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Looking after your Inverter Generator

Inverter Generator Genset Maintenance

Japanese Inverter Generator

The key to a long-lasting inverter generator is consistent maintenance that aligns with the recommendations in iTechworld’s operator manual. From general maintenance tips and guidelines to a helpful schedule for common procedures, the manual will serve as the best point of reference for commercial and personal users who wish to keep their inverter generator running efficiently for many years to come. Those new to iTechworld generators can follow a few specific tips in order to ensure long-term enjoyment of their inverter generator purchase.

High Quality Inverter Generator


Safey Disclaimer: Think before you act
Inverter generators aren’t just a safety risk while in operation. In fact, conducting maintenance exposes users to many of the same risks that would be faced while the equipment is
running. Before getting started with regularly scheduled maintenance, make sure that the
equipment has had time to cool down. Users should work only in a well ventilated
or outdoor environment, using a solid and level surface that guards against fuel spills or
equipment balance issues. Ensure that the engine is off and that spark plugs or other wires are disconnected, since this will prevent unwanted ignition that might cause very serious injury.

3800 Watt Inverter Generator


The key to a long lifespan is maintenance
Inverter generator maintenance keeps the equipment running at peak efficiency, which means that it uses fuel more sparingly and works for a longer period of time. Regular maintenance also ensures that the inverter generator runs more quietly than it would if key parts are neglected, which can be a significant boost especially if the inverter generator needs to run overnight or for multiple consecutive days. The best way to ensure a high level of efficiency and a low level of noise, is to simply follow the guidelines mentioned in the operator manual’s maintenance schedule. This schedule recommends certain types of maintenance based on the number of hours the generator has been in use, and is a great reference that will keep everything running smoothly until the generator is retired or replaced with another model. The maintenance schedule highlights the following key procedures

Inverter Generator OilEngine Oil Change - iTechworld recommends checking the oil levels each time the inverter generator is used, with an oil change required after the first twenty hours of use and every six months after that. Oil is checked and changed by removing the oil/service/air filter access panel and unscrewing the oil filler cap, you can then check the oil dipstick to see the oil level. Typically iTechworld recommends SAE 10W30 oil. To change the oil screw the oil discharge pipe into the oil reservoir and tighten. Tilt you inverter generator forward and pour the oil into a suitable container. Using the oil container provided by iTechworld fill the inverter generator up with new oil.Inverter Generator Air FilterAir Filter - The air filter should also be checked prior to each inverter generator use. Equipment owners should clean the filter after 50 hours of use or every 3 months, whichever comes first. Cleaning can be performed with warm water and a mild detergent, like dish detergent or other typical soaps. Wash and then let dry thoroughly, dip the foam filter in clean engine oil and squeeze out all excess if there is too much oil left on the foam filter the inverter generator will "smoke". If the air filter shows signs of damage, it should be replaced with an new one instead.

Inverter Generator Spark Plug

Spark Plug - Spark plug adjustments should take place every 100 hours, or after six months of use. The spark plug requires full replacement once per year, or after 200 hours. As with the air filter, a spark plug that shows signs of significant damage should be removed and replaced with a brand new spark plug that fits the inverter generator, as this will ensure continued operation at the highest levels of efficiency. For full replacement, iTechworld recommends A7RTC or CR5HSB Spark plug with Gap 0.7 to 0.8 (0.028 to 0.032”), available from most auto electrical stores.Spark Arrestor Inverter Generator
Spark Arrestor - The spark arrestor is designed to prevent the emission of flammable debris from your inverter generator. This is a critical part of the inverter generator, and by keeping it serviced and clean ensures both efficiency and safe operation. Because this part is located near the inverter generator’s muffler, that part should be allowed to cool down after any recent use before spark arrestor maintenance is performed. ITechworld recommends spark arrestor service and cleaning after every 20 hours of use, or every month, whichever comes first. Use a wire brush to free any carbon deposits from the surface of the spark arrestor, and inspect the part for damage. if required, replace the spark arrestor rather than cleaning off built-up carbon and dirt deposits.

 Download the manual for the iTechworld 4.8KVA Inverter Generator HERE

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Mounting Flexible Solar Panels

Mounting Flexible Solar Panels

As we sell more and more Flexible Solar Panels the obvious questions that comes from our customers is:

"How do we mount them?"

