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Victron Phoenix 375VA 12V


Weasel
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I am a blue fanboy but will try to remain impartial and so with a heavy heart, I must say that I am a little underwhelmed by the new small Phoenix inverters.

They are still good but there is some detrimental cost saving going on which i don't care for.

What I like:

  • No wires included, I want to choose my own gauge and length wire, unlike with the previous version. I felt so guilty cutting them shorter even when you know its better.
  • Got nice earthing terminals and connections in outlet. connections inside are proper and there is the use of copper and belville washers where necessary.
  • a fan hard start feature, some people like it others don't, but its nice for when its old and clogged with dust so the fan will start up. the old one didn't have this.  
  • its got VE Direct enabling monitoring and settings to be changed, this is the main reason i wanted one.
  • the last thing is probably that it looks good. 

And that is where it kind of ends for me, what I don't like:

  • Continuous power output looks on par with what i get from my 350VA Phoenix, or perhaps a little less, I will get to that later.
  • The DC terminals are not fat enough for my liking and feel a little flimsy.
  •  Any load above 70W will make the fan run, (First Clue) and the fan speed lacks some hysteresis, so on just the wrong load (about 60W) it'l cool down then whiz back to life, little annoying.
  • Could use better and bigger caps, especially since its going to work so hard (Second Clue)
  •  The Seek mode and its settings are essentially useless
  • The outer case is plastic, a cost saving feature sure. but does it have the efficiency to back it up .

Now starting with the latter.

The seek mode can be set in software with 1W increments so if your load is below say 5W switch off the inverter and start seeking until ts over 5W again. But no, The Resolution of monitoring on the output is only 0.1A, for a 375VA inverter that's not great, effectively 16 possible steps of ~23W. so if your load is less than 23W like for example 4 led lights then they will flash instead of activating the inverter even if you set the threshold to 5W, the cheapest of ADC's have far better capabilities, What is going on here? i should maybe take it a part further to see how they are current sensing. I realize many small inverters with this seek feature have the same issue, but i expect more and the low resolution is ruining the monitoring feature for me.

Getting to the bigger issue is that it is a fan driven design, in itself not an issue but it has no heat sinking at all. The Drivers are just "Flapping in the breeze" ;). That is a mechanical reliability issue for one. In addition to the lack of sinking the drivers are conformally coated, that is a good thing but here with no sinks i think it worsens the heat transfer to the air. They are no doubt relying on a more efficient design which as far as i can tell, it is. My old 350 draws 380W where this draws 340W, both starting cold on the same load. The 375 rather quickly goes up to 350 then 360 and eventually settles at 380W when the transformer gets hotter. 

20170312_131838_zpswgntrfx2.jpg

Seriously anything is better than nothing and the temperatures on high or even medium load are quite high. i don't want to know what the die is at. i'm sure its rated to handle it but even a paper clip heatsink would improve this.(Perhaps i should test this :D) 

The caps are what they are, they are right in front of the fan for a reason but the drivers are as well, they reach about 53c and do so quickly, if the fans not there well... I would always like to see some oversize caps from the big names that can handle high DC ripple with low ESR and all that, but if it works and its warranted for 5, meh. This is what is going to happen eventually after a few years. The fan will be clogged because it runs all the time, the inverter will heat up and cut out more often. The caps will run too hot over time and blow. That or the drivers wont be able to handle the heat. All in all it should be an easy fix if it does.

FLIR0986_zpsfstvd54a.jpg

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Should be noted my load is a strenuous one with switch mode psu's at 350W or so, i could on both my units reach 480W draw for a good few seconds before they cut out. the 375 does look like it cuts out a bit quicker though, both can start up an 850W grinder. What im getting at is the 375 is still a good inverter, its just not in the same class as was the 350 IMO, The cost savings are in one respect welcome but it may have been a little too much. i can let go of an all aluminium case, that would improve efficiency sure but its very costly. but how much is a tiny heat sink really? 

All ill say now is my 350 is no longer for sale. And if you get the new one its still good but ignore the warranty and modify it. 4 little heat-sinks, some hotglue and 2 nippon caps.

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It gets worse. Also bought a Phoenix VE.Direct after the fiasco with the previous one. I miss the older one.

With the new range, I wanted to use the software.

Great my disappointment when I saw that under +-120w the software is useless. So I contacted Victron about it. End result, and these are my words, Victron said it is a good quality but cheap inverter, not able to do all. My response to that, then do not advertise it with software when on anything below +-120w the software does not pick up the amps, only volts.

So ja, I am not too happy with them. Keep pride in your work rather than cut corners is what I say.

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9 minutes ago, Mark said:

Axperts will display the bits you need @TTT!!!  Even can connect to Solweb...

Not at the price I paid for the little 375VA no. Axperts are way to expensive for the purpose. 

Can YOU believe I just said that!? :D

So as I am frequently told, I now also have to live with the little idiosyncrasies I get for the little money I paid for the inverter is good value for money and very affordable. :P

How do I get the watts you may ask, And I will say: Very cleverly within SolWEB.

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Just now, plonkster said:

If this doesn't prove the "you get what you pay for" rule I don't know what does :-)

+1 on that.

And less we forget, "buyer be aware" - I SHOULD have checked first before I bought.

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An analogy I use sometimes, is that of the Toyota IQ. Often a manufacturer can't compete in every segment of the market, and some of them don't even try to (BMW for example). The downside to that is that if you don't have that entry-level model by which you can hook the first-time buyer, he gets married to another brand and you lose them forever. Enter the Toyota IQ, Toyota's entry-level car. This car is built in the Czech Republic in the same factory as the Citroën C101 and the Peugeot 107. Now many of us (myself included) won't touch a French car with a very long barge pole, but here you have essentially just that: A rebadged Peugeot (on the other hand, if you drive a 107, you can say it's an undercover Toyota). So why would Toyota do such a thing, essentially rebadge a a French car? Because they needed a contender in that area of the market.

I think what Victron is doing here is competing in the lower end market, and almost unsurprisingly, the contender is somewhat... lower end :-)

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Yep. I get what you are saying. There is nothing wrong with trying to get into a lower market though. I just think that for a few cents it could have been made a lot better.

I soldered on some home made heatsinks from copper lugs and that was enough to make a big difference. I can not get it to overload thermally anymore. Highest temp was something like 82c while drawing 480w.

8cf36bdd71e284380b949ffd133725f7.jpg

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk

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1 hour ago, Weasel said:

Yep. I get what you are saying. There is nothing wrong with trying to get into a lower market though. I just think that for a few cents it could have been made a lot better.

I soldered on some home made heatsinks from copper lugs and that was enough to make a big difference. I can not get it to overload thermally anymore. Highest temp was something like 82c while drawing 480w.

8cf36bdd71e284380b949ffd133725f7.jpg

Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
 

I don't think that soldering lugs onto the tabs of the FETs (I assume they are FETs) is the best thing to do. Usually semiconductors can withstand soldering temperatures of around 300°C for a few seconds only and that is usually on the leads, a few millimeters from the die. If you want proper flow of solder on these lugs you have to heat them up quite a bit and for quite long and then you solder it onto the tab of the FET which has an excellent thermal path to the die. I think you are just lucky that you have not destroyed those FETs by overheating them.

From an IRF9540N datasheet: Soldering Temperature, for 10 seconds 300°C (1.6mm from case )

I would rather suggest to use something like a clip-on heatsink - many different types and sizes available.

clip-on.jpg.8b5511de8c4b900d0e3dd3a81583a06b.jpg

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Not sure if it was the inverter, same one we are talking about here, but I ran on batts too long, so inverter switched off as designed.

After all came back on one of the routers it was powering had to be replaced. Deader then a door nail.

Goes back to my previous questions on what can go wrong with stuff powered by inverters.

CAN the inverter have been the cause switching off under low battery conditions?

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On 3/22/2017 at 0:20 PM, The Terrible Triplett said:

CAN the inverter have been the cause switching off under low battery conditions?

I think so TTT. It is like having too much to drink and falling backwards off a bar stool. Something is going to break. I think when the inverter switches off on low voltage, it is not a suttle shut down, it is more like a crash. There are bound to be some voltage spikes. With the the last electrical storm I unplugged my telephone line from my ADSL modem, but not the power cable, guess what? It got smashed in the process in any case. Lights come on everything, just refuses to connect to the internet. My computer reports it is not plugged into the modem. I have six of them lying around here. TV's, PC's, security cameras, everything else works. You sneeze on a modem, they break. 

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