PRESS RELEASE: Xantrex Interviews The RVgeeks!

TheRVgeeks Electrical, Great RV Products, Updates & Upgrades 9 Comments

Xantrex recently interviewed us about our switch to their Freedom SW 3012 inverter/charger. They created the above video about it, plus you can read their companion article about us here.

Our decision to replace our Magnum inverter/charger with a Xantrex unit was a long time in the making. We’d been having some minor glitchy behavior with the Magnum (which we detailed in a recent video) for quite some time, but nothing requiring an urgent solution.

Our new Xantrex System Control Panel

Our new Xantrex System Control Panel

Just like most good geeks, we have a lot of tech on board, much of which we catalogued in our Tech Cabinet video. As a result, we’re probably a bit less able to tolerate power blips than the average RVer. If not for our need to have guaranteed continuous uninterrupted power to our tech, we would likely have been fine with our Magnum… indefinitely. Yes, we utilize an uninterruptible power supply, but that should be a last line of protection, not a primary one. And the UPS can’t provide protection for ALL of our electronics (first of all, not all of it is located where the UPS is… plus the UPS doesn’t have the capacity to protect everything we have).

The reason the decision-making process about replacing our inverter/charger was so protracted was primarily due to the unknown of any new system. We were basically meeting about 95% of our needs with our current system, and the amount of work that would be involved with replacing it required us to have a high degree of confidence that we’d get it right the first time.

While we were in the process of procrastinating about making this very important decision, we were contacted by Xantrex to see if we would consider putting one of their systems to the test. They didn’t even know we had been laboring over an inverter/charger replacement decision for a long time already. And while Xantrex was on our short list of options, there were still some unanswered questions.

Since we’d be doing the work ourselves, one primary consideration was any potential difficulty caused by switching brands. The two biggest considerations were the physical size of any replacement unit (as it of course needed to fit in the available space) and any potential incompatibilities (mostly, would all the connections match).

The Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 3000-watt pure sine wave unit was one of our top contenders, since it would fit in the space AND provide more power for both inverting and battery charging than we had already. Plus we’d had two flawless years of service from the Xantrex unit in our first RV. We were also aware that Newmar now uses Xantrex inverter/chargers on their “Luxury” motorhomes (Mountain Aire and higher), which gave us even more confidence.

The one potential catch was related to a possible installation challenge: Xantrex uses a 6-wire connection between the inverter/charger (which is of course located in the basement) and the control panel (which is above the dashboard). But our existing Magnum uses a 4-wire system… so we fully expected that we’d be required to run a new cable. ?

We’ve run wire through challenging parts of the RV before and know what a hassle it can be. We removed the toad braking system from our Bounder and installed it in our Mountain Aire, which required very difficult routing of cables through the basement, under the chassis, and up over the rear axles into the engine compartment.

The prospect of running cables from the basement, under the RV, up into the dashboard area, up the A-pillar and into the overhead compartment was a borderline deal breaker. But we were interested enough in the Xantrex unit to keep it in the running and continue to investigate the specifics involved in switching brands.

The Xantrex Network Adapter Cable made the changeover a snap!

The Xantrex Network Adapter Cable made the changeover a snap!

We were able to visit Xantrex headquarters in BC, Canada, and got the opportunity to ask a lot of technical questions. One of the most welcome answers we received was all about the 4-wire vs. 6-wire situation: Xantrex offers a pair of special 6-to-4 network cable adapters that simply clip right onto each end of the current cable. Each adapter then plugs directly into their respective outlets on the Xantrex System Control Panel and the inverter/charger itself.

That answer sealed the deal for us. After having hesitated to make a move for a very long time, we said we’d give the SW 3012 a try. The fact that Xantrex was offering us a unit for testing purposes at no cost was really unimportant to us, as we knew that making any switch (or even replacing our current inverter with the exact same unit again) would require enough work on our part that the single most important factor was getting the right inverter on the first try. We were not about to casually swap in unit after unit to test out various models. We were now confident that this was our best option and took the leap.

We’ve had our Xantrex unit in place for several months, and we are so relieved that all of our concern about replacing our old, mostly-okay inverter paid off big time. Besides our tech, we have a residential refrigerator. So we keep our inverter “on” 100% of the time, even when plugged into shore power. Despite the fact that we often spend a lot of time during the summer in a remote RV park with frequent power outages, we have not had one single power blip of any kind. Not once.

