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Old 09-27-2017, 08:08 AM   #29
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I would suggest not doing any solar/battery changes at first. Go use the AI a bit and see where you are really staying and how much you even use it.
Some like to stay in places with no power (Iím one of them) but many like to stay in places with full hookups etc. If that is the case, I donít see a lot of reason for $$$ upgrades- although understanding how the charging works when plugged in etc is good. (My older AI had a single stage battery charger, it would cook the battery if left on for extended periods).

I always see a lot of rigs in the RV parks, so it appears many always want hookups. I personally donít like how they crowd the sites in those and avoid them whenever I can (off season it seems many times nobody else is in them, so ok).
But you may like the social aspect of lots of others around and the convience of hookups. And you may not even know until you have done some trips and tried both ways?

The often suggested idea of staying very close for the first trip or two seems good (I didnít, I flew down to pick it up and promptly drove a several day trip home). That way if you have questions on how systems works (It takes awhile to figure them all out) or need to get something you donít have it is easy.
I would also suggest that rather than loading it up with everything you can think about, get the bare minimum at first, then (since you are local and close to stores etc) you can get what you need. Not a ton of room in these (see the ĎSmall Space Livingí thread) and weight is always a consideration.

I come from an extensive hiking (When I worked trail crew, I would be hiking in, camping out for 8 days at at time) background. So the Ďcar campingí thing was easy. Plus we had a Eurovan for a year to see if we would even like it, and what sort of things we really wanted and didnít want.

Just a few thoughts- no right or wrong way, but I know I learned loads of things I wouldnít have thought about by reading these forums. Even layouts that I wouldnít have thought about made me change what I wanted even before looking at them.

Mostly, have fun!
Mark
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:36 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus54 View Post
I would suggest not doing any solar/battery changes at first. Go use the AI a bit and see where you are really staying and how much you even use it.
Some like to stay in places with no power (I’m one of them) but many like to stay in places with full hookups etc. If that is the case, I don’t see a lot of reason for $$$ upgrades- although understanding how the charging works when plugged in etc is good. (My older AI had a single stage battery charger, it would cook the battery if left on for extended periods).

I always see a lot of rigs in the RV parks, so it appears many always want hookups. I personally don’t like how they crowd the sites in those and avoid them whenever I can (off season it seems many times nobody else is in them, so ok).
But you may like the social aspect of lots of others around and the convience of hookups. And you may not even know until you have done some trips and tried both ways?

The often suggested idea of staying very close for the first trip or two seems good (I didn’t, I flew down to pick it up and promptly drove a several day trip home). That way if you have questions on how systems works (It takes awhile to figure them all out) or need to get something you don’t have it is easy.
I would also suggest that rather than loading it up with everything you can think about, get the bare minimum at first, then (since you are local and close to stores etc) you can get what you need. Not a ton of room in these (see the ‘Small Space Living’ thread) and weight is always a consideration.

I come from an extensive hiking (When I worked trail crew, I would be hiking in, camping out for 8 days at at time) background. So the ‘car camping’ thing was easy. Plus we had a Eurovan for a year to see if we would even like it, and what sort of things we really wanted and didn’t want.

Just a few thoughts- no right or wrong way, but I know I learned loads of things I wouldn’t have thought about by reading these forums. Even layouts that I wouldn’t have thought about made me change what I wanted even before looking at them.

Mostly, have fun!
Mark
Mark, thank you for the valuable feedback. My only concern, and the reason for updating the Solar controller was to ensure that, based on so many threads on this topic, it had the proper controller to avoid issues already faced by other owners. I would like to address those and not have to learn from my experience . I am still not clear if the solar panels only maintain the house batteries or if they also keep the truck's battery as well... I need to read some more and better understand that... I sure do not want to come back to the AI after a few weeks of sitting and find that it is all dead... based on how we end up using it, then I can determine if I need to increase solar/battery storage capacity.

Everything else, I agree... will use it as is and then learn and adapt.

I subscribed to the small-space-living thread . Already have some stuff added to a wishlist in Amazon and bookmarked a few things. Again, not buying anything else for now, but a lot of good ideas and suggestions on things that would make life easier in such a confined/limited living space.

I downloaded the parts catalog...

https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...Parts-Book.pdf

Also downloading the user manual to start reading while I wait... and I know that there seems to be some conflicting/or outdated information in the manuals, but I have to start somewhere

https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...ers-Manual.pdf
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Old 09-27-2017, 10:58 AM   #31
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Mark, thank you for the valuable feedback. My only concern, and the reason for updating the Solar controller was to ensure that, based on so many threads on this topic, it had the proper controller to avoid issues already faced by other owners. I would like to address those and not have to learn from my experience . I am still not clear if the solar panels only maintain the house batteries or if they also keep the truck's battery as well...
So here's the scoop on that. The problem is a combination of the BIM and the Atkinson solar controller. If you plan to maintain your batteries, ALL your batteries, with the solar while not using the coach, read on.....

First, the Atkinson is a POS. With 300W of solar on the roof, ANY MPPT controller can do a significantly better job. The Atkinson is a single stage charger (BOOOO!!!), and it only does anything once the house batteries are already down to 12.4v (assuming it comes with the blue wire clipped like all the others we've seen), which is 30% discharged (remember, 50% is max discharge level!). This is ridiculous. Any MPPT charger is at least a 3 stage charger and most also equalize. If you want a solar controller that will keep your batteries topped up with a nice Float charge, swap out the Atkinson for something else.

Here's where the BIM comes into play. Assuming the Atkinson does finally "wake up" and decide to do something, it's going to start charging the house batteries. That's good. However, because of how the BIM operates, unless the chassis battery is below 12.6v, the BIM won't close, so the chassis battery won't get charged. Now play that forward a few days. Assuming you've been good and have everything in your coach turned off, and the Atkinson actually got a full day of sun into them, they may be over 13v. Tick tock, time goes by, and as long as the house batteries are above 12.4v, the Atkinson does nothing. Meanwhile, your chassis battery could be getting dangerously low, certainly below the 50% DOD level that we want to stay away from.

The first order of business to help fix some of this is to swap out the solar controller. Why Airstream is still using the Atkinson is a mystery to me, unless they have a contract and/or stock of them that says they have to keep using them. Anyway, going with a MPPT controller does a couple things. First, they are all highly programmable so you can set the Float voltage to 13.4v. Why? Because this does two things. First, that voltage level is still within the Float spec of the Lifelines, so no worries there. Second, the OTHER part of the BIM's "logic" says that unless there is a charge source of 13.3v or higher, it won't close, regardless of the voltage level of either battery bank. By setting the solar controller to Float at 13.4v, you guarantee that any time the solar is Floating your house batteries, your chassis battery is also getting charged. I can't tell you how nice it is to go out to the coach after a week of it sitting and popping open the cabinet to check voltages and seeing both the house and chassis at 13.3v. That NEVER happened when I was running the Atkinson.

The second order of business would be to replace the BIM with something more sensible. I haven't done that yet, but my choice for a relay is the Blue Sea ML-ACR. It will close any time it sees a charge source at either bank above 13v, doesn't have a timer to open after 1hr so it lets the charge keep flowing, and comes with a nice remote switch that allows full manual control (force open, force closed, or stay in Auto) and has a LED that lets you know what it's doing (LED on, relay is closed....simple). Another member here has gotten their Blue Sea and should be installing it shortly (Pahaska, follow his adventure here: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ml#post2013823 ).

There you go. Sorry for the long post, but this topic isn't straight forward and requires a bit of "splainin'".
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:20 AM   #32
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FlyFishinRVr,

Thank you.

Blue Sea ML-ACR 7622 added to the list. 169.00 from here:

http://www.sailsmarine.com/ItemDetail.aspx?c=40286&l=g

And a video explaining its function:



So the first two mods that I plan to do will require:

Blue Sea ML-ACR 7622
Victron BlueSolar 100/30 MPPT Charge Controller - 30 Amps / 100 Volts
Victron VE.Direct Bluetooth Dongle
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Old 09-27-2017, 11:39 AM   #33
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Purchased from here...

http://shop.pkys.com/search.asp?keyw...t+ACR+&search=

174.95 with free shipping...

An install link I found...

http://roadtreklife.blogspot.com/201...ue-sea-ml.html
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Old 09-27-2017, 02:08 PM   #34
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Do not mind me... site does not allow to edit post after 1/2 hour... so I have to make additional updates for stuff like this... just capturