DC-DC chargers, Victron introduces Orion TR Smart series

21 Oct


I just recently developed an interest in DC-to-DC battery charging and — bada bing — Victron introduces a whole series with the “Smart” Bluetooth configuration feature I’ve greatly appreciated in two of their other power components. But DC/DC is an unfamiliar technology for me, so I’m hoping readers will help out with possible misunderstandings, though even I can detect some confusing nomenclature and product naming.

An Orion-Tr DC-DC converter is not a charger (and not "smart")
An Orion-Tr DC-DC converter is not a charger (and not “smart”)

For instance, Victron already offers numerous DC/DC products — most named Orion, and several Orion-Tr — but they are all converters, not chargers. Not surprisingly, a converter can convert voltages, like, say, 24v power to 12v to power 12v navigation electronics on a 24v boat. But there’s also a place for 12/12 or 24/24 DC/DC converters because they also condition the power, providing a steady feed regardless of voltage spikes on the supply side.

But typical DC/DC converters can not provide the three-stage battery charging that the Orion-Tr Smart series can, and I don’t know of any DC/DC charger that has the powerful but easy “Smart” Victron Connect configuration and troubleshooting abilities I wrote about last March.

Meanwhile, if I read the Orion-Tr Smart manual correctly, it can serve as a converter or a charger. Plus, if this Google Shopping search is true, the 12/12 30 amp model that might work for me only costs about $30 more than the same size Orion-Tr converter. But now we get to the part where I may be confused.

Orion-Tr Smart DC-DC charger typical setup
Orion-Tr Smart DC-DC charger typical setup

In all the Victron marketing I’ve seen so far, the main use for the Orion-Tr Smart is to charge an auxiliary (aka, house or service) battery from a starting battery. But that’s not appropriate to what most boats need, and certainly not mine.

Gizmo currently has separate 12v alternators for start and house banks, but I’m considering a reconfiguration where both alternators feed the ever-hungry 440ah Firefly house bank, which in turn charges the usually content starter bank. Hence I could charge the house bank faster — like at 200 amps plus if I upgrade the 20-year-old Volvo Penta start bank alternator — and I’d get redundant alternators as a bonus.

Now there are simpler ways to accomplish this battery bank-to-bank charging goal — like an Automatic Charging Relay (ACR) — but I’m recently inspired by Steve (SeaBits) Mitchell’s new power system and I’ve also noticed Rod (MarineHowTo) Collin’s enthusiasm for the same Sterling Power USA DC/DC chargers that Steve is using. This type of charger could really baby Gizmo’s Dekka AGM start bank, and it would also set the boat up for the significantly different characteristics of a Lithium-Ion house bank (should I ever be able to afford one).

Orion-Tr Smart 12/12-30 (12v to 12v charging or conditioning at 30a max)

But can I install an Orion-Tr Smart 12/12-30 in reverse to what Victron seems to suggest, even on their generally more casual blog? I think yes. Digging into the details, it looks to me like they fast-tracked this product line with a particular eye to newish land vehicles with “smart” regulators able, for maximum fuel efficiency, to shut power generation down completely when the starter bank is full. Which is tough in, say, an RV with an auxiliary bank.

So these DC/DC chargers include several ways to control their on/off state — including the Low/High remote switching seen above — which could work in that particular land vehicle circumstance but also when the power source is a boat bank with uninterrupted alternator charging as well as solar panel charging and maybe even a generator. I think.

Obviously I’m hoping for some feedback about the particular way I’d like to use this DC/DC charger, but please don’t hesitate with other comments about it.

This article was syndicated from Panbo


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