A lot of people simply cover the backside of them with sikaflex and whack them onto the roof. This is the quick and easy way to do it. Is this the best way though?

Lets have a look in detail at how solar works.

All solar panels operate best at around 25˚C. That is just the nature of the beast. for every one degree that a solar panel goes above or below that 25˚C mark it loses efficiency. This is called Temperature Coefficient. If you look at any solar manufacturer's data sheet you will see a term called "temperature coefficient Pmax". For example the temperature coefficient of an iTechworld Flexible solar panel is –0.48%. What this means is that for each degree over 25˚C the maximum power of the panel is reduced by 0.48%. Now 0.48% does not seem like a big number at all. We live in Australia though. Its exceptionally hot especially in summer as you all know. So if our new flexible Solar Panel got hot enough to be at 45˚C then it actually loses 10%. Incredible!

I had a customer come into the store and he advised that he used the iTechworld Amp Meter to test his solar panel amperage output. He wasn't impressed with what he seen, he then sprayed them with cold water with his garden hose and ABRACADABRA the amperage jumped up. Why? Because the water got the solar panels back closer to the 25˚C mark.

So when we go to mount flexible solar panels onto our roof we should take into consideration how hot a caravan or vehicle roof actually gets. If your roof gets up to 60˚C or 70˚C then you are losing close to 20% efficiency from your solar panel. That is a massive drop.

Talking to different people on a daily basis in the shop means I get to hear some amazing ideas and solutions for mounting these panels that will keep them cool. My favourite suggestion so far was to mount them on multi layered, vented poly carbonate sheets. You can buy this type of material from most large scale hardware stores (where they do sausage sizzles every Saturday and Sunday) cut it to shape, mount the flexible panel to it, then mount that to the roof. This will give you an air gap underneath the solar panel and keep it much cooler than mounting it directly to the vehicle roof. It also keeps the weight factor down as well. WIN WIN.

So my question is how have you mounted your flexible solar panels? Have you noticed any performance drop by having them mounted directly on the roof? Please leave some feed back in the comments section below.

 

Thanks!

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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Two Regulators One Battery

Connecting two Solar Regulators

The most common question I get asked on a daily basis is:

"can i connect two solar panels with separate regulators to my one battery bank"

A lot of people when they first start out with their caravan or motor-home mount solar panels on to their roof almost by default. They know they will need solar power and they know that it will help them free camp. However, there are some draw backs with having Solar Panels mounted on to a roof.

  • If you park in the shade to keep your van cool then the Solar Panels almost become redundant. Even with shade tolerant cells you are still not going to be able to produce enough power to keep the 12v fridge happy.
  • Nine times out of ten the solar panels are mounted flat which is not the most efficient angle for a solar panels. Mono-crystalline solar panels prefer an angle of about 30 degrees to get the efficiency.

So after splashing out to get solar panels onto the roof and taking off on your first big trip you come back feeling disappointed because your set up didn't quite meet your expectations. Don't beat yourself up too badly about it. Its easily fixed!

The answer is having a combination of both roof mounted panels and portable panels. A portable solar panel enables you to park in the shade and use your portable solar panel's 5 - 10m of cable to put it out in the sun. On top of that your portable solar panel will be set at an angle which will help efficiency and you can move it every hour or so to follow the sun. Great!

But how will two solar panels charge the battery without over charging? Will the two regulators talk to each other? What measures and testing can you do to make sure it all works as it should do? After all you do not want to overcharge your expensive deep cycle batteries now do you?

Here are two options to consider.

Option1: Run both set ups through the same controller. To do this you will need to have a decent level of solar understanding and you will have to apply some modifications. So how would we do that? Lets assume that your solar regulator mounted inside the van for roof mounted solar panels is capable of handling 30amps of solar power. You have 2x 120w panels mounted on the roof which works out as a maximum of 13.4 amps of solar input. This leaves you with 16.6 amps left to fill up with a portable solar panel. Lets now add a 160w portable panel producing 8.89 amps per hour. 13.4a + 8.89a = 22.29 amps per hour maximum. Our 30 amp regulator is more than capable of handling that. Great, but your portable panel has its own regulator. We do not want to run one regulator into another. So now we have to bypass the regulator on the portable solar panel and run directly into the regulator inside the van. How do we do this? We have to install a cable to the solar input section of the regulator inside the van that runs to the outside of the van and fit an Anderson plug to it. We then modify the portable solar panel cabling to bypass the portable solar panel's own regulator and run it into the newly fitted Anderson plug connection. This will now give us a plug and play system that will allow you to charge your batteries easily. Remember though to always make sure that your regulator is able to handle the amperage that both solar set ups are producing other wise you could be left disappointed. I recommend the iTechworld 30a Intelligent Regulator for this kind of set up. You can view more information on that regulator HERE as I mentioned before there is a level of understanding needed to attempt this installation, if this is too hard for you maybe option 2 will be better.

