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Ampinvt 240/120vAC split phase 24vDC-5000w inverter charger review.

Mattb4

Solar Wizard
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Ampinvt 24vDC – 5000w split phase LF inverter/charger review.

I have been wanting a means to supply 240vAC loads and have been constrained by only having 120vAC AIO's. I happened to spot this unit and decided it was a good deal even if I was forced to eat Ramen noodles for a few weeks in order to pay for it.

On May 8th I ordered this Ampinvt split phase inverter from Ampinvt USA. It was a Used -like new offer, that with the additional 7% off new customer discount, added up to $465.35 with free shipping from Ca. It arrived at my place today, Tuesday the 14th. The shipping weight is an incredible 73 pounds! This thing is very heavy and large! It is a LF (low frequency) unit that has a transformer in it to create the split phase output. Bit of a strain for this old guy to toss about. Needs 2 men and a boy.

For testing purposes I have made a temporary setup to my battery bank with 2awg wire and a 125a breaker for isolation. This is quite a bit below the capacity I would need to take full advantage of the 5kW split phase output. When I wire it up permanent it will get the appropriate breakers, fuses and wire gauge. I intend to double the 2awg welding wires which should give plenty of headroom.

I don’t have any 240vAC things to plug in so my testing is entirely 120vAC from the Ampinvt inverters built in plugs. Voltage and frequency was tested with a DMM and also a plug in Kill-A-Watt meter. As you can see in the images it seemed to output within spec for voltages and frequency.

About the heaviest load I can test is my 10 gal. air compressor (I just tested the compressor with my PowMr 3kW unit this morning so it was handy) that is 15a at 120vAC. I ran a 25 ft 12awg extension cord to it from the inverter. I started it 0 psi and than shut it down at 50psi. Started it again and ran it to 100psi. Shut it down and restarted it for final time and ran to full shutoff at 150psi. Unlike my earlier test I had ran with my PowMr 3kW AIO I detected no hesitation or that the inverter struggled at all to run the compressor. It was like a really good grid supply.

My impressions so far are positive (other than the hernia I am dealing with). I likely will not be using the Ampinvt other than as an inverter and never use the charger or AC input/ATS except possibly with a generator. It is a future project to wire it in and mount it properly when I truly need some 240vAC items powered. Thus it will not be tested for longevity or daily usage. That is unless the apocalypse happens or my Elec Co-op cuts me off entirely due to me having solar.
 

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Ran a few more tests and check of functions this morning before disconnecting the battery cables (Now where did I put my 15mm wrench? Dang it the cats must have moved it overnight) and packing away the inverter. Some further observations:

The battery voltage indication on the inverter is low by .4vDC this could be an issue if the inverter is being used as a charger and also for the voltage transfer points if using it with an grid input. It may be why the unit was sold as a Used-Like new. Not much of a problem for me to allow for that but someone buying it as a new unit may have decided to return it based on that. A couple of things I noted also was the washer and lock washer for the positive battery terminal were missing (I have plenty of these anyway). There was a couple of scuffs on the paint (This sucker is so heavy it takes special effort to move it about). Also the supplied battery cables that came with unit are laughably low quality for such a powerful inverter. Other than those issues it functions good.

This split phase inverter is not for causal usage. It is way too heavy and large to be carted along on a picnic or camping trip that the photos on the website seemed to suggest. It requires serious battery capacity in order to function to its potential. I would estimate you would want at minimum a 300ah setup and a battery that will deliver 300a.

Last evening I did some preliminary research into what I will need if I hook this up for use. From Breakers, cable, fuses, wires to run to my MTS at the electric pole*, Boxes and receptacles it looks like it will cost me ~$1000. Almost twice the cost of the inverter! That is with already having the battery bank and various AIO and SCC's that keep the battery charged. That expenditure and installation will have to wait as I get the money to slowly pick up the components. My plan is to run a buried line of about 90ft to my MTS where I will establish a place to plug in like I presently plug in my generator. This way I can simply plug to one or the other.

ETA: Incidently I did use my pre-charge lamp setup when I connected up the battery to this inverter. From how bright my 12vDC lamp lit up and for how long it must have quite the capacitors in it. I still got a small spark just a few seconds later when I hooked up the pos. cable.
 

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What a day yesterday. Got in my wire for burial to the power pole. Decided I would work in the heat and humidity to get it trenched in and buried. Just as I was finishing smoothing up the ground with my 20 year old little tractor the loader smacked into a buried rock. Somehow this caused something to get propelled into the tractors radiator and damaging it. I was not in a good mood yesterday evening. I would have kicked a Grizzly Bear and dared it to a fight.

