xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

First post here; I have been scouring this forum for info and i'm still torn on whether i should go with a xantrex XW6048 or dual Outback setup with or without transformer. (i'm building an off-grid system) I have a 1/2hp 240VAC well pump, a 1hp 240VAC irrigation pump (which i manually turn on (w/ timers actually at night), and use modest shop tools, biggest being a 1 horse table saw and a small arc welder 240AC. My main concern with the Outback is price. Also, i'm not sure about running stacked inverters w/out a transformer. I know that the xantrex sw plus had issues, and i'm gathering that xantrex customer service overall is not the best. Does the xw series have a good track record? Is Xantrex customer service as bad as some discussions indicate? Is the life expectancy better or worse with the outbacks vs. the xantrex? Also, i would like to get any advice on whether i should use an auto-transformer on a stacked outback setup given i have some relatively larg-ish 240 loads. BTW, i don't need auto gen start feature and i will be doing my own install. Any help would be appreciated.

Feral

Comments

  • BrockBrock Solar Expert Posts: 633 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    I think both make great inverters, but the XW6048 would work right out of the box. It puts out 120/240 standard. I haven’t had any issues with ours and like the way it performs. I don't know, but I would assume the loss with dual outback’s and a transformer would be considerably more at idle than the XW6048.
    3kw solar PV, 8 L16's, xw 5548, Honda eu2000i, iota DLS-54-13, Leaf EV, 4 ton horizontal geothermal, grid tied - Green Bay, WI
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Feral,

    You have a couple of configuration options with the OutBack inverters for your off-grid application.

    One option is sealed or vented inverters. The sealed inverters are handy if they’re installed in a “hostile” environment. My sealed FX2524T inverter/charger is installed in my garage, where my older son and I also do a bit of wood- and/or metal work now and then, and dust and junk in the air is not an issue.

    Our largest sealed inverter, the FX3048T, is rated at 3,000 VA continuous. The largest vented inverter, the VFX3648, is rated at 3,600 VA continuous. Here’s a link to additional specs: http://www.outbackpower.com/products/sinewave_inverter/off_grid/

    You also have a couple of stacking choices. “Series” stacking provides for two 120 VAC hot legs to make 120/240. This configuration might work well for you, as you could use one inverter to meet your 120 VAC loads (assuming they’re all on the one hot leg), and only turn on the second inverter to use both inverters to meet 240 VAC load requirements. You could turn on the second inverter manually when you need it, or have it operate in “search mode” to turn on when it senses a load. Tare loss in search mode is typically very low. This configuration does not use an auto-transformer.

    “OutBack” stacking requires an autotransformer between the two inverters’ outputs. The master inverter would provide power for all 120 VAC and 240 VAC loads until its output reaches ~12 A AC. At that point, the master would signal the second inverter to turn on and help with 120 and/or 240 VAC loads. This one’s a toss up, as the transformer’s tare loss is about the same as the second inverter’s power saving while in sleep mode.

    Either way, a stacked pair would be rated at 6,000 VA (the sealed models) or 7,200 VA (the vented models).

    HTH,

    Jim Goodnight
    “crewzer”
    Eastern Regional Sales Manager
    OutBack Power Systems
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Feral,

    There is no doubt that Outback online support is better. Xantrex just does not want to "be on the web" The telephone and direct email to [email protected] is all they seem to care about.

    I have 3 Outback systems installed from around 2004 but I have always picked an SW or now XW if I knew the customer had loads that required huge surge capability. Specsmanship is in how long you can supply the surge and not damage the inverter. Xantrex has always been the best and it is the reason they weigh over 2 times what an Outback unit does.

    The XW will allow you to do any updates yourself and not have to send the unit back to Outback. You can also run a wireless network to you computer.

    The stacking and external transformer is old news. Why would you want to bother with that. Xantrex wins or XW. The XWCC is also much better in my opinion.

    Both are great companies it just depends what you want.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    I will second the all in one inverter it is nice to have what you need and not have so many little pieces to worry about. I have to step up and give Xantrex there due they got it right.
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Have you considered the SMA Sunny Island 5048? 5kW nominal output, 8kW peak, parallelable into 60kW configuration and works out the box with Sunny Boy and Windy Boy inverters?
    Also supports paralleling with a generator so that you can add the generator output to that of the inverter (I know the outbacks can't do this, don't know about xantrex). Another cute feature is that you can remove 3 x 2 volt cell from the 48V bank and it will still work fine (handy for repairs and fault finding).

    I don't know what the SMA pricing is like in the US, but in Europe the 5kW Sunny Island is less costly than 2 Outbacks.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,212 admin
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Here is SMA's world site for the SI 5048/5048u (u for US?).

    And their US/North American site.

    SMA is pretty popular here for their Grid Tied Inverter systems...

