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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.
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.
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.
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.