I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

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James Wilson
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I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Sat Nov 02, 2019 8:04 am

If this has been answered before I haven't found the right search terms... :)

I have a VFXR3524A and want to run off of it at all times instead of the generator when the generator is running. I'm now using a much smaller generator and only want it to charge the batteries, not to try and handle the house load too.

Is there a way to set the VFXR3524A to do this?
Last edited by James Wilson on Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

raysun
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by raysun » Sat Nov 02, 2019 9:35 am

No.

If you think about it for a moment, the generator would be running the load anyway, just with an efficiency penalty. The house loads would be drawing power from the battery while the charger would be putting energy into the battery. All this would happen with charging losses, and also DC/AC conversion losses.

You'll need an external battery charger. Even then, with a load on the battery while charging from a small generator/charger, the charge cycle is going to take a much longer time, if it completes at all.

James Wilson
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:46 am

I've thought about it for over a decade and have experimented with a small generator for a couple of years.

For our situation it's much more energy efficient to run a small generator for a long time than a larger generator that can handle the highest short loads.

So we do have a charger that works just fine with the small generator.

The only reason that we want to use the inverter's built-in charger is so that we can monitor it on OpticsRE.

raysun
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by raysun » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:10 pm

While it won't permit monitoring and control like the internal charger, wiring the external charger into a shunt between the battery and inverter (Shunt B in my system) will at least allow the system to account for the charging current. That will show up as part of the input current to the battery.

Better than nothing in this case.

James Wilson
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:23 pm

That's disappointing. Looks like it's time to go with a more flexible brand when we upgrade to 48 volts and LiFePo4 batteries...

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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by Mike Curran » Sun Nov 03, 2019 5:55 am

Let us know if/when you find a more flexible brand than Outback :smile:
http://www.tigoenergy.com/site.php?95b2dca2-ca6c
https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/public/systems/Hctc107221

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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by raysun » Sun Nov 03, 2019 8:15 am

Mike Curran wrote:
Sun Nov 03, 2019 5:55 am
Let us know if/when you find a more flexible brand than Outback :smile:
My thoughts exactly.

I would be interested in seeing if there is an inverter/charger that operates in this scenario.

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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by JRHill » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:28 pm

James Wilson wrote:
Sat Nov 02, 2019 11:46 am
The only reason that we want to use the inverter's built-in charger is so that we can monitor it on OpticsRE.
What am I missing in this statement? When my genset is running, OpticsRE monitors the full load and the charging loads to the genset just fine. I'm not sure about the Ryobi 700 but the bigger inverter-gens ramp up and down with the loads which makes them much more economical. Referring to Raysun's post about efficiencies I don't know how you can better increase efficiencies than with a properly sized interter-gen with the correct settings and auto throttling for load, directly to the OB stuff. Except for the big Honda which is fuel injected and is even more fuel efficient (but in some cases the overall capacity is more than needed and then adds to some fuel inefficiencies. But the capability is maybe invaluable). But over all, the combination of the inverter-gen just works very well.

I think I know how this post came about 'cause I've been there. You try using a small genset which powers 120v directly and charging. But have even an efficient fridge, etc. kick in and the genset kicks out 'cause the inverter can't ramp down the charging circuit fast enough. In and out and in and out. I hate it. It's gonna wear on expensive stuff over time. Then you think to direct charge - hence this post. So the next best alternative is to oversize the genset (inverter) so the surge loads don't cause this fight. I can't give hard data but I can imaging the results: after some amount of time trying to get by on the smallest possible generator you may be F***ed when there is an inverter, appliance or other failure. The gas you saved will be nothing compared to the down time and expense of the emergency downtime. And hopefully you have something bigger than the 700 cause you'll need it to keep things going.

And another point along with others': Ya just can't find more flexible units than OB's stuff. If you think you have the magic solution, please wait 5 or 10 years before reporting back with the overall cost of ownership.

Best,
Jim

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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by jnh » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:28 am

The mutual exclusion between these functions is due to nearly all components within a Outback inverter being shared between the inverting and charging functions. Charging essentially runs the inverter "in reverse", passing connected AC back through the same transformer that would otherwise carry inverted power to AC-out, then using the inverter's MOSFET bank that would otherwise be switching a 60Hz output waveform as a synchronous rectifier and DC voltage regulator for the charging output.

As far as I'm aware, every comparable inverter from competing brands (Xantrex, Magnum etc.) takes advantage of the same sharing of circuitry, so you'd run into the same situation with those. To design one otherwise would significantly increase the cost.

If you want to use the smaller generator whenever possible without running it through an outboard charger, though, try setting ADV/FX/GEN ac2/gen_support to ON, and ensuring ac2/gen_input_limit in the same menu section is set to a low enough amperage never overload your small generator. This will work on a G*FX series, so long as the connected generator is "clean" enough (e.g. inverter-type Honda EU or Yamaha EF). I'm not sure about the VFXR, but it's worth a try. These settings may be in a different place on the Mate3/Mate3s.

This feature, if it does work for your setup, will allow the Outback to instantly switch from charging to inverting when needed to assist the generator with a brief heavy load, such as when starting a large motor, then immediately go back to charging once the load amperage has dropped back below your configured gen_input_limit. During the inverter-assist phase, the inverter synchronizes its output phase and voltage to your generator, and both sources are blended together, not unlike what happens when selling power back to the grid.

James Wilson
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:33 am

I didn't realize that the inverter transformer became the charger transformer, I thought that it had multiple taps and wouldn't have been easy to dynamically repurpose. Interesting! :)

I'll try your advice to set the inverter to assist the little inverter generator

Thanks!

James Wilson
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My RE system: 4 - Sharp ND-167U3A 167 Watt solar panels
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1 - Cotek CX2415 Battery Charger
1 - Ryobi 700 watt Propane Generator
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1 - Outback VFXR3524A Inverter
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Thu Nov 28, 2019 3:35 am

I don't see that this is possible with this inverter. But maybe I just fon't know how to set it up...

I've been happily using an outboard charger, but the charging watt hours don't show up on the Mate.

I just replaced the lead acid batteries with lithium batteries so I may go back to using my 3.5 KW generator though...

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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by sodamo » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:04 am

I don’t see FNDC in your system. If you do, you can possibly capture outboard charging on Shunt C. You can find out more in my posts about this, even a screen shot
David
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James Wilson
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My RE system: 4 - Sharp ND-167U3A 167 Watt solar panels
8 - Sharp ND-162U1 162 Watt solar panels
8 - Battleborn 12 volt, 100 AH Batteries (9.6 Kwh)
1 - Cotek CX2415 Battery Charger
1 - Ryobi 700 watt Propane Generator
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:24 am

I had to finally look up the FLEXnet DC.

I'll have to study it. With the lithium batteries and big generator run through the inverter we should be able to monitor everything that we need to monitor.

I don't know if it's worth getting a FNDC in that case. But maybe it would help me know the lithium batteries' state of charge...

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IanMcCluskey
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by IanMcCluskey » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:40 am

Hi James, have you thought about trying the "Support" Input Mode on the inverter?

"Support: This mode is intended for systems using utility grid or a generator. In some cases the amount
of current available from the source is limited due to size, wiring, or other reasons. If large loads need to
be run, the FXR inverter augments (supports) the AC source. The inverter uses battery power and
additional sources to ensure that the loads receive the power they demand."
Ian McCluskey
Product Manager


Alpha Technologies Inc. / OutBack Power Technologies
3767 Alpha Way Bellingham WA 98226 USA
http://www.alpha.com

James Wilson
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Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:24 am
My RE system: 4 - Sharp ND-167U3A 167 Watt solar panels
8 - Sharp ND-162U1 162 Watt solar panels
8 - Battleborn 12 volt, 100 AH Batteries (9.6 Kwh)
1 - Cotek CX2415 Battery Charger
1 - Ryobi 700 watt Propane Generator
1 - Outback FM80-150VDC Charge controller
1 - Outback VFXR3524A Inverter
1 - Outback 10 port Legacy Hub
1 - OutBack Mate3

Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:31 am

Hi Ian, this sounds exactly what I need. Can this inverter do that? I'll dive back into the manual!

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IanMcCluskey
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Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by IanMcCluskey » Tue Dec 10, 2019 11:37 am

Yep, your VFXR supports that mode =D>
Ian McCluskey
Product Manager


Alpha Technologies Inc. / OutBack Power Technologies
3767 Alpha Way Bellingham WA 98226 USA
http://www.alpha.com

James Wilson
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Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2008 11:24 am
My RE system: 4 - Sharp ND-167U3A 167 Watt solar panels
8 - Sharp ND-162U1 162 Watt solar panels
8 - Battleborn 12 volt, 100 AH Batteries (9.6 Kwh)
1 - Cotek CX2415 Battery Charger
1 - Ryobi 700 watt Propane Generator
1 - Outback FM80-150VDC Charge controller
1 - Outback VFXR3524A Inverter
1 - Outback 10 port Legacy Hub
1 - OutBack Mate3

Re: I have a VFXR3524A and don't want to run from the generator ever

Post by James Wilson » Thu Dec 19, 2019 6:24 am

I'm still researching this.

According to this webinar at 20:54:
https://youtu.be/jG8YZfgKu6o
I should use the Mate 3 to set the inverter to Support mode instead of Generator mode...

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