Born Free Leap'n Lions RV Club

Outback Inverter Service
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Author:  admoffat [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Outback Inverter Service

A while ago I asked this forum for help with a problem we were having with our FX2012MT Outback inverter with a MATE2M System Controller. See post "No power to outlets when connected to shore power" (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6369&p=34275&hilit=inverter#p34275). Here's the resolution of that issue.

I found Outback technical support to be relatively unhelpful. I discussed the problem with Chris who suggested replacing the entire $1700 inverter. He directed me to Photon Electric in Millersburg, IN as the best-priced place for parts. On my second call to Outback, this time with David, I was told that we really only needed a new AC board, $300. However, he didn't discuss the repair process. On our way to Arizona, I contacted their distributor in Flagstaff, AZ. Logan was responsive and gave me helpful information, and a number to call that I thought was a direct line to their service center in Phoenix. It was just another number for general support. When I spoke with Adam at Outback, he said that customers can't directly contact the service center and that they have no provision for expedited service. Their normal turn-around time is 10 days from receipt at their loading dock in Phoenix.

As we were headed home, I emailed Photon Electric about our problem. Nick said they could certainly help. When I asked if they could remove the inverter (it's under the floor of the house) and fix it if we drove the motorhome to them, Isaac said "No problem". We set up an appointment for this morning and we just returned from Indiana.

They were ready and waiting for us when we arrived. Alvin, who was responsible for all the hands-on work, immediately crawled under the chassis and started to work. It took two of them about an hour to get the unit out - several screw heads were plugged with dirt and road gunk (and they had to figure out how Born Free installed it). They put the unit on the bench and started diagnosing the problem. In the end, the problem was the AC board, which was what David at Outback guessed. However, Alvin also said that the board was under warranty, something that three Outback support people failed to mention even though they had the serial number. They put the repaired unit back in place and we did some final checks to make sure it was operating properly. We were back on the road in four hours and only paid for labor.

Photon Electric is a small business in the middle of Amish/Mennonite country in Indiana. They install solar power systems in the Michiana area and are a distributor and installer of Outback components. They were very friendly and helpful. Visiting their facility was a lot like visiting Born Free. We drove the coach into the garage, they situated us in a conference room, and they got to work right away. They don't advertise that they perform service on Outback components, so you'll have to ask.

If you need parts or service on your Outback Inverter, we'd recommend calling or emailing these folks.

Author:  bornnorm [ Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

Thank you for taking the time to relate this outcome.

Author:  Vlamgat [ Mon May 13, 2019 1:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

I too have been having issues with mu Outback 2012MT leading me to believe its failed. So putting this out there in case anyone has seen similar or the program is helpful.

I started with working Mate2, Inverter charging, new batteries fully charged and replaced 90 days previously. Drove through heavy rain and thunderstorms. Reached camp, started generator, all working correctly. Hooked up to 50 amps, all working correctly but approximately an hour later, no AC in and no inverter green/on light. Checked 50 amp input but OK. Cycled inverter and 12v manual switches, reconnected 50 amp, and all OK. An hour later, 12v still working but no 110v anywhere. Watched the system for an hour. Occassionally the orange/AC on light would come on, the green/inverter on light would flash and the Mate2 screen would light. The system would stay up for about 15 minutes and go off/dark. This cycle became shorter and shorter, less time on more time off. Eventually I switched the Inverter manual switch off, which shut down the Mate2. 12v remained operable and the generator/50 amp input continued to power the A/C and Microwave.

Discussed this with Outback Power Systems Tech Support. They need a S/N to effect any warranty and to get that you have to remove the Inverter. My Inverter is installed on a shelf welded to the the inboard chassis rail, inboard of the generator. Its too high to view any of the top of the Inverter which is covered by a weather protector and a fan housing requiring the removal of 4 unviewable bolts/screws. There is also not enough cable running from the 12v supply to lower the inverter to the ground because the distance between the inboard edge of the shelf onto which the inverter is bolted and the drive shaft, is too small to lower the 60 lb inverter perched on a floor jack. So it has to be slid forward and off the front edge of the shelf but there is not enough cable to do that. I have to find a way to remove the upper covers of the Inverter; then remove the 2 X 12v power cables, all without being able to see what I am doing. Outback understood this challenge. However until I have done all this, and assuming there is 12v going to the inverter (which I will test before disconnecting the batteries) they cannot help.

Once I have the Inverter removed, opened, I Have to call back and they will run me through some tests on the 2 circuit boards inside that can fail. If one is at fault, they will repair or replace on exchange under the 10 year warranty (I presume) and I would reassemble and coax the whole ting back onto its shelf.

My coach is a 2014 Triumph Royal (F550), I am curious as to whether all the series had their Inverters mounted the way mine has been. It seems they installed it before they put the body on the chassis, and no one ever dealt with an Outback failure/replacement? Is this theory correct?


