Saturday, March 12, 2022

Our Battery Charger Failed

Zantrex Freedom 20 Inverter/Charger failed


We noticed that our House Batteries were not charging and dived into the power management system to find out what's wrong.

After a lot of diagnostic testing, we concluded that it was the Freedom 20 Charger that had failed. It's 18 years old and was a DIY installation back in 2003. We have extensive notes on the system, all of the Manuals and diagrams that have been expanded to over the years with hand written notes.

Going to the web, we found (Peggy spent hours working on this part) that the Freedom 20 has a couple of fuses inside, but they only control the Echo Charger it charges the Start Battery.
There are a number of relays (at least 3) in the unit and it could well be one of those, but they are soldered into the circuit boards and I'm more likely to damage that trying to replace the relay than fix it. Lastly there's the possibility of a failed circuit board. I could find an old one but that feels like fixing an old car that has a bunch of other things waiting to fail. Finally, there's the fact that the Freedom 20 cannot be used to charge LifePo4 Batteries. Not that I'm planning on replacing the batteries, yet, but .... Santa is due in just 9 months!

So, I'm going to replace the energy management system.  

One thing I did like about the Zantrex System is the integration and the control. I'm a bit geekish, so those things are both  cool and valued.

The decision after a month of research is to go with a Victron System. 

Just two weeks after we realized that the Charger had failed permanently, I was invited to attend a Victron North America Training Tour in Davie Florida on Monday Feb 14th (yes Valentines Day - I had to play that one very carefully). The seminar was excellent! A full day of exposure to the variety of systems that Victron has available and, of particular interest, how they integrate with the boat systems and communicate outside of the boat if desired (oh yea!)

Trying to keep the Boat Bucks under control, I decided on the following equipment:

Victron Multiplus 3000VA
12v 120 Amp Inverter Charger

Initially, I was going with the Victron Energy MultiPlus 2000VA 12-Volt Pure Sine Wave Inverter 80 amp Battery Charger, Compact.
However, while at e-marine, they showed me the Multiplus 3000VA 12 Volte 120 amp charger, the size and shape are a lot closer to the old Freedom 20, and it was less than $200  more. 

This has a 3000VA (3KW) Inverter and a 12v  120 amp battery charger, it also has a 12v  4 amp trickle charger which follows the charge profile of the main battery charger.

It will talk to a Cerbo GX so that means there's a lot of control options.

The Inverter will also provide power assist if the load exceeds the set shore power. ie. if the Shore power max is set to be 10amps then if the load exceeds 10amps, the inverter will assist, the amount of assist is also managed.
Lastly, it can act as a UPS, if the shore power fails, it can switch over to Inverter mode in a few milli seconds.

Victron Cerbo GX Network Hub
Victron Energy Cerbo GX, Panels and System Monitoring.
Basically, this device is data central. All of the victron devices that can communicate on the VE-Bus can plug into this device, then with either a PC plugged into it or a wifi device connected to a wifi network, the data can be viewed and the settings changed.
It has a Micro SD Card Slot so that it will store up to 120 days of system history  - WooHoo!




Victron GX Touch 50 Display/Control panel

Victron Energy GX Touch 50, Panels and System Monitoring (Waterproof)

This display will cover the hole in the existing panel but will provide a lot more info than our Zantrex Link 2000R control panel for the Freedom 20 Inverter/Charger (not working)










Victron Energy VE.Bus Smart Dongle (Bluetooth) (Although I may not need this as the new Multiplus may have both Blue Tooth and Ve Bus connections to the Cerbo GX, I'll confirm that shortly.
I'm now certain that this part is not needed.




Victron Smart Shunt 500Amp

Victron Energy SmartShunt 500 amp Battery Monitor (Bluetooth)
This will allow monitoring of the battery charge status and communicates with the Victron Connect App and the Cerbo GX




That equipment will integrate with the existing Victron products that I installed a couple of years ago.

Victron MPPT Smart Solar Charge Controller

Victron Energy SmartSolar MPPT 100V 20 amp 12-24-Volt Solar Charge Controller (Bluetooth)

This unit provides the best Solar Power form from our Solar Panels. The plan is to upgrade two of the three panels as they are low power panels and waste a lot of the available real estate for PV power.

