When the Inverter Fails

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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Got your attention, huh? Really the title should be "When the Inverter Runs Out of Battery.";)

We're fortunate to live in a "24 Hour Zone." :cheeky: That means we have some power during any given "24 Hour" period. Seriously, we lose Edenorte power occasionally. No problem, the inverter picks up the slack. We have everything in the house except water heater, and 220v water pump and bedroom a/c running off the 3500w inverter and 4 batteries.

It works well. However, on 6 occasions in 2 years the power has been off long enough to run out of battery. For some reason this has been going into the evening. On these occasions I've cranked up the portable 3500w gas genset (same size as the inverter) I've had, plugged in a mass of HD extension cords and house gang plugs/ surge suppressors/extension cords, disconnect electronics, plug them back into the mass of wires and gang plugs and run lamps and electronics. It works as a temporary solution but rather cumbersome and we can't run everything as we want. It's a hassle that works semi-OK. (Yes, yes, I know genset and inverter power is dirty and may damage sensitive electronics...)

So this morning I had our electrician come out and install a much simpler and thorough solution to maximize the use of the genset on the rare times we lose Edenorte power long enough to drain the inverter batteries. I hardwired a cord to temporarily connect the inverter to the generator. When the batteries get nearly drained and the power is still out, I simply move the genset 4 feet, plug a custom cord into it, start the genset and flip a switch next to the inverter, and...VOILA...whole house power and battery charging from a simple portable genset for temporary emergency use.

While the generator is running, it powers the house and charges the inverter batteries. It should take about 4 hours to fully charge the 4 batteries. When they are charged I can shut the genset off and just use batteries.

How it works-

This is the inverter and switch:

The genset is connected to the "power in" side of the inverter. The switch allows us to break the connection when the power is "normal", otherwise the wire is hot in the out building where the generator lives. The large black wire next to the grey on the inverter goes to the genset.

Closeup of the switch:

Note the small light. It came from a spare wall switch with lighted toggles:cool:. When the street power is on, it's lit. No street power, no light. This allows us to know when the street power comes on when the generator is on, otherwise we wouldn't know.

Opposite side of the wall from the inverter, the wire goes to the genset in an outbuilding.


The outbuilding with the wire to the house plugged into the genset:

The genset runs many hours on one tank of gasoline and is surprisingly quiet. The room is well ventilated.

The drill will be: when we get the "low battery" warning on the inverter, I'll go to the outbuilding, drag the genset 4 feet, plug the wire in, crank the genset on, go to the inverter, flip the switch to "Planta"...and have temporary power for the house and charge the inverter batteries.

Installed just in time for Irene!

Total cost: RD$2500.

A simple solution for not a lot of money.
 

william webster

Platinum
Jan 16, 2009
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That is the way my solar system works..... I turn on the planta to charge batteries and the house runs too.

Some of my friends turn on the planta for ironing and other hi-energy pastimes....

Very sensible of you... however you may be spared the "GoodNight Irene" scenario... I hope so.
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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Where did you buy your "Wave" inverter?
Wave is made by Inverluz in Moca. They produce two lines: ProTrace, still somewhat analog, and Wave, all digital. The price differential was about 35%.

They have a store with a display in Santiago on Padre Las Casas between Bartolo Colon and Estrella Sadala, a couple of blocks from Sadala. The store is "MegaTone".
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
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For those on the north coast there is also a Megatone inverter store on 27 Febrero in Puerto Plata. A bit easier to get to than than Inverluz in Moca or Megatone in Santiago for those of us on the north coast.

I have the same simple solution you just installed in Jarabacoa. It was put in just after I moved in permanently about 8 years ago. I may even have to use it today because when it rains like Irene is causing, the wires made of sugar melt and Edenorte does not like to work in the rain.
 

grsher

Member
Jan 16, 2008
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0
16
Thanks. Do they have a low battery shutdown and a battery equalizing function? I saw your other thread on the inverter, it was well done. I couldn't find much information about the specs by searching Inverluz.
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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That's the way it's done.

One step further would be to have an automatic transfer switch with timers, but then you need an auto starting generator.

With that set up, the electricity goes off, a timer starts, then after whatever time you chose, the generator starts. The generator starting starts another timer, that shuts the generator off after whatever time you chose.

It will do that forever, or until the regular electrical service comes back.

Takes the "manual" part out of the equation entirely.

Mine actually had 4 timers; 2 as above, plus one that allowed running time without a load before shut off, and another that postponed switching back to CDEE until their power stabilized. (to avoid the "offies and onnies" from messing things up)
Nice.

Camp Moto has the "campotech" system. The power is pretty OK here. I just have the genset for extreme situations. Kinda low tech plug and play. The genset cost $300 (I brought it from the states), the installation under $70. I'm the unpaid Manuel Component, and I'm OK with that...

I had a propane 13kw system in FL that cost many thousands to set up. This one? $370.

Soy Dominicano...:bandit:
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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Thanks. Do they have a low battery shutdown and a battery equalizing function? I saw your other thread on the inverter, it was well done. I couldn't find much information about the specs by searching Inverluz.
Yes to both.

In fact when the batteries get low it alarms for 5 minutes before shutting down. Hard to miss the alarm.

I'm 100% happy with the Interluz Wave inverter. We've had it for 2 years without one problem. And the batteries (US Battery) have served us very well. All we've done is top off the water every 4-6 months when they need it.

All in all the inverter system was both very reasonably priced and functionally is worth more than we payed. You can pay a LOT more for an inverter/battery system, but IMO you'd not get a better value by any measure.
 

Olly

Bronze
Mar 12, 2007
1,671
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Cobraboy - those are NOT ordinary Bateries - are they GEL cos they are much bigger than avarage DR batteries!

OLLY
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
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I have both Trace DR series inverters and a Wave inverter from Inverluz. The only thing missing from a Trace DR series inverter in the Wave inverter is a search function. That means if there is nothing drawing current, the inverter shuts off saving some battery power. Not having that function is not an issue for most people. Other than that it is identical in function to the original Trace DR series inverters (now called Xantrex) at a much better price.
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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Cobraboy - those are NOT ordinary Bateries - are they GEL cos they are much bigger than avarage DR batteries!

OLLY
Nope, not gel. Can't top off gel batteries. Pretty standard batteries. Just a lot less expensive. Got them @ Megatron also...
 

AJL6767

New member
Apr 14, 2011
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What I did was mount some surface mount outlets both outside and inside certain parts of the house, and wired them together to form a circuit. Then I removed the female ends of some heavy duty extention cords and replaced them with males. This gave me the direct connection from the planta to the interior of the house. Regular type extention cords then carry the power to where i need it. I have 8500K and can run my bedroom a/c kitchen refrigerator, a series of lamps, fans, radios, etc and can move freely at night. All of this with my windows and doors still secured.
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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What I did was mount some surface mount outlets both outside and inside certain parts of the house, and wired them together to form a circuit. Then I removed the female ends of some heavy duty extention cords and replaced them with males. This gave me the direct connection from the planta to the interior of the house.
I was actually going to do something similar, but this solution took one wire, one male adapter, a simple blade switch and a bulb. PLUS no cords laying around. Simple.

And by wiring it into the "in" side of the inverter, I can charge the batteries. If I wired it to the house I'm not sure I could.
 

Criss Colon

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Jan 2, 2002
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yahoomail.com
I have A 20K Generator,A Trace 3.500 invertor,and 4 new Batteries.

I use a "Suegromatico" instead of a transfer switch.
It is much cheaper!

CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCC
 

windeguy

Platinum
Jul 10, 2004
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I was actually going to do something similar, but this solution took one wire, one male adapter, a simple blade switch and a bulb. PLUS no cords laying around. Simple.

And by wiring it into the "in" side of the inverter, I can charge the batteries. If I wired it to the house I'm not sure I could.
Exactly why wiring it that way makes the most sense. You can charge the batteries and power the house.
 

jojo2130

New member
May 30, 2005
492
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Got your attention, huh? Really the title should be "When the Inverter Runs Out of Battery.";)

We're fortunate to live in a "24 Hour Zone." :cheeky: That means we have some power during any given "24 Hour" period. Seriously, we lose Edenorte power occasionally. No problem, the inverter picks up the slack. We have everything in the house except water heater, and 220v water pump and bedroom a/c running off the 3500w inverter and 4 batteries.

