Wednesday, October 08, 2008

XANTREX disappointments

I've put this off for a bit, but now I'm going to do my Xantrex rant as we are currently charging our batteries and once again I'm a bit disappointed in their products.

Mid-June of this year we bought a new Xantrex XPower 700 Plus Inverter from the St. Maarten Budget Marine. We didn't install it until the end of July. I'd like to mention that nowhere on its external packaging was it mentioned that this unit was only rated for 560W continuous power. [On the outside of the package it advertised 1000W of surge, so one assumes (why do I assume the best?) that its real rating was 700W. In the manual inside of the store-inaccessible plastic bubble packaging, it says that the 700W is for a maximum of 5 minutes usage.] This unit worked fine for us for about 10 days. Then, one morning we turned it on and after about a second, it gave a squeal and the red "fault" light came on. We disconnected our computers and plugged in a fan to test it... same thing. Next we tried a lamp... no luck. At no time have we ever had anywhere near 500W connected to this unit, so we didn't fry it. There's nothing wrong with our installation as our new inverter (mentioned below) works just peachy-keen.

We disconnected the inverter and took it back to Budget Marine. There, they hooked it up to a 12-volt power source and plugged a radio into the inverter. It worked. The radio played music and then I noticed the volume decreasing and some static. So I asked him to turn it on again. Same thing. The inverter was cutting out after about a second and thus the fade and static on the transistor radio as its power drained. He thought it was a problem with the unit's fan.

He kept it and Budget wrote to Xantrex. He said they should have an answer the next day. We didn't expect an answer the next day so didn't want to make a trip all the way from Marigot for nothing. The following week, he was off island and nobody knew what was up. Next time when we went in, we were told that they put the inverter onto a 12V battery and ran something with a decent load and the unit worked fine and we could take it home.

I'm sorry, but it does not sound "fine" to me. We had a problem, the store had a problem, and then it worked. This sounds like an intermittent problem to me and they obviously don't want to deal with it.

During this same time but before we had the inverter problem, we bought a Xantrex XPower Charger 40 at the St. Maarten Budget Marine. When it is charging at 40amps, it cuts out and the error message pertains to overheating. It cuts in and out, in and out, thus extending our charging time because it is not charging for about one-third of the time. When the amperage drops to about 30-some amps it works fine and does not overheat anymore. It has good air circulation, the air intake is clean and I also open up the compartment where you store the wire in hopes that will help cool things down.

Anyway, I know better than to even mention this to the store because I'm pretty sure there's nothing they can do about it :)

Oh, while we were waiting for a solution to our inverter problem, we bought a Sinergex PureWatts Elite 500 from Island Water World in St. Maarten. We've been using it for 9 weeks without a problem. It was also one of the items for their Monthly Special. Such a deal!

So, what to do with inverter #1, the Xantrex??? Budget Marine says it works. When I asked the employee if he would buy it from us he said no (of course... it's dodgy, duh!). We can't really keep it as a backup because it is not dependable as it OBVIOUSLY has an intermittent fault. We can't sell it with a good conscious because we know it has a problem. Toss it in the locker or in the dumpster?

We'll probably take it to the Time Out Sandy Ground St. Martin flea market but "let the buyer beware" and tell the customer its history.