Need an inverter system

Cdn_Gringo

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Apr 29, 2014
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After three years of enjoying backup electricity supplied by a generator that I did not have to maintain, that option is coming to an end.

I remember paying a lot for a sine wave inverter 4 years ago but haven't kept up with the various retailers, costs and customer recommendations.

I have yet to figure how big an inverter is needed or how many batteries (at least 4 probably 8) but now is a good time to start researching where to buy, what to buy. I have an electrician to do the installation already but need some recommendations from those who have had good experiences with quality equipment and service from a local retailer.

Closer to Sosua is better but Puerto Plata to Cabarete would do. Prefer a sine wave model as opposed to the standard cheaper square wave inverter.

Recommendations will be appreciated. Thanks.
 

Cdn_Gringo

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Apr 29, 2014
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Terramar has a generator that one pays dearly for, I just happen to be moving somewhere else that does not have a backup system of any kind in place.
 

kg4jxt

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Mar 28, 2014
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About five years ago, I purchased a "Sinewave" pure-sine-wave inverter at Luis Gomez in Santiago for about $RD 40k as I recall. Then about three years ago it died and I took it back to Luis Gomez for repair. Since repair was not going to be same-day (nor possibly even same-week), I elected to buy a new and connect the repaired unit as a spare. I am 100% off grid for electricity so no inverter means no refrigerator and bailing water from the cistern. Oh, and this and subsequent prices are all for 3.5kW true-sine inverters running on 24VDC, with integral battery chargers.

The new inverter was a Trace, and it has mostly been satisfactory. I bought it at La Sirena for -again!- $RD 40k. The repaired Sinewave unit was only used to assist with charging on the rare occasions I fire up the back-up generator and mounted parallel to the new Trace with a double-pole-double-throw knife switch so I could select which inverter delivers output to the house. Recently when I checked it for AC output, I discovered that the repairs by Luis Gomez had not held and it would not invert (though it still charges the batteries). Becoming increasingly skeptical of Luis Gomez's repair shop quality, I sought other repair options. There is a shop called Martin Electronics near Trace off Bartolomo Colon in Santiago. They only service the brand they sell (M-something, which I never heard of). I checked with Trace and they only service Trace brand. The technician at Trace was kind enough to direct me to Metrotone Electronics on Casa Los Padres and they are authorized distributor for Sinewave, but would have to send my older model to the factory in Mao for service. After a week waiting for their call to give me a repair presupuesto, I called them and learned that the factory does not deign to service older models(!). A new Sinewave inverter at Metrotone would cost $RD 30k - but why would I buy it since they don't repair their own products, and I already know they are prone to need service. So maybe I should ante up and buy quality. Retecsa (on Sabana Larga downtown Santiago) sells Outback inverters and they just quoted $RD 110k.

Since the Trace inverter is working fine at the moment, I am loth to part with $RD 110k for a spare part - actually I am loth to depart with 110k pretty much any time, now that I think about it. I wonder if there is a good quality inverter other than Outback at a more affordable price anywhere on the north coast.
 

kg4jxt

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Mar 28, 2014
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Regarding batteries, I would say that an oversized bank is better than an undersized one. I use 20 6V Trojan batteries. I like them because they stamp a code on the negative terminal with the "new" date - they post date them a month or so. The code is a letter and a number with the letters A, B, C etc. corresponding to Jan., Feb., Mar. etc. and the number being the last digit of the year. I just bought a battery from a local distributor marked with E9 (May 2019) even though it is still only mid-April. On average I have been getting seven years of life from Trojans despite my evil ways: I only replace individual batteries when they go bad, not the whole bank, and I mix capacities - some are Trojan Black and some are Trojan Red (which have at least 10% more storage capacity). I do keep them filled with distilled water and I check specific gravity in each cell every 60 days. In fact, that is how I decide there is a problem - if one cell in a battery is significantly lower gravity than the other two cells even after shock-treatment.

I connect my bank series-parallel: the batteries are in series to make 24V, and paralleled at each "step" so cross-connected at 6V, 12V and 18V in addition to the "ends".

