All-in-one inverter/charger vs. separate components

memilanuk

Solar Enthusiast
In the planning stage of upgrading the electrical for our 2017 Adventurer 910 DB single-slide truck camper. At this point, pretty much everything is subject to change ;)

On the one hand I'd love to go with a Victron MultiPlus 2k or 3k inverter/charger, and just disconnect the stock PD4045 charger in the bottom of the distribution panel.

On the other hand... between all the other stuff we'd like to also add - Victron Smart Solar 100/30 controller, Victron Orion DC-DC charger, Victron Lynx distributor(s) for bus bars... I'm not entirely sure there's enough room (without major remodeling, which is a no-go) to fit that big of a unit.

We already have one transfer switch (PD 5100) for the 30A shore power line and the onboard Onan 2500 LP generator... would it be unreasonable to upgrade the charge converter in the distribution panel to something lithium-friendly (sadly, this model doesn't appear to be one that can be jumpered from FLA/AGM to LI settings), install an inverter, and another transfer switch to feed the AC side of the distribution panel from either the inverter, or the line out of the other transfer switch? Might be about the same amount of volume in the end, but spread out a little bit in a way that would be easier to make fit in the limited space available... :unsure:

Thanks,

Monte
 

OffGridInTheCity

Solar Addict
I use a MPP Solar PIP 3048LV for my trailer. Its a 48v battery with 3000w 120v inverter but thy also make 24v battery models.
1624916987548.png

Its an all-in-one with 120v @ 25a input; Solar Panel inputs, and battery in to 120v @ 25a (3000w) output. Its has internal ATS and UPS - so you can plug in the external 120v (or not) and it won't affect the 120v output. I use a separate 120v ->12vdc @ 83a converter for 12v load center.
This unit will run the inverter output AND charge the batteries at the same time or auto-switch to batteries if 120v input is removed.

Also have an onboard generator as an alternate 120v input if no shore power.
 

memilanuk

Solar Enthusiast
An inverter/charger has a built in transfer switch and is really the easy and safe way solution.
They are made for your use case.
Understood. Like I said, that's what I *want*. What I can *fit* may depend on how much under-sink cabinet space I can commandeer :unsure:

There are smaller inverter/chargers of similar quality to the Victrons.
I suggest you remove your discrete transfer switch and disable your converter.
Here is an high quality alternative that may fit better https://samlexamerica.com/product-category/inverter-chargers/
Nice. I wasn't sure how much variance there would be in size/volume for a given set of features/capabilities.

I'll admit... I've kind of had blinders on when it came to brands. I've seen so much pro-Victron posts, videos, etc. that I drank the Kool-Aid, so to speak :rolleyes:;) I do really like how well their whole ecosystem seems to work together, though.

I've gathered that there were other reputable brands like Samlex, Xantrex, etc. I was not aware (my own fault) that other brands/models had multiple AC inputs that would allow me to lose the separate transfer switch. That would free up some space in and of itself...

Thanks!
 

memilanuk

Solar Enthusiast
@smoothJoey whats your take on other Victron components - specifically the Lynx distributor? Worth using vs. separate bus bars & fuses? Or are there similar devices from other companies I should consider as well?
 

mitiempo

Solar Enthusiast
............. I was not aware (my own fault) that other brands/models had multiple AC inputs that would allow me to lose the separate transfer switch. That would free up some space in and of itself...

Thanks!
Not sure what you mean re "multiple AC inputs". An inverter like a Victron Multiplus has a single AC input. When on shore power it passes through the AC from shore. When unplugged from shore power it inverts from Dc to AC. It can also power share, adding to shore power amperage for short periods when desired.

On boats - I am a retired marine electrician - there is never a transfer switch between shore power and a generator. The generator is switched on manually when away from the dock (shore power). The only transfer switch is for the inverter.

As far as brands in my opinion the 2 best inverter/chargers are Victron and Magnum. Xantrex is not as reliable. The store I work at sells all 3 brands.

Victron would be my first choice.

The Lynx distributor is a neat solution and will take up less space than separate bus bars and fuse holders.
 

smoothJoey

Ooga Booga!

smoothJoey

Ooga Booga!
Not sure what you mean re "multiple AC inputs". An inverter like a Victron Multiplus has a single AC input. When on shore power it passes through the AC from shore. When unplugged from shore power it inverts from Dc to AC. It can also power share, adding to shore power amperage for short periods when desired.
These inverter/chargers have 2 ac inputs.
 

mitiempo

Solar Enthusiast
These inverter/chargers have 2 ac inputs.

Yes some do. I was really questioning his statement that it would allow him to lose the separate transfer switch. As I posted a transfer switch between shore power and a generator doesn't make all that much sense. If you are plugged in you are using shore power. If you are boondocking you can turn the generator on when needed. A transfer switch - as found in an inverter/charger or a separate item - is designed to seamlessly switch between the shore power passed through the device and its production of AC current from a DC source.

In other words the transfer the op currently has is not necessary in my opinion.
 

memilanuk

Solar Enthusiast
Yes some do. I was really questioning his statement that it would allow him to lose the separate transfer switch. As I posted a transfer switch between shore power and a generator doesn't make all that much sense. If you are plugged in you are using shore power. If you are boondocking you can turn the generator on when needed. A transfer switch - as found in an inverter/charger or a separate item - is designed to seamlessly switch between the shore power passed through the device and its production of AC current from a DC source.

In other words the transfer the op currently has is not necessary in my opinion.
I'd agree that most of the time, probably 99+% of the time, what most people want/need is what you describe: either plugged into shore power, or running off the generator, and a brief interval with no AC during the transition is not really a problem.

That said, I think it's a pretty standard OEM configuration in RVs, mostly to protect people from themselves should they attempt to start the generator *while* plugged into shore power. Or, if they should lose shore power while plugged in, start the generator, and then have shore power come back (still plugged in.

With a transfer switch, it's a non-issue as you get an 'almost' bump-less transfer from one source to the other.

Without a transfer switch, you better know how to synchronize and parallel an incoming AC source with the running bus, and assume the appropriate amount of real and reactive loading without reverse-powering the generator. Fun fact: that's one of the things I do for a living (power plant operator). Originally learned how back in the Navy, transferring between shore power and the onboard generators once we had the Rx up and running (y)
 

mitiempo

Solar Enthusiast
I'd agree that most of the time, probably 99+% of the time, what most people want/need is what you describe: either plugged into shore power, or running off the generator, and a brief interval with no AC during the transition is not really a problem.

That said, I think it's a pretty standard OEM configuration in RVs, mostly to protect people from themselves should they attempt to start the generator *while* plugged into shore power. Or, if they should lose shore power while plugged in, start the generator, and then have shore power come back (still plugged in.

With a transfer switch, it's a non-issue as you get an 'almost' bump-less transfer from one source to the other.

Without a transfer switch, you better know how to synchronize and parallel an incoming AC source with the running bus, and assume the appropriate amount of real and reactive loading without reverse-powering the generator. Fun fact: that's one of the things I do for a living (power plant operator). Originally learned how back in the Navy, transferring between shore power and the onboard generators once we had the Rx up and running (y)
On a mobile installation - boat or rv - a simple switch is all that is needed. The 2 shown below are commonly used. There is no way to have shore power and generator on line at the same time.

A switch between a generator and shore power cannot be seamless. The gen takes a bit to come on line. On the other hand a switch between shore power and inverter can be seamless. I have set up systems for people working with computers. They are not even aware that a switch between shore power and inverter has occurred unless they look at the panel.
 

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smoothJoey

Ooga Booga!
On a mobile installation - boat or rv - a simple switch is all that is needed. The 2 shown below are commonly used. There is no way to have shore power and generator on line at the same time.

A switch between a generator and shore power cannot be seamless. The gen takes a bit to come on line. On the other hand a switch between shore power and inverter can be seamless. I have set up systems for people working with computers. They are not even aware that a switch between shore power and inverter has occurred unless they look at the panel.
The transitions are

mains->inverter
inverter->mains
generator->inverter
inverter->generator

All in < 20ms or ~60hz.
That means your personal computer won't even notice.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Solar Addict
I put a switch in so I could just bypass (leave off / unused) the MPP Solar PIP battery/inverter when the camper sits for long periods of time - no reason to burn it up just sitting there when I can use 120v directly.
1624978448801.png
 

mitiempo

Solar Enthusiast
@mitiempo

What would be the benefit of a discrete manual switch, vs. just having a unit like @smoothJoey mentioned, that has two AC inputs - one for shore power and one for the onboard generator?
I think a better question would be why have a unit like smoothjoey mentioned rather than a discrete switch. If you are plugged into shore power the generator is not needed. If shore power fails the inverter will come on line seamlessly. Unless a generator is already running it cannot be as seamless. And who would want a generator running when on shore power.

