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Old 04-27-2018, 12:14 PM   #1
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2018 Tommy Bahama Interstate
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Generator Autostart

I'm scheduled to take delivery of our Airstream Interstate GT Tommy Bahama on Monday!!! I'm so excited to start exploring the US.

I was wondering if anyone has figured out how to install a Generator Autostart system (triggered by temp or maybe just the batt level)?

I believe Pleasure-Way has this option on their Plateau RV's with the Firefly setup.
Also, Onan advertises an Autostart add-on called Energy Command 30 (EC-30) and from what I can tell works on the Interstate generator.

All of the generator control wires come out of the Firefly display, or control board (don't know where it's located). I would think that it would be easy to connect the Energy Command 30 at the same location and replace the existing generator start panel.

Does anyone have the firefly wiring info?

There's also another way. I'm not sure if there's a way to trigger Autostart with Temp with this method.
Use the Inverter remote panel to Magnum RC50 (not sure what comes with the Interstate). Install the magnum Battery minder kit and install the Magnum Auto Generator start (for temp. & battery monitor).

Finally, since I would like to Autostart the generator when having the AC or heater ON and the battery is running low, I don't know if the AC or heater can be started using the inverter.

Has anyone implemented the generator autostart?

Once I have the Interstate, I'll try to answer most of my questions. I've done many modifications, including Lithium installs, but mostly on boats.

We have a little dog that we may want to leave in the RV sometimes... If the AC can be started using the Inverter, it would be very useful to have the generator kick in when the batteries get low.
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Old 04-27-2018, 07:50 PM   #2
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Gratz on the it toy!

The fire fly unit is relativly new so you may find yourself a beta tester on any new upgrades.
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Old 04-27-2018, 10:41 PM   #3
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By most people's accounts, the folks at Firefly seem to be pretty responsive. You may want to reach out to them and ask if it's possible and if so, how to do it.
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:14 AM   #4
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We installed an AGS and it works well. Not sure how to make it work with he firefly system you have installed. It is set up to start based on a few conditions.

1 if the temperature gets too hot
2 if the SOC is to low
3 once every 10 days as a test

In order to have these you may also need a shunt tonkjow the state of charge (SOC) and you may need a smarter magnum controller. Unless the firefly can do this. It may need the SOC as well if you want to charge based on SOC rather than voltage

It wasn’t difficult to install and it works well.
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camerons View Post
We installed an AGS and it works well. Not sure how to make it work with he firefly system you have installed. It is set up to start based on a few conditions.

1 if the temperature gets too hot
2 if the SOC is to low
3 once every 10 days as a test

In order to have these you may also need a shunt tonkjow the state of charge (SOC) and you may need a smarter magnum controller. Unless the firefly can do this. It may need the SOC as well if you want to charge based on SOC rather than voltage

It wasnít difficult to install and it works well.
What system did you install?
Do you have a parts list, etc?
How does it work (i.e. what do you do)?

Thanks for the input.
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Old 04-28-2018, 06:52 AM   #6
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Not to hijack the thread, but here is a closely-related issue: If you are leaving a dog in your van, you might want to consider a secondary or backup method of temperature monitoring, even if you do get the generator auto-start working. RV systems are generally notorious for failing, and the dog's life will be at stake.

You may have seen this pic below which I linked to other threads (red arrow points to our dog). This is a Canary security IP camera that sends real time video feed to my iPhone. Along with that comes temperature and humidity read-outs that are not shown on this video feed but which are available via screen swipe.

We mounted it near the upper right front "corner" of the van, a position which gives optimal camera viewing angle. However, this past week, we discovered a downside to the placement. Airstream did not insulate that corner area very well, and so our temperature readings are very much dependent on sun angle. We are in late April, which in our area (deep south) is the cusp of viability for leaving a dog in a vehicle. A few days ago, I watched my temp readings jump from 67 F to 93 F in just over an hour. Well, there's no way that the van itself heated up anywhere near that much, that fast. It was the result of solar heating of that particular van "corner". I had to resort to watching local live weather feed on my phone in order to estimate what the REAL temp was inside the van.

When we got back to the van, it was around 80 degrees near the ceiling where the furnace thermostat is mounted, cooler near the windows where the Fantastic was pulling a stiff breeze, and our dog was totally fine.

Anyway, this unintentional spot-heating consequence could be circumvented by leaving a monitoring device on the galley countertop or some other place away from the outer van walls where the air circulates more freely.

Another issue I noted this past week by virtue of the video feed: our dog will bark if people get too close to our Interstate. The Canary allows 2-way audio with membership purchase. I'm afraid if she barks too much, a passer-by will mistakenly assume she's in distress and will break out a window to release her. The audio would allow me to tell her to shut up in certain circumstances. I'm using the freeware right now, but depending on future activities, I may try the membership so that I can access this feature.

Of course if your generator had auto-started before barking commenced, it's debatable whether anyone would actually HEAR your dog....

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Old 04-28-2018, 07:43 AM   #7
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InterBlog, you are correct... There is always something else... Before I tackle the problem you mention though, I would like to solve the generator autostart issue.

FlyFishinRVr, I sent an email to Firefly. Let's see if they reply. I will also call them.
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Old 04-28-2018, 08:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camerons View Post
shunt tonkjow
"I can help, I speak jive." It's to know???

Quote:
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Of course if your generator had auto-started before barking commenced, it's debatable whether anyone would actually HEAR your dog....
Tisk, Tisk. Do I detect a note of anti generator bias?
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Old 04-28-2018, 10:19 AM   #9
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...
Tisk, Tisk. Do I detect a note of anti generator bias?
Not a note - a full serving, and I ordered fries with it as well. No comment on that thread branch, though, until the OP gets more feedback on the trunk.
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Old 04-28-2018, 05:19 PM   #10
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I really want to investigate all options for generator autostart and I will be able to do more investigating after I get my RV on Monday.

In the meanwhile, I contacted Firefly and I got a reply saying that they have to program the Firefly for Gen autostart and that the only trigger can be low battery voltage. The cost will be $450.

Of course, I have a lot of questions about their reply. I know that Pleasure-Way, with Firefly, has low voltage and temperature trigger. But, they also use lithium batteries, which might be able to run AC for few minutes.

In my previous life I was a computer engineer/programmer. So, I know a little about computers. I do not want to reply to Firefly until I have all my ducks in the row, next week, and have specific and clear questions.

I am not saying that Firefly is the best way to go but the more we know, the better decision we can make.
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Old 04-28-2018, 09:50 PM   #11
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I do not want to reply to Firefly until I have all my ducks in the row, next week, and have specific and clear questions.
Can't wait for your updates. Thank you for pursuing this.👍
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Old 04-29-2018, 07:19 AM   #12
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I was solving for the same issue of a dog in the van as well as batteries going below a SOC. The solution was a better magnum controller (ARC). AGS from magnum. Shunt from magnum. All of these allowed us to set either a temperature driven event or a SOC driven event. The whole thing works well.

The next solve was for a sensor that would allow the van to call me if these conditions were not met. This is were I am currently stuck and have not found a great solution. Ideally I would like the van to call me if the temp is out of set points or if the battery is out of set points. We did install a temp sensor that connects to WiFi of a phone we leave in the van. Then it calls home if out of conditions. However one of us has to leave our phone back to make this solution work. And the phone has to be on hot spot. And stay that way. Too many points of failure. Looking at Marcell (cellular) or canary (WiFi). Not so keen on the WiFi stuff as WiFi isn’t all that reliable. Interested if anyone has solved this. Temp and battery level remote access or alert Cam
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Old 04-29-2018, 07:48 AM   #13
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Back in my previous life working in TeleCom- I set up some telemetry systems.
Those could have all sorts of sensors and remotely turn on off things. It could send alarms depending on the parameters set. I used a latching solenoid to change power sources (this was a mountaintop very remote site to be used and power conservation was essential).

That used packet radio, but I’ll be there are cell/internet type interfaces available.
Of course, the cost was pretty high, so I doubt you would want to spend that much.
At least it can be done, so I’m sure someone has something that will do it.

I’m using the Arlo cams at home, they will allow talk back with no charge. (Requires an internet connection).

All of this is likely way overkill for what should be a relatively simple setup.
A temp sensor that would trigger the generator start- and when the AC ‘sees’ AC power and the temperature is above a certain range it would then turn on the AC.
of course, it would be much better to find something like you are doing that is already setup- rather then re-inventing the wheel.

I’ll do some thinking on it.

mark
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Old 04-29-2018, 09:16 AM   #14
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.... However one of us has to leave our phone back to make this solution work. And the phone has to be on hot spot. And stay that way. Too many points of failure. Looking at Marcell (cellular) or canary (WiFi). Not so keen on the WiFi stuff as WiFi isnít all that reliable. Interested if anyone has solved this. Temp and battery level remote access or alert Cam
Well, I wasn't going to Go There until the OP got more progress on the core topic, but since you raised this point...

I use a Netgear AC791L air card as my hot spot for our Canary. I think it costs me $15 a month on top of my Verizon plan. It has proven to be very reliable. The device itself has a list price of about $200.

The AC791L was unknown to Verizon brick-and-mortar store personnel when I went to order it last year. They tried to sell me some lower-grade consumer Netgear model which I already had one of, and which had proven itself to be a piece of crap (the smaller one with the rounded corners - I forget the model). But Technomadia had told me to get that one in particular, no substitutions, and so I made the Verizon personnel look it up and put in an order for it.

I've owned this for about a year, and I don't know when the next-gen product will be released. If anyone is considering this kind of purchase, research that point, because "next gen" really matters where cellular equipment is concerned. Don't buy anything if there's a new one about to be released.

That being said, I don't know that y'all will ever get totally into passive mode on the auto-start question. I may go an hour or so without actively checking on my cellular data feed for our dog's condition. But I'd never trust any system 100%. There's just too much at stake.
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