Spent the morning getting the radiator out to see the extent of the damage. Since buying a new one is ridiculous expensive, and the old time radiator repair shops seem to have disappeared, I am ordering some JB Weld high heat epoxy and will attempt to repair it myself. 1 step forward and 10 steps back.

I am beginning to think this solar stuff is a pain in the butt.

ETA: pictures of the wire run and outlet box.
 

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I found a major factory mistake in this Ampinvt (probably why it was returned to then be resold as Used-As new. ) which if anyone else gets one of these inverters they should be aware of. The back 2, 120vAC plugs are wired with reverse polarity with the neutral being hot instead of L1. If you were unaware of this with a hardwired setup, and went to plug into one of these you would short things out. For my use I simply have taped over the outlets though I could open the box and rewire it. It seems from some Internet searches that reverse polarity on inverter outputs has been a common issue. Maybe because China is on the bottom half of the globe and water flows backwards there.

Incidentally while working on hanging this beast on the wall I found a fire retardant spray for bare wood. I figured I would give it a try and it works to stop combustion once flame is removed. A test piece of wood sprayed with it, let dry overnight, then subjected to a propane torch would not do more than char. Thought I would pass along the idea.

ETA 6/01/24: Did some testing of the inverter on various 240vAC loads in my home. It runs the electric oven/range without problems. (Not all burners at once) However when attempting to run the old Craftsmen clothes dryer it is near maxed out (indicated load of 95%) and the amperage the battery cables were conducting reached 270a at 26.5vDC. Since I have a 250a DC breaker feeding the inverter it was overloaded. It did not trip during the few minutes of testing (~5 minutes) but I could feel a vibration on the battery cables connected to it and a hear a hum. This is at the ragged edge and I would have to say the clothes dryer is just a bit too much to use unless I went with a 300a breaker. But running at 95% for any time length is not a good idea.

BTW the power demand of the inverter unloaded is around 45w. Eco mode is rather worthless since it cycles the fan briefly on, then back off, ever few seconds as it checks for a load. This would kill the fan if left in Eco.



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Since I have setup this inverter ( no grid supplied just battery) to feed into my house, off the MTS at the power pole, it has become the AC in supply to my 2 PowMr AIO's that power 120vAC loads on their own independent AC out panels. This created an interesting thing. The 59.5 hz that the Ampinvt outputs (no grid input just battery) was picked up and mirrored as the frequency that 2 AIO's were out putting. Instead of them running at 60 hz they began to output 59.5hz.

I suspect they do this to be ready for rapid transfer. But the effect is interesting. If I turn off the "AC in" to them the AIO raises the output back to 60hz. It makes me wonder if I supply a 240vAC 60 hz input to the Ampinvt if it will also alter the frequency of its output while inverting since it also promises a rapid ATS type operation. I will give this a test when I get a plug to fit a 240vAC outlet (likely the dryer since it is not too far away).

I have the unit mounted to a fire retardant treated sheet of plywood for the present time. This split phase inverter will rarely be called upon and most often be left off. It does seem capable of handling really difficult to start 240vAC items.

One conclusion I am reaching about it. It is not something I feel is worth the full price listed for it. Nor would I want to rely upon it every day.
 

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I was lucky. I wired up to test the AC input. Following the wiring indications on the terminal shield cover that showed 240vAC with 2 hot legs. I preceded to energize and the 240vAC breaker in my Main panel tripped. Not cool. I thought perhaps this was related to the reverse polarity at the back outlets so I disassembled the inverter and corrected them. Went to test again and once again had a instantaneous trip. WTF?

Looking at the terminals I suddenly spot that the input is labeled for 120vAC input (1 hot and 1 neutral) instead of the 240vAC that the shield had printed on it. Dang it all to heck. Rewiring to a 120vAC input and everything works as it is supposed to. Unit runs in grid/battery mode. Transfers without loss and also charges from grid if set. It outputs 240vAC from a 120vAC input which is nifty if I want to power the inverter from my generator (It only has 120vAC output). I did not seem to damage anything by wiring the wrong voltage.

My test of frequency shows that in inverter mode it is still 59.5hz, if it is passing through grid it goes to grid frequency.

One thing I found out when changing the back outlets to correct polarity. They are wired with spade and bayonet terminals. Made for a quick rewire. However this type of connection is insufficient for higher amperage. At most I would not want to use the back 120vAC outlets for grater than 5a. or 600w loads.
 

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