Under the hood: A Xantrex RMA.

The story so far: Customer returns dead Xantrex TR series inverter/charger. When he hooked it up, some kind of internal fault caused it to burn the battery terminal (see the burn there on the positive post?). It worked for a few minutes at 100 watts, but the output voltage was too low. After that, he put 400 watts on the unit, and it died permanently. I get it back in the shop and it doesn’t do anything but throw code F04.

 

BEGIN RUNNING THE GAUNTLET. It’s 11 am.

We’re a longterm customer of Xantrex here, so I would have thought they’d treat us well… Unfortunately, Xantrex is now just a subsidiary of electrical products giant Schneider Electric, who are officially Too Big To Care.

STAGE ONE:

The customer spent a good long time on the phone with Xantrex tech support, who finally told them to return the inverter to us. UPS delivers the unit a week after their driver electronically confirmed its delivery (WTF?!). I spend about 20 minutes on hold to reach the Customer Care group, who take down the info into … Nothing … They forward me to tech support.

Tech support takes down the serial number, purchase date, and failure description. An rma number is issued, however, I still need the shipping label to send the inverter back. I confirm my contact info and they inform me that it’ll be e-mailed.

It’s 1:30 pm now, and I await a response…

4:20 pm, and I get am email from the same person who took the call, asking me to send along the proof of purchase… Along with the serial number and fault description, because, oops. All that got entered into a great black hole. I fax the invoice over.

4:50 pm, I’m asked to fax the invoice again, and send it over immediately.

4:55 pm, I’m told that this entire process is complete, however, this was just the process of clearing the RMA through technical support, and I will now need to complete it through Customer Care.

End result: Most of a day wasted, still cannot confirm that a replacement will be sent our way if we ship a new inverter to the customer.

I should also add that in the past, Xantrex used to have a six ton cockblock in the way of me contacting their service department at all. Someone had established that our technical contact at work was the accounts payable department, and they refused to talk to me a second longer than it took to tell me to get accounts payable to contact them to continue the process. Funny they remembered this like an elephant, but filed today’s rma request in /dev/null! I had to establish contact with tech support by contacting them regarding an XW6048 that vomited fire with a loud buzzing sound at another customer, who had managed to open an rma on the unit.

Xantrex still threw me around on the phone for about 2 hours on that one, and I still don’t have the shipping label… I do, however, have it crated and ready to go home, with a hilarious and profane label sitting on the lid.

All of this is just part of the many reasons I like Outback Power better.

It’s done! As of about 7:30 pm, I got a couple of e-mails from Xantrex confirming that I just need to ship the dead inverter out, and the shipping label arrived! Hurrrrrrrrr…

6 comments

  1. Just bought a boat with a Xantrex SW 2000 in working order a few weeks ago. Last week it made a load pop sound and died. All it does now is throw an F04 fault code. Called Xantrex and they said this unit is not repairable and that I need to purchase new. Did you ever find out what went wrong with the unit in your article? Any info that might help me fix my unit would be greatly appreciated.

    1. F04 is an ac transfer relay fault. Was shore power present at the time?

      The relay itself may be all that’s wrong with the unit. Xantrex had a bad habit of using relays that admitted crud kicked in by the fans. My solution was to replace the relay or just pop its cover off and clean the contacts.

      Other than that, the freedom SW is a ridiculous thing they contracted out with a Chinese manufacturer for and no service info ever existed. Good luck! I always preferred the Freedom 458 / Freedom Marine which are Heart Akerson’s design. Very solid and actually serviceable when needed (normally the only thing to go bad is the fan or the FETs if the unit suffered a reverse polarity accident). The division of Xantrex that handles support on them actually makes life easy for the distributor when one needs to go back too….

      1. Shore power was not present at the time. I was only using a 1,500 watt heat gun to heat up some heat shrinks on new bilge pumps that I was installing. One thing I noticed after this happen is that my battery terminals where loose on my house bank batteries. I assume this could have caused some serious resistance in supplying power to the SW Inverter.

        Thank you so much for your response and comment regarding the Freedom 458 unit. I’ll pull my SW apart soon and take a look at the relay contacts and let you know what I find.

    2. As for the TR, oh geez. No idea which one that was or what happened. The most common problems I saw on them were just logic-defying, perplexing weirdness on the microcontroller side. They’d do things like detect the battery voltage as 00.0 while overcharging, shut down with overloads when no/minimal load was present… They were cost engineered to death.

  2. So I got this unit out of the boat and opened her up. Looked clean inside so I don’t think the fans kicked any debris in the circuitry but I did find several MOSFET legs to broken. Looks like they might have melted. I’ll email a picture to better show you what I’m saying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *