VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Discussion about OutBack Inverters in Off Grid Applications

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raysun
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Neil wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:21 pm
raysun wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:10 pm
Neil wrote: Wed Jan 12, 2022 5:04 pm

No, I don't think more than 3.6 is needed for now.
Then when the inverter is wired into the truck's AC circuitry, the shore power should be connected to the inverter's AC IN exclusively, with no other connections into the truck's AC wiring.

The inverter has a built-in transfer switch that will sense the AC Input, and switch to it, passing shore power AC to the "house loads", while simultaneously switching the inverter to battery charger mode.

With this single point of shore power connection, the AC backfeed issue is eliminated.
and you are saying this specifically about the M model ? What you describe is exactly my need
It is a fundamental feature of every Outback inverter.

All of us, whether off-grid or grid-connected, use the inverter's automatic transfer switching mechanism, along with the seamless inverter / charger functionality, in our power systems.

The only distinction of the "M" is switched N-G bonding in concert with the AC IN transfer switch.

The simplified AC wiring scheme has two circuits, each of three wires:

AC IN: Hot, Neutral, Ground (from shore power, or generator)

AC OUT: Hot, Neutral, Ground (from inverter)

Screenshot_20220112-153318_Drive.jpg
Wiring diagram from Outback FlexPower One, pre-wired system panel.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

I think I figured out what to do . I found a new FET board model number 200-0002-3JTEST at a place called the Inverter Service Center . cost was $445 flat. No shipping. And this FET board works with both the VFX3648 Outback inverter or the Mobile version VFX3648M. I'll do this replacement job and let you know how it goes
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Sounds good.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

I put in the new FET board today and the inverter still isn't working . I don't know if I might have damaged it before even installing the inverter. I connected the inverter terminals to my 48 volt positive and negative and got a huge spark when doing so . This was suggested by one of Outbacks youtube video in order to test the inverter. since it did this I just installed the inverter .. This is really frustrating .

as anyone who knows these systems far better than me can probably easily see , I most likely don't have what it would take to put humpty back together again with this. When I was reinstalling the inverter the darn wires up top kept either coming out of the sockets I had screwed them into or come unsoldered from the whatever board that attaches to the top plate . for all I know I may have connected something wrong as I spent hours trying to put it back together . I have been Ok with this product but I can't really afford an all new system or the risk I'll screw up another inverter or board. I bow to solar ,, but I now just want a stand alone inverter for my batteries but then again that's what the vfx3648 is , right ?
Last edited by Neil on Tue Jan 25, 2022 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Sorry to hear this is continuing to be a problem. I don't quite understand the sequence of events. Is it:
• Inverter was disassembled and new FET board installed.
• A "bench test" was attempted by connecting the 48V battery leads to the inverter battery terminals. During the process of connecting be battery leads, an arc was discharged at the connection terminal.
• The inverter did not show normal status indicators. (Were any of the LEDs lit?)
• The inverter was reinstalled, and does not appear to function.

Is the above correct?

A couple of notes:

The inverter, when power is first applied, will experience a very high "inrush" current that charges the power capacitor. If the battery cables are carrying 'live' voltage during connection, an arc discharge will result. This arc can be damaging to delicate electronics. (Though it may not.) In the future, make sure the cables are not carrying a live voltage by putting a properly designed circuit breaker in line in the battery positive cable, and make sure it is open. This will allow the connections to be made "arc free" and after they are secure, power can be applied.

If the inverter is now installed, and there is no status LEDs lit, measure the voltage at the battery input terminals. If it is 48V nominal, but no Battery LED on the inverter, there may be damage to the circuits. If there is Battery LED lit, then check via the Mate that the inverter is ON. (Disconnect any AC Loads before turning on.)
Screenshot_20220125-181005_Drive.jpg
Status LEDs
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

In fact I did get a spark when I attempted to connect the positive and negative leads from my 48 volt battery bank . Unfortunately for the sake of giving useful information I admit I did this stupidly . I connected the positive side with the negative already attached and didn't use any kind of fuse of switch as you mentioned . Yes, all very dumb. I do think if this project still has a chance I will have to take out the inverter again . I'll take it apart and make sure there are no shorts there . Then I will set up the connections with proper fuse and switch in the cable '..

thanks raysun for your help
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Its not likely the arc you experienced was a short, as much as expected inrush current to the main power capacitor. If the battery leads are now connected, any event is past, and done what it will.

Can you confirm whether there are any status LEDs lit?
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

no the leads are not connected . I immediately detached the wire when it sparked so I will set it up properly and see about the lights .
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

OK.

Once the battery leads are properly attached, check the status LEDs. If the Battery LEDs show a sign of life, there are two things to try (with AC OUT disconnected, and Mate3s plugged in):

• Check the inverter status. If OFF, switch to ON.
• Reset the inverter to factory defaults.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

when I had the inverter installed and the mate3s did power up , when the inverter is turned on the mate3 shuts down and won't start again till I turn off the inverter .
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Neil wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 11:24 pm when I had the inverter installed and the mate3s did power up , when the inverter is turned on the mate3 shuts down and won't start again till I turn off the inverter .
How is the inverter being turned on and off?
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

I had attached it to the rest of the system like normal

so my next step is to remove the inverter and set this inverter up with the circuit breaker. Obviously I need a DC breaker but what size ?

In the Outback Youtube video I found the power up part is a bit vague . They talk about powering it and say use the voltage for your system . Does that mean I could power it up with just one of the 4 batteries ? So I'd be pwering it with 12 not 48 volts which would change the breaker needed I assume
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

The unit needs to be powered at its design voltage, so 48V. The circuit breaker used between the battery positive and the inverter battery + terminal serves two purposes - as a disconnect, and to protect the cable. It needs to be sized for the current carrying capacity of the battery cable. Also, it must be a DC circuit breaker designed for the purpose (it will have internal arc quench.)
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

badboard.jpg
this is part of the board that distributes current apparently that is mounted above the inverter. The square shape there with the hole in it next to the bottom blue thing used to have a wire soldered into it . Working with the system caused the metal for soldering the wire to break out so there isn't anything to solder to now . If I can even find this board I guess I need a new one .. anyone know where they can be purchased ?
Attachments
whole board.jpg
Last edited by Neil on Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Is that the AC Input board? The PCB right behind the AC Input terminals?

Can you take a photo of the entire board?

*EDIT*

Is the inverter mounted on a FlexPower panel?

I see an MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) in the photo. Those are found on a surge arrestor board that wires into the AC IN, AC OUT, and DC IN to the inverter on a FlexPower panel.

The inverter will operate without this board in place (if its healthy.)
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

raysun wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:43 pm Is that the AC Input board? The PCB right behind the AC Input terminals?

Can you take a photo of the entire board?

*EDIT*

Is the inverter mounted on a FlexPower panel?

I see an MOV (Metal Oxide Varistor) in the photo. Those are found on a surge arrestor board that wires into the AC IN, AC OUT, and DC IN to the inverter on a FlexPower panel.

The inverter will operate without this board in place (if its healthy.)
it is mounted on a flexpower panel yes .... and I updated the last post with a pic of the whole board
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

I think I found that board .. it's $115 about. and yea it is a surge protector board . and apparently it doesn't protect against what I did.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by EA6LE-ONE »

Neil wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:13 pm I think I found that board .. it's $115 about. and yea it is a surge protector board . and apparently it doesn't protect against what I did.
you did something stupid? There is board for that.

Now that will be a good business :)
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

EA6LE-ONE wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:32 pm
Neil wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:13 pm I think I found that board .. it's $115 about. and yea it is a surge protector board . and apparently it doesn't protect against what I did.
you did something stupid? There is board for that.

Now that will be a good business :)
I absolutely did a stupid thing :) and I've noticed that anything from lightening to an AC circuit shorting to ,of course, turning on the Outback and juicing an already hot line :)

So for those of us who for whatever reason do the bad Inverter frying thing , we probably just need an easier and safer thing. So, I wonder if there will be a growing market for these "power stations " like the Jackery 1000 watt power station . I looked briefly last night and there appear to now be much larger such self contained PSs that double as backup power for your home in a power outage or anywhere. ( and how about someone who is totally relying on solar ? Nice to have backup self contained power ?)

It's very tempting to just go. that direction and have everything plug and play for those of us not tech brainy and the price is around the same compared to an Outback inverter controller bundle . of c: ourse that experience will depend on the quality of the product. I have wanted to have easy electricity in my Westfalia forever. I bought a Jackery 1000 power station and happily powered my Dometic frig for a 200 mile trip. I easily charged it with a 12 volt outlet in the van while driving and I'll install solar panels on the roof and charge the Jackery that way to or of course any time I have AC. It was great. Of course probably not for a residence .. but maybe a tiny house ? :)

and yes . someone needs to start developing protective easy to use protective systems on both ends right ? all kinds of power surges and stupid actions like I took or by a friend that inadvertently messes it up somehow just using the system for a week ? Yes please smart people , make easy protection. My blunder cost me hundreds or thousands so..
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

There's no question that the "power suitcases" are a more consumer-friendly solution. They have their advantages, and their limitations.

Their relatively compact size dictates use of a type of lithium ion battery that carries a greater hazard risk than the LiFePo4 generally used in stationary power solutions. Charging time can be another factor, though some vendors put engineering efforts into fast chargers. Serviceability is another question mark.

The Outback gear, and all like it, is designed as "infrastructure". Their greater capabilities require commensurate understanding, and proper installation. Its unfortunate the issue experienced has occurred. It is painful and expensive.

Installed and operated properly, the Outback gear is a 'permanent utility'. The Jackerys of the world are 'portable generators'. Both can be perfectly serviceable when applied to a job that suits their design.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

raysun wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 5:16 pm There's no question that the "power suitcases" are a more consumer-friendly solution. They have their advantages, and their limitations.

Their relatively compact size dictates use of a type of lithium ion battery that carries a greater hazard risk than the LiFePo4 generally used in stationary power solutions. Charging time can be another factor, though some vendors put engineering efforts into fast chargers. Serviceability is another question mark.

The Outback gear, and all like it, is designed as "infrastructure". Their greater capabilities require commensurate understanding, and proper installation. Its unfortunate the issue experienced has occurred. It is painful and expensive.

Installed and operated properly, the Outback gear is a 'permanent utility'. The Jackerys of the world are 'portable generators'. Both can be perfectly serviceable when applied to a job that suits their design.
Yes I get that Outback is all the things you mentioned . Interesting that so many DIY it with Outback and does Outback want to discourage sales of any kind ? Outback Inc. has plenty of protection from wrong customer installations I'd imagine . Not to disparage a system designer, but I bought my system custom designed by a local solar company. They knew my application ... in general they did OK buying Outback for me. But they never gave me any service or follow up customer service at all., I've had to stumble through it on my own and it's been 10 years since I installed the system .
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

TBH, the type of failure the system suffered never should have happened, and with proper system design and installation would not have. IMO, the original installers did you no favors setting up the wiring in a manner that permits AC voltage to be sourced on the load circuits. Unless it was a modification made subsequently, the original design left a fatal flaw. Its fortunate the fatality was an inanimate object. I've seen that issue cause human tragedy.

If a proper generator receptacle, wired to the inverter's AC Input was not provided along with instructions for its use, then they were remiss. If the backfeed situation was caused by plugging a generator into one of the "house" AC outlets using a double male "suicide cord", then the culpability is shared.

I'm not apologizing for Outback's design, and well understand your frustration. Their inverters do actually protect quite well against backfeed errors, but its pretty much impossible to build a system that can withstand all such assaults. In this case, the surge suppressor may have done its job, however the design of surge suppressors is like a super high-speed fuse. They are destroyed in the process. Though its not uncommon for the power board to fail, it may not have. There's no way for we end users to determine that in the field. Even service centers may use "board swap" diagnostics to trace the source of damage. Having all the parts on hand, plus knowledge of proper system voltages and signals is necessary to do more than guess at the solution.

Sending the inverter in to a depot with trained technicians will be cheaper in the long run.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

raysun wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 6:58 pm TBH, the type of failure the system suffered never should have happened, and with proper system design and installation would not have. IMO, the original installers did you no favors setting up the wiring in a manner that permits AC voltage to be sourced on the load circuits. Unless it was a modification made subsequently, the original design left a fatal flaw. Its fortunate the fatality was an inanimate object. I've seen that issue cause human tragedy.

If a proper generator receptacle, wired to the inverter's AC Input was not provided along with instructions for its use, then they were remiss. If the backfeed situation was caused by plugging a generator into one of the "house" AC outlets using a double male "suicide cord", then the culpability is shared.

I'm not apologizing for Outback's design, and well understand your frustration. Their inverters do actually protect quite well against backfeed errors, but its pretty much impossible to build a system that can withstand all such assaults. In this case, the surge suppressor may have done its job, however the design of surge suppressors is like a super high-speed fuse. They are destroyed in the process. Though its not uncommon for the power board to fail, it may not have. There's no way for we end users to determine that in the field. Even service centers may use "board swap" diagnostics to trace the source of damage. Having all the parts on hand, plus knowledge of proper system voltages and signals is necessary to do more than guess at the solution.

Sending the inverter in to a depot with trained technicians will be cheaper in the long run.
I of course have no argument with your well written points. and I'm not blaming Outback. More to my point would be the actual practicality of more portable and ( if well designed) easily managed all in one systems like a bigger size Jackery. 10 years ago I doubt that was much of an option though when I put my system on my music truck. But today I would take a serious look at that route because of the somewhat stupid proof nature of them combined with Lithium batteries.

But I'll see if I can revive this inverter and get the Outback working again . I should clarify, I got no system design from the company that sold the kit to me. I've been on my own with that... and obviously , knowing what one is doing with this technology is crucial for safety sake ultimately
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by raysun »

Way out in the middle of nowhere, we built a drive-in movie screen, and I show movies there off-grid.

I'm perfectly happy running the projector, FM sound transmitter, and control console on a portable inverter/battery "generator".

The FlexPower One panel may actually be a bit much for the music truck application, now that the portables are maturing in capability. The nice thing about the FP One, is it would be easy to repurpose, or sell.
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Re: VFX3648 Inverter stopped working, flashing red error

Post by Neil »

raysun wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:33 pm Way out in the middle of nowhere, we built a drive-in movie screen, and I show movies there off-grid.

I'm perfectly happy running the projector, FM sound transmitter, and control console on a portable inverter/battery "generator".

The FlexPower One panel may actually be a bit much for the music truck application, now that the portables are maturing in capability. The nice thing about the FP One, is it would be easy to repurpose, or sell.
I'm feeling a lot more patient with the idea of fixing this inverter. ( thanks in part to you ). I'm very curious now what the solution will be. I ordered the DC breaker yesterday to set up the inverter bench test. Once I have the lights on the inverter I'll buy the new surge board and put it all back together again

Even buying all the internal boards for the inverter is cheaper than anything else at this point and I will have had the learning experience from this

thanks raysun :)

and the drive-in sounds fun ;)
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