Jump to content

Featured Posts

Has anybody experienced this problem before? Let me know if you need any more information. I am no electrician, so might have used the wrong terminology here and there, do forgive me! We live on a 60ft 2009 narrowboat in a marina, always connected to shoreline when moored.
 
Problem:
  • 230V power will suddenly cut out when connected to shoreline, regardless of time of day/temperature outside/what is running
  • When power has gone off, lights (indicating battery on float charge/fast charge/inverter on) on inverter (Sterling Pro Combi S) not displaying
  • Power can be turned back on by switching from shoreline power to inverter, which comes on, then switching back to shoreline - BUT has also switched itself back on
  • When shoreline power is back on, inverter shows battery is on fast charge - takes approx. 1 hour to reach float/trickle charge
Last occurrence:
  1. 21:30 Tuesday: 230V power turned off, 12V remained on. Nothing special turned on using 230V apart from usual fridge/freezer etc.
  2. Reading on DC Distribution: 12.7 and -07
  3. Didn't check inverter panel
  4. Switched to inverter - working, and back to shoreline - working again
  5. Checked inverter panel - battery on fast charge
  6. (Switched between BATT 1/BATT 2 on DC Distribution. BATT 2 (starter battery) not showing on panel - discovered that was because isolator had been switched on. Switched off isolator and starter battery working as normal, engine started. Probably not related, but noting here just in case.)
  7. 22:30 Tuesday: battery on float charge
  8. 07:00 Wednesday: battery still on float charge
  9. Later on: Switched engine on, unplugged from shoreline, switched inverter on - working
  10. 08:50: Plugged back into shoreline while engine still running - no 230V power, 12V still working. Inverter panel lights not showing
  11. 09:00: 230V turns itself back on, engine still running, inverter panel - battery on fast charge
  12. 10:00: inverter panel - battery back on float/trickle charge
 
Might also be relevant:
  • When connected to shoreline, inverter won't switch on. Will only switch on when disconnected from shoreline - so when we are able to switch the inverter on when the 230V power goes off, does this mean that the inverter isn't registering that it is connected to the shoreline?
  • Is one battery on its last legs/dead and causing the whole thing to cut out/drain so suddenly? I have pics of 230V/12V circuit I can attach if needed.
  • Could there be a problem with an isolation switch for the domestic batteries, hence why 230V still off when engine running/connected to shoreline?
  • Batteries last changed 3-4 years ago.
  • Why did the power cut out while the engine was running, and the battery was on fast charge when it came back on?
  • Why does whole inverter system go off when power cuts out?
Edited by woodwyatt
changed 240V to 230V
  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, woodwyatt said:

When connected to shoreline, inverter won't switch on. Will only switch on when disconnected from shoreline - so when we are able to switch the inverter on when the 240V power goes off, does this mean that the inverter isn't registering that it is connected to the shoreline?

 

 

Because it is very very dangerous (and against the rules) to have two sources of 230v than can both be 'on' at the same time.

It is possible for them to be 'half-a-cycle' out and you would then get over 400 volts which is 'more than deadly'.

 

Any wiring system must ensure that both cannot be live, and it looks as if your inverter has a sensor so that it it detects 230v coming into the boat it will not allow itself to be switched on.

 

  • Greenie 1
  • Unimpressed 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

 

Because it is very very dangerous (and against the rules) to have two sources of 230v than can both be 'on' at the same time.

It is possible for them to be 'half-a-cycle' out and you would then get over 400 volts which is 'more than deadly'.

 

Any wiring system must ensure that both cannot be live, and it looks as if your inverter has a sensor so that it it detects 230v coming into the boat it will not allow itself to be switched on.

 

It's a Combi!

  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, woodwyatt said:
Has anybody experienced this problem before? Let me know if you need any more information. I am no electrician, so might have used the wrong terminology here and there, do forgive me! We live on a 60ft 2009 narrowboat in a marina, always connected to shoreline when moored.
 
Problem:
  • 230V power will suddenly cut out when connected to shoreline, regardless of time of day/temperature outside/what is running
  • When power has gone off, lights (indicating battery on float charge/fast charge/inverter on) on inverter (Sterling Pro Combi S) not displaying
  • Power can be turned back on by switching from shoreline power to inverter, which comes on, then switching back to shoreline - BUT has also switched itself back on
  • When shoreline power is back on, inverter shows battery is on fast charge - takes approx. 1 hour to reach float/trickle charge
Last occurrence:
  1. 21:30 Tuesday: 230V power turned off, 12V remained on. Nothing special turned on using 230V apart from usual fridge/freezer etc.
  2. Reading on DC Distribution: 12.7 and -07
  3. Didn't check inverter panel
  4. Switched to inverter - working, and back to shoreline - working again
  5. Checked inverter panel - battery on fast charge
  6. (Switched between BATT 1/BATT 2 on DC Distribution. BATT 2 (starter battery) not showing on panel - discovered that was because isolator had been switched on. Switched off isolator and starter battery working as normal, engine started. Probably not related, but noting here just in case.)
  7. 22:30 Tuesday: battery on float charge
  8. 07:00 Wednesday: battery still on float charge
  9. Later on: Switched engine on, unplugged from shoreline, switched inverter on - working
  10. 08:50: Plugged back into shoreline while engine still running - no 230V power, 12V still working. Inverter panel lights not showing
  11. 09:00: 230V turns itself back on, engine still running, inverter panel - battery on fast charge
  12. 10:00: inverter panel - battery back on float/trickle charge
 
Might also be relevant:
  • When connected to shoreline, inverter won't switch on. Will only switch on when disconnected from shoreline - so when we are able to switch the inverter on when the 230V power goes off, does this mean that the inverter isn't registering that it is connected to the shoreline?
  • Is one battery on its last legs/dead and causing the whole thing to cut out/drain so suddenly? I have pics of 230V/12V circuit I can attach if needed.
  • Could there be a problem with an isolation switch for the domestic batteries, hence why 230V still off when engine running/connected to shoreline?
  • Batteries last changed 3-4 years ago.
  • Why did the power cut out while the engine was running, and the battery was on fast charge when it came back on?
  • Why does whole inverter system go off when power cuts out?

 

Shore power is routed through the Combi by means of a transfer relay. So when shore power is present, that mains power is transferred straight through the Combi to the outlet which supplies the sockets etc. If the shore power goes off and the Combi is switched on, it will go into inverter mode. The transfer relay opens so that inverter power is not present at the shore inlet socket (dangerous). So in summary, transfer relay closed routes shore power through to the boat, transfer relay open isolates shore power from the boat. I suspect that the transfer relay is faulty (dirty, burnt contacts etc) so that at some point the connection is not being made and the shore power goes off. After you run the inverter and reapply the shore power, it works for a while because you have cycled the transfer relay off and on again, and that action of disconnecting and reconnecting the contacts, probably with a bit of contact wiping action, has made it work for a while.

So as you describe it, the most likely cause is an internal failure within the Combi, at the transfer relay.

 

 

Oh and full marks for clearly and thoroughly describing the problem. Not wishing to be patronising but you would be amazed how many people come on here and seek help for a problem without really giving any detail, that detail then has to be painfully prised out of them over many exchanges until ultimately, the true picture appears which is often at odds with the one-line initial complaint!

Edited by nicknorman
  • Greenie 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, nicknorman said:

 

Shore power is routed through the Combi by means of a transfer relay. So when shore power is present, that mains power is transferred straight through the Combi to the outlet which supplies the sockets etc. If the shore power goes off and the Combi is switched on, it will go into inverter mode. The transfer relay opens so that inverter power is not present at the shore inlet socket (dangerous). So in summary, transfer relay closed routes shore power through to the boat, transfer relay open isolates shore power from the boat. I suspect that the transfer relay is faulty (dirty, burnt contacts etc) so that at some point the connection is not being made and the shore power goes off. After you run the inverter and reapply the shore power, it works for a while because you have cycled the transfer relay off and on again, and that action of disconnecting and reconnecting the contacts, probably with a bit of contact wiping action, has made it work for a while.

So as you describe it, the most likely cause is an internal failure within the Combi, at the transfer relay.

 

 

Oh and full marks for clearly and thoroughly describing the problem. Not wishing to be patronising but you would be amazed how many people come on here and seek help for a problem without really giving any detail, that detail then has to be painfully prised out of them over many exchanges until ultimately, the true picture appears which is often at odds with the one-line initial complaint!

 

This sounds very plausible to me! Thank you so much for your advice, really appreciate it.

 

I did say I wasn't an electrician, as you can probably tell by the following mistake: what I always thought was "switching the inverter on" and "switching back to shoreline power" was actually switching to "power saver off" and then switching to "power saver auto" (which has been making the 230V/shoreline power connection come back on when it has cut out). I didn't realise that our inverter would come on automatically if the shoreline power supply ceased, so when the shoreline power supply cuts out/is interrupted, the inverter will come on and then, inevitably, the batteries will drain, hence why when we come to switch the power on, the battery is on fast charge. I've certainly learnt a lot about our boat's electrics today! We only moved onto this boat a year ago, and before that were on a 1983 45ft narrowboat for 15 years with no inverter and a car battery charger... You probably worked out my wording mistake anyway haha. Your advice about it likely being the transfer relay still makes sense.

4 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

 

Because it is very very dangerous (and against the rules) to have two sources of 230v than can both be 'on' at the same time.

It is possible for them to be 'half-a-cycle' out and you would then get over 400 volts which is 'more than deadly'.

 

Any wiring system must ensure that both cannot be live, and it looks as if your inverter has a sensor so that it it detects 230v coming into the boat it will not allow itself to be switched on.

 

Thank you for your help. I'm learning an awful lot about narrowboat electrics through all of this, your advice is appreciated!

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, woodwyatt said:

 

This sounds very plausible to me! Thank you so much for your advice, really appreciate it.

 

I did say I wasn't an electrician, as you can probably tell by the following mistake: what I always thought was "switching the inverter on" and "switching back to shoreline power" was actually switching to "power saver off" and then switching to "power saver auto" (which has been making the 230V/shoreline power connection come back on when it has cut out). I didn't realise that our inverter would come on automatically if the shoreline power supply ceased, so when the shoreline power supply cuts out/is interrupted, the inverter will come on and then, inevitably, the batteries will drain, hence why when we come to switch the power on, the battery is on fast charge. I've certainly learnt a lot about our boat's electrics today! We only moved onto this boat a year ago, and before that were on a 1983 45ft narrowboat for 15 years with no inverter and a car battery charger... You probably worked out my wording mistake anyway haha. Your advice about it likely being the transfer relay still makes sense.

Thank you for your help. I'm learning an awful lot about narrowboat electrics through all of this, your advice is appreciated!

That switch has 3 positions I think. In either Auto, or Power save off, it will automatically change between charging the batteries and passing through shore power if shore power is on. If shore power is off the inverter will operate either in power save or normal mode. When the switch is mid-position “charger only” it will only operate when shore power is present, passing the shore power through and charging the batteries. If shore power goes off, the inverter doesn’t kick in so the mains sockets etc on the boat go dead.

 

When you are mostly on shore power, I suggest it is better to leave the switch on “charger only”. That way, if the shore power trips off for some reason, you know about it straight away. If you leave it on one of the other settings, the inverter seamlessly kicks in and you don’t know about it until the batteries go flat!

Edited by nicknorman
  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Sterling Pro Combi S which had to have the whole internal electric unit replaced shortly after I bought it. Sterling supplied the unit and I swapped it for the failed one myself.

 

Im no electrician, but am quite handy when it comes to fixing stuff on a boat, and my recollection is that it was a fairly straightforward swap.

 

I tell you this because, if the relay thing is obvious, and can be cleaned by opening the unit up, and finding it, it may be something you could do.

 

I wouldn’t know the relay being referred to if I fell over it, but there might be some pics/info here or on the web, that might help.

  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have received an email back from Sterling. They have said:

 

"I believe the issue is one of two things, both of which can be solved with a module replacement. How old is this combi?

I believe the faults are either a)Module calibration error causing relay failure or b)An AC  spike has damaged the AC board part of the module."

 

Richard - luckily, we have a friend on the marina who is an electrician and said he would be happy to fit the part/make the swap, so we shouldn't have to send it back to Sterling! Hopefully it's a straightforward swap like yours was.

 

Nicknorman -  noted about it leaving the boat on "charger only" - thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, woodwyatt said:

I have received an email back from Sterling. They have said:

 

"I believe the issue is one of two things, both of which can be solved with a module replacement. How old is this combi?

I believe the faults are either a)Module calibration error causing relay failure or b)An AC  spike has damaged the AC board part of the module."

 

Richard - luckily, we have a friend on the marina who is an electrician and said he would be happy to fit the part/make the swap, so we shouldn't have to send it back to Sterling! Hopefully it's a straightforward swap like yours was.

 

Nicknorman -  noted about it leaving the boat on "charger only" - thank you!

 

How much are they charging for the module?

 

ISTR they wanted about £650 + Vat in 2011.

Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

 

How much are they charging for the module?

 

ISTR they wanted about £650 + Vat in 2011.

Not sure yet, just waiting to hear back from them. £650 + VAT is a bit more than I'd like to pay, I have to say! And I suppose it'll be quite a bit more than that now 10 years later. I suppose we'd be shelling out a lot more on these types of problems if we lived in a house, or so we keep telling ourselves when things go wrong!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wierd tripping can also occur with the input plug infested with spiders if it is dry, or moisture tracking inside the plug or socket, you can have great fun if there is a bead of moisture on neutral to earth, it can take days to find. The plugs and sockets used are not really up to the job they are moisture resistant not waterproof as in living in a shower with rain pelting them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 19/02/2021 at 11:53, woodwyatt said:

Not sure yet, just waiting to hear back from them. £650 + VAT is a bit more than I'd like to pay, I have to say! And I suppose it'll be quite a bit more than that now 10 years later. I suppose we'd be shelling out a lot more on these types of problems if we lived in a house, or so we keep telling ourselves when things go wrong!!

 

I wasn't sure whether to post this, and it is purely coincidence, but I have just removed my Sterling Pro Combi S 2500W in order to fit a Victron Smart inverter, to go with my Sterling Pro Charge Ultra 60A charger that I fitted a few years ago. The Combi at 80A charging is too powerful for my new Honda EU10i genny, which can only power a 60A charger.

 

At 80A as a charger, and 2500w as an inverter, it might need bigger cables than you have, or your batteries and shore power/genny may not be able to cope. PM me if you might like to "take it off my hands" for a reasonable price. As above, I bought it from Sterling as a recon unit in 2011, and it had a new "module" in 2012. No problems since then, and it was working fine when I removed it on Friday.

 

In the interests of transparency, I dont like the fact that it uses about 4A when turned on in non power saving mode, but powering nothing, (acquiescent current). The new Victron uses 0.8A, (I hope :) ).

 

I'm not keen on arranging transport, but could pack it with bubble wrap and some kind of box, for collection.

 

Send me a PM if you could be interested - no problem if I dont hear from you :) 

 

To avoid confusion, it looks like this:

 

https://www.midlandchandlers.co.uk/products/sterling-pro-s-combi-12v-2500w-vl-294

 

 

  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

The Combi at 80A charging is too powerful for my new Honda EU10i genny, which can only power a 60A charger.

Got confused over what was what😱

Edited by Loddon
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Loddon said:

Got confused over what was what😱

 

The Sterling Combi that I have removed has an 80A battery charging facility. The Honda EU10i that I bought a while ago, (to replace my knackered EU20i), can only power a 60A charger. I have a 60A charger, independent of the Combi, so am OK for charging and, with the addition of the new Victron inverter, I am OK for inverting.... so I don't need the Sterling Combi anymore.

 

If that is even more confusing, don't worry about it - it doesnt matter :)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

We had a similar problem on our 2002 boat which had a Victron Combi. I kept getting fed up of loosing the 240V when in a marina. My solution was to get the boat rewired to use the victron combi as inverter only - it worked fine as that - and installed a £200 victron IP22 battery charger - so ending up with separates. The 240V from the shore power is wired to the boat and cannot be tripped by the combi. A 1 2 0 switch chooses if the shore power or the inverter supplies the boat with 240V.

 

If you have a problem with a Sterling bit of kit, I had great success driving over to them last summer and getting it sorted there and then. I took over 2 BtoB's that I bought from them that did not do what they should and they tested them and upgraded them (very good deal). It was only an hours drive from here to there. I stood and watched as they investigated. Great service.

  • Greenie 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.