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Old 01-21-2022, 09:23 AM   #1
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Using inverter while on shore power

If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
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Old 01-21-2022, 09:29 AM   #2
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Using inverter while on shore power

When on shore power it is a pass through for the inverter directly to the house breaker box. The inverter will not be on. You should see AC on.

You have inverter/charger. The charger will charge the batteries. Solar will charge the batteries. Solar is a direct connect to the batteries.
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Old 01-21-2022, 09:29 AM   #3
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If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
have not seen any rv set up that way . many inverters have a built in transfer switch that pass through 120 when on shore power . depend on the inverter you have . You can surely set it up to run off inverter when on shore power to run what ever you have hooked up to the inverter but doubt solar will keep batteries up if use is high.
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Old 01-21-2022, 10:40 AM   #4
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In order to do what your suggesting you have to remove the AC input from your inverter.

Then it all has to do with how your breaker panel is fed. I believe if you have a Residential frig it can be supplied via shore power or via the inverter and should be labelled as such on the breaker panel.

The rest of the AC appliances should only be fed through the breaker panel and isolated from inverter power. Pretty simple to test this. Disconnect shore power, turn inverter on and see if you can run TV or other outlets. IF you have a meter you can go on and meter those outlets. I would hope\suspect that the engineers created it this way. Other wise you would end up smoking lots of inverters. For instance why would you supply AC from the inverter to say the microwave or A/C units if you know the inverter couldn't handle it? IF they did it that way I would say give me back your engineering degree!!!

For the most part if the panel has the proper isolated outputs, e.g. shore power is isolated from inverter then you can do what you are looking to do.
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Old 01-21-2022, 12:11 PM   #5
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If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
I am often easily confused … And, your question seems a bit confusing to me. I think the simple answer is “no.” I don't believe there is any such system as you describe available in the market that would scale to a practical RV installation. Perhaps a brief look at three common inverters configurations might help.

1. An inverter that connects to a battery, and provides a 120-volt output, usually via a power receptacle. This is the inverter that folks might clip temporarily onto their battery, or plug into a cigarette lighter socket. This inverter might be used for portable power, sometimes substituting a generator, to operate a television or the such. Its 120-volt output is always (should be) separate from shore/grid power. This kind of inverter is popular with campers because of its portability and is seldom (never) permanently installed into an RV. This inverter should never be tied a 120-volt system that might also connect to shore power. This inverter would be damaged by connecting its output to shore/grid power.
Example: <https://www.amazon.com/Power-Inverter-Charger-Converter-Ports/dp/B07Z4FCJJG/ref=sr_1_5?crid=3D9PQUPNFZUHM&keywords=inverter&qi d=1642780853&sprefix=inver%2Caps%2C1658&sr=8-5>

2. An inverter that connects to a battery, has a 120-volt line input, and a 120-volt output. This inverter also contains a power transfer relay that automatically detects shore power and directs it to the output when present. In the absence of shore power, the inverter then converts 12-volts DC to 120-volts AC and directs that to the output. This type of inverter is often designed to function as an inverter/converter combo. This kind of inverter is best permanently installed in an RV. The power-transfer relay allows either shore/grid power or inverter power (but never both) to energize the AC power inside the RV.
Example: <https://www.amazon.com/Xantrex-Freedom-817-2080-Power-Inverter/dp/B074V5JKLX/ref=sr_1_18?crid=2C5CNPLNZ3CW1&keywords=rv+inverte r+pure+sine+wave+with+relay&qid=1642781081&sprefix =rv+inverter+pure+sine+wave+with+relay%2Caps%2C178 &sr=8-18>

3. An inverter that connects to solar panels and provides a 120-volt output to the power grid. These are called synchronous or grid-tie inverters and usually include a MPPT controller. The output power sine-wave is phase-synchronous to the power grid so that its power is additive to the grid. I also shuts off during power grid outages to protect utility workers from electrical shock. This system would be useless (exceptionally impractical) for an RV installation.
Example: <https://www.amazon.com/SMA-Sunny-Boy-3-0-US-Inverter/dp/B07C63C8T9/ref=sr_1_4?crid=9VVI4Y0U0R38&keywords=grid-tie+inverter&qid=1642781923&sprefix=grid-tie+inverter%2Caps%2C166&sr=8-4>

