Guys!! Lets compare hybrid inverter/charger products! Who is the right choice?

fastlinefastline Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
I come from industrial automation, engineering, etc.  I need a hybrid inverter/charger for off-grid.  Still not sure if these integrated charger solutions are worth it or not? System will be built with liFePO4 bank, aux generator with AGS, and PV.  I need a minimum of 8KW cont available with good surge capacity for motor starts.  

My first choice was Schneider XW+ because I have used their products and know they build quality.  However, when I grabbed the phone to chat about the internal electrical design of their product, I realized I cannot even call them....???!!! WTF?  I put in a tech ticket and now waiting for a call.  that does NOT set well with me.  

I then moved to Outback and had a good convo on their 8048 radian.  They seem to have a good product but I have heard a few things.  I have read that you need a separate interface just to program and adjust it?  Not sure what all the other modules cost.  

the price for this stuff mounts of quick and one thing that interests me (maybe) is the software solutions for monitoring and possibly even control?  It did seem like Schneider had a decent setup that was easy to work with.  Looks like Outback has something similar but I am not even sure what this stuff costs?  I am not into paying many hundreds for monitoring, and a monthly fee just to have all that, but I certainly need something!

The things that I hold as priorities is high level tech support.  Like board level chat.  I have repaired nearly every electronic device out there and I get a sour taste when the only option is "send it for service".  I am also looking for a quality product that is robust so failures would be rare anyway.  I also want features, options, and adjustability.  

I have considered a lesser inverter, then a couple charge controllers, one with an AGS for the genny, and another for the PV.  But if we are not talking much cost difference, maybe the integrated systems are best?  

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,247 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I would lean toward Schneider , the XW+ line.   You will need a programming box and a AGS box, and a 240V remote enabled 10 - 20kw genset.
    And a reliable dealer (like Dave A) that can set things up properly and be interface to Schneider.  Unless you can qualify yourself.

    I use their older XW and use the generator support mode. It actually works when properly programmed.  I even ran for a week with a eu20000 in gen support mode when I had my battery bank down.

    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This thing is coming built by engineers from Trace/Xantrex, and Later Outback. It will at least appeal to your 
     industrial automation, engineering, background.

    MNB17-3

    http://www.midnitesolar.com/pages/b17/index.php

    My guess is it will directly compete with the Exeltech units used as backup in many of our Government Embassies. Not sure if those did grid tie but also good equipment if a bunch happens to come on the market.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 3,726 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
     Manufacturers are unlikely to discuss board level technical questions, I would think, simply because it wouldn't be in their interests to do so. Technical support varies from one to the other in terms of access some choosing to isolate themselves from DIY end users, which is a shame but they must have their reasoning.

    Building your own Inverter would probably be the closest one could get, this link is related to just that  https://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/354711/2nd-edition-6kw-ozinverter-build-book-manual-pcbs
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Battery Bodyguard BMS 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Daly BMS, used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
  • fastlinefastline Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
    Photowhit, I looked at Midnight and they must have some silver lined customers because their pricing, even on other product lines is insane.  To be right honest, I don't think they will be around long enough to see their products die.  

    Mcgivor, we get board level assistance on other related products so was just surprised with the lack of help.  No doubt I want to choose one in which gives the most information.  I don't appreciate spending thousands on a product, then being told "sorry, its 2yo, its old, buy another one".....  We have CNC Fanuc systems that are 20+yo and they continue to work great, and I can call and get parts and tech support.  

    I did read here where you cannot buy parts for Schneider products?  Really?  
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The guys at Midnite have been industry leaders for quite a while. They are the guys who started Outback, did some of the things you desire, making field serviceable inverters with a modular design and may still own a chunk of it. They imported the DC breakers and made the Breaker panels for people for a long time, I have a E-Panel and it's a nice compact unit to house all the required breakers. I wouldn't bet against them.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,807 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Parts for Schneider are based on warranty or after warranty repair by their recommended shops. The XW Pro has a 10 year product warranty and it is serviceable by skilled users. If there was a warranty claim, Schneider can remote troubleshoot the unit with the gateway. If it is a hard failure, they may send a replacement XW and pay to ship the old unit back. Someone with knowledge a safe anti-static procedure (grounded wrist strap) may ask for the PCB. This is rare!

    The good news is they rarely fail. I mean rarely. 

    Here is a link to the XW Pro that we did the field circuit validation test here for Schneider. There are 2 new PCB's in Pro that updated the unit for Rule 21. XW+ is still for sale and is a very mature, rock solid, time tested inverter/charger from the old "greybox" XW's circa 2005.

    https://forum.solar-electric.com/discussion/353921/new-inverter-xw-pro-new-conext-gateway-with-easy-remote-monitoring-on-conext-insight-2

    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,494 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My understanding is Schneider is less open to DIY types, preferring to work through installers.  This wouldn't work for me, but I can see the business case for their approach.

