Inverter, converter or both?

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Re: Inverter, converter or both?

Postby kenaxelds » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:19 am

flboy wrote:What type of inverter do you have that charges a battery? I know the have all in one inverters/converters /chargers.. but I have never heard of an inverter that charges a battery. Typically the inverter runs off the battery? Just curious. Thanks.


Here's two that I was looking at, but there's others. The do the inverting and have well-designed chargers built in. My understanding is, the inverters are smart enough to pass-through AC when it's available from shore/generator, and charge your battery bank with available power. Then when shore power disappears, they switch over to creating AC from your batteries.
Pure sine inverter (2000W+) with charger (like this AIMS or this Magnum)
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Re: Inverter, converter or both?

Postby flboy » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:32 am

Ok.. I see. This has a built in charger and converter so when shore power is sensed it switches from an inverter to a charger/converter.

So effectively ypu have an inverter and a converter. :-)


Btw.. that does look nice. I am doing the same things with the auto transfer switch and the individual charger and converter. I am a little hesitant with the all in one devices. If one part goes bad you may loose all functionality and you have to replace one more expensive item. That is just my preference however since I like to tinker with things.

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Re: Inverter, converter or both?

Postby MtnDon » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:39 am

Outback, Magnum and Schneider all have inverter / chargers. There are other brands as well, but those are the Big 3 that are used in serious off grid residential installations. When we had a large Class C RV we ran an Outback unit like thiswhich is the same unit we run in our off grid cabin.

Think of it as two devices in the same box. The inverter section uses DC battery power to output 120 VAC (other voltages available for export versions).

The charger section uses 120 VAC input from an outside source, such as a generator or a connection to the power grid. It outputs DC at a voltage suitable for the batteries. Our system @ the cabin is 24 VDC.

Simply put, when the inverter / charger senses input 120 VAC power (let's say from a generator) it switches on the charger section and simultaneously turns the inverter section off. Inside the unit is a relay system that actually connects the charger to the battery at the same time it disconnects the battery input to the inverter section. So the AC incoming is passed through the "box" and out the 120 VAC outputs while diverting whatever 120 VAC is needed to operate the charger section. The switching happens fast enough to not even cause a hiccup with any electronics we have.


A unit like the Outback are very user friendly. They have three circuit boards that are user swapable. If we had not had a direct lightning strike the original would still be in service. As it is I replaced the boards and it runs.
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We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: Inverter, converter or both?

Postby kenaxelds » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:27 pm

flboy wrote: I am a little hesitant with the all in one devices. If one part goes bad you may loose all functionality and you have to replace one more expensive item.


Yeah, I think most of us are here because we love to tinker with stuff :-) It usually pays to be leery of all-in-one devices, but I guess I've gotten used to many of them: printer/scanner/copier or camera/phone/calendar/music player. In the design phase, I've just been looking for simple ways to do what I need (man, it can get complex in a hurry, tho!).

MtnDon, thanks for taking the time to explain what's going on inside those expensive, little boxes. I'll look into the Outback models. They sound great. It's not the sort of job anyone wants to do again later because of cruddy components.
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