As we write this, we’ve had three power outages in the past 48 hours, and are literally running off our inverter and battery bank at this moment, as the power went out again about 10 minutes ago. The only reason we were even aware of it is that we heard the tell-tale “clunk” from the transfer switch in the basement (and heard the dull drone of several generators firing up in the neighborhood).

It’s been great to have steady, rock-solid power for the first time in a while. Our batteries charge more quickly, and our AC power capacity is higher, too. Plus, an additional motivation for upgrading our system is the ability to access some modern features that weren’t available on our old unit. We’ll be installing and reporting on some of those additional features in upcoming videos… so stay tuned.

Thanks so much to Xantrex, both for improving our power management, and for producing the above video for their YouTube channel.

For more information about Xantrex products, visit their website. To read Xantrex’s article about us, view it here.

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Comments 9

  1. I could not find the “right ” place to post this. I would be nice for you to do a video on “Buying a Used Newmar”.
    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Post

      Buying a used RV is pretty similar regardless of which brand(s) you’re considering, so a Newmar-specific video wouldn’t likely be much different than looking at any used rig… comparing prices, getting a professional pre-purchase inspection, etc. While we haven’t made a video specifically about the topic of buying a used rig, we did make one about the pros & cons of new vs used that includes a lot of info about the topic in general. Hope this helps a bit! You can view it here:

  2. It’s too bad you had problems with your Magnum. I’m honestly not trying to rain on your parade, but I had almost the exact opposite experience with my Xantrex inverter/charger. My OE Xantrex (older and different model than your’s) had reliability issues. Xantrex tech support was horrible. This was several years ago, so they may have improved since then. I ultimately replaced my Xantrex with a Magnum MS2012. The Magnum has worked flawlessly for me. I found Magnum’s tech support to be superior and I like the fact that they are made in the USA. Just my experience, glad the Xantrex is working well for you.

    1. Post

      Not raining on our parade at all, Craig! It sounds like you’re just keeping the inverter universe karmically balanced! LOL We had a pretty good experience with our Magnum, and don’t have a bad opinion of the product or the company. Sounds like they can all have a bad day from time to time. ;-)

  3. You mention the 4-to-6 wire adaptors but did not comment on the new Xantrex System Control Panel. I’ll bet it does more than the panels made ten or even five years ago.

    It looks very clean and tidy, but I’m curious: did you have to drill out space to make it fit?

    P.S. Very much enjoyed the drone shots of you and the Wynns first time I saw them and they certainly give this ‘advertisement’ an extra star for production quality.

    1. Post

      Hey John! The Xantrex does indeed provide increased functionality, which was a prime motivator for upgrading at all. The new panel is indeed just a bit larger than the old one. We used our Dremel tool to take a narrow strip out of the top and one side, and it went right in. Of course each installation is different, which is why we didn’t do a step-by-step “how-to” on this one. We also loved the fact that Xantrex used some of that footage. They really did a nice job with the video.

    2. Post

      Hey John! The Xantrex does indeed provide increased functionality, which was a prime motivator for upgrading at all. We’ll be sharing more detail about some of the features in an upcoming video or two.

      The new panel is indeed just a bit larger than the old one. We used our Dremel tool to take a narrow strip out of the top and one side, and it went right in. Of course each installation is different, which is why we didn’t do a step-by-step “how-to” on this one.

      We also loved the fact that Xantrex used some of that footage. They really did a nice job with the video.

  4. I am just curious if you have had a chance to check how hot this inverter gets. My magnum will frequently hit the 90c limit on the FETs which will then cause the inverter to cycle down on its output and then repeat the cycle. I have noticed this to happen when the OAT is upwards of 85f. I have replaced both the cooling fans as well as the FETs board, but yet the issue persists. Several calls to Magnum tech support have confirmed that this is a known issue. I own the Magnum 2000 inverter.

    1. Post

      Hi Carl. While it didn’t occur to us to specifically look for overheating, we haven’t noticed anything unusual when we’ve been down in the basement doing testing on our new inverter. No fans spooling up particularly high or anything like that. It’s in the upper 50’s and pounding rain here today, so we can’t really check for it today (LOL), but we’ll keep an eye out on a hot day and report back if we see anything out of the ordinary. So far, so good though, and we recall doing our initial load testing on a hot summer day, too.

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