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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Advice on Inverter, generator and battery bank set up...
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tomwalla
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 09:10
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Hi. I have an off the grid treehouse. I do not have solar because of the heavy tree canopy. Currently, I power the treehouse with the use of a 3400 watt generator with remote start. Works really nicely. However, I am adding a battery bank and a inverter/charger to minimize the use of the generator. I have purchased an AIMS 4000 watt pure sine inverter/charger. The inverter has a built in charger and transfer switch. The battery bank I have should produce 750 amp hours of output. My dilemma is this...The wiring diagram from the manufacturer of the inverter/charger shows the generator connected directly to the main service panel, (or to a transfer switch if there are other sources of ac power), then through the main service panel to the ac input side of the inverter/charger. The ac output side of the inverter/charger then connects to a sub panel. I am hoping that I don't have to put in a sub panel to be run from the AC output of the inverter/charger. I would like the same exact receptacles, lights, etc. that are powered through my main service panel to be either powered by the generator or by the inverter. What I would like to do is connect the generator directly into the AC input side of the inverter. The AC output side of the inverter would connect directly to the main service panel in the treehouse. Is this possible??

Nobadays
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 10:08
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Can you post the wiring diagram... that might let us see what you are up against, maybe why the manufacturer has it that way. Possibly a work around.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 10:45
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Maybe these will help:
This is showing my 1st setup with a Yiyen APC3024 which is similar to the AIMS you have. Excluding the Solar Extras, the wiring should be similar.

When the Inverter is charging the batteries, it also allows Pass-Through power to the VAC Circuits provided the generator can provide it (has the capacity). ! WARNING ! If you have a regular Mod-Sine wave Generator (construction type) when it is charging, the pass through will be MOD-SINE and will also be noticed by the Inverter. IF the genset is an Inverter Type that outputs Pure-Sine then that would be better, obviously.

The AC-OUT from the Inverter goes to a Sub-Panel that feeds out the circuits. In my instance, I have a panel in the powerhouse and a separate panel in the cabin to handle the distribution of 120VAC. In your installation, the first panel can be ignored (in my images) and the inbound AC wired directly to the Main AC Subpanel.

NOTE: The little "push-button" breakers on these Inverters SUCK ! I strongly suggest installing a Square-D 70A 2 Space box (QO2L70S) between the Inverter & Genset with a Single Pole QO130 breaker for real safety. I use Square-D because they are inexpensive, can be found everywhere and are high quality.

Hope it helps, Good Luck
Steve
Our Solar Diagram V-1 (OLD)
Our Solar Diagram V-1 (OLD)
PowerHouse-Panel - LOGICAL
PowerHouse-Panel - LOGICAL
Main-Cabin-Panel - LOGICAL
Main-Cabin-Panel - LOGICAL


tomwalla
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 11:05
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Sure. Here is the basic wiring diagram.

Thanks

Tom
89D01E76A11C451B9.jpeg
89D01E76A11C451B9.jpeg


Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 14:15
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Their diagram is showing the Inverter going through an ATS (Auto Transfer Switch) which cuts off Grid AC in and allows the Genset to feed power to the Inverter/Charger.

In your case, you do not need an ATS as you have no grid power to switch from, your only AC Source is the generator. So the Generator should be wired to a small panel as I indicated previously then to the Inverter which will auto-sense the AC when it comes on.

The AGS (if your genny is compatible with GSCM's) can auto-start the generator when triggered by Low Batt Voltage signal from the Inverter. It can also shutdown the generator when batteries reach Full and the Full Signal is sent to the control module.

The AGS (Auto Gen Start) signal is attached to a GSCM ( Generator Control Start Module) such as this from Atkinson Electronics http://atkinsonelectronics.com/gscm-mini-60hz-usa-canada/

NOTE: Not all Generators can make use of such a module nor be auto-started. There is a model for Honda E Series Generators as well as other specialized ones. IF your generator is not on their long list, then there is no company that produces a GSCM for it.
The LIST (Huge PDF): http://atkinsonelectronics.com/content/product_pdfs/All%20Hookup%20Diagrams%20Merged. pdf

tomwalla
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 18:39 - Edited by: tomwalla
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Thanks Steve for the thoughtful reply...
What is the purpose of the small panel the generator goes to before going to the inverter? I guess I would assume I could connect the generator directly to the AC input of the inverter?

The Champion Generator I have has remote starting and an electric choke. However, it isn't on the list that you provided. Do I need a separate GSCM or can the auto start be wired directly into the generator?

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 19:28 - Edited by: Steve_S
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If it's not on the list there is no control module for it.

I just went down that rabbit hole as I presently have a Champion 41552 with manual choke which means using it manually. I thought I'd by a StandBy genset but there is no warranty if no grid hookup, no GCSM control capability and not supported by anyone, even Champion. So with a lot of effort I located this Champion 7200/9000 W Portable Dual Fuel Generator Model 100230 that would make a suitable replacement.

The use of a Single Pole 120V/30A between the Inverter & genset plug-in is an extra to protect the inverter/charger as that is what the L5:30 plug will be feeding. The Breakers on the Generator work but really should not be depended upon, neither should the "push button" breakers on the Aims Inverters.

A wall plug-in similar to this :


A control module does more, than just turn on/off the generator. I thought it would be simple like that too at first... nope. Reading the info at Atkinson explains it pretty well. I use a Samlex EVO-4024 Inverter/Charger system to run my place so my installation for the equipment is per their specs which are quite detailed. Additionally, there's no substitute for safety, not only for yourself & family but your property & equipment too.

Steve

tomwalla
Member
# Posted: 25 Oct 2020 20:19 - Edited by: tomwalla
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So the wall plug in would also have a 30 amp breaker in the box? The plug in I would be using is a 120V 30A RV (TT-30R) receptacle since that is what is coming out of my generator.

A couple more questions...The GSCM...can you also use that unit to manually start the generator from a switch inside the house?

I'm wondering if my generator is large enough to power the treehouse through the inverter and charge the battery bank at the same time? It is a 3400 watt generator. My inverter is a 4000 watt but I think it is much larger than I need. The vast majority of the time I am only running lights at the treehouse which requires approx 300 watts.

Steve_S
Member
# Posted: 26 Oct 2020 05:08
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This is the flow:

Generator 120V/30A output-> Wall Plug -> 30A-AC Breaker -> Inverter/Charger.

3400W รท 120V = 28.3A

My 7kw/9kw Generator is pushing 120V/30A to my Samlex Inverter/Charger. The Charger is pushing 24V/50A (Samlex let's you program such) for battery bank charging and that is actually only pulling 22A off the generator t do it (I can monitor that on the Samlex display) but if the water pump or Coffee Maker are on the Generator bogs for a sec then picks up the load. NOW the Samlex Inverter/Charger has the smarts to handle the power demand and throttle charging while demand is high.

Your AIMS Inverter/Charger is NOT anywhere near as programmable or flexible like a Samlex ($1000 Inverter vs $2000 Tier-1 product) but it should still throttle charging although I don't know for sure as I do not own that equipment.

Inverter/Chargers just like normal chargers are also Frequency Sensitive. For USA the electrical Frequency is 60Hz, most Charging systems will allow for 58Hz to 62Hz but the moment the generator goes beyond that when running the charger will cutoff. Non-Inverter Generators frequencies can float around somewhat, even mine, on cold winter day with load on it can go out to 65Hz which trips the safeties (one of the reasons I wanted to update my genset, it has several years and hundreds of hours on it, I built my home using it and more... ).

tomwalla
Member
# Posted: 26 Oct 2020 05:36
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Thanks Steve. Appreciate the insight.

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