It works well. However, on 6 occasions in 2 years the power has been off long enough to run out of battery. For some reason this has been going into the evening. On these occasions I've cranked up the portable 3500w gas genset (same size as the inverter) I've had, plugged in a mass of HD extension cords and house gang plugs/ surge suppressors/extension cords, disconnect electronics, plug them back into the mass of wires and gang plugs and run lamps and electronics. It works as a temporary solution but rather cumbersome and we can't run everything as we want. It's a hassle that works semi-OK. (Yes, yes, I know genset and inverter power is dirty and may damage sensitive electronics...)

So this morning I had our electrician come out and install a much simpler and thorough solution to maximize the use of the genset on the rare times we lose Edenorte power long enough to drain the inverter batteries. I hardwired a cord to temporarily connect the inverter to the generator. When the batteries get nearly drained and the power is still out, I simply move the genset 4 feet, plug a custom cord into it, start the genset and flip a switch next to the inverter, and...VOILA...whole house power and battery charging from a simple portable genset for temporary emergency use.

While the generator is running, it powers the house and charges the inverter batteries. It should take about 4 hours to fully charge the 4 batteries. When they are charged I can shut the genset off and just use batteries.

How it works-

This is the inverter and switch:

The genset is connected to the "power in" side of the inverter. The switch allows us to break the connection when the power is "normal", otherwise the wire is hot in the out building where the generator lives. The large black wire next to the grey on the inverter goes to the genset.

Closeup of the switch:

Note the small light. It came from a spare wall switch with lighted toggles:cool:. When the street power is on, it's lit. No street power, no light. This allows us to know when the street power comes on when the generator is on, otherwise we wouldn't know.

Opposite side of the wall from the inverter, the wire goes to the genset in an outbuilding.


The outbuilding with the wire to the house plugged into the genset:

The genset runs many hours on one tank of gasoline and is surprisingly quiet. The room is well ventilated.

The drill will be: when we get the "low battery" warning on the inverter, I'll go to the outbuilding, drag the genset 4 feet, plug the wire in, crank the genset on, go to the inverter, flip the switch to "Planta"...and have temporary power for the house and charge the inverter batteries.

Installed just in time for Irene!

Total cost: RD$2500.

A simple solution for not a lot of money.
I have the same system Using a Trace inverter and 8 batteries. My Planta is 5.5 KW Propane
Sometimes the Planta breaker will pop because there is too much load , (2 computers, TV's , Waterpump are all on the Inverter and the circuit. The More batteries that you use, the more amp consumption to charge. The 3.3 KW Planta that you have is okay for the 4 batteries but add 4 more and it will probably pop the breaker or worse blow the Planta . The 5.5 KW Planta is right on the cusp. I Hope this year to go to 10KW or even 15 KW and increase to 16 batteries.

We were out of power for 3 days because of Irene this week and didnt even loose any meat in the freezer !
 

jojo2130

New member
May 30, 2005
492
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0
Actually , We simply Keep the Planta running, turn off the Inverter (and the power stays on because we are on Generator power)
and then start the pump and or the refrigerator and freezer for an hour or 2 just to top up the Freezing. I have the Tinaco as well. But I hope to get a Bigger one of those installed this year too.

you are right though that Generator is noisy, I have it in a Casita behind the house so it really doesn't bother anyone ... I wuldnt recommend it if you have neighbors really near that are sensitive to that

Thanks for the tip, Ill look into the brands, A friend has a Genset for welding and you are right, they are super quiet ...





Yeah.. 5.5 is pushing it. For the time being, I'd pull the water pump off the that circuit, and get a "tinaco" for when there's no light.

I had a little Kubota 6.5KVA diesel that would really carry a load. That little puppy would wake the dead, even with a sound proof cabinet.

I ended up switching to an F.G. Wilson 15 KVA. What a great little generator. (well, not so little)

That is the one I was using when I had the setup I wrote about before.

Also, if you can get your hands on one, the DENYO super silent gensets are unbelievably quiet. You can stand next to one and carry on a normal conversation. All you hear from them is a low hum. They last forever, and have a 3 cylinder Izuzu diesel engine.
 

cobraboy

Pro-Bono Demolition Hobbyist
Jul 24, 2004
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Yeah.. 5.5 is pushing it. For the time being, I'd pull the water pump off the that circuit, and get a "tinaco" for when there's no light.
5.5 may not be enough to start a 220v pump (which most are/should be.)

Agree on the tinaco/no pump situation. Minimally, put the pump on a separate breaker...