I may have to upgrade this charge controller






Victron Smart Battery Sense

Victron Energy Smart Battery Sense Long Range (up to 10m)

This unit has a self adheasive backing and is wired to the Battery +ve & -ve terminal 

(The negative terminal will be moved to the load side of the new Victron Smart Shunt)










Then there's the geeky stuff...

Victron GPS Module

This is a Victron GPS module.
Why do I want this? 
Well, if I link the system to the cloud, the data will include the GPS location. We can do all sorts of good research with that.
Such as 'Where were we when we had a slump in Solar Power' etc. or Where's the boat right now? 












Victron GX- LTE-4g GSM Cellular Modem


This is the Victron GX-LTE-4G GSM Cellular Modem for Victron devices.

The GPS module connects to this device, it also will take a Sim Card.
This unit connects to the Cerbo GX network hub and gives it access to all of the data stored and live from all of the devices in the system.

Victron has a VRM Portal. All of the data will be uploaded on a set schedule.

With the data online, we and the tech support team can review the current state of the system as well as historical conditions. The VRM portal also allows for update of the settings remotely.

The GX Touch panel dimensions are bigger than the cut out hole for the existing Heart Interface control panel, so that should easy installation of the control panel.

The Multiplus dimensions are close to the Freedom 20 is located, I may have to trim the shelf under the Nav Table, but only by a few inches.

The location and length of the +ve and -ve wires to the Freedom 20 will not fit directly to the Multiplus, so I'll have to replace those two wires. The 110v In and 110v Out wires to the Freedom may reach the Multiplus so I may not have to replace those two wires also, but will be ready to replace them.

Then there's this:
That Red Cable is attached to the Chassis Bonding Lug on the Freedom 20! GRRRRRR!

Marine Electricians would throw a hissy fit over using a Red Cable for a Ground Bonding /Wire!

So that cable will have to be replaced also. It will be a Green Cable and I'll check the size (AWG) as it's a safety route for unexpected current to flow.


Ok, now for the schematic. This is a dynamic diagram (it's created in Google Drive ) but I'll make a copy of it to cater for any changes needed during the installation.
Power Management Schematic (note the date)


Update: 02/21/2022 - The Multiplus 3000 Inverter Charger has a 4amp trickle charge for the starting battery - but that would only charge the Start Battery when AC power is applied! So I think I may need to add a Victron Smart Orion DC-DC Charger to the system. That will allow a more controlled recharge of the Start Battery. Of course, this is all questionable. The draw on the Start Battery is high load but short duration and it could be that the trickle charger would suffice for our Start Battery profile, but by adding the Orion, it begs the question - Do I need it?  I don't have a record of the Start Battery model, I know it's a Duracell AGM but with the model # I can lookup the charging parameters. The Orion addition also paves the way for a house battery upgrade to LifePo4. The Multiplus 3000 dictates the maximum Ah capacity of the House Batteries - the daily energy consumption dictates the desired maximum Ah capacity. 

Ok, time to close this part of the Upgrade. Next part will cover the supply of the parts and the removal of the existing system.

The removal involves:
  • Turn off the Solar Power
  • Disconnect the House Battery +ve 
  • Remove the Zantrex Freedom 20 Inverter Charger
  • Remove the Link 2000R control unit & electronic pack.
  • Remove the external regulator (not used right now) and the cables to the Link 2000R
  • Run a temporary wire for the Bilge Pump to the House Battery (don't want the pump to be out of action during this job.)
  • Remove the existing shunt.
Should get all of that done on Day 1. All of the heavy duty power cables (for both the DC system and the AC system) are available locally so if any are needed we can drive to a supplier on the way home, there are several suppliers within an hour's drive of the boat.

Day 2 - Physically mount the GX Touch 50, the Multiplus 3000, Cerbo GX, GX-LTE-4G GSM Cellular Modem, GPS unit and the Victron Smart Shunt 500 (which should fit in place of the existing Shunt).

Day 3 - make all of the inter device cable connections and determine any replacement power cables (DC or AC) get them locally.

Day 4 - Connect the Multiplus to the system (DC Cables & AC Cables)

Day 5 - Connect the system to the batteries, then turn on the Solar Power and connect Laptop to the system to review initial settings.




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