4. A power-inverter connected to a converter creating a perpetual energy machine … This is a special one being marketed by StuffMyBankAccount, Inc.
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Old 01-21-2022, 12:33 PM   #6
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If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
nope, it does not work that way in an RV or in a house. the issue you would create is that the batteries would be trying to recharge themselves due to the loop you would create for this to work. The switch component would have to allow both feeds to be live at the same time and they do not, priority is always given to one leg and in an RV that is the shore power leg.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:03 PM   #7
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In my 2018 DX3 37TS the inverter is pass thru while on shore power.
That being said, shore power has 2 legs of 120v incoming power.(50amp connection) The inverter does a pass thru on one leg only. The second leg is direct tied at the transfer switch to a portion of your breaker panel (the AC units for one, AquaHot electric side, fireplace (if equipped), and induction range (if equipped). Common reference ---- heavy loads.
With your inverter in the ON condition while connected to shore power it will charge the batteries (both coach and chassis) and once charged will maintain the batteries at full charge. It also is in standby mode wherein if shore power drops the inverter will pick up the load for the inverter side of your breaker panel. ie GFCI outlets, frig, microwave all "heavy loads" will go offline until shore power is restored.
Now, if shore power has dropped offline, the inverter will be using battery for power source. If your genset auto start feature is properly setup, your genset will start when batteries hit 12v AGM 50% charge and then you will also be able to power the heavy load group via the genset.

Nice thing, it is all automatic!

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Old 01-21-2022, 01:24 PM   #8
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If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
To answer your question regarding dual AC (alternating current) power sources, it is generally all or nothing. In order for two AC power sources to be connected together, they must be exactly in phase with each other. One source will be considered the master and the other source the slave. This is how two inverter type generators can be connected in parallel. One generator is the master. Then there is a control circuit that adjusts the second generator's frequency and phase to match the first generator. Once phase and frequency are matched, the control circuit then connects the two generator outputs together. Loading on each generator in parallel is controlled by varying the output voltage of the generator.

Most RV transfer switches (whether built into inverters, or a separate transfer switch) are the simple break before make type and will not parallel AC power sources. It is a switch. It will disconnect the first power source before connecting the alternate power source. The disconnect only needs to be microseconds long. Most transfer switches are rated for a several millisecond transfer time.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:25 PM   #9
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Follow*, #3 sounds like what I was thinking of. Having spoken to a few friends that have alternative energy home supplements, and they all are using a well known inverter by Xantrex.
https://www.xantrex.com/
They are setup as you have mentioned in #3, which is what I would find very desirable, now that I am moving to long term RV residence at a park that meters your shore power. If you are in an area that NET meters, you will actually get a credit for excess energy you may produce that gets fed back into the utility. It may take a lot of work, but seems may be worth it. Especially since I have upped my solar to 560 watts. Next will be LI batteries.

Ken, from what you describe, it sounds like we already have something of that going on, albeit only one leg?
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Old 01-21-2022, 02:15 PM   #10
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What NavyCDR is also correct but,
In the connection "box" of the inverter only one leg is used by the inverter. The second leg is passed thru bypassing the inverter leg. As I said tied to the xfer switch/relay. The xfer switch does control both legs of the incoming shore power. 2 legs of 120 (50 amp circuit) which are 180 out of phase (split phase). Only 1 phase (leg) is used for the inverter. The other phase (leg)
is the heavy load. Both 120 legs 1 via the inverter 1 via shore power are passed to the breaker panel which is split (inverted circuits and heavy load circuits)

As regarding the metering style (net meter), most normal power meters at homes and campground will only run in 1 direction. A netmeter has two way operation which is 2 meters in one (an incoming power and an outgoing power).
At least this is what has been told by my local power provider to which I have an 8800 watt solar array that is grid tied to the power company. The inverter that I have is 240v output at the specific frequency of the power company. The conversion from DC to AC is driven by the incoming power from the utility. (very expensive inverter btw operates around 400v DC incoming). When this was implemented, there were actually 3 meters installed. 2 physical 1 net meter (2 in one (in and out)) and 1 production meter (only runs one way (in)). My system generates on average 13Mwh per year.
Since there are no batteries involved with this system, when the sun goes down the solar array drops below sufficient power to invert the proper voltage back to the utility and drops offline. It is 100% transparent in the transfer. Has been running without issue for > 5years.
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Old 01-21-2022, 02:27 PM   #11
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They are setup as you have mentioned in #3, which is what I would find very desirable, now that I am moving to long term RV residence at a park that meters your shore power. If you are in an area that NET meters, you will actually get a credit for excess energy you may produce that gets fed back into the utility. It may take a lot of work, but seems may be worth it. Especially since I have upped my solar to 560 watts. Next will be LI batteries.
There are a WHOLE bunch of safety issues for you to backfeed into the utility system.
You have to have "Rapid shutdown" of the solar array, isolation circuits that are fully automatic to shut down the AC output of the inverter, hard lockable disconnects for the inverter output that is 24/7 accessible to the utility company.
the last one is needed for if linemen have to service the main power lines they may need to go "cold line". Many power poles have 7500 or greater voltages involved and once your 240/120 v backfeed hits that transformer it will jump to that voltage level. Transformer works both ways.
Without isolation a worker could be extremely injured.
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Old 01-21-2022, 02:56 PM   #12
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Follow*, #3 sounds like what I was thinking of. Having spoken to a few friends that have alternative energy home supplements, and they all are using a well known inverter by Xantrex.
https://www.xantrex.com/
They are setup as you have mentioned in #3, which is what I would find very desirable, now that I am moving to long term RV residence at a park that meters your shore power. If you are in an area that NET meters, you will actually get a credit for excess energy you may produce that gets fed back into the utility. It may take a lot of work, but seems may be worth it. Especially since I have upped my solar to 560 watts. Next will be LI batteries.

