Searching for an Inverter Repair Person

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  #1  
Old 11-15-07, 05:29 PM
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Searching for an Inverter Repair Person

I have a Trace (now Xantrex) Legend 1512 inverter which stopped working. I sent it to an "authorized" repair place and was told it would cost almost $1000 to repair and was prompted to purchase a new inverter. I asked them to kindly return my unit. If you think you could fix my inverter, please let me know, and I will post more specifics.

Mike
 
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  #2  
Old 11-15-07, 06:21 PM
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You should probably post specifics just so we have some idea what the scope of the problem is. I wouldn't get your hopes up too high in any case, most of the components inside a unit like that aren't readily swappable. I seriously doubt they want to charge you $1000 to fix a bad switch or something of that scale. That's the one big trouble with solid state, trying to troubleshoot and replace individual components on a board with thousands of soldered-on parts costs mroe in time/labor than it does to build a new one.
 
  #3  
Old 11-16-07, 04:19 AM
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Details

Thanks for taking the time to reply Mukansamonkey. What you have to say makes a lot of sense to me. Perhaps the tech guy at the "authorized" repair place should have started with that too.

Here's the situation:

My wife and I had a solar/wind hybrid system installed in our 34' Avion travel trailer in 1999, which included a Trace Legend Inverter (model # L1512SB B20D). Here's a link to download a pdf of the tech specs:
www.xantrex.com/web/id/302/docserve.asp

We lived in the trailer full time for a couple of years and then came off the road. We have used the RV off and on since then. The remote panel (RC8) for the inverter began showing an error message. The charger in the inverter still worked, but the unit would not inverter.

The troubleshooting diagnostic on the Xantrex website suggested performing a "DC Reset". We hired an electrician that does solar installs to come and help us. The reset involved disconnecting the positive battery cable from the inverter and reconnecting it. (We have 2 Lifeline AGM GPL-4D batteries.) This didn't fix the problem, so the electrician advised returning the unit for repair.

I picked the closest repair place and sent it off. I recieved an email with the following:

Repair Inverter Charger Model L1512 SB B20D
Findings: Test as received reveals intermittent operation.
Troubleshooting reveals faulty main brd.
Unit considered beyond economical repair.
Replacement suggestions:
Xantrex Freedom 458 20-12 S/D 2000 Watt, 100 Amp
Charger $920
Xantrex Freedom basic remote $90


I responded, seeking more information. I have condensed the repair techs comments from several emails below:

Beyond economical repair means that repairing it will cost more than an equivalent replacement. Please be aware this model is not available new anymore.
The cost for repairing this is unit will be $893 plus shipping (please allow four weeks for the necessary parts).

As for the faults the "faulty" Main Board is exhibiting, the unit is behaving intermittently and this makes troubleshooting very difficult and time consuming.


I asked for an itemized breakdown of the $893 and a description of intermittent. He replied:

The replacement board from the factory for this unit is $768. Labor would be $125. Yes sometimes it works...most of the time it doesn't.

FYI: I have repaired Xantrex freedom 458 Model 81-2022-12 which is very similar to your unit (functionally) for $550. It comes with a 90 day warranty. Your old remote will not work with this unit . A new remote is $100. You old remote interface cord will work with the new remote


My sense from these emails is that they didn't even open the unit up...just plugged it in to see if it would work, as "troubleshooting is very difficult and time consuming." So I asked to have the unit returned.

I've been exploring our options for replacement and am open to that possibility. However, still looking for an independent repair person that might want to take a look inside and see what's going on. Maybe some bug crawled inside and is sitting across some circuitry. Just yesterday morning the water pump from the well in our old farm house quit working. A mole had crawled up inside the plastic housing of the electrical box and got zapped. As soon as I removed the carcass, the pump fired back up. You just never know.

Wish I had more info to offer, but that's what I know.

Thanks again,
Mike
 
  #4  
Old 11-16-07, 05:39 AM
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They would not trouble shoot the board down to component level. It would be standard practice to determine which board is bad and replace the entire PCB. They have done that.
 
  #5  
Old 11-16-07, 05:51 AM
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Complex printed circuit boards are no longer tested by hand. Automatic Test Equipment (ATE) is used. When the boards are manufactured, the board is power up and tested automatically. The tests determine the bad part, and it can be replaced. Some time after a particular board is no longer manufactured, the test equipment is disposed (recycled, used for other tests, etc.).

It is not economically feasible to install the ATE at each and every repair facility, and so this is not done. Aside from the fact that the equipment takes a lot of space, it is also expensive.

For this reason, the standard procedure is to replace an entire board or even an entire assembly when something goes bad.

In your case, the repair facility has determined the main board is bad, and has given you an estimated repair cost. They have also advised you that it would be more cost effective to replace the unit.

You may very well eventually find someone who is willing to work on this unit and repair it, if you look long enough. Or you may keep looking and never find anyone. That's half the battle.

Once the problem is identified it can be repaired. However, if it is a bad component then a replacement has to be found, purchased and installed.

I think at this point if it were my item I would replace it.
 
  #6  
Old 11-16-07, 04:31 PM
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Much Appreciation

Many thanks for taking the time to explain in detail how the industry works. This is a great forum and I've learned a ton already. That's the beauty of the internet. Places like this have gotten me through some tight spots.

I've been looking at alternative units. The tech just keeps getting more mind boggling...no wonder nothing is tested by hand anymore. I'll keep looking for a fix it guy too. Nice to have a back up.

Thanks again.
Mike
 
  #7  
Old 02-08-11, 10:46 PM
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The mother board scam trace inverters

Hey, I got a trace inverter, I got a problem with it so I pulled it out and took it in, same story, $900 to replace the motherboard, better to buy a $3500 new one.

Well I thought that was a load of bull so I took it to this electronics guy. Here is what he found. Faulty chip, a bit of a damaged trace. He got me a new chip, repaired the trace, all told it took a few days and cost me a whopping $60. Up and running for over a year.

People who own these units are being looted for repairs. The world is made up of parts folks, these are simple repairs for electronics guys but the people who deal in trace "repairs are scalping the owners.
 
  #8  
Old 02-09-11, 11:53 AM
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It's not a scam, that's how 'authorized repair centers' work for ANY company. Because they don't have the automated test equipment, they would have to go through the board circuit-by-circuit to determine where the faulty component(s) are. That is a MONSTROUSLY labor intensive method, and you can bet your @$$ if they did it that way you'd be complaining about the $800 in labor to replace a $7 part. That's why they test the board as a whole, and if it fails it is replaced as a whole.

Honestly the guy you took it to undercharged you big time. Maybe the root problem was easy to spot visually, maybe it's a known issue that burns the same parts in all cases, maybe he got lucky and it was the first circuit he tested, maybe he was an old timer who still thinks gas costs 19 cents a gallon. But there's no way I'm going to blindly comb over a microcontrolled circuit board for a stranger for $60. That kind of work is $100 an hour.
 
  #9  
Old 02-09-11, 12:13 PM
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You also have to consider that the company that does the repair will be facing a multimillion dollar lawsuit if their "repaired" product burns down a house with a family sleeping inside. The UL certification only covers the original manufactured product. There is no way to know if the repair brings the equipment back up to the original standard. It's simply not worth the risk to a legitimate business to replace individual components instead of listed assemblies. Yes it's more expensive that way, but the added expense reflects the confidence in the fix.
 
  #10  
Old 02-09-11, 01:26 PM
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The above posters are correct. In fact most of these techs at these service centers don't even know how to check components. They are trained how to check circuit boards which usually involves plugging them into a proprietary go - no go tester. If the light is green it's good. If it's red it's not. No skill. No troubleshooting. It's cheaper for the company to hire someone to test electronics in this manner than to hire an actual tech that can troubleshoot and replace bad components.
 

Last edited by jeggs; 02-09-11 at 04:15 PM.
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