sv Elysium

Cruising thrugh Life

  • Xantrex - Marine Products; Not in my book!

I bought my first Xantrex product when Jack Rabbit Marine (who is no longer in business) convinced me at the Miami Boat show it was the way to go. It was part of a kit, Prosine 2.0, a high amp alternator, and an Ample Power Regulator. They also said they'd provide all the phone support I needed for the installation. Figures they'd now be out of business.

But now that Jack Rabbit is out of business I needed my next layer of support, the companies that produced the products. I've had occasion to call Xantrex two times. The call was actually taken both times. Once when I was disconnected they called me back. Score a point for them. But the solution the tech was offering was not one that solved the problem and not one he suggested to look for. I discovered I was getting low voltage from the incoming line due to a bad connector at an outside outlet and once that was corrected I was back in business. (Ironically I believe he wanted me to send the unit back to Xantrex and I wasn't wanting to do that. Maybe I would have been better off.

For approximate another year the unit functioned correctly. We were at a Marina in that time for about 3 months total, about 10 days in the Bahamas, 2 months in Annapolis, and 20 miscellaneous days around the Chesapeake and area on the way back south.

In Beaufort, NC I was at a marina and a new issue started up. I was getting weird readings on the display panel (charging 120 amps when the charger is to only put out a max of 100) and then the error message. The manual said for that particular error "I would need to send the unit in". We were about 4 days away from heading offshore and leaving for the Virgin Islands. No way was I in a position to do return the unit and wait till they sent it back. I would soon be snowing here! This was a marine item and was at the time I purchased it said to be the "top of the line" , simply put 1) it should not be failing after less then a year of actual use, and 2) to be asked to "send it in" works for weekend sailors and and sailors that stay close to home, but for voyages, it is truly unacceptable. Well, mostly unacceptable. It would be acceptable if the company believed in their product enough that they would pay for the shipping both ways! But NOT Xantrex.

So we went to the VI's with the charger defunct and the inverter still working. Since we weren't expecting to use a marina really I wouldn't need the charger. And besides, I did pick up a West Marine 30 amp charger to fill in any time we were in a marina. We also have two alternators on the boat; one on the generator and one on the main engine, so I was relatively confident that we would be ok energy wise.

In Trindad I bought a Victron 80 amp charge to replace the Prosine that failed to work. I met Kia Song there and he told me that there is a component repair electrical shop in Cartagena. Fantastic. Maybe I could get it repaired there.

The Victron works flawlessly and has been in service for a year now with about 3 months of a stay at a marina. But this isn't about the Victron.

I arrived in Cartagena and promptly take the unit to Sven at Laboratories. He says's he'll give it a try. Approximately 10 weeks later he gave up. He had at least 3 other dead Xantrex ProSign units that he could move parts out and back to locate an issue. He re soldered every circuit board joint. He tried 3 different displays. He said he could tell the difference in soldering in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese and the difference between good soldered connections and poor. He said these were Chinese and they were the poorest. The re soldering seemed to help some. At times it would work, then he would end up with an error and need to reset the unit with the switch on the side. He tried calling Xantrex and got nowhere in getting any schematics for being able to identify what has failed. He tried online (so too have I) and received no support. He reluctantly gave me the unit back and said he couldn't fix it. He since has turned down another's Prosine that needed repair too. In the harbor in Cartagena there were 3 Prosine's that needed repair and a resident of Cartagena had one too that needed repair.

In my book that is way to many. The company has great phone awareness without any real support. They don't provide any help for the voyaging sailor and tout their product as "...a world leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of advanced power electronic (s)....for the mobile power market". Maybe mobile power but definitely NOT MARINE.

Now this is the first grade on a company. I have a total of 3 items that I know are Xantrex. Two have failed. The Prosine and the Zap- Stop. In my book that's 66% and the school I taught in, 66% was an F.

All images and content copyright of David A. Kall