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  #1  
Old 12-23-2008
AC7880 AC7880 is offline
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Default Replace modified sine wave inverter?

I have a 94 BB BMC 37' with a original equipment Heart EMS 2800 (HD 2800) modified sine wave inverter with 100 amp charging capability (2 stage).

We will begin fulltiming in 2009. I am considering replacing the old Inverter with a pure sine wave 2800 or 3000 model from Magnum or Xantrex.

I only use my inverter now when I need 110 volt appliances and am not hooked to shore power or on gen power. At all other times I leave it off. I use a Xantrex Truecharge (statpower) 40+ 3 stage smart charger/converter to keep the batteries charged. I figure the newer technology statpower 40+ is better for my battery life.

I have 5 house AGM 31s, and 2 AGM 31 chassis batteries, that I can combine when desired. I also have 300 watts of solar charging from AM Solar with the HPV-22 controller.

I have 2 LCD TVs, the current inverter causes lines scrolling on the screens. I have a dvd player, 2 dell laptops - (but I can run the laptops straight off a 12 volt adapter vs plugging into the 110/inverter if need be). I have a HP wifi printer, and all the normal RV appliances etc - that may or may not see reduced life from modified sine wave power?

I have some concern that fulltiming and drycamping on the old modified sine converter will eventually take a toll on the electronics and a pure sine would not?

Additionally, I think I could leave a pure sine on most of the time, and use its 100/120 amp smart charger for faster battery bank bulk charge, and just keep the statpower 40+ converter/charger unplugged for a ready to go backup (or plugged straight into a 110 15/20 amp outlet in a campground with min power or at friend/family homes when visiting).

Looks like between $1500 and $2400 for a new pure sine with remote panel and battery temp sensor depending on model and source.

Am I fine as is, or is a true sine wave inverter advised?

Thanks
Dan
94 BB BMC 37'
NM
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  #2  
Old 12-23-2008
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mbrund mbrund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC7880 View Post
I have a 94 BB BMC 37' with a original equipment Heart EMS 2800 (HD 2800) modified sine wave inverter with 100 amp charging capability (2 stage).

We will begin fulltiming in 2009. I am considering replacing the old Inverter with a pure sine wave 2800 or 3000 model from Magnum or Xantrex.

(snip)

Thanks
Dan
94 BB BMC 37'
NM
I replaced my old 2000 watt Heart unit with a Xantrex RS3000, it was a chore to say the least on a Wanderlodge. The Wanderlodge (not sure about the BMC) has a strange setup for the inverter. The Heart inverter has a built in circuit breaker in the inverter, the RS models DO NOT, and thus require that you plumb in a new circuit breaker as Bluebird puts the invertered circuits in after the circuit breaker panel through a set of high voltage relays. There fore those circuits are not protected for over amperage, and if you put in an inverter in that can supply more than 15 AMPS AC you could burn down the coach with out adding proper protection.

These relays are held engaged when you are on shore power, but when shore power fails, the relays disengage and allow the inverter supplied AC to flow to those circuits. Can't remember, but it is either 4 or 6 of the circuits in the coach are on these special relays, all the rest of the circuits are not (such as Air Cond, etc.). So check out how the BMC is wired, and if similar to the Wanderlodge, be careful and make sure you protect the circuits such that you can't overload them.

I replumbed my whole AC panel and circuits, and put a new 50AMP breaker in ahead of the new RS3000 since it has a transfer switch built in. I then plumbed the output circuit from the inverter back to the original coach main breaker. So everything in the coach is on the inverter. I would suggest you not do this unless you are willing to put larger DC cables in to support the full load of the inverter and also put a generator auto-start panel in to kick the generator on when the AC fails and the draw on the inverter is large enough that the generator is needed. Otherwise you may pop the fuse on the DC input to the inverter (I have done this once, quite by accident flipped on the air compressor forgetting I was on inverter, it was a 200 AMP DC fuse, should have been a 300 AMP to support 3000 watts AC. I plan to replace the fuse with a pair of paralleled 150 AMP DC circuit breakers so I don't get stranded without a fuse).

Since you have a 2800 watt unit, sounds like the BMC is plumbed different. Make sure to determine how the inverter is plumbed into the AC circuits (before or after the main AC breaker panel). If after, you need to protect the output of the inverter with an AC circuit breaker. Also keep in mind in such a case, that this circuit breaker should not be larger than the smallest circuit on the inverted output can sustain without overloading the AC wire gauge (so if it is 14/2 romex, 15AMPS, etc.).