Other brands of batteries might do as well, but batteries begin to sulfate as they self-discharge in storage. Without a marking of manufacture date, you have no way to know how long the batteries have been in stock. La Sirena sells batteries from the pallet and used to have good turnover so their store on the Malecon in Puerto Plata in particular always seemed to have batteries that were fresh (could still be the case, but I have not been there in a couple of years). As the national grid status has graudally improved, demand for batteries has gradually diminished and it is becoming harder to find fresh batteries around Santiago. Ochoa in Santiago (on Ave. Imbert) seems to keep a reasonably fresh stock. Luis Gomez on 27Feb used to, but last time I checked there the batteries were a couple of months old.
 

windeguy

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Jul 10, 2004
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kg4jxt. Keep in mind Trojan does not make a "black" battery. They do make the red ones. I called Trojan to confirm this. Who actually makes them? I have no idea. There have been reports of counterfeit Trojan T105 red batteries as well.

Mixing banks of different batteries, or even the same ones of different ages may not work well. Normally it does not.

Also keep in mind that TRACE was acquired by Xantrex and then Xantrex was acquired by Scnheider. There have not been actual TRACE inverter chargers made for years. You might have a new old stock unit or one that is just labelled TRACE. TRACE also never made batteries, but there are plenty of TRACE batteries in the DR. Hmmm.

Megatone in Puerto Plata does sell a SINE wave inverter of their own branding and they also have people that repair them.
 

Cdn_Gringo

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Apr 29, 2014
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I beleive the last inverter I purchased several years ago was Megatone from the shop in Puerto Plata just up from and opposite the main Claro office. I suspect I'll be headed back there this time as I haven't heard of anywhere else closer.
 

kg4jxt

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Mar 28, 2014
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I refer to the Black as Trojan because that is how they're marked, and they do have the date marking which has seemed to correspond to when they first arrived in local stores. They have held up as well as red Trojan batteries for a 20% cost savings, albeit their capacity may be less. But over the past year, I have not seen them as current-dated and I have been buying the red batteries instead.

You are right about mixing banks; I think when there is a battery that has a little lower capacity because of brand difference or just because of age, the higher capacity batteries around it tend to never quite reach full charge because the low-capacity unit reaches high voltage sooner and "fools" the charger. But I think changing a whole bank because of one weak battery is pretty wasteful; especially with a large bank. So I try to shuffle the batteries around and keep all five gangs of four batteries about even with age so maybe none of the newer batteries are being too abused.

At Megatone in Santiago, they were also set up for doing repairs; but not for an older unit. They said it would have to go to the factory but then they said the factory wouldn't repair it. I am guessing they needed an old card and have depleted their stock. They did not even offer to upgrade it. I was not too impressed.

I hate to go to Puerto Plata. Too many motos to dodge! LOL

Thanks for the comments windeguy!
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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I beleive the last inverter I purchased several years ago was Megatone from the shop in Puerto Plata just up from and opposite the main Claro office. I suspect I'll be headed back there this time as I haven't heard of anywhere else closer.
My 24v/3.5kw inverter from Megatone is now 10 years old and still runs perfectly. There has never been a glitch.
 

kg4jxt

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Mar 28, 2014
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Trojan Battery Response 16 April 2019

Dear kg4jxt:

Thank you for submitting your question regarding Technical - Battery.

Based on your comments below:

I have a battery bank of 6V FLA batteries marked as "The Black" by Trojan Battery Company . . .they are black case, with the embossed Trojan logo and the Trojan name and "made in USA" on the label; but I can find no technical specifications on your website [are they really Trojans]?

Below is Trojan Battery's response:

We do make a "Black Box" battery for our Master Distributors. This battery is a cheaper version of our maroon color battery. This battery was made in our manufacturing facility on the same production line as the maroon batteries. No, you will not find any information on these batteries on our website.

If you have additional comments or questions, please contact me at the information below.