Use of a generator is deliberate. If you want it you turn it on. An inverter is designed to come on line automatically and does so without missing a beat.

The other reason in my opinion is that simple is always better, If it is not there it cannot fail.
 

smoothJoey

Ooga Booga!
I think a better question would be why have a unit like smoothjoey mentioned rather than a discrete switch. If you are plugged into shore power the generator is not needed. If shore power fails the inverter will come on line seamlessly. Unless a generator is already running it cannot be as seamless. And who would want a generator running when on shore power.

Use of a generator is deliberate. If you want it you turn it on. An inverter is designed to come on line automatically and does so without missing a beat.

The other reason in my opinion is that simple is always better, If it is not there it cannot fail.
It means you can wire your generator to the inverter/charger and not have to flip a switch or plug it into the inlet.
The inverter/charger can also auto magically start/stop the generator.
 

mitiempo

Solar Enthusiast
Yes you can certainly automate to that level if desired. My customers and many others I know use the generator only when necessary.

It can make sense on an all electric boat or rv - electric stove or air conditioner for example.

The goal of many is to either use the gen sparingly or not at all. I was on a Grand Banks 42 last week and the owner is thinking of removing the generator from the boat. With propane cooking, which most boats have, the AC loads are usually pretty simple. Microwave or other kitchen appliance for a few minutes being common. All well within the capabilities of an inverter and appropriately sized battery bank.

With solar charging, wind generators, and fuel cells battery charging when away from shore power is easy.
 

memilanuk

Solar Enthusiast
Well, given that in this particular case I'm working with a truck camper and having a transfer switch of some flavor between shore power and the onboard generator is a fairly normal and expected configuration... I don't think I'll be getting rid of that functionality, if only for the sake of re-sale down the road.

I don't think I'm going to end up with enough panels on the roof - nor enough battery capacity - to be able to run the A/C off battery/solar power for any meaningful amount of time, so the generator isn't going anywhere right now.
 

time2roll

Photon Sorcerer
I generally prefer separate components. When something fails it is much simpler to diagnose and replace a single component.
Multiplus is great but the big feature to me is combining power with an undersize generator. With a 2500w Onan I am not sure that will get utilized. Similar with the rest of Victron. Great system but if money comes hard there are lower cost solutions or just skip some equipment.
 

Zwy

Solar Addict
In the planning stage of upgrading the electrical for our 2017 Adventurer 910 DB single-slide truck camper. At this point, pretty much everything is subject to change ;)

On the one hand I'd love to go with a Victron MultiPlus 2k or 3k inverter/charger, and just disconnect the stock PD4045 charger in the bottom of the distribution panel.

On the other hand... between all the other stuff we'd like to also add - Victron Smart Solar 100/30 controller, Victron Orion DC-DC charger, Victron Lynx distributor(s) for bus bars... I'm not entirely sure there's enough room (without major remodeling, which is a no-go) to fit that big of a unit.

We already have one transfer switch (PD 5100) for the 30A shore power line and the onboard Onan 2500 LP generator... would it be unreasonable to upgrade the charge converter in the distribution panel to something lithium-friendly (sadly, this model doesn't appear to be one that can be jumpered from FLA/AGM to LI settings), install an inverter, and another transfer switch to feed the AC side of the distribution panel from either the inverter, or the line out of the other transfer switch? Might be about the same amount of volume in the end, but spread out a little bit in a way that would be easier to make fit in the limited space available... :unsure:

Thanks,

Monte
Installing solar on a TC is alot of extra work, I found this out with my project.

I decided to go 24V, 280AH bank, with a Growatt, then a 24V to 12V buck converter for the step down.

I looked all over for a place to mount the GW and finally decided to just hang it outside. Battery is on opposite side on the wall under the refrigerator.

Just remember in addition to the inverter, transfer switch and charge controller, you will need plenty of room to install busbars, breakers, ANL fuses and other accessories. All in a tight spot.
 

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