One last note: The RS models have the ability to dial back the AC input power so the charger does not consume lots of AC AMPS. So if you are on a 30 AMP circuit, you can dial it back to 30 AMPS and the charger will only use what power is left on the AC input after all the other coach circuits. So that way if you want keep the battery charger from eating lots of AC power at a friends place, you can set it from the control panel.
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1992 Bluebird WB40 (formerly owned)
2002 Prevost H3-45 Vantare (formerly owned)
Fredericksburg, TX

Last edited by mbrund; 12-23-2008 at 03:24 AM.
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Old 12-23-2008
AC7880 AC7880 is offline
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Very good info Michael. I need to check out the wiring setup on the inverter circuits on my next free day off.

I do know for sure that the inverter powers every circuit and every breaker on the main panel, to include the air con units, the Cummins engine pre-heater, and the seperate xantrex charger/converter.

It does not have auto gen start. I leave the breaker for the engine pre-heat turned off all the time anyway, but I don't like that the 2 air cons are on the inverter circuit. Also with the charger/converter being on the inverter fed circuits - that is a vicious cycle. Inverter uses batteries to feed charger charging batteries - lose/lose there.

Also, I have a inverter on/off switch at my left side of the drivers seat. This is where I currently turn the heart inverter on and off. I do not know if I can use this same setup on a Magnum or xantrex inverter - but would like to.

One reason I am leaning xantrex on the inverter is that my xantrex charger/converter already has the battery temp probe, and a remote monitoring panel in the bedroom. For sure I could just unplug the battery temp probe from the converter and plug it into the inverter. I think the cable is the same for the remote monitor panel as well--if so I could remove the converter remote monitor panel and put the inverter control remote panel in it's place using the existing cable run (saving time and energy on new cable runs).

I also failed to mention that our 2008 year model splendide washer dryer mid coach opposite side of computers (replaced a old unvented with a new vented splendide this yr) does not like the modified sine wave. I don't use the splendide on inverter and never will, but even when "off" it's circuit boards "see" the inverter and it cycles. I unplug it now when I turn the inverter on.


Thanks for any further input based on this new info - you've been there done that.
Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbrund View Post
I replaced my old 2000 watt Heart unit with a Xantrex RS3000, it was a chore to say the least on a Wanderlodge. The Wanderlodge (not sure about the BMC) has a strange setup for the inverter. The Heart inverter has a built in circuit breaker in the inverter, the RS models DO NOT, and thus require that you plumb in a new circuit breaker as Bluebird puts the invertered circuits in after the circuit breaker panel through a set of high voltage relays. There fore those circuits are not protected for over amperage, and if you put in an inverter in that can supply more than 15 AMPS AC you could burn down the coach with out adding proper protection.

These relays are held engaged when you are on shore power, but when shore power fails, the relays disengage and allow the inverter supplied AC to flow to those circuits. Can't remember, but it is either 4 or 6 of the circuits in the coach are on these special relays, all the rest of the circuits are not (such as Air Cond, etc.). So check out how the BMC is wired, and if similar to the Wanderlodge, be careful and make sure you protect the circuits such that you can't overload them.

I replumbed my whole AC panel and circuits, and put a new 50AMP breaker in ahead of the new RS3000 since it has a transfer switch built in. I then plumbed the output circuit from the inverter back to the original coach main breaker. So everything in the coach is on the inverter. I would suggest you not do this unless you are willing to put larger DC cables in to support the full load of the inverter and also put a generator auto-start panel in to kick the generator on when the AC fails and the draw on the inverter is large enough that the generator is needed. Otherwise you may pop the fuse on the DC input to the inverter (I have done this once, quite by accident flipped on the air compressor forgetting I was on inverter, it was a 200 AMP DC fuse, should have been a 300 AMP to support 3000 watts AC. I plan to replace the fuse with a pair of paralleled 150 AMP DC circuit breakers so I don't get stranded without a fuse).

Since you have a 2800 watt unit, sounds like the BMC is plumbed different. Make sure to determine how the inverter is plumbed into the AC circuits (before or after the main AC breaker panel). If after, you need to protect the output of the inverter with an AC circuit breaker. Also keep in mind in such a case, that this circuit breaker should not be larger than the smallest circuit on the inverted output can sustain without overloading the AC wire gauge (so if it is 14/2 romex, 15AMPS, etc.).

One last note: The RS models have the ability to dial back the AC input power so the charger does not consume lots of AC AMPS. So if you are on a 30 AMP circuit, you can dial it back to 30 AMPS and the charger will only use what power is left on the AC input after all the other coach circuits. So that way if you want keep the battery charger from eating lots of AC power at a friends place, you can set it from the control panel.

Last edited by AC7880; 12-23-2008 at 09:52 AM.
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  #4  
Old 12-23-2008
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mbrund mbrund is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC7880 View Post
Very good info Michael. I need to check out the wiring setup on the inverter circuits on my next free day off.

I do know for sure that the inverter powers every circuit and every breaker on the main panel, to include the air con units, the Cummins engine pre-heater, and the seperate xantrex charger/converter.

It does not have auto gen start. I leave the breaker for the engine pre-heat turned off all the time anyway, but I don't like that the 2 air cons are on the inverter circuit. Also with the charger/converter being on the inverter fed circuits - that is a vicious cycle. Inverter uses batteries to feed charger charging batteries - lose/lose there.

Also, I have a inverter on/off switch at my left side of the drivers seat. This is where I currently turn the heart inverter on and off. I do not know if I can use this same setup on a Magnum or xantrex inverter - but would like to.

One reason I am leaning xantrex on the inverter is that my xantrex charger/converter already has the battery temp probe, and a remote monitoring panel in the bedroom. For sure I could just unplug the battery temp probe from the converter and plug it into the inverter. I think the cable is the same for the remote monitor panel as well--if so I could remove the converter remote monitor panel and put the inverter control remote panel in it's place using the existing cable run (saving time and energy on new cable runs).

I also failed to mention that our 2008 year model splendide washer dryer mid coach opposite side of computers (replaced a old unvented with a new vented splendide this yr) does not like the modified sine wave. I don't use the splendide on inverter and never will, but even when "off" it's circuit boards "see" the inverter and it cycles. I unplug it now when I turn the inverter on.


Thanks for any further input based on this new info - you've been there done that.
Dan
When I installed my RS3000, I just removed the old heart control panel and reused the wiring harness that ran from the old Heart inverter to the old control panel at the front of the coach for the new RS3000 panel. It works without any problems.

I have 8 new AGM house batteries (setup in two banks of 4) and 3 new flooded acid coach batteries. I bought the coach batteries when I purchased the coach as they where in bad shape and did not think, when they go I will replace them with AGM. I attached the battery temp probe to a battery located toward the center of the top row, as I figured it would retain more heat since neither side was exposed to air.

I also have a Xantrex P-Type Alternator regulator that I have been wanting to install from my prior coach. This will require that I modify the current alternators by removing their builtin regulators and wire in this P-Type regulator. The Xantrex Alternator Regulator can be programed to support AGM, GEL, Optima, etc. and prevents the alternator from overcharging and killing the AGM's.
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1992 Bluebird WB40 (formerly owned)
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Fredericksburg, TX
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  #5  
Old 12-23-2008
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peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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There's good advice in the previous posts ... watching for how the wiring is 'plumbed' is critical.

True sine wave vs. modified sine wave: Things with electric motors will last longer when true sine wave power is used -- they'll also use less power (think refrigerator) as the motor converts more of the electricity to heat with modified sine wave. Of the items you listed, the computer printer is the one thing that is most subject to problems with the modified sine wave.

I've used uninterruptible power supplies with my computers for years. These devices are, essentially a small inverter and battery with a very fast power sensing switch to flip the power source before a drop out screws up the computer. They all use modified sine wave inverters -- and I've never had a problem with a computer using the UPS. I note that the instructions for all the UPS units I own suggest "do not use with a printer" -- at first I thought it might be due to the power draw exceeding the capacity -- but I actually have some rather high-capacity UPS units that could handle the load -- but in an experiment, a small laser printer was clearly not happy with the modified sine wave power (it wouldn't run)... and I presume that the motors in the printer simply had to have something that resembled a true sine wave for them to work.

It is "good practice" is to unplug sensitive items (like the laptops) when switching energy sources -- I had a mother board fried in my laptop by my brother-in-law flipping circuit breakers while I was using the computer... when switching occurs, you can get some very significant voltage spikes. This has not proven inconvenient for us, since I don't normally run the computer while driving over the road -- so I just use the laptop battery to fire it up at a rest stop, if needed.

Computer power supplies generally convert the AC into DC anyway -- so the sine wave isn't much of an issue. (Circuits inside a computer generally require 5 and 12 vdc.)

One of my dual 2500 watt inverters quit during my last trip -- I'm going to pull it and do some testing (might be a switch or relay problem) -- and if it's truly bad, then I'll most likely make a straight-across replacement with a similar Heart (modified sine wave) rebuilt inverter -- that way I won't have to mess with the wiring and circuit protection. However, I _could_ convince myself to put in a true sine wave unit to make the electric refrigerator operate a little more efficiently.

Since your OEM inverter is 2800 watts, replacing it with a 2800 or 3000 watt inverter should not be a problem, assuming that the circuit protection is done properly.
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  #6  
Old 12-23-2008
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Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default BMC Inverters

I noticed that Dan had questions on the BMC Yahoo forum so I thought I'd post my reply here as well

Dan, In my 95 BMC I have a Heart Freedom Model 25 Inverter (I assume the original) which includes a battery charger. I hardly ever use it except occasionally to run a computer or something. Of course it charges the battery on shore power or the generator even when not turned on. When we are dry camping I run the generator about 1-2 hrs per day and that seems to do it for my batteries. I have 2 very big "Workaholic" deep cycle house batteries and 3 maintenance free starting batteries. (I don't know why, but every BMC I have seen seems to have different battery configurations. Most have 3 coach batteries and only 2 starting batteries). My batteries are over 4 years old and we have had no problems with this setup. I don't know anything about the technical side of Invertors, but mine seems to work OK. I sure wouldn't spend a lot of money to change it. And, as you know, we have been full time for over 3 years.

The inverter I have will not run the refrigerator

If you need any other info, please let me know.

Best,
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or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #7  
Old 12-23-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Davis View Post
I noticed that Dan had questions on the BMC Yahoo forum so I thought I'd post my reply here as well
Lee,

Dan had also started a thread on the same topic on this forum, so I have moved your post over here to be with it.

Thanks for contributing
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  #8  
Old 12-24-2008
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Dan if you follow the advice of Xantrex in connecting a Xantrex charger/inverter such as the Freedom 2500 (modified sign wave) you will have no problems. I have a Freedom 2500 connected to its own auxillary breaker panel which powers the microwave, all wall receptacles and my satellite system at all times that I am not connected to either the generator or shore power. I run two computers all of the time including a GPS system, wall lamps, microwave etc when we are on the road and my wife loves that. We can stop for lunch or dry camp for a while and use the microwave or computers to access the internet without worrying about starting the generator. I have never had a problem with the Freedom 2500 running my computers, satellite system or computer printers running off the inverter.
To eliminate the problem of cross feed that will cause problems with other appliances that are not connected to the inverter you need the auxillary breaker panel and cables from the inverter to the auxillary breaker panel and the batteries large enough to get the full advantage of the inverter. Even though it is rated at 2500 watts continuous it will provide as much as 6500 watts for a short while for instance starting your microwave.

Your present inverter although rated at 2800 watts only provides 2000 watts continuous.

I advise forum members to buy a refurbished Freedom 2500 and the Link 1000 to control it. I bought my Freedom 2500 from Sun Electronics and it is still available for $670 at http://tinyurl.com/937q2h

The link 1000 has tons of features and it tracks the efficiency of the batteries, tells you when you turn the coach engine off how long in hours you can use the batteries and still have enough power to start the engine and a lot of other features. I think it is well worth the extra money especially for a full timer.

Good luck
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  #9  
Old 12-24-2008
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Lee Davis Lee Davis is offline
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Default New Heart Freedom Model 25...Why?

Someone please tell me why I need to buy a new (or refurbished Model 25) inverter when the one I have been using for 3 years has worked great. Am I missing something here? My batteries seem in great shape at least so far after 3 years of my owning the coach, but I don't know when they were new. (with BMCs you don't have all those gauges telling you extra stuff)

We don't do a lot of long dry camping (mostly for perhaps a week at an FMCA rally or a night occasionally in a WalMart). What we do works fine if we run the generator an hour (or sometimes 2) every day which we need to make coffee, check a little TV, or cook something, anyway.. We don't do weeks at Quartsite for example.

Sometimes it may be better to not know what you don't know.

Best,
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Lee and Jacque Davis - Full Timers

Lee - 423-292-5767 or Jacque 423-262-9569
or lnjdavis@gmail.com Please call or email instead of private messages


1995 BMC 37
300 HP Cummins 6CTA 8.3 Turbocharged Diesel
Boldly Going Nowhere
http://www.bbirdmaps.com/index.cfm #117
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  #10  
Old 12-24-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Davis View Post
Someone please tell me why I need to buy a new (or refurbished Model 25) inverter when the one I have been using for 3 years has worked great. Am I missing something here? My batteries seem in great shape at least so far after 3 years of my owning the coach, but I don't know when they were new. (with BMCs you don't have all those gauges telling you extra stuff)
<snip>

Best,
Uh, If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

This thread started out with the assumption that something was wrong with your inverter. If the inverter is working, then there's no reason to replace it unless you want some advantage of a new inverter -- but there are only a few, very specific needs where a true sine wave inverter (i.e. a new one) is required and the existing modified sine wave inverter is acceptable for nearly all uses you have.

You could add a Link 1000 controller to give you more information about your batteries and the charging situation ... but you don't really NEED that extra information, if you're satisfied with how things are working now. (Since your batteries are several years old, you should check them individually with a volt meter to check their current charge level and condition. Batteries may last 4 or 5 years -- or 7 or 8 years... It all "depends."
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(former) 95 WBDA 42'
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Ridgefield, WA
aeonix1@me.com

Last edited by peteaeonix; 12-24-2008 at 01:21 PM. Reason: add comment about Link 1000...
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