Inverter Mystery

Lucas61

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Mine does the same, but I've always thought it's a precautionary feature that happens every time there is a momentary glitch in street power.
I say this because if the power goes for a few minutes when it comes back the charger kicks in for a few seconds and the fan runs for a few seconds.
Glad to hear that I'm not alone. So far two have suggested that the inverter is maintaining a battery float charge.
 

Lucas61

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I might continue being wrong, but:



So first of all, you cannot compare inverter batteries and AA batteries, as the structure is different (please refer to the table in the Wikipedia article).

For gel batteries, found the below, so it should draw less than with lead-acid one:


As said, we don't have an inverter at this time, but when we had, as far as I recall, even with new batteries, it behaved exactly like you're describing... Of course, that was years ago so technology might have changed...
Thanks for this further information and clarification. Glad to hear that you experienced the same.
 

josh2203

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Glad to hear that I'm not alone. So far two have suggested that the inverter is maintaining a battery float charge.
Sorry if I wasn't clear, but I was referring to the exact same thing... English is not my mother tongue, so to be honest, I had no idea it was called float charging... Hence "maintenance"...

I recently had to check car battery chargers (for storage) so I vaguely recalled the term from there as well...
 

Lucas61

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Sorry if I wasn't clear, but I was referring to the exact same thing... English is not my mother tongue, so to be honest, I had no idea it was called float charging... Hence "maintenance"...

I recently had to check car battery chargers (for storage) so I vaguely recalled the term from there as well...
English IS my mother tongue and I, too, did not understand "float charging"!
 

JD Jones

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You may not be an expert but you know a lot and I do not understand everything that you have explained. However, if it is true what you say here, this is the best explanation that I have heard in this thread: " . . . these inverters automatically cycle themselves to adjust or maintain a floating charge in the batteries." I'm not sure what is meant by "floating" charge. Really, I need to know if my new inverter has a problem or whether what I have described is a normal function. According to your explanation, it is a normal function. Staff at the Powertek office are very helpful and they have tech support. I will call them. Meanwhile, I thought that with the experience of everyone here at the forum, that someone would be able to explain this. I think that your explanation comes closes to what may be happening.

The manual is in English and supplies no information on this topic. Re: recharge amp setting, etc. this is a little beyond my understanding. I kind of get it but not enough to act on it. Still the question remains: If mains power is on and the battery is 100% charged, what work is the inverter doing. Your answer is that it is maintaining a floating charge in the batteries. I need to confirm if this is the case or if it is something else.

My manual has a chart that shows what the different dipswitches are for and how each can be set? It is also in English. Those dipswitches are used to set the charge rate you prefer. I have mine set at 10% (the lowest) and the fan still comes on whenever it goes into charge mode.
Can you tell me the model of your charger?
 

windeguy

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@ windeguy, see @ Cdn_Gringo. You both are in agreement on the float mode function and you (plural) are the only ones in this thread who have indicated
this function. The 400 watts load of the inverter, I calculated from one of the LED information display panels. During the day we were running 250 watts load. When the inverter kicked in it was indicated 650 watts load. Therefore, the inverter was drawing 400 watts.

There is a lot more that is working in the inverter than just the fans but what is working, that is the mystery.
The inverter should not be drawing 400 watts if the batteries are fully charged.

It is possible you are somehow reading the power being used in your house, , but since I have never heard of the inverter you purchased, without a manual, I cannot tell if that is what you are seeing. Three stage inverters go through three states, bulk, absorption and float. In float, very little power is use by the inverter.

My inverters never "cycle themsleves" as CdnGringo mentioned since they don't have that feature. Once they are in float, they just stay in float until the power goes off and they switch to inverter mode, etc...
 

cavok

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It's not the fans drawiing 400 watts; it's the running of the entire inverter, including fans, that draws 400 watts. You can hear a humming from the machine. There's more going on than just the fans spinning up. Exactly what components are "running" and what their functions are, I don't know.
Have you tried disconnecting the battery when checking this? It's hard to believe the inverter is consuming 400 watts of power(?).
 

PICHARDO

One Dominican at a time, please!
May 15, 2003
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Hello All,

I hope everyone is happy and safe.

Before I bought an inverter, I had questions. Now that I bought an inverter, I have questions. LOL!

Really, there's only one that completely stumps me and that I can't figure out AT ALL.

My machine is a Powertek with indicator lights and LED panels with a 12vdc gel battery.

Here's what I can't figure out:

When the mains power is ON and the battery is 100% charged (and not charging), sometimes the machine runs, draws 400 watts, fans spinning up, etc.

What the hell is the machine doing? It seems to me that it has only two things to do: 1. Charge the battery, 2. Convert AC to DC when the mains power goes out.
However, there is a #3 that the machine is doing and I have no idea what that is . . .
Your inversor is equipped with a line conditioner. This is a permanent active duty and will compensate for drops/surges in the supply on a real time basis.
When active and conditioning, the whole thing is at work. It will show it’s still on street power and battery not engaged because it’s how it works.
Power is supplemented or restricted based on supply.
The load is not enough to kick in the full inversor batteries. If it did, power from street would be switch to your gels 100%.

ThIs only means your inversor is decent and up to date.
 

Lucas61

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Maintenance / float mode and sulfation:

I've seen systems where they can be quite noisy (fans going and batteries bubbling) while doing it:
Sulfation due to lead batteries errors in maintenance does not apply to me as my battery is a gel non-maintenance battery (closed system). The "floating charge" as others have suggested, may be relevant. Thanks for these links.
 
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XTraveller

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Your inversor is equipped with a line conditioner. This is a permanent active duty and will compensate for drops/surges in the supply on a real time basis.
When active and conditioning, the whole thing is at work. It will show it’s still on street power and battery not engaged because it’s how it works.
Power is supplemented or restricted based on supply.
The load is not enough to kick in the full inversor batteries. If it did, power from street would be switch to your gels 100%.

ThIs only means your inversor is decent and up to date.
Difficult to explain as I wrote in post #10 and similar to what Pichardo wrote.

I think that when you have AC from the street your inverter is feeding its load thru a contactor(switch) that sends Ac from the street to what ever is connect to the output of the inverter. When AC from the street is lost then the contactor switches and now feeds the inverter load from the Batteries. Easy enough to test just disconnect what ever your inverter feeds. I mean like shut off lights and unplug what ever your inverter feed. If I am right then the load you read should drop if not charging the batteries.

Note very important to set the dip switches on your inverter to be adjusted to the type of batteries you are using. You need the specification of you Gel batteries if the dip switches are not set up right your batteries will not last or may even explode.

for example on Lead Acid Batteries the float voltage must be 2.17v per cell (on 12volt system its 2.17x6= 13.02 volts) and the equalized voltage (maybe called maintenance voltage its 2.33v per cell (on 12volts system its 2.33x6=13.98volts) This is a standard for Deep cycle Lead Acid Batteries. I do not know the standards for Gel Batteries.

Their should be others dip switch to set charging capacity and maybe even cutoff voltage and alarms. This is a problem here many under qualified installers do not understand these settings and you end up with poor performance and shorter battery life.

You manual should have all the explanation on each dip switches. You are lucky you have the manual most under qualified installer throws it in the garbage with the box. But you need to know the specification of your batteries.

Good luck please let us know if you disconnect the load on the output of the inverter if the load reading you take drops.....
 

Lucas61

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Difficult to explain as I wrote in post #10 and similar to what Pichardo wrote.

I think that when you have AC from the street your inverter is feeding its load thru a contactor(switch) that sends Ac from the street to what ever is connect to the output of the inverter. When AC from the street is lost then the contactor switches and now feeds the inverter load from the Batteries. Easy enough to test just disconnect what ever your inverter feeds. I mean like shut off lights and unplug what ever your inverter feed. If I am right then the load you read should drop if not charging the batteries.

Note very important to set the dip switches on your inverter to be adjusted to the type of batteries you are using. You need the specification of you Gel batteries if the dip switches are not set up right your batteries will not last or may even explode.

for example on Lead Acid Batteries the float voltage must be 2.17v per cell (on 12volt system its 2.17x6= 13.02 volts) and the equalized voltage (maybe called maintenance voltage its 2.33v per cell (on 12volts system its 2.33x6=13.98volts) This is a standard for Deep cycle Lead Acid Batteries. I do not know the standards for Gel Batteries.

