Trace 2012 Inverter Upgrade

By: powertool
Trace Engineering, Arlington WA, has announced an upgrade on their 2000 series inverters. has long been a leader in inverter technology for the home power market, not only in sales, but for high reliability, efficiency, and good value. For anyone who has tried to hardwire one of these babies, this update is good news indeed.

The Connection

Formerly, the barrier strip provided for direct wire hook-up was inside the inverter. Trying to get three #12AWG wires (forget anything larger), or six wires, in the case of the standby option, was a real rassle. The gang at have listened to installers' input and have brought the hardwire connectors through the case to the outside. A metal cover protects the external connectors, but the cover is not punched out to accept conduit fittings. It would seem like a logical and easy thing to do.

This external barrier strip makes the hook-up much easier. This allows using up to #8 AWG wire for the connections. For those 2000 series inverters capable of producing over 20A @120vac, or for fairly long wire runs, this means compliance with the NEC and accepted wiring practices is now possible.

A New Safety Feature

Trace has also incorporated a 30 Amp 120 VAC input circuit breaker into the 2000 series upgrade. This also is a welcome addition. When a Trace with the SB (standby charger) option detects AC from the grid or a generator at its input, it does two things. After sampling the power and checking it for proper voltage and frequency, the inverter becomes a battery charger and, at the same time, passes the power from the external source to whatever circuits are normally connected to its output. This creates the possibility that the combined current of the charger and the circuit loads could exceed the safe ampacity (current carrying capability) of the inverter input wiring, even though the AC output circuits from the Trace are properly fused. The 30 Amp breaker on the inverter's input circuit provides a means of protection.

A Revised Manual

As if these changes weren't enough, Trace has also revised the 2000 series owner's manual. The diagrams are now much clearer and easier to understand, especially the placement of switch #1, the "Search Mode" switch. Setting up an inverter, especially one with as many features as the Trace, is a fairly complex job. Writing a technical manual that a non-techie can understand is a real trick. The folks at Trace have done a bang-up job. There's even a section on problem loads. Not every appliance digests inverter power gracefully. A few don't run up to speed or as efficiently as intended. A very few even fry and die. It's to Trace's credit and a measure of their honesty that they point out the known offenders and warn you off.

I have just one complaint with this manual. When you first connect a 2000 series inverter to a battery, there is a fairly loud snap and accompanying spark as the input filter capacitors charge up. The first time this happened, it scared the pudding out of me. I thought I had somehow reversed the polarity of the connections. Over 50 installations later, eventhough I know it's coming, it gets me every time. A warning in the manual would go a long ways toward preventing premature heart failure.

Conclusion

Ya done good, guys. The modifications will make it easier for do-it-yourselfers and experienced hands alike to make a good, safe installation. The price? Same as usual! As a postscript, Bob Summers at Trace has promised a redesign of the access cover to accept conduit fittings soon. Good show.
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