    Not sure what you mean about Midnite pricing.  It seems to me that pricing on their charge controllers is competitive comparing similar units from other major brands.  AFAIK, pricing and availability on their inverters is TBA.  IMHO, they're probably the most DIY oriented of the major brands.

    I found Outback to be fairly fast and good to deal with when I had trouble with one of my inverters.  They sent boards for DIY field replacement.

    FWIW

    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭✭
    Although Morningstar doesn't offer a wide choice of inverters they do have some great charge controllers and great customer service after purchase. 

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,807 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Schneider wants you to be trained and have a good understanding. You can do this on your own if you put the time in. If you want to have someone help you at each step I would use Outback because of their user forum. I think Schneider is the cutting edge and historically, from xantrex and trace before, they have been.

    Whatever the OP decides I would only use one brand to enable a networked power system with all of the data in one place.  Out to the web for remote operation, monitoring, and configuration. Even in a Offgrid application without internet, a networked system is so much easier for non technical folks to monitor.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,419 ✭✭✭✭
    Don’t discount Midnight...these guys have been around forever, starting with Trace, which became Xantrex, then Outback, (a deep connection to Magnum amongst other electronic endeavors.  Great products, great support.  Are their products spendy?  Sure, but in some manner you get what you pay for.

    Tony
  • fastlinefastline Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited August 2019 #12
    My experiences include board level repairs of SMPS power supplies, VFDs, programming VFDs for CNC applications, wiring up machines, etc, etc.  Just stating that I am up to the challenge, I don't plan to ever hire anyone for any of it, I JUST need good documentation or info.  I could learn mountains by just taking apart a Schneider so I can understand what they are doing.  They don't even give a decent block diagram!  Its like a magic box that does shit!

    Here is the question running through my mind last night.  It appears the generator connection to the XW must having a phase sensing circuit and will latch relays to the output when phase sync is acceptable?  I recall at least the Outback guy (remember I can't even talk to Schneider) saying you can limit how much power to take from the generator.  I don't think I believe that based on the diagram I have seen.  Probably limit the current TO the battery bank FROM the generator because they are probably just using a couple Mosfets and PWM scheme to regulate power to the batteries once it is rectified.  If you connect a genny to the output with relays, you don't have control of current unless the inverter output sine waveform is modified.  

    My issue or concern - I want to use a 3kw generator to charge batteries on a 10kwh bank.  I want to use at least the XW6848, but that probably still is not enough.  I will have loads well up to inverter capacity, but for a low duty cycle of 10-15%.  If these inverters directly connect to the output line, there would be no way to really limit power from the generator.  

    In an ideal world, the genny charges the bank.  The genny is programmed to come in with an AGS under certain conditions or go manual if I already know I will have high loads.  My loads might be 8000w so I would want 3kw from the generator, 5kw from the inverter/batteries.  Once those short duration loads are met, load will drop and the 3kw generator can recharge the batteries and go to sleep.  

    I seemed to confuse the Outback guys with this and not sure why.  A generator's efficiency ($/kwh) is directly tied to load.  The more load I can get on a generator, the better, so it is NOT ideal to run a huge generator with minimal load just to cover some very short duration loads.  

    From the looks of this, if I cannot verify functions of an inverter/charger, I may have to just use a discrete charge controller between the genny and bank, and setup the AGS totally independent of the inverter.  

    I glanced at the MPP unit last night.  They have a split phase unit and 'show' a generator pictured but say precisely nothing about connecting a genny in the books.  You cannot just slam a genny on the line!!!!  If they are out of sync, there will be a frequency war that all the downstream loads will hear, and it can cause damage to generation devices.  I asked Outback specifically how they do it and of course he didn't know.  I NEED to know how this stuff works!




  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 5,807 ✭✭✭✭✭
    There was a guy who said similar things here. It seems he was not actually getting into the levels of the Schneider site. There is more info and training than anyone would need to do a safe installation/operation on their site. There youtubes are excellent.

    People have installed Schneider and Outback here zillions of times. Keep an open mind and a little humility can go along way. Many of the support people are entry level these days. Just the way it is.

    Everyone has different goals. In my ideal world, the genny does not charge the batteries, there is no genny ;)
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • fastlinefastline Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
    My apology if my post comes off wrong.  I don't know how to communicate that I am educated on circuits and would like to dig MUCH deeper into the nuts and bolts.  

