the inverter input: neutral and ground are usually common on input and output. It would be a single pole double throw switch capable of handling the current and Voltage.

    If by some chance the inverter relay switches the neutral line as well then you'd need a double pole switch.
  • carmichael
    carmichael Registered Users Posts: 20
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    Re: Inverter problem - please assist

    Well, sort of. I loved my old set up, but got screwed when the inverter decided not to provide direct AC. I would like to be able to provide either direct AC from the sub panel to this smaller panel (for furnace etc) normally, but in the event of a power outage switch it to Inverter to provide power (for furnace etc). This way I am not at the mercy of the AC switch inside the inverter...

    Hugh