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Old 10-21-2013, 09:10 PM   #43
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Thanks. I will give this a try.
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:45 AM   #44
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... I use a temperature compensated refractometer for this purpose, NOT those bulb things with the little balls inside! ...
I see a number of these available from various sources on the internet. Some say the are temperature compensating, others don't mention it. The prices range from $20 to over $200. The pictures of many look identical. Am assuming either all are made by same manufacturer or some are cheap copies that may not be accurate. Do you have any recommendations?
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Old 10-22-2013, 02:05 PM   #45
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More details on DYI Solar Install

Lew’s comments are right on the mark. I’ve added a few additional details to clarify what I did.

• maintain the integrity if the 6/2 duplex wire that comes in the solar controller kit (don't separate it) and use the opening in the bottom of the combiner box as a pathway for the charging wire to go into the coach thru the roof. …
I only separated the duplex wire at either end or to add the 275 Amp switch and 30 Amp Circuit Breaker. I did wrap the 2 leads in split wire loom as seen in attached photo of finished install. AM Solar gave me that tip when they told me this wire was not UV resistant. I decided to use the drain cap as I had to remove it anyway to seal the vent pipe that Airstream did not seal. If I had to do this over I would use the combiner box just as Lew mentioned.

• I never use the immediate proximity of an existing sewer or tank vent as a pathway for charging cables. …

The void space around the vent cap was accessible without trying to remover the Interstate headliner that is impossible without major disassembly to drop the overhead cabinets. I’ve attached a photo of the area right under this vent. Also I did not run the wires inside the vent pipe as some have done. It just drops in the void next to the vent pipe. Looking at the attached photo you can see that I could have just mounted the combiner box a couple of inches from the vent cap and pulled the headliner down just enough to get the 6/2 wire through the roof and into the combiner box as designed by AM Solar.

• when you purchase the iPN remote control panel in the signature controller core systems, there is no need to also mount the actual charge controller (silver Blue Sky panel next to the converter) on an exposed surface. …
I actually mounted the controller inside the same door that covers the Electrical Distribution Panel. Updated photo of area attached. The space inside an Airstream Interstate is VERY limited. Using the AM Solar custom built stainless mounting box would have required an exposed mounting in the curb side kick space for the rear seats and moving a 120v AC outlet to get it any closer to the batteries. My chosen location added about 12 inches to wires from controller to batteries compared to a surface mount in the kick space. However, it was a real chore to get the controller where I mounted it. If I did this over again I'd just live with the exposed controller in the kick space.

• Not sure from your pics, but I always install a 275 amp switch in the positive charge line (previously listed as optional) leading to the solar controller. …

Agree 100% and I did install this optional switch. I ordered my package before AM Solar made it standard, but I added it.

• … I could not see the actual wire runs, wire positioning or whether all wires are wrapped in wire loom (something I do on all installations) and secured at least every 16".
I ran all wire next to the Airstream installed wire bundles and tied the new cable to those bundles. I used split wire loom in any area exposed our near something that could rub against the new wires.


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Old 10-23-2013, 10:16 PM   #46
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Even More details on DIY Solar Install

I received some questions on my DIY solar upgrade so I'm sharing some additional info with the group.

1) Adding a photo of the 30 amp Circuit breaker location under the lounge seat. I had to tie the solar controller Battery Positive (+) to the coach battery terminal stud on the BIM. There was no way on my rig to get the nut off the positive battery box stud without removing the entire lounge seat frame or unbolting the battery box from the floor as the clearance is so tight. There is a short 4 gauge wire from the BIM to Coach battery box (+) stud so I did not compromise the install.

2) Photo of the Battery Monitor Shunt connected with a copper bar to the battery box ground (-) stud.

3) Bought the solar system from AM Solar:
a) SunRunner Signature 25/6/PRO Core Kit (deleted the stainless controller box)
b) WGS-100 Solar Panel kits (deleted Rocker Foot Mount Set)

4) Bought the Rhino-Racks from etrailer.com

This is a DIY project that requires a lot of tools and mechanic/electrical skill. I have a complete wood, metal and electrical shop and build electric bikes and trikes as a hobby. I felt I had the skills and tools to pull this off successfully. AM Solar was very helpful in answering my questions before I placed my order.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:01 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
[......build electric bikes and trikes as a hobby.
Very cool!

Thank you for your continued and detailed explanation of your solar install.


Lewster, thank you for your professional input and clarifications as well.


