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Old 11-07-2016, 05:37 AM   #161
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I was worried about that at first then came up with a simple solution: I took it all out! And then put in a new system. I think I only had one glitch which was the radio power. Other than that, it all worked.

Ultimately you are only changing the source of power so there is not a ton that can go wrong there.
Define "took it all out".


Do you mean you re-ran every wire to every appliance? If so, how? Some of it we could access without tearing the truck back to the ribs, and we will do those portions (getting rid of the heavier solid core wire in particular). But it's not clear to me how much of the rest could be successfully fished.
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Old 11-07-2016, 06:25 AM   #162
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Scope-creep comment... because we could not have a project without scope creep entering the picture.

Those of you with "mid-bath" T1N Interstates... did you know that your L-shaped closet doesn't necessarily need to be as severely L-shaped as was installed? The bump-in shrouds the gray and black tank vent that extends from near the floor to the roof, plus it serves as the main wire chase of sorts, for wiring that originates at the converter and fans out through the port wall and probably across the ceiling.

But it's at least twice the size that it needs to be. Not only does that consume unnecessary space, reducing closet versatility substantially, it concerns me because, in the event of a fire, it would provide a freeway-sized chimney draw. Here I am trying to think of ways to bolster the overall safety factor, and there's this huge potential oxygen feeder in the middle of everything.

No matter which approach we take in creating a removable closet floor for system access, we have to modify the floor piece installed by Airstream. Rather than cutting into the original piece, which I am loath to do for a number of reasons including the fact that, as a high-quality dense laminated material, it's difficult to even do that without tearing up the edges, I'm wondering if we couldn't simply template a whole new floor out of the thicker Hardie backer. Obviously Hardie backer doesn't have anywhere near the flexural strength of plywood, so we'd have to add a few ribs or other reinforcement. But it might actually be easier than trying to add a Hardie piece below the existing floor.

If we swapped out the floor entirely, I could also template a new "chimney", one that is smaller, lighter, and easier to handle (we are losing patience having to remove and re-install the existing 10.75" x 4.75" x 43" L-shaped piece, which is very bulky and heavy and tightly-fit, every time we do a piece of work on this system).

Anyway, some food for thought. Here's a map view of the existing closet floor footprint. I'm constantly amazed at how every inch counts in an Interstate. I was looking at this configuration last night thinking to myself, "If that massive chimney footprint were reduced, I could do [this] and [this] and [this] with the closet, that I can't do now."
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Old 11-07-2016, 08:34 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post
I was worried about that at first then came up with a simple solution: I took it all out! And then put in a new system. I think I only had one glitch which was the radio power. Other than that, it all worked.



Ultimately you are only changing the source of power so there is not a ton that can go wrong there.


Have to agree this is the way to go. I do the same thing when I reconfigure/rebuild computing systems and datacenters. Rather than muck around with what someone else did for godonlyknowswhatreason, it all comes out and gets redone. I've done it both ways and quickly learned the best approach is the one amirm has taken. It's not for the feint-hearted, but in the long run it will pay off. Good work!
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Old 11-07-2016, 12:19 PM   #164
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Define "took it all out".


By everything I mean everything upstream of the DC fuse box. I also ripped out all AC connections and redid them including the wiring to the transfer switch and even the feed to the shore power.

I then redrew a completely new system and placed it there.

For phase 2, I will be attempting to change the fusebox and circuits downstream but that is for next year .
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Old 11-07-2016, 05:54 PM   #165
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Thanks for the clarification. I was afraid you had completed your part two in a couple weekends and was I losing my mind trying to figure out how you did it. I've been planning to relocate the fuse box and replace everything upstream as you have done.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:45 PM   #166
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Hi, folks. A newbie, here. I have a 2016 Grand Tour Twin 4 x 4 and, living in the west, will be boondocking a lot. I have replaced the lousy, partially-shaded flex panel with three 160-watt rigid panels (from Go-Power). I have mounted them transversely, one in the front where the old panel was and two in the rear behind the A/C, 5" above the roof on steel perforated angle-iron left over from my shop garage door installation years ago. This gets the right edge up over the awning and also raises the front one over one of the vent pipes and flush with the TV antenna so there is no shading. I moved the previous owner's satellite dome from the rear to the front of the roof. 480 watts total of un-shaded solar panels!