Sincerely,

James M. Cobb
Technical Support Engineer
Trojan Battery Company
jcobb@trojanbattery.com
678-518-7319
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
41,949
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Interesting. When I contacted them some years ago, they told me they did not make a black battery at Trojan. So, they lied. Interesting if the battery is made on the same line as the maroon battery, that it has a lower AH rating.
 

lifeisgreat

Enjoying Life
May 7, 2016
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I have an old trace inverter with 4 Trojans batteries 6volt ,I’ve been wanting to replace the old trace but it won’t die...4 batteries is more then enough for my area , mostly scheduled power outages odd truck driver hits pole or wires
 

kg4jxt

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Mar 28, 2014
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certainly the retail price is lower. I think I once saw that they are lower-capacity, but I don't notice any weight difference from the red ones. The cell caps are different: individual caps for the red but a single three-plug bar for the black. Both are marked on the negative terminal with date-code in the same way. I have not noticed any difference in life-expectancy - but I don't have a statistically significant sample set (thank god).
 

lifeisgreat

Enjoying Life
May 7, 2016
3,269
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kg4jxt. Keep in mind Trojan does not make a "black" battery. They do make the red ones. I called Trojan to confirm this. Who actually makes them? I have no idea. There have been reports of counterfeit Trojan T105 red batteries as well.

Mixing banks of different batteries, or even the same ones of different ages may not work well. Normally it does not.

Also keep in mind that TRACE was acquired by Xantrex and then Xantrex was acquired by Scnheider. There have not been actual TRACE inverter chargers made for years. You might have a new old stock unit or one that is just labelled TRACE. TRACE also never made batteries, but there are plenty of TRACE batteries in the DR. Hmmm.

Megatone in Puerto Plata does sell a SINE wave inverter of their own branding and they also have people that repair them.

I seen a trace inverter in La Sirena last yr
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
41,949
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I seen a trace inverter in La Sirena last yr

It was either new old stock or it was someone using the name TRACE.
The US version of TRACE has not been around for years since Xantrex bought them and then Schneider bought Xantrex.
 

Tom Gato

Member
Oct 1, 2013
26
0
6
Regarding batteries, I would say that an oversized bank is better than an undersized one. I use 20 6V Trojan batteries. I like them because they stamp a code on the negative terminal with the "new" date - they post date them a month or so. The code is a letter and a number with the letters A, B, C etc. corresponding to Jan., Feb., Mar. etc. and the number being the last digit of the year. I just bought a battery from a local distributor marked with E9 (May 2019) even though it is still only mid-April. On average I have been getting seven years of life from Trojans despite my evil ways: I only replace individual batteries when they go bad, not the whole bank, and I mix capacities - some are Trojan Black and some are Trojan Red (which have at least 10% more storage capacity). I do keep them filled with distilled water and I check specific gravity in each cell every 60 days. In fact, that is how I decide there is a problem - if one cell in a battery is significantly lower gravity than the other two cells even after shock-treatment.

I connect my bank series-parallel: the batteries are in series to make 24V, and paralleled at each "step" so cross-connected at 6V, 12V and 18V in addition to the "ends".

Other brands of batteries might do as well, but batteries begin to sulfate as they self-discharge in storage. Without a marking of manufacture date, you have no way to know how long the batteries have been in stock. La Sirena sells batteries from the pallet and used to have good turnover so their store on the Malecon in Puerto Plata in particular always seemed to have batteries that were fresh (could still be the case, but I have not been there in a couple of years). As the national grid status has graudally improved, demand for batteries has gradually diminished and it is becoming harder to find fresh batteries around Santiago. Ochoa in Santiago (on Ave. Imbert) seems to keep a reasonably fresh stock. Luis Gomez on 27Feb used to, but last time I checked there the batteries were a couple of months old.

I've always disliked the concept of replacing all batteries in a bank when only one is defective. Although I've followed this procedure for years. Are all 20 batteries you have in 5 banks being charged by one inverter / charger?
I had considered using a a marine selector switch to alternate charging between the different aged banks. Since the area I'm in has power 12hours or less a day there isn't enough time to fully charge the banks.
Presently I use two inverters one 3.5 and another 1,5...lighting connected to 1.5 all others 3.5...4 6v. 235 amp batteries each...after reading your post I'm considering tying the 8 together.