Option 2: Run each setup through its own regulator onto the same battery bank. If you are charging with both regulators at once, keep an eye on your battery(s) to make sure no over charging is taking place. Regulators detect the voltage on your battery and charge it accordingly, so in most instances we've had no issue with having two regulators charging at the same time - as the battery gets full, they both detect it and start to back off. But with this kind of setup you can't take that for granted, do some trial runs and make sure your battery isn't being over/undercharged. If you do discover an issue there is a way to get both regulators singing together.

  • Disconnect everything
  • Reconnect both regulators to the battery on their own - no solar panels connected
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Reconnect solar panels to regulators

This process allows both regulators to detect the battery voltage, type, charge conditions etc without the pressure of applying the charge. When the solar panels are re connected the solar regulators should work more effectively together. Remember to always keep an eye on this set up. A good testing tool for this kind of set up is the iTechworld Amp Meter which will tell you accurately what your solar panels are producing. See HERE.

As always this is just the start of the discussion if you have anything to add leave your comment below.

Thanks!

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

     

 

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What are the three stages of battery charging?

 

The iTechworld 20A Battery Charger has three key charging & maintenance stages to maximize the power and lifetime of the battery. The iTechworld 20A Battery Charger can be attached to the battery indefinitely if required without risk of over or under charging.

Sometimes we feel like a broken old record player when we talk about battery chargers. The best kind of charger to use on your battery is a 3 stage charger. Basically, these types of chargers are safe, easy to use, and will not overcharge your battery. That is why we only stock the iTechworld 20 Amp 3 Stage Battery Charger.

3 stage chargers work and they work well. But here's the million-dollar question: What are the 3 stages? What makes these chargers so different and efficient? Is it really worth it? Let’s find out by going through each stage, one by one.

 

Stage 1 | Bulk Charge

The primary purpose of a battery charger is to recharge a battery. This first stage is typically where the highest voltage and amperage the charger is rated for will actually be used. The level of charge that can be applied without overheating the battery is known as the battery's natural absorption rate. For a typical 12-volt AGM battery, the charging voltage going into a battery will reach 14.6-14.8 volts, while flooded batteries can be even higher. For the gel battery, the voltage should be no more than 14.2-14.3 volts. If the charger is a 10-amp charger, and if the battery resistance allows for it, the charger will put out a full 10 amps. This stage will recharge batteries that are severely drained. There is no risk of overcharging in this stage because the battery hasn't even reached full yet.

 

 

Stage 2 | Absorption Charge

Smart chargers will detect voltage and resistance from the battery prior to charging. After reading the battery the charger determines which stage to properly charge at. Once the battery has reached 80%* state of charge, the charger will enter the absorption stage. At this point most chargers will maintain a steady voltage, while the amperage declines. The lower current going into the battery safely brings up the charge on the battery without overheating it.

This stage takes more time. For instance, the last remaining 20% of the battery takes much longer when compared to the first 20% during the bulk stage. The current continuously declines until the battery almost reaches full capacity.

 

Stage 3 | Float Charge

Some chargers enter float mode as early as 85% state of charge but others begin closer to 95%. Either way, the float stage brings the battery all the way through and maintains the 100% state of charge. The voltage will taper down and maintain at a steady 13.2-13.4 volts, which is the maximum voltage a 12-volt battery can hold. The current will also decrease to a point where it's considered a trickle. That's where the term "trickle charger" comes from. It's essentially the float stage where there is charge going into the battery at all times, but only at a safe rate to ensure a full state of charge and nothing more. Most smart chargers do not turn off at this point, yet it is completely safe to leave a battery in float mode for months to even years at a time.