    The Xantrex XW 6048 (6kw) 120/240 VAC inverter looks to be ~$3,300... The SMA 5048u is ~$5,200...

    An advantage for the Xantrex XW is that, for use in the US, we typically have 120/240 VAC circuitry in our home (basically, a 240 VAC transformer with a center tap to get two legs of 120 VAC) and the Xantrex supports this configuration without additional components.

    The SMA 5048u version appears to be 120 VAC only. Would probably need an external transformer to get 240 VAC.

    I would guess--for "smaller" applications with a "central" power plant--the Xantrex has advantages of price and US/North American 120/240 VAC support.

    If you needed a "distributed" form of solar power plant (say a local, off grid, community where everyone ties their homes together) -- the SMA may work better--but the limitation to 120 VAC (US limitation) would appear to require the addition of 120/240 VAC step up transformers for wiring into standard power systems.

    You should to talk with a retailer (like NAWS) to plan out the SMA system based on your needs.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • crewzercrewzer Registered Users, Solar Expert Posts: 1,832 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please
    I have 3 Outback systems installed from around 2004 but I have always picked an SW or now XW if I knew the customer had loads that required huge surge capability. Specsmanship is in how long you can supply the surge and not damage the inverter. Xantrex has always been the best and it is the reason they weigh over 2 times what an Outback unit does.
    Well, this statement probably deserves some objective clarification.

    A Xantrex XW6048 is rated for 6,000 W of 120/240 VAC, and it weighs 121.7 lbs. A pair of OutBack FX3048T’s are rated for 6,000 W of 120/240 VAC, and together they weigh 112 lbs. The difference is ~8%, not >50% as suggested.

    The 6048 is rated to supply a 12,000 W surge for 10 seconds. The OutBack 3038 pair is rated for 9,600 W for 5 seconds. The former number is indeed higher, but I’m not that there’s a practical advantage. Either way, the battery bank also has to be able to meet the surge demand. So, if one needs the higher surge capacity, make sure the battery bank is big enough and healthy enough to meet the higher demand.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please
    crewzer wrote: »
    Well, this statement probably deserves some objective clarification.


    The 6048 is rated to supply a 12,000 W surge for 10 seconds. The OutBack 3038 pair is rated for 9,600 W for 5 seconds. The former number is indeed higher, but I’m not that there’s a practical advantage. Either way, the battery bank also has to be able to meet the surge demand. So, if one needs the higher surge capacity, make sure the battery bank is big enough and healthy enough to meet the higher demand.

    HTH,
    Jim / crewzer

    My only objective is to start the load with the best equipment available. I certainly do not have a paycheck coming from this. If you have deep well pumps the practical advantage here is your inverter surviving the surges and even worse surviving when the battery bank is not healthy enough out here in the real world.
    The old SW's and SW+'s were twice the weight and it is amazing that the XW has kept the weight where it is considering it's ability. Please build something better !

    For now if this aspect is important it is a no brainer!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 720 ✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    You just cant go wrong with the Xantrex unit. A side benefit is you can grid tie with it if you ever feel the need. You will be happier with the battery charger as well
  • JESSICAJESSICA Solar Expert Posts: 289 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    When my small EXELTECH failed, I decided I should buy a better and bigger inverter. After two or three hours searching and reading, I knew I had only two options: Xantrex or Outback. So I decided to do a very simple experiment: I pretended I had a Xantrex Prosine 1.8 that had stopped working, and I emailed the company asking for help. After six (6) emails, Xantrex NEVER answered. Then I did the same thing, this time as if I had an fx2524 t, from Outback; my email was answered IN LESS THAN 20 MINUTES. When your inverter is working right, nobody needs the manufacturer, but when it fails, that’s when you really need fast and reliable customer support. I did not buy a new inverter, because the folks at exeltech replaced my faulty unit (Thanks to some Matilda Jaggerman, at customer service there.) But, humbly, I recommend you perform the same experiment. It will give you peace of mind just to know that the manufacturer will help you when the need comes.

    [I live in Puerto Rico. Absolutely no relation to either company.]
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,462 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please
    a 1hp 240VAC irrigation pump (which i manually turn on (w/ timers actually at night),

    Wow - do you have a battery bank to feed that with ? What's your charging source?

    Will the well pump be running at the same time ?

    Would you like a generator to run the water pump instead of electric, or get
    a diesel water pump ?


    And what's with running a arc welder off an inverter, I wonder if you should isolate it with a transformer, to keep some of the nastier surges off the inverter. (and I wonder what a good isolation transformer will cost !)
    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 ,

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Mike,
    It sure would be nice if the OP's came back, say even half the time wouldn't it?
    The surge is awesome on something like the OP's pump. What many people do not realize is what that surge is like with low batteries. Power to the load is the same but with low DC in the output stage has to increase current. Being better at that aspect is where you get longevity or the ability to survive this daily. As they say "we have the best service in the industry until someone builds one that does not need service"

    I really could care less what people besides my clients buy and I certainly try and buy what I "think" is best for the price. Tell me I am wrong and I will try and do better. If I were down in central america or places outside reasonable telephone costs I definately would try and use Outback as they are great with e-mail on their forum. I have no problem with X on the telephone and e-mail to customer support has always worked for me. The X forum is bad and help is as you know..... To be fair X is a huge corporation and alot of big companies are bad on the internet.

