Suggestions for a DC to DC converter (/charger) ?

FrazzledHunter

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thanks for the detailed information. Sorry, I wasn't clear, and also used the wrong terminology, my mistake. When I said "bad" battery I meant to say a battery that was very much discharged, like 7V (the default for the undervoltage protection). I also used the term "lock out" wrongly, I meant to say *undervoltage*. "Lock out" is for engine detection I think. Dang, too many parameters... (or good...)

Anyway, what I'm wondering is what happens if the Orion sees an input of zero volts without it being turned off first. That is possibly very different from it going to sleep so to speak (as in output deactivated), because of the lock out threshold or the engine detection threshold while there still being some voltage seen at the input and the Orion keeping an eye on things. More specifically, I'm wondering what would happen if the Orion is in the back with a house battery and connected to a bus that goes to zero volts when the ignition is turned off, and then suddenly sees over 12V again when I start the engine. Any chance that would damage it? The reason I brought up the undervoltage feature is that it seems (a guess) like the unit will actually completely turn off below that threshold (the 7V default) so I'm hoping that if it does that it won't hurt anything at a full zero input either. And if it's fine with zero input, will it reactivate when the voltage goes back up? I'd try it on my bench, but I'd rather not zap a brand new costly unit without a bit of research first.

Unfortunately, I think Victron has now gone more mainstream in that they did not respond to my last technical inquiry besides "contact the distributor". I had been telling folks earlier that they were great at answering questions. Not so much any more maybe, sadly.
Got it - it's sometimes pretty dang hard to get things phrased the way you want them. I'm living proof LOL!

Anyway, what I'm wondering is what happens if the Orion sees an input of zero volts without it being turned off first.

I don't think it's an issue. I think it's made to work like that or at least robust enough to not care pretty much no matter what you do.​
If the Orion sees an input voltage below it's lock out value it just shuts off its output but stays energized so you can communicate with it. I have literally had it in that state for days as in we pull up to camp, turn off the engine and then the Orion shuts off. I might or might not unplug the Orion (your zero volt scenario) and put my Goal Zero on solar etc... Then we'll start the engine and (perhaps plug in to an energized circuit if I unplugged) to go exploring. Then we Days later I realize I forgot to turn it off. Oops. I hope I'm not slowly cooking my Orion by doing this but it's been fine for 2+ years.​

More specifically, I'm wondering what would happen if the Orion is in the back with a house battery and connected to a bus that goes to zero volts when the ignition is turned off, and then suddenly sees over 12V again when I start the engine. Any chance that would damage it?

You're fine. But I'm a bit confused why your input ti the Orion would go to 0 volts with the ignition turned off. The alternator voltage would go to zero but the battery would just slowly discharge past the lockout value, turn off its load and then continue as a small parasitic draw on the battery.​
And if it's fine with zero input, will it reactivate when the voltage goes back up?
Yes. I've done this. E.g. :​
  1. Engine off, Orion unplugged, car battery V+ is below Orion's restart value.
  2. Plug in the Orion
    1. Orion sees voltage
    2. Orion springs to life, can now communicate via Bluetooth etc...
    3. No outgoing load as the battery voltage is below lockout.
  3. Start engine, battery V+ above restart value
  4. Orion now supplies output charging power device
What I really don't know is what happens if the Orion sees say 3V when it's plugged in; never tried that. Will it come to life? Will it be able to communicate?
I would be very surprised if it would hurt the unit however as Victron just had to have thought of this scenario of a low battery.
My guess is is that you can't hurt these things with under voltage.

Good luck!
 

e9999

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Excellent, good to know! Thanks for taking the time, firsthand experience is best.
So it sounds like I should be fine. My going to zero volt is the same as you physically unplugging it. And my 12V back is your plugging it back in. Yes, I would hope they would have thought of that scenario but never know.
I think your 3V should be the same as zero / unplugged because it is under the "undervoltage" threshold (7V default). I don't know what physically happens to the unit, though, likely it turns itself off completely, as in fully deactivated.

(the reason why my bus goes to zero volt is that it's on a relay I put in for unrelated reasons)

When you say you turn it off, are you physically removing the little jumper block or did you put a switch on that connector? I can't imagine the contacts will last forever.
 

FrazzledHunter

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Excellent, good to know! Thanks for taking the time, firsthand experience is best.
So it sounds like I should be fine. My going to zero volt is the same as you physically unplugging it. And my 12V back is your plugging it back in. Yes, I would hope they would have thought of that scenario but never know.
I think your 3V should be the same as zero / unplugged because it is under the "undervoltage" threshold (7V default). I don't know what physically happens to the unit, though, likely it turns itself off completely, as in fully deactivated.

(the reason why my bus goes to zero volt is that it's on a relay I put in for unrelated reasons)

When you say you turn it off, are you physically removing the little jumper block or did you put a switch on that connector? I can't imagine the contacts will last forever.
I saw this yesterday but couldn't post. See, my wife was hollering about things needing to be done around the house and I got the idea she thinks that's somehow more important than posting on ih8mud. Go figure. :rofl:

When you say you turn it off, are you physically removing the little jumper block or did you put a switch on that connector?
I turn it off with the app. which is why I often forget to do it. I've never used the jumper block. I can see how it would be handy in a permanent installation however. A simple SPST switch with the unit mounted on a piece of plywood would be very easy. Maybe I'll do that one day.