 

Knowing how many Amp hours your deep cycle battery stores allows you to work out what kind of charger you’ll need and approximately how long the charge will take. To calculate the charge time, find the Amp hour rating of your battery and divide it by the amp rating of the charger

Knowing how many Amp hours your deep cycle battery stores allows you to work out what kind of charger you’ll need and approximately how long the charge will take. To calculate the charge time, find the Amp hour rating of your battery and divide it by the amp rating of the charger. - See more at: http://www.aussiebatteries.com.au/blog/which-deep-cycle-battery-charger-do-i-need/#sthash.fOWlAcFA.dpuf

 

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

It's the healthiest thing for a battery to be at 100% state of charge.

 

We've said it before and we'll say it again. The best kind of charger to use on a battery is a 3 stage smart charger. They are easy to use and worry free. You don't ever have to worry about leaving the charger on the battery for too long. In fact, it's best if you DO leave it on. When a battery is not at a fully charged state, sulfate crystal build on the plates and this robs you of power. If you leave your powersports in the shed during off-season or for vacations, please connect the battery to a 3 stage charger. This will ensure that your battery will be ready to start whenever you are.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

Stage 1 | Bulk Charge

Bulk StageThe primary purpose of a battery charger is to recharge a battery. This first stage is typically where the highest voltage and amperage the charger is rated for will actually be used. The level of charge that can be applied without overheating the battery is known as the battery's natural absorption rate. For a typical 12 volt AGM battery, the charging voltage going into a battery will reach 14.6-14.8 volts, while flooded batteries can be even higher. For the gel battery, the voltage should be no more than 14.2-14.3 volts. If the charger is a 10 amp charger, and if the battery resistance allows for it, the charger will put out a full 10 amps. This stage will recharge batteries that are severely drained. There is no risk of overcharging in this stage because the battery hasn't even reached full yet.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

We've said it, and we'll say it again. The best kind of charger to use on your battery is a 3 stage charger. They are also called "smart chargers" or "micro processor controlled chargers". Basically, these types of chargers are safe, easy to use, and will not overcharge your battery. Almost all of the chargers we sell are 3 stage chargers.

Okay, so it's hard to deny that 3 stage chargers work and they work well. But here's the million dollar question: What are the 3 stages? What makes these chargers so different and efficient? Is it really worth it? Lets find out by going through each stage, one by one.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

We've said it, and we'll say it again. The best kind of charger to use on your battery is a 3 stage charger. They are also called "smart chargers" or "micro processor controlled chargers". Basically, these types of chargers are safe, easy to use, and will not overcharge your battery. Almost all of the chargers we sell are 3 stage chargers.

Okay, so it's hard to deny that 3 stage chargers work and they work well. But here's the million dollar question: What are the 3 stages? What makes these chargers so different and efficient? Is it really worth it? Lets find out by going through each stage, one by one.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

We've said it, and we'll say it again. The best kind of charger to use on your battery is a 3 stage charger. They are also called "smart chargers" or "micro processor controlled chargers". Basically, these types of chargers are safe, easy to use, and will not overcharge your battery. Almost all of the chargers we sell are 3 stage chargers.

Okay, so it's hard to deny that 3 stage chargers work and they work well. But here's the million dollar question: What are the 3 stages? What makes these chargers so different and efficient? Is it really worth it? Lets find out by going through each stage, one by one.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

We've said it, and we'll say it again. The best kind of charger to use on your battery is a 3 stage charger. They are also called "smart chargers" or "micro processor controlled chargers". Basically, these types of chargers are safe, easy to use, and will not overcharge your battery. Almost all of the chargers we sell are 3 stage chargers.

Okay, so it's hard to deny that 3 stage chargers work and they work well. But here's the million dollar question: What are the 3 stages? What makes these chargers so different and efficient? Is it really worth it? Lets find out by going through each stage, one by one.

- See more at: https://www.batterystuff.com/blog/3-stages-of-smart-chargers.html#sthash.BFbRKmQN.dpuf

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How Does a Solar Regulator work?

Solar Panels and Solar Regulators go hand in hand. Everyone knows that. However, not everyone understands the exact function of a solar regulator or the science behind it.