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

  • boBboB Solar Expert Posts: 1,003 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please
    mike90045 wrote: »
    And what's with running a arc welder off an inverter, I wonder if you should isolate it with a transformer, to keep some of the nastier surges off the inverter. (and I wonder what a good isolation transformer will cost !)

    I know someone with a stacked pair of OutBack VFX's (48V) that runs an arc welder with absolutely no problems. Lights don't even flicker much, if at all. They're regulation is plenty fast enough.

    As for transformers, these inverters already have a large transformer in them, isolating the DC side from the AC side. A transformer won't really keep surges away though, so I would not think you would want to add another one. They're designed with low series (leakage) inductance in mind, normally.

    boB
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Im an X fan but they have no excuse for not providing E lectronic support, Outback help and advise quickly in all formats, so why cant a big Corporation like Schnieder/X move up to the real world, if they think they are going to survive in a greater than now attitude , hmm ? Well the new XW system is the bees knees at the mo but I dont expect OB or others will allow this to rest,

    Plus X has made a error they no longer provide a lower level of power combi unit that can supply a small cottage or two person house which can survive on a 1500 / 2000 w system . Im aware of of US power usage but the smaller market in the ROTW need a smaller combi unit with gen friendly PFC charger that is competitive in price if you guys are not careful some one else will steal your market.


    Magnum are probably looking at this seriously,

    Eastern companies are catching up fast but they havent got to grasp with quality and service backup and warranty but when they do euro and US manufacturers will be in dire striaghts, OB offers an International warranty X who knows ? and Magnum need to dip there toes in the rest of the world at am ore serious level.

    The european market is well behind technology in the American market but Euro Players like Studer and others are catching up fast.

    With xantrex now owned by European bosses they might be the first to reaLIZE a competitive world market is the way forward.

    PS When will OB announce its new PFC combi unit. You need it


    Thanks for the rant

    Nigel
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    As this is a USA based forum I apologise for my euro slant/rant but you are the leaders in Off Grid technology IMHO and you need to apply your technology across the globe and protect it. I cant believe how MPPT technology has been hijaked across the globe without protecting its creators , I know we live in a very small communitity but its getting bigger, boB and Robin if your new unit especialiy for Wind Turbines is as good as HalfCrazy says get it protected, sos too much vino off too bed .

    Love the forum Mods go to work :p
  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Ive used my SW3024E with an arc welder great until i got the stick stuck just showed over current fault , but I chose to use a generator for later jobs as a $500 genset is a lot easier on the wallet that a $3000 new inverter , look after your inverter ;)
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,462 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please
    boB wrote: »
    I know someone with a stacked pair of OutBack VFX's (48V) that runs an arc welder with absolutely no problems. Lights don't even flicker much, if at all. They're regulation is plenty fast enough.

    As for transformers, these inverters already have a large transformer in them, isolating the DC side from the AC side. A transformer won't really keep surges away though, so I would not think you would want to add another one. They're designed with low series (leakage) inductance in mind, normally.

    boB

    I'm thinking of a layer of isolation for high frequency spikes which aren't good for any inverter, regardless of how much iron is in it. I guess it's like mod sine inverters, you never know what's going to blow. I figure an isolation transformer is cheap insurance, for a layer of protection, and only a couple % losses involved at high loads.
    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 ,

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    I tell my customers to have a spare inverter to run any brand of inverter with arc welding. Use a generator like all the white trucks you see going down the roads!
    Why in the world anyone offgrid would want to manage the risk of losing their power system is beyond me. You just "know" if it fails, it will be at night in a snowstorm where you can't go anywhere for 2 days.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,212 admin
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Look for posts from user "Adas"... He is located in Hawaii and (from what I have read) uses arc welders on inexpensive (and large) MSW inverters successfully.

    Perhaps you can PM him with questions if he does not reply here.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    Bill,
    I am very opinionated so I won't be checking with "some guy in Hawaii. "My bias against arc welding is from "seeing with my own eyes" It has happened enough that I just can't see doing stuff like that with a homes source of power.

    The classic forum help question from a non functioning inverter is. What was the last thing you were doing before your failure?
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa/Yosemite CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail [email protected]

  • nigtomdawnigtomdaw Solar Expert Posts: 705 ✭✭
    Re: xantrex vs. outback: Need Advice, please

    I concur with Sparky leave your inverter to invert ;) buy other
    gear to weld or pay big bills
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