With some valuable help, I removed the Outback today after doing the only check requested by Tech Support: that 12v was being received by the unit - which it was. The first challenge was removing the turbo/fan cover. Its secured with 4 Phillips head bolts, two of which sheared off and one had been cross threaded. With that off, all the cables were accessible as I had raised the coach on its leveling jacks which gave me enough room to sit up and look rearward across the top of the inverter. Everything then came apart and I was able to slide the unit towards me and lower it onto my legs and then the ground. The replacement was the reverse but there is an arcane statement in the Installation Instructions that says do not connect the Mate2 until you perform the instructions in the Mate Installation Manual. There are none. I guessed that it would be a good idea to test the install before connecting the Mate2 to be sure that the problem really was the Outback. The test verified that the old unit was faulty. I then powered it down (12v off and manual inverter switch off), connected the Mate2 RJ plugs, powered it up, and the Mate2 screen and lights came on showing normal operation. Secured everything including putting anti-seize on the fan cover bolts. Now to strip down the old unit, remove the circuit boards and send them back to Outback for repair/replacement.

Moral of the story - its replaceable but if you are on vacation somewhere you are going to need a lot of tools, some decent ground or material to lie on and the HWH leveling jack system. Then the question is how long can you stay there without any power. I guess a less expensive solution would be to ask Outback to send you new boards (there are 3) and try to get a credit for any you send back unused. But thats huge work removing, stripping, installing, assembling and replacing up to 3 times. OR drive to an RV service center and check into a hotel for up to a week.

Edits: Tech Service does not call back like they claim on their 866 answer service. You must keep calling. Better late in the day. Email responses take 3 days. I also disconnected the battery terminals when I did this job not just the 12v Master.

Author:  jmrogers [ Tue May 14, 2019 9:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

I also had my Outback inverter fail after heavy rain and found the unit was not really sealed and the water entered where the cables attach to the A/C board and burned the board up. I had some one else remove the inverter and I disassembled and repaired myself with parts from Photon. It was a really easy repair and the unit self diagnoses after you get it put back together. When we reinstalled the unit the tech put lots of sealant around the entry points for the cables. Since then I have been in heavy rains and had no more problems (keeping fingers crossed).

By the way you can reroute the 110 around the inverter and use a battery charger on the house batteries and get by indefinitely as long as you hooked up to shore power when stopped.

Author:  Vlamgat [ Wed May 15, 2019 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

I suspect mine suffered the same way you described. Your remedy is along the lines I was thinking of pursuing so I will do that now. I could not wait for the time it would take to turn/replace the boards and there was nothing in the docs about self diagnosis of which of the 3 failed. I also suspected that if one looked like it failed with burn marks or corrosion, there was no guarantee that it did not take another with it or at least impaired it. Hence the replacement unit.

I get that I could move the 110v inputs, but where to? There is no board or diverter switch that would send 100v to the breaker board that I can find. But I know so little about AC current that it would probably be dangerous to attempt. All that Common Neutral, Floating Neutral stuff crosses my synapses!

Author:  Vlamgat [ Wed May 29, 2019 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

It turns out that all 3 of my boards were severely corroded. Replacement plus labor plus tax $700. No warranty as this was a 2013 build and a February 2014 install. I believe the BF mounting position is flawed as it is directly in line with the water spray from the front wheels. The AC wiring enters the casing where this jet stream thus almost forcing water and moisture into the unit. As jmrogers has written, I believe its imperative to build a deflector shield and to seal the wire entry ports to avoid this problem in future.

So to all owners of this unit - you are "warned" - if its has not happened to you already, its going to! Or else do not drive in the rain!

Author:  bornnorm [ Wed May 29, 2019 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

I've never owned a pure sine wave inverter, but have used lower cost inverters and found them adequate for most needs, tv, sat dish, computer, electric blanket, toaster, small fridge.

I can believe the location of your inverter can be the source of failure however I was surprised when I went to their website. They heavily promote the use in marine environments, it's sealed design, conformal coating and it's corrosion resistance. Possibly your year of manufacture was not so designed.

Did the new boards come with a conformal coating?

Author:  Vlamgat [ Wed May 29, 2019 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service

I have not opened the converter to establish the coating quality but the design of the interior is such that the units are clearly weather resistant particularly if its just rain/snow etc. But the way its mounted in the BF coach is such that the water jets from the rear of the driver side front wheel directly towards the unsealed access of the AC cables to the interior of the of the unit. That interior has a series of terminals below a plastic plate that has a weather seal. But water can easily penetrate the interior of the casing through the holes for the wiring unless these are sealed. Which in the BF install they are not. So my point to anyone reading this because their Outback has failed, it may well be because of water ingress from the install fail; and to the extent anyone who has an Outback and it has not failed, get under your coach, just inboard of the Generator, on the inside of the frame rail is a shelf on which the Outback is bolted. It has its AC wire entering from the front and the well protected DC cables from the rear. Take a look at how the AC wires enter the front facing side of the unit. You should see 3 or 4 cables entering through round ports in the side of the unit. Water gets in under pressure through those holes unless they are sealed. :(

Author:  Vlamgat [ Wed May 29, 2019 3:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Outback Inverter Service - all are wrongly mounted

Were BF around, I would be suggesting that as owners we have a claim on them for incorrect mounting. The BF literature says that the Outback is unique because it can be mounted on the exterior of the coach which has numerous advantages blah blah blah.

That may be so if its in an enclosed environment. The install instructions are as follows:
• The FX Series Inverters /Charger is approved for indoor or [b]enclosed protected mounting[/b] only.
• An FX must be secured with appropriate fasteners to a sturdy mounting surface capable of
supporting its weight. It is easier for two people to install the FX due to its weight.
• OutBack FXs can be mounted in any position, but they perform better in locations off ering plenty of
air circulation.[/i]

So we all have/had time bombs from a failure perspective

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