    I have seen the schematic you posted but I was hoping to see much more detail as there are no sensing circuits on the transfer switching and you cannot backfeed an IGBT pack so I don't even know how power gets from the genny to the DC bus.  From the schematic, it appears the IGBT pack generates 240VAC and connected to a split phase, iron core transformer, but I wanted to confirm the accuracy of that.  

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,494 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Although the Schneider approach doesn't work for me, I think I understand it.

    For them to provide the level of detail you seem to want to "dig MUCH deeper into the nuts and bolts" may be bordering on providing a blueprint for copycat products, which is obviously not in their interest.

    I do understand a desire to understand the products I use, but also understand that a product has to deliver a feature, not necessarily explain in detail exactly how that feature is delivered.  

    If Schneider says a feature works, you can certainly ask them to clarify whether the feature works in your specific application, but to ask them to essentially provide the engineering to duplicate the feature might be a bit much.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭✭
    I've yet to see blatant rip offs of Schneider products like these. I'm sure Outback and Victron Energy isn't all to happy to see these.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • littleharbor2littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 1,592 ✭✭✭✭
    Oh and here's their rip off of one of Xantrex's inverters

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric, 700 ah @24 volt AGM battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,494 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Realistically, it's dead easy to copy the cosmetics of a product. 

    It's harder, but not that much harder to reverse engineer the functionality of most products, if you really want to.

    What's really hard is to duplicate is brand, innovation, distribution, and support.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,247 ✭✭✭✭✭
    So with my usage of generator support (both with eu2000 & 3Kw diesels) is you tell the XW the battery size in AH
    Then you instruct it as to % of rate of charge, and it just charges at that rate.   If you also told it the size of generator you have, it will sense a heavy load and cut back on battery charging, so as to not overload the generator.   If you have a huge load that is beyond the generator's programed capacity (both heat pumps and the toaster oven ON) it will halt battery charging and assist the generator by making up power to the loads.   In less than a second.   It just works  - when you do all the details right.

    Some of my settings ( annotated )
    ////
    Battery Bank Capacity 1000 A (1,000A makes for easy, direct conversion to charging amps,
    mistakes are limited to AC2 & Generator Support amps limits)
    Maximum Charge Rate used is  5-35 A

    AC2 Breaker Size 18.5 A (each breaker is only @ 120V so both will add, this setting = a limit of 4680w, internally derated to 3744w)

    Generator Support Enable: Enabled
    Generator Support amps:  13.5 A (each breaker is only @ 120V so both will add, this setting = a limit internally  derated to 2515w)
    Generator Support PLUS Enabled

    ST5 on lister 6/1
    AC2 Breaker Size 18.5
    Generator Support amps 13.5


     Honda EU2000i spec  13A   1600w cont, 2kw 30 min  (I use a high quality transformer to step up to 240V)
    AC2 Breaker Size 9.0
    Generator Support amps 5.0
    Battery Settings generic 48V  but  Float 54.4  Bulk/Abs 54.5



    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • fastlinefastline Registered Users Posts: 31 ✭✭
    i appreciate the detailed reply!  I am coming around a bit.  It seems you can program the max power your generator can handle as "support" and the "mystery box" just does its thing.  

    Just to open a can of worms, I have at least been 'looking' at the MPP 5kw 120/240V inverters.  Obviously cheaper but scanning through the settings, it appears largely lacking in modularity.  However, I guess they have a built in MPPT controller built in, which is sort of slick, BUT, as with the "all-in-one" types, if one thing goes down, it all does, which is not so cool.  

    I was possibly looking to use a pair of inverters for some redundancy, and possibly look to use the generator for manual anticipated high load support.  

    I am curious what transformer you are using?  I was trying to get from Outback if I MUST have 120/240V connected at the generator?  I would be very happy to just connect a 240V transformer, feed 240V to the inverter for 240V support on the line, and let 120V loads come off the inverter.  
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,494 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It depends on the application. 

    In mine, I have a generator, and a parallel stacked (master/slave) pair of inverters wired for 120v.  My only 240v load (water pump) is powered via Outback 240v transformer.

    Another application could be load/leg balancing 240v output to 120v.  240v generator to series stacked inverters, then leg balanced via transformer to 120v loads.

    It really comes down to what the application/loads want.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,247 ✭✭✭✭✭
    fastline said:
    ........I am curious what transformer you are using?  I was trying to get from Outback if I MUST have 120/240V connected at the generator?  I would be very happy to just connect a 240V transformer, feed 240V to the inverter for 240V support on the line, and let 120V loads come off the inverter.  
    It was a one-of ebay special.   115# of 480V - 240 transformer 6KVA rated.  I tied into the copper wound (aluminium windings are garbage) 240V CT and the inverter gen is just fine.   
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

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