Their should be others dip switch to set charging capacity and maybe even cutoff voltage and alarms. This is a problem here many under qualified installers do not understand these settings and you end up with poor performance and shorter battery life.

You manual should have all the explanation on each dip switches. You are lucky you have the manual most under qualified installer throws it in the garbage with the box. But you need to know the specification of your batteries.

Good luck please let us know if you disconnect the load on the output of the inverter if the load reading you take drops.....
Thank you for this. I don't understand everything you said but I do understand that my unit does not have mechanical dip switches. I selected gel battery digitally, entering in the program section of the menu. So at least I know this is not an issue.
 

XTraveller

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Thank you for this. I don't understand everything you said but I do understand that my unit does not have mechanical dip switches. I selected gel battery digitally, entering in the program section of the menu. So at least I know this is not an issue.
Its good your inverter is set up for Gel Batteries.

What I am trying to explain to you about the 400w load. To say it simple When you have AC from the Street for example if your inverter supplies AC to lights then this Ac (from the street) goes straight thru the inverter to the lights. This may be the load indication you are reading.

To prove what I am saying when you have AC from the street and the batteries are fully charge just shut off what ever the inverter supplies (in my example if the inverter supplies the lights turn them off, with the light switch) you should see a smaller load.

Try it let us Know?
 

Lucas61

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Its good your inverter is set up for Gel Batteries.

What I am trying to explain to you about the 400w load. To say it simple When you have AC from the Street for example if your inverter supplies AC to lights then this Ac (from the street) goes straight thru the inverter to the lights. This may be the load indication you are reading.

To prove what I am saying when you have AC from the street and the batteries are fully charge just shut off what ever the inverter supplies (in my example if the inverter supplies the lights turn them off, with the light switch) you should see a smaller load.

Try it let us Know?
The 400 watts is clearly the load of the inverter when it is working and that is ALWAYS when the electricity from the manis is ON. I can calculate that 400 watt inverter load from the display. If I am normally at 250 watts and the inverter is on but not running and then the inverter turns on and is doing work (but still there is power from the mains) and the inverter reads 650 watts, then 650-250 = 400, so I can calulate the inverter load.

Some points:
1. Since I bought this new inverter, the electricity has never gone off, so this inverter has never yet been tested in a real life situation,
2. Regarding not understanding what the inverter is doing when it is running and pulling 400 watts and the power has NOT gone out, most people seem to say that this is a "floating charge." The bottom line is I want to know if this is normal or if something is wrong with my (new) inverter.
3. I don't understand the wiring that you reference: breaker < inverter < lights??
 

Lucas61

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A little off topic. You just installed the new inverter? How much has your electric bill gone up with it? Just to keep batteey.charged and fan going? Just wondering.
The inverter is too new to say if the electric bill has gone up. Haven't seen the new electric bill yet since the inverter was installed. If it does go up, I think it will be negligible. I am estimating that the inverter pulls 400 watts for a maximum of about two-three hours per day. Again, when it is doing that work, it is going from stand-by power on to full power on. I still don't know exactly what it is doing or if what it is doing is normal as this occurs when we have full power from the street and the inverter's battery is fully charged. The best explanation I hear here from members is that this is a function called "floating charge."
 
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windeguy

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A float charge of 400 watts would fry your batteries.

The only guess I have on this is that the 400 watts is what is powering your house and your inverter has a way to measure that as it passes through the inverter.

No inverter should be using 400 watts with the batteries topped off in float mode. Not even close unless something is not working properly. Even doing this on a regular daily basis for a few hours is not a good thing for it to do.

If you turn off or unplug things in your house, does that 400 watts drop down as each item is turned off?
 

Lucas61

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Sure, it drops down. For example a fan on medium uses 40 watts (I have tested many items in the house). So:
240 watts present load
640 present load plus inverter full on (240 = 400)
600 when fan turned off
 

cavok

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Have you tried disconnecting the battery to rule out any of that power going to the battery?
 

Lucas61

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Have you tried disconnecting the battery to rule out any of that power going to the battery?
Don't want to mess with it. I need to find someone to call to find out if this is normal. The seller is equivocal. I can pay for someone to come and evaluate it. But why don't they just tell me if this is supposed to be happening or not?