I attached the front panel to the existing wiring going to the OEM controller. I drilled a hole in the roof near the plumbing vent on the left side of the coach and ran the wires from the two rear panels down along the outside of the shower/sink wall to the plumbing access panel at the foot of the left twin bed. I mounted the new Go-Power controller to this access panel and ran the power from there down and into the area where the Magnum inverter/charger and the coach/chassis battery transfer relay lives. The controller has outputs for a primary and a secondary battery bank, so I hooked up the primary to the coach battery terminal on the transfer relay, and the secondary output to the chassis battery terminal. All appears to be working well, except of course for the miserably narrow charge capacity of the OEM AGM batteries.

To fix the latter shortcoming, I have ordered from AM Solar a 320 Amp-hour (2 x 160) Lithium Essentials battery kit plus an additional 160 Amp-hour battery, for a total of 480 Amp-hours. I plan to install the batteries inside the coach. I'm going to start with the subwoofer area and move out from there, since we find the under-bed storage areas difficult to access anyway. I'm hoping/assuming I can fit all three in there somewhere.

AM Solar has been extremely helpful so far. I may add additional components (battery monitor, bluetooth dongle for cell phone app, and maybe even a larger inverter) as I go, trying to take advantage of the 30% tax credit while I can. I'm still thinking that running the AC off these batteries might be a stretch, but I'd sure love to ditch the propane generator (a la Advanced-RV Ocean) if I could. Probably would need to add the second alternator to the engine. Not sure if my Sprinter has the necessary prep option to be able to add a fast-idle switch. Need to look for the proper code on the build sticker, wherever that might be hidden. Any advice on these matters would be welcome.

I'm also adding some air bags to the rear axle and some custom Fox shocks from Sprinter Upgrades. If I could ditch the generator, I'd have room for the full air suspension (for another $8k I suppose....) Getting up close to the price of a used Advanced-RV Ocean before long! Would also love to use the space where the batteries currently live to have an outside storage compartment like you see on the Class C Sprinters.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:15 PM   #167
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3 x 160 watt solar panels

Photos:
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:46 PM   #168
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Originally Posted by mineralfarme View Post
Hi, folks. A newbie, here. I have a 2016 Grand Tour Twin 4 x 4 and, living in the west, will be boondocking a lot. I have replaced the lousy, partially-shaded flex panel with three 160-watt rigid panels (from Go-Power). I have mounted them transversely, one in the front where the old panel was and two in the rear behind the A/C, 5" above the roof on steel perforated angle-iron left over from my shop garage door installation years ago. This gets the right edge up over the awning and also raises the front one over one of the vent pipes and flush with the TV antenna so there is no shading. I moved the previous owner's satellite dome from the rear to the front of the roof. 480 watts total of un-shaded solar panels!

I attached the front panel to the existing wiring going to the OEM controller. I drilled a hole in the roof near the plumbing vent on the left side of the coach and ran the wires from the two rear panels down along the outside of the shower/sink wall to the plumbing access panel at the foot of the left twin bed. I mounted the new Go-Power controller to this access panel and ran the power from there down and into the area where the Magnum inverter/charger and the coach/chassis battery transfer relay lives. The controller has outputs for a primary and a secondary battery bank, so I hooked up the primary to the coach battery terminal on the transfer relay, and the secondary output to the chassis battery terminal. All appears to be working well, except of course for the miserably narrow charge capacity of the OEM AGM batteries.

To fix the latter shortcoming, I have ordered from AM Solar a 320 Amp-hour (2 x 160) Lithium Essentials battery kit plus an additional 160 Amp-hour battery, for a total of 480 Amp-hours. I plan to install the batteries inside the coach. I'm going to start with the subwoofer area and move out from there, since we find the under-bed storage areas difficult to access anyway. I'm hoping/assuming I can fit all three in there somewhere.

AM Solar has been extremely helpful so far. I may add additional components (battery monitor, bluetooth dongle for cell phone app, and maybe even a larger inverter) as I go, trying to take advantage of the 30% tax credit while I can. I'm still thinking that running the AC off these batteries might be a stretch, but I'd sure love to ditch the propane generator (a la Advanced-RV Ocean) if I could. Probably would need to add the second alternator to the engine. Not sure if my Sprinter has the necessary prep option to be able to add a fast-idle switch. Need to look for the proper code on the build sticker, wherever that might be hidden. Any advice on these matters would be welcome.

....
Can you post some photos for your solar roof installation? It sounds very interesting.

With Lithium batteries a second alternator would be a good choice and certainly allow you to get rid of the Onan LP generator.

I don't think 480AH of lithium batteries is adequate to run A/C for more than a few minutes.

The adjustable Fast Idle is Sprinter option code MT4. I've attached the page of info on it from 2015 Sprinter options handbook. I know some folks over on the Sprinter-Forum have had it installed post delivery by dealer. It will take a dealer with lots of Sprinter experience. As far as I understand it is just a matter of installing the switches and programing the system.

If you want a copy of your build sticker, aka Data Card, it can be obtained from the parts department of a Sprinter dealer. They just need the VIN.

I have a subscription to the Mercedes EPC (Electronic Parts Catalog) and can send you a copy of your build Data Card if you send me a Private Message with your VIN and an email address so I can send you a PDF file of your data card.

The MB EPC was a good buy at $12 for annual subscription. Now I see they have raised the price to $75 per year and I need to renew soon. Not sure if I'm going to pay the $75 to renew but it has been nice to look up parts for my Sprinter. What burns me is if you have a Mercedes car or SUV in the USA you get access to USA EPC free. But the Sprinter parts data is not included as it is it the World Wide version of EPC, which you have to subscribe to for access.

- - Mike
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:48 PM   #169
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That's a clever idea to life the solar above the existing vents!

On Lithium, the sub area was good for 300 amp hour of storage for me. If I had used the narrow enclosure next to it, I could double it probably. So if you are going in that direction as long as you have flexibility on battery configuration, you can get there. If AM solar comes pre-configured as a battery block, that may be a lot harder.
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:24 PM   #170
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.... I have mounted them transversely, one in the front where the old panel was and two in the rear behind the A/C, 5" above the roof ....
Hi, Mineralfarme, and welcome to Air Forums. At this point, you are the only other poster known to me who chose a vaulting method for their solar. My husband LB_3 and I have an older T1N Sprinter-based Interstate, and we constructed a hinged 80/20 frame (blog post link there) to vault ours over our roof air conditioner. That hasn't been discussed much in this particular thread because that was Phase 1 of this project and we are now into Phase 2, which is the upgrade to lithium.

Here's a pic of our panels. The stainless steel roof rack was an existing feature of the T1N vintage Interstates, and we took full advantage of it for anchoring our 80/20 frame.
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Old 11-11-2016, 04:34 PM   #171
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Mineralfarme, please post a write up of your lithium install or at least share a few pics in this thread. I'm sure I'm not the only one interested in this topic.
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Old 11-15-2016, 10:45 PM   #172
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In my previous schematic I wanted to put a cutoff switch on my battery ground. That's likely to be a difficult location to reach so I was thinking about one of the BlueSea remote cutoff switches.


In order to allow the relay to reclose the switch after the battery ground is severed, the actuator ground would need to be between the battery and the switch and not between the switch and ground. It seems to make sense to me but is there a sneak circuit back through the relay actuator or any other issue I need to be concerned with?

Update: At nearly $200 I may need to rethink how badly I want to have all the switches in one location.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:32 AM   #173
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Not much visible progress over the holidays outside a stream of UPS deliveries. But I did manage to restrap the batteries into a size that will fit under our closet.

From (x3):

To:
This was a major PITA. I'm not sure the strapping is necessary in a well planned system other than for making warranty claims (assuming there is a warranty). But if the manufacturer is going to all the trouble of strapping the batteries there must be a swelling risk to be mitigated. I couldn't find the steel bands used to originally strap the batteries so subsituted a wider, thinner stainless strap with nearly the same cross sectional area. This stuff was very springy, destroyed 2 drill bits, sliced up my hands, and had an all around disagreeable attitude.

The converter is going to be removed soon so I also installed a manual cutoff switch on the existing battery ground to preserve the battery when it's in storage without the charger plugged in.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:09 AM   #174
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This is what the cut-off switch looks like, remembering that our coach battery is currently under our cab's passenger seat, which is presumably what gave rise to the original upholsterer having written what you see here on the underside of the Ultraleather seat skirt.

After this switch got installed, I wondered why we hadn't done it sooner, for general convenience. It's a heck of a lot easier to throw this switch than it is to be hauling a shore power cord in and out every time we garage and un-garage the rig.

Back when we had no solar, of course we needed to plug in, because the coach battery was often depleted by the time we put it up. But ever since we installed the solar panels, the battery is already at 100% by the time we return to the garage. If the Lifeline batteries hold charge in isolation for as long as I've heard Lewster claim, we should be able to just cut it off and stop lugging cords around.
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Old 11-29-2016, 09:30 AM   #175
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For a remote disconnect swtich, you May want to consider a latching solinoid switch. These are electrically activated, but mechanically latching. So no current draw after switched.
We used a similar one to switch between radios at a remote site that was battery only (no charging at all) so could not afford any current draw. (Modified a pager to activate the solinoid, and had a separate battery to run pager that would, last 3-4 years)

In has too low of current capability, but similar
http://www.qualitymobilevideo.com/ac...FRVrfgoddPEN8Q

(Obviously a mechanical, hand activated one would be cheaper, and looks like you went that way? )

Mark
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Old 11-29-2016, 10:15 AM   #176
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(Obviously a mechanical, hand activated one would be cheaper, and looks like you went that way? )

Mark
Yes, because this is just a temporary switch while we haul out the existing electrical converter in advance of the lithium installation. We have to do this job in stages because we are still using the Interstate on an ongoing basis. You can see that the switch is not even anchored, with the way it was added to the line. It might be there for several weeks at most (she said, being optimistic), which makes a more upscale installation not worth it.
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Old 11-29-2016, 02:28 PM   #177
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For a remote disconnect swtich, you May want to consider a latching solinoid switch. These are electrically activated, but mechanically latching.
There is already one in AI but it is poorly designed in that it only turns off some loads. I changed it so that it is now the master disconnect and life is good! It plays double duty in my system for low-voltage cut off for the lithium cells.
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Old 12-07-2016, 01:38 PM   #178
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I'm obsessed with ThingLink but my husband says that there is a hefty subscription price, so we can't use it to animate our electrical diagram.

But if you are on a desktop or laptop, check out FarOutRide's ThingLink diagram here. Scroll down to section "8 - Detailed Diagram". Hover your mouse arrow over the diagram and a bunch of black and white circles appear. Then hover your mouse over any given circle, and a link to that specific component floats up. This makes it so easy that I could teach my grandmother to understand lithium with it.
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Old 12-07-2016, 10:34 PM   #179
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Looks like ThingLink has a free license for bloggers that isn't too restrictive.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:50 PM   #180
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Scope creep... the upper cabinet came down more easily than expected, but while it's down, why not fix the severe rear angle that turns it into an unnecessary triangle?? There's so much wasted space behind there. So I'm on urgent search for a local woodworker who can help with this little job. Once the new wiring is done, it is not likely coming down again.

Upper right corner: Temp inside the Interstate right now. God bless Houston; we are roasting on December 17.
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