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5Kva Axpert clone inverter/charger died


stuvo
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My 5kva Axpert clone died last night. We were on grid power at night time so no PV in. I got a beep no error code and I could smell burning electronics. After turning everything off, I checked the battery voltage (good 50V) and tried to turn the inverter back on. The 3 front indicator lights all flashed rapidly in sync. This was accompanied by a rapid clicking noise (relay?). My plan is to just take it to a local electronic tech and see if they can find a damaged component unless someone has a better idea. The item is less than two years old.

 

Edited by stuvo
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1 hour ago, stuvo said:

My 5kva Axpert clone died last night.

When you say "clone", do you mean a Voltronic manufactured machine that has a different name, or a look-alike that is made elsewhere? Perhaps a photo of the unit or of the sticker on the side, if it has one.

You're in a relatively hot climate in the Philippines, so I'd guess that the battery-side capacitors dried out and the MOSFETs blew. Especially if it's a non-genuine Axpert; they might have 85°C capacitors, which might only be expected to last a couple of years.

It's also possible that the extreme humidity caused inevitable dirt on the PCB to become conductive enough to cause a MOSFET to misfire and cause shoot-through. These MOSFETs have leads with 2.54 mm lead spacing, which I believe is too small.

1 hour ago, stuvo said:

My plan is to just take it to a local electronic tech and see if they can find a damaged component

Tell them to check the internet for repair hints. If they don't find and fix any faulty gate drivers, you could be up for some US$80 in parts and have them blow up again as soon as the machine is turned on again. Have them replace the battery side capacitors with long life versions as well.

The "damaged component" is likely to be at least 8, probably 16 MOSFETs. A mirror might reveal blown leads and/or cracked cases. You might even be able to see damage from outside the case, through ventilation holes. The MOSFETs are on an aluminium heat-sink, under an overhang that makes them hard to see from above while the main board is still in the machine.

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You posted here: https://powerforum.co.za/topic/1054-firmware-update-freeze/?page=2

Doesn't seem like you have a legit Axpert inverter, in fact, based on the email from the company that made your inverter you almost certainly don't have a real voltronic inverter. Maybe time to get a real one instead?

Edited by Gnome
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@Gnome & @Coulomb: Doesn't look 100% like our Axperts/PIP but seems extremely close. The only diff I can see physically is the rounded top edge that I haven't seen on Axperts locally. But this definately looks like a Voltronics unit/clone to me...

@plonkster - Meanie :D - Budgets dictate our Invertors, we can't all afford the Blue stuff:D

Edited by KLEVA
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6 minutes ago, KLEVA said:

@Gnome & @Coulomb: Doesn't look 100% like our Axperts/PIP but seems extremely close. The only diff I can see physically is the rounded top edge that I haven't seen on Axperts locally. But this definately looks like a Voltronics unit/clone to me...

Well if you look at his comments in a previous thread, it seems that he tried to update the firmware with a Voltronics firmware which didn't work.

Then when he contacted the company they told him that the firmware is not updatable because "it works".

Additionally when you google the product they make no claim to being in any way associated with Voltronic.

Based on that alone I'm more inclined to think it is a fake product rather than the looks

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13 minutes ago, KLEVA said:

The only diff I can see physically is the rounded top edge that I haven't seen

Just for interest sake, It looks a lot like the Infinisolar V. At first i though It might be an Infini V copy.

I also looked at the rounded top and searched Voltronics site on Sunday and Found another one with a Rounded top. 

BBB.PNG.5f89bcde6305bfa4fd0465e9312bc57e.PNG

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15 minutes ago, KLEVA said:

@plonkster - Meanie :D - Budgets dictate our Invertors, we can't all afford the Blue stuff:D

Frankly I don't like paying 3x more for a product with no benefits to me. The few extra features offered by the Victron I don't need and don't appeal to me (eg. back feed and the providing more power while on grid than the inverter can supply).

So although I could afford to spend that much, I wouldn't be able to bring myself to spend it. The extra R20-25k spent would bother me.

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Can I do the stripper club moment then?:D Take it off, Take it off, Show us your screws - he he...

@stuvowe still have some debate, even after the picture. Are you able to remove the unit, open it and show us the circuit boards? @Coulomb is like almost the worldwide expert (well at least one that can speak english) on these things and could hopefully easily spot whether the insides are fake or not. Start with the Connection panel at the bottom, which looks like the same connections as the Voltronics units, but then also open the top and get pics of the top near the fans (also if you have black damage marks, show those too), then the general layout.

Edited by KLEVA
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4 minutes ago, Jaco de Jongh said:

Just for interest sake, It looks a lot like the Infinisolar V. At first i though It might be an Infini V copy.

I also looked at the rounded top and searched Voltronics site on Sunday and Found another one with a Rounded top. 

They could make it look exactly the same. In China that is not illegal. They aren't however allowed to use the same brand name (even there that is illegal).

Hence my comment that looks aren't really the best way to tell authenticity. It could be the real deal even it it looked slightly different. But in this case the slight difference isn't what prompted me to think it is fake. More the firmware update and email from the other thread (+ the manufacturer web-site).

Usually fakes from China have two major problems making them inferior:

1) Sub-par component selection (if the design is a straight copy)

2) Completely screwed up design internally (if they didn't copy the design)

Edited by Gnome
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@Gnome, not saying you are wrong, but @Coulomb knows the innards of these  things probably backwards and in his sleep, and hopefully will be able to spot with a bit more info. I could even be a faulty/outdated chip that can't flash the firmware, or a dodgy upload that has screwed the rest up since - If we can 100% determine that it is a Voltronics unit then Coulomb can offer proper chances at fix.

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4 minutes ago, KLEVA said:

@Gnome, not saying you are wrong, but @Coulomb knows the innards of these  things probably backwards and in his sleep, and hopefully will be able to spot with a bit more info. I could even be a faulty/outdated chip that can't flash the firmware, or a dodgy upload that has screwed the rest up since - If we can 100% determine that it is a Voltronics unit then Coulomb can offer proper chances at fix.

I hear you. If it is a fake, it'll be obviously quickly because they always use inferior tech, bad workmanship, etc. on clones.

I mean the prices they sell these Axperts at doesn't leave much room for lower on price.

Another phenomenon that is VERY common in China is a factory selling their rejects (QC wise) using a different "factory" under a different brand :p

This happened to Cisco for example IIRC (Their bad chips weird being sold somehow but it would fail after a much shorter time)

Edited by Gnome
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I have a valid PIP/Axpert that also refuses flash changes and the odd setting that refuses to work - Could even just be a Voltronics issue that they have never admitted (see my original posts in 2016 about settings that refused to change and have never changed to date).

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8 hours ago, Chris Hobson said:

Just looking at the sticker I can tell it is a unauthorised clone.

Yes, the font is wrong, the barcode number is completely different, and there is no ROHS logo at the bottom of the main sticker. Also there is no sticker over the nearby screw to invalidate your warranty when you open it up.

It's possible that they changed all those things on legitimate Voltronics models, but the date sticker has been there as long as I have known them.

I have no idea why South African models have the old hardware style, with the black heatsink at the top instead of the rounded top like recent non-SA models. At one stage I thought SA suppliers were getting old stock, but the date codes seem to say otherwise.

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I have seen in SA the later models with the internal heatsink. The external heatsink models were imported by the thousands in 2015. I must have seen 500 units in a warehouse in PE so most of them seem to be the older model. I have preference for the external heatsink models. I am not sure but I think they are more robust. I have no data to back up my stance - just a hunch. 

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UPDATE...

The first problem they found was a varistor protector 471KD20 clearly burnt (it melted part of a plastic shield, sorry no pics.) The part is not available anywhere in the Philippines, but I've managed to order a set of 5 from China via Alibaba.com ($10 + $25 express shipping.) Hopefully, they will arrive soon and then we will see if that is the only problem or are other components damaged.

By the way, I paid USD $634 for this inverter.

 

EST-000285.pdf

Edited by stuvo
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If I can't get it fixed, my solar tech (A smart guy I trust. He didn't sell me my initial setup. I messed that up all by myself.) is recommending a BiTEK 4kw/5kva for 59,000 pesos (USD 1,135.)

Do any of you have thoughts on this model?

Bitek 4kw 5kva.jpg

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Upon researching the above mentioned BiTEK hybrid inverter a google image search http://bitek hybrid inverter 4kw/5kva shows a bunch of Axpert clones. I don't mind spending some money, but I just want a decent inverter charger that will last for more than a couple of years. I know I live out in the ass end of the Philippines, but M*&^%$# @%$#^R PLEASE!

Seriously, does anyone know of a reliable dealer I can work with?

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32 minutes ago, stuvo said:

Seriously, does anyone know of a reliable dealer I can work with?

Stuvo, the other "camp" here on the forum is Victron. Much more expensive yes, MF more expensive, but in my experiences, worth every cent in not only parts and repairs, if ever, but in after sales support.

And then one do find them 2nd hand, with warranties still in place in most cases, if one really want to try them.

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3 minutes ago, stuvo said:

My next search - "Victron Solar"

 

Here they are: https://www.victronenergy.com/

And they have a branch in the Philippines: https://www.victronenergy.com/where-to-buy

Here: http://philsolar.ph/contact-us/

Ask as many questions here about how to best use all the options available to you IF you decide to go Victron.

Me, I just bought a Multigrid inverter, upgrade from my off grid Phoenix inverter, after 6+ years of perfect operation.

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