Mario
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Old 10-24-2013, 05:09 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by tiato View Post
very cool!

Thank you for your continued and detailed explanation of your solar install.


Lewster, thank you for your professional input and clarifications as well.


Mario
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Old 11-08-2013, 07:57 PM   #49
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Mike,

Can you provide any feedback as to how Airstream wired the original PV to the interior.

1) Did they just run the 10awg wire from the inside through the roof top flexible hose and terminated them inside the junction box behind the panel?
2) Did they have a connection using mc4 plugs or different somewhere between the panel and the coach interior ?

Thanks.
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Old 11-09-2013, 08:47 AM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiato View Post
Mike,

Can you provide any feedback as to how Airstream wired the original PV to the interior.

1) Did they just run the 10awg wire from the inside through the roof top flexible hose and terminated them inside the junction box behind the panel?
2) Did they have a connection using mc4 plugs or different somewhere between the panel and the coach interior ?

Thanks.
Mine had 12 gauge wire that went through a roof penetration right under the 50 watt panel. It then runs back along the roadside above the cabinets, then drops down to the controller that was located behind the electrical panel under the lounge seat.

There were no MC4 connectors, just standard crimp connectors.
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Old 11-09-2013, 09:44 AM   #51
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Thank you Mike.

That's the confirmation I was looking for.

I found a spec sheet for the PV panel and it did not show any cable extensions coming from the PV panel junction box. So I was making the assumption that Airstream wired right into the PV box from inside. Interesting they used a very heavy duty flexible conduit with a relatively light but electrically adequate wire.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:19 PM   #52
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Ok I've been researching for awhile. My wife and I are considering an interstate. However, I do have a relevant question:

What about having a raised mount for the PV panels that has them mounted so they can run the entire length of the roof (except the front where the satellite antenna is). They would cover the a/c unit and toilet vent. The a/c may run better since the sun isn't beating down on it, it would be protected from the elements, and the full length panels would keep the solar gain off of the roof itself.

The total height would probably only increase a couple of inches, and would probably not be any relevant accessibility issues, and a fairing mounted before the antenna may help the entire system.

And some of you may get the POWER you seem to be searching for.

What do you think?
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Old 12-07-2013, 10:39 PM   #53
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Raised Roof of Solar Panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gruffid View Post
...What about having a raised mount for the PV panels that has them mounted so they can run the entire length of the roof (except the front where the satellite antenna is). They would cover the a/c unit and toilet vent. The a/c may run better since the sun isn't beating down on it, it would be protected from the elements, and the full length panels would keep the solar gain off of the roof itself.

The total height would probably only increase a couple of inches, and would probably not be any relevant accessibility issues, and a fairing mounted before the antenna may help the entire system.

And some of you may get the POWER you seem to be searching for.

What do you think?
I sort of did this with my installation using a roof rack to get just above the bathroom and tank vents. For my next project I'm removing the rear TV antenna and replacing it with two more 100 watt panels for a total of 400 watts on a low profile installation.

This is actually a very doable solution for maximum solar. I considered it when I did mine. To do it right you would have to remove the awning and re-mount it on the side of the roof rack like the first picture below. There are many ready made roof racks big enough to do this with some minor mods like the other photos below. Or you could have one custom made by someone like Outside Van
Custom Built Roof Racks - Outside Vans

The total solar roof could probably be done with panels only an inch above the air conditioner unit. with a 14 foot roof rack you could mount eight of the GS135 panels from AM Solar for a total of 1,080 watts. The owner of AM solar has this much on his Class A. Cost of the panels alone would be about $2700. That might be overkill for a B-van. I think my 400 watt solution will be about right for extended boon docking.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:55 AM   #54
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The problem is also where to store all the batteries you need for large system. The existing 2 house batteries cannot store enough to make the solar investment worthwhile.
If this could eliminate the generator then the space could be used for extra batteries.
Still interesting idea with the solar double roof.
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Old 12-08-2013, 05:35 AM   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
To do it right you would have to remove the awning and re-mount it on the side of the roof rack like the first picture below. There are many ready made roof racks big enough to do this with some minor mods like the other photos below. Or you could have one custom made by someone like Outside Van
Custom Built Roof Racks - Outside Vans
Early-model Interstates had a roof rack, and mounted the awning on the side of the raised roof. There should be a Fiamma mounting bracket for pre-2007 Sprinters that will work admirably.
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Old 12-10-2013, 04:12 PM   #56
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So the roof rack from front to rear would be 14' x 6'?
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