We previously had poor interactions with Victron support, but we were tied up to a dock somewhere in the past. This time, not safely tied up at a dock, we were out cruising in the Ragged Islands and Jumentos when our new Victron charger started to cause issues. The population in that area of The Bahamas is less than 100 — no marine electricians. We reached out to Victron in an attempt to get some help, maybe guidance on the manual charger settings, but this is what we got in response:
If you think that Victron is high quality and reliable, think again. This wasn’t our experience. If you think that Victron will be able to help troubleshoot, like many other marine companies, think again. That also wasn’t our experience.
Victron is definitely an outlier when it comes to supporting efforts, or the lack thereof. We’ve been in touch with many companies, asked questions, and we’ve always received some effort to help — sometimes more, sometimes less, but always some. Remote support from companies like Headhunter, Beetronics, Xantrax, YachtDevices, DigitalYacht, and Maretron has been really great and makes buying their products a fairly easy choice.
Background & Details
We had the new Victron charger installed in February 2021, and up until April 2022, it worked fairly well. Since the installation, we’ve had issues with the amp display for output 3, which never worked. We decided to live with the defect since the charger was outputting a charge current on output 3, just not displaying it. Warranties in the marine world are fairly useless for the most part. Companies require hardware to be shipped in for analysis, leaving the boat without that piece of hardware, which is often essential.
The breaker for the charger tripped first while we were out cruising on April 28, 2022 in a remote part of The Bahamas. The issue got progressively worse, leaving less and less time before the breaker tripped. We were not able to leave right away due to bad weather.
The Temporary Workaround
Without our 24-volt battery bank, we would be in serious trouble, as it provides power to the windlass, stabilizers, navigation lights, toilets, and other critical boat systems. We eventually were able to use the Xantrax inverter-charger to charge the inverter bank. And we quickly figured out that if we turned on the Victron Skylla-i after about an hour of the Xantrax charging, the Victron charger would go into “storage” mode, drawing MUCH less current and providing a 10-20 amp charge to the 24-volt house battery bank.
It is appalling that Victron did not take this more seriously. We were about to order a few Victron chargers but decided to go with MasterVolt instead. We heard that MasterVolt also has terrible support, but at least they aren’t rude and inconsiderate. Keep us posted on the outcome.
I’ve been a marine electrician for 15 years. If this isn’t a defective charger than I will eat my hat. Maybe not actually eat my hat. Check out Dolphin and Newmar for charger alternatives both are marine grade.
Great blog article. Most people don’t think about support when they buy stuff for their boat. People assume that the company will stand behind their product and help. We got all mastervolt things, never needed support, because we hadn’t had issues with their stuff. Hard for us out on the ocean, where there are no dealers, and each pieces of equiopment is needed. We can’t just send some gear in, and wait for a few weeks or months to get it back. It makes no sense that Victron wouldn’t attempt to actually help. Even just figure out if it’s their charger that is clearly out of spec. 100a charger at 24v means a theoretical output of 2400w. 2400w at 240v is 10a, not 15 or 20. The charger should be designed to stop out of spec operation.
Shoulda done your research before buying their junk. My victron inverter charger failed after 5 months. Same trash support. I gave up after fighting with the electrician that installed it. He said I broke it due to improper use. Whatever that means. Just started ignoring me. Looks nice but quality and support is trash.
Too bad Victron didn’t even attempt to actually understand the issue. It was fun meeting you two. If they don’t listen to customers and build a relationship with customers, how are they making products for the real world? Glad you two got the new charger in and that it solved the problem.