Good luck. I'm curious how things finally go for you.
 

e9999

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Did not know it can be turned off with the app. I'll have a look next time it's up. Or do you mean the "Charger / Output enabled" setting?
 

FrazzledHunter

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Did not know it can be turned off with the app. I'll have a look next time it's up. Or do you mean the "Charger / Output enabled" setting?
That's it.
 

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I had assumed that this setting only turns the output off. But that is likely what the jumper does too, since I can still communicate with the Orion with the jumper off.
 

FrazzledHunter

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I had assumed that this setting only turns the output off. But that is likely what the jumper does too, since I can still communicate with the Orion with the jumper off.
I think that's probably correct. But I assume that turning it off makes it easier on the unit if you do a hot plug & un-plug.
 

e9999

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yes, that can only help, I would think.
Maybe the only way to really turn it off -short of unplugging it- is to give it less than the undervoltage level threshold then.
 

FrazzledHunter

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yes, that can only help, I would think.
Maybe the only way to really turn it off -short of unplugging it- is to give it less than the undervoltage level threshold then.
Yes perhaps. But I'm not clear just what the unit does at low voltage and per your experience Victron doesn't want to play nice. But a low voltage scenario like that will probably never occur in my application so I have little incentive to chase the answer.

On a somewhat unrelated note I'll mention that the Victron will limit output when it gets hot. It's one of the really great protections built into it. In testing I saw the unit go from 350W down to 280W, for example. This is one reason why Victron says to mount the unit vertically for cooling. You can not limit power output via the app settings and in my case with the unit set up as a power supply I wouldn't want to. This is why we have fuses/breakers LOL!

My installation is portable so it could be sitting vertically, sideways, upside down etc... So I got a USB blower that I mounted right next to my unit. The unit itself sits on washers to give it a little more air. With the blower I never see the power output lower. In fact, I consistently get a constant 380W (according to my Yeti 1500X) which is 20W over the rated max. The blower makes a HUGE difference.

AC Infinity MULTIFAN S2, Quiet 120mm USB Blower Fan with Speed Control, UL-Certified for Receiver DVR Xbox Modem AV Cabinet Cooling
Amazon product
 

e9999

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Yes, these things are not extremely efficient. From memory I think I saw 87% in the specs, so at full load, there would be something like 50W to dissipate, that's a lot. They do have big fins, fortunately. And, yup, if that blower of yours only uses 1W as per ad, then you come out way ahead.

It is nice that they derate at high temps rather than shutting down completely. Part of why they are so expensive, I guess.
 

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Fiasco!

Mostly cuz I'm an idiot...

So I got the Orion 12/12 30. (Remember I was thinking above that it may be too much current out?) That thing I thought was rated at 30A.

Mistake #1: Seems like it's really 40A. That thing will crank out. This is no lightweight little charger.

What happened is that I wanted to charge a 100Ah LiFeP battery. My biggest Lithium charger is 6A. For some reason my bench power supply will only give me 2A when connected to the battery. No idea why. Anyway, looking at 20h of charging. So in my less than infinite wisdom I decided I wanted to use the Orion to go faster cuz I thought eh 30A will be much faster. Indeed, it was and then some.

But I was thinking Orion=30A so Mistake #2 : I thought I would be fine with 10AWG wires. These should be able to do 30A, right?

I was doing 42A. Well, first one of the Powerpoles mounted OEM on a little power meter I have, did melt. Now that meter is rated at 100A supposedly, but it has 12AWG wires out, so that 100A is surely a wild exaggeration (chinese generic amazon stuff). Powerpole melted. Removed. Not entirely my fault that one, but I should have seen it coming with 12AWG. Ran again. 40A. Leads are a bit warm, powerpoles too but nothing alarming. But I did not plan on 40A at all, was thinking 30A. Now 40A is iffy for cheap 10AWG chinese cables with flimsy insulation. I keep checking, they are getting warmer. But on the input battery side they are now very warm. In fact I see the insulation starting to look unwell. Stop.

Cuz Mistake #3: I used 2 LA batteries as input source to the Orion. I forgot that the voltage of the batteries under load was significantly lower (about 12V at the source batteries and 11V at the Orion input) than the 14.4V I set on the output. So, with that lower voltage and the inefficiencies of the Orion, I suspect the current on the upstream side was probably well over 50A. Like 600W plus, and the 10AWG did not like that one bit...

Mistake #4: I was improvising something quickly on my bench so flat out forgot to put a fuse or breaker in line. Had I done that, I would probably have used a 40A one and that would have stopped the issue right away. I did not.

Redeeming action #0 (gotta find something, right): at least I did put a 300A switch in the circuit, cuz unplugging the power poles live at 40 or 50A when in a hurry to stop everything may not have been good either.
Redeeming preemptive action # 1/2: I put the Orion on a metal frame and vertically, so good cooling. It barely got warm while cranking over 40A...


Sooo: that Orion just keeps cranking. Gotta get big wires for it. Gonna get expensive. Did not plan on that. Sheesh.
 

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