In this blog I will look in depth at the excellent 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator from iTechworld. This one of the most sophisticated, flexible and full featured regulators currently on the market. However, if you strip away the fancy features and displays, the 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator does the exact same basic task as almost all of their cheaper and less sophisticated versions.

So what does a regulator do?

If we were to look at the job description of any solar regulator, the first item (and in some cases the only function) is to prevent the battery bank from being over charged. The regulator does this by simply disconnecting the solar panels from the battery. So at a really basic level, the regulator is just a switch.

It is however a switch with a brain. Clearly we want the regulator to disconnect the solar panels only when the batteries are fully charged. To do this it must employ some intelligence and have some understanding of battery technology. The dumbest of regulators simply watch the battery voltage until it reaches the regulation point (battery maximum voltage) it then switches the panels off.

Most regulators have a bit more smarts than this. With some understanding of how batteries like to be charged, it is more reasonable to allow the battery voltage to rise to the regulation point, then carefully regulate the charge from the panels to hold the voltage at this point for a time (normally 1 – 2 hours). This is referred to as the absorption phase. This absorption phase typically takes the batteries from 92% up to fully charged.

After this absorption phase is complete, the 30 Amp Intelligent regulator will drop down into float mode. In this float mode the regulator is letting just enough charge from the panels through to the batteries to keep the battery voltage up at its float point.

So this is the three stages that you often hear about:

  • Bulk – push as much power into the batteries as possible.
  • Absorption – control the charge to hold the battery voltage at a point for an hour or two.
  • Float – maintain the battery at close to full charge by controlling the charge and holding the battery voltage at a preset point.    

Bells and Whistles

Most regulators present some kind of information display. At the most basic level this is simply a couple of colored lights that give you some idea of the stage that the regulator is currently in. The 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator is equipped with an LCD displays that provides a huge array of information about what is happening and what has happened.

Monitoring

By far the most useful feature of the 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator is to see the actually Amps that your solar array is producing. the 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator can even tell you how much amps your are taking out of you batteries if you connect your load to it. This allows the regulator and more importantly you to have a complete picture of the solar/battery system. If it can “see” all the power that is going into the battery AND all the power that is coming out of the battery, it is not difficult to calculate how much usable power remains in the battery.

 Here are some other features of the 30 Amp Intelligent Regulator that I think makes them worth the extra few dollars.

  • An intelligent control point for your solar panel system. With an intuitive LCD display screen you are in control of your solar panel system.
  • Will enable you to monitor your solar panel power conversion, power storage and use of your solar power supplies.
  • Using the touch keypad you can program the controller to your preferences and monitor your solar system in real time.
  • Installation of the control panel is made easy with step by step instructions.
  • Easy to read display icons and indicators will tell you the operating status of your solar panels.
  • The controller comes with a temperature sensor which measures the temperature immediately around the control unit.
  • Easy and simple key operation.
  • Intelligent Charging Mode.
  • Adjustable charging & discharging control parameters.
  • Overloading & short-circuit protection
  • Battery reversed discharge protection
  • Protection for battery back discharging
  • Protection for battery low voltage
  • Auto temperature compensation

 

Conclusion

A simple solar regulator can be purchased for about $40. It will tell you nothing about what it or your batteries are doing. It will have just three simple terminals to connect and will function perfectly for years. Alternately, you can spend $79 on the 30 Amp Intelligent (“all singing, all dancing”) Regulator that will tell you everything about the status of your electrical system and do pretty much everything apart from set your Satellite TV System up.

 

Read how to avoid a drained battery HERE

Can I mix and match Solar Panels with different Watt values? HERE

How do Solar Panels work? HERE

Generator vs Inverter Generator which is better? HERE

How to level up your Inverter Generator's charging potential HERE

Everyone likes camping, they just don't know it yet HERE

Read about our New D4 Satellite finder that locks onto C1 HERE

Read our easy Solar installation guide HERE

Read how Generator Inverters work HERE

Read iTechworld Generator Reviews HERE

Read how to use a Generator Inverter HERE

Read about light weight Solar Panels HERE

Read 5 great tips to get the most out of your Solar Panels HERE

Read our comprehensive guide on Inverters HERE

Read about the benefits of travelling with Solar Power HERE

 

Article author

Ian

[email protected]

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