Ken, from what you describe, it sounds like we already have something of that going on, albeit only one leg?
It appears you desire to reduce shore power consumption (cost) by utilizing energy from your solar panels. While putting that energy back into the grid from an RV is not practical, you might be able to accomplish similar results by simply switching your shore power off for a period each evening. During that shore-power-off period you would then use power from your batteries via your inverter. Ideally, you would adjust your shore-power-off run time to approximately equal the solar energy produced during the previous day-light hours. You'll need an energy monitoring system (EMS), which may already have, to observe your power utilization. I don't know what gain/loss estimates to expect from this method, but you probably already have everything needed. Additionally, this idea does not require any special meters, license, agreements, credits, or code compliance.
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Old 01-21-2022, 03:05 PM   #13
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It appears you desire to reduce shore power consumption (cost) by utilizing energy from your solar panels. While putting that energy back into the grid from an RV is not practical, you might be able to accomplish similar results by simply switching your shore power off for a period each evening. During that shore-power-off period you would then use power from your batteries via your inverter. Ideally, you would adjust your shore-power-off run time to approximately equal the solar energy produced during the previous day-light hours. You'll need an energy monitoring system (EMS), which may already have, to observe your power utilization. I don't know what gain/loss estimates to expect from this method, but you probably already have everything needed. Additionally, this idea does not require any special meters, license, agreements, credits, or code compliance.
Very true, as I said before it can be done as you say by removing the shore input power you will run off inverted power (less your heavy loads). If you need to run A/C units then generator will be required to run.

As to the economy of doing this ----- doubtful
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Old 01-21-2022, 04:03 PM   #14
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If the inverter is on, while shore power is connected, will you use battery/solar that is available, and then the shore power supplements any deficiency, thereby saving $ for the utility power? I believe this is how most household alternative energy setups work. For example, if the coach is using at any given time 20 amps load but the inverter can only produce 15 amps, the additional 5 amps will be supplemented by the shore power service. Or, is is all or nothing.
Not likely in a RV since the inverter is for when shore power is unavailable. One caveat to that is a newer Magnum inverter will boost power if shore power is not sufficient.

Your solar is already saving power on your shore hookup by the way. Since 12V devices still run off battery the battery is being drawn down to the point it needs charged. The charging requires a load on the shore connection (sometimes heavy, 11+amps). If the solar is keeping it topped off, charging from shore is rarely needed. At least the way mine is set up it works like that.
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Old 01-21-2022, 06:19 PM   #15
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I believe pretty much everything in my Force works on the inverter with the exception of the AC/heat pumps, and the fireplace. Not sure about the washer/dryer. I am thinking for the time being, the simplest thing to do, albeit a manual operation, would be to simply shut off the shore power for the daylight hours, and flip it back on for the night (no solar). Poor mans way of doing it. However that said, I think the concept of a higher level of inverter/charger, that can work together with the shore power like household ones do, would not only be a good idea, it works for conservation as the excess power would be fed back into the grid. There are many months I will not be in my RV, and it will be sitting there potentially producing power for the system. I'd like that.
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Old 01-21-2022, 07:38 PM   #16
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However that said, I think the concept of a higher level of inverter/charger, that can work together with the shore power like household ones do, would not only be a good idea, it works for conservation as the excess power would be fed back into the grid. There are many months I will not be in my RV, and it will be sitting there potentially producing power for the system. I'd like that.
How many people would pay the extra 1 or 2 thousand dollars that would add to the price just for that feature? You would have to change the inverter for one that the phase, frequency, and voltage could be adjusted as well as a paralleling control circuit. At most, it would simply reduce shore power usage down to zero when the inverter could supply 100% of the AC load. You would not be able to "sell back" electricity to the power grid without the appropriate electrical meter provided by the power company. And since most campgrounds do not meter electrical usage at individual sites, the actual savings to the RV owner would be next to nothing.
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:15 AM   #17
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Quite a few States have authorized NET metering, including Arizona, where I “reside.” You are hard pressed these days to find a home around Phoenix that doesn’t have a roof full of solar panels. I am pretty sure they are all NET metered systems, and the customer sees a sizeable savings. I know in Rhode Island for years homeowners with alternative energy would feed back into the system, legally, without any compensatory benefits, but did it anyway since they would get the majority of the electricity from the alternative source, and it was still quite a cost savings, and an environmental savings.

This may only be a worthwhile cost saving for full-time, or close to that, RVers where RV parks, or their own property, can be equipped with their own NET utility meter. The park I stay at has short term setups, and year-round setups. In the year-round setups the customer gets their own meter, and could request a NET meter, I believe. I don’t know what the additional cost would be for an RV, if designed that way from the beginning.

In summary, this concept seems perhaps one that simply isn’t going to pan out, yet. Probably too much money and too much that would need changing. Personally, it isn’t all about money. Thinking that if all inverter equipped RVs were eventually setup with a net meter type of system, and all/most RV parks were setup with NET meters, it would eventually add up to and industry that is environmental responsibility.

I may keep poking around this subject for a while. Seems like there is a lot to learn.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:33 AM   #18
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It is difficult for me to imagine electricity utility providers allowing unregulated mobile solar generators, such as RVs, connecting into their grids. While the necessary interface technology might be simple, I think it is difficult to create a cost/profit value that motivates RV consumers and RV park owners to implement such technology. Keep in mind that the electricity provider sells power to a private RV park who resells the electricity to an RV owner. Each point of sale requires technology to insure various safety and regulatory compliance (cost to RV park charged to consumer), and the RV hook up to a sell-back interface also requires additional technology (cost to consumer) … the consumer spending a dollar to save fifty cents.

On the other hand, I can envision a niche market for part of your idea being implemented by an onboard intelligent energy management system that integrates all of the RVs energy source/load components and manages the onboard power with greater efficiency. While such a system might not be cost reasonable for my 25-foot motorhome with 200 watts of solar, it might make sense for a larger unit with six solar panels and a bank of lithium batteries. I tend to boondock mostly and depend on my solar power replenishing consumed battery energy. However, a for larger unit already connected to shore power at an RV park, such an intelligent energy management system could implement an efficient energy cost savings algorithm.

… but then, for somebody like me who is easily entertained by flickering meters, blinking lights, and graphic spreadsheets … I'd buy the system just for entertainment. After all, who honestly cares about the Grand Canyon or Sasquatch when there are eddy currents, parasitic losses and μ-amps to investigate. …
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Old 01-22-2022, 01:08 PM   #19
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The new Magnum Hybrid inverter has this feature (to a certain extent). When it does not have enough AC power, it will supplement with battery power. However, just as fast as we started using that inverter, the supply dried up. We have been using Go Power, Xantrex and Magnum when we can get it.

In theory, if you only connected to the 20amp outlet or 30 amp, the inverter would supplement, but ONLY if it was short of providing enough power...with load sheds on the multi-plex side, I'm not sure it would ever take full advantage.
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Old 02-01-2022, 01:23 PM   #20
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The new Magnum Hybrid inverter has this feature (to a certain extent). When it does not have enough AC power, it will supplement with battery power. However, just as fast as we started using that inverter, the supply dried up. We have been using Go Power, Xantrex and Magnum when we can get it.

In theory, if you only connected to the 20amp outlet or 30 amp, the inverter would supplement, but ONLY if it was short of providing enough power...with load sheds on the multi-plex side, I'm not sure it would ever take full advantage.
Brian, the Magnum hybrid OM is explicit about this capability to augment reduced 120V current.

https://forestriverinc.help/#/dynama...ultiple-983896

A worthwhile feature. What I am struggling to find is the amount of charger capability relative to inverter demand. Which gets first take of the unit's output? Logically it should be the inverter but does it scale to the shore/generator output? IOW, as the 120v demand ramps up does it scale back charge output to zero? Or is there a a minimum charge below in AC amps, below which it will not go and then trips its breaker?

This could be alleviated by setting the Firefly charge rate maximum to a level that is below the Magnum threshold facilitating maximum 120v capability while in Pass Through or as they term it "Standby" mode? This capability would be helpful in Summer when running AC from dubious shore power capability and preventing the Magnum from giving the batteries the charge they are demanding while allowing solar to do its thing albeit (perhaps) more slowly.

Maybe I am overthinking this but the feature seems very useful. Especially the control of the charge rate. You may recall that last Winter I struggled to use 20 amp shore power without tripping my Gfi. After much playing around, I discovered that by setting the the Firefly charge rate to 10% with the Inverted Disabled, I can use that same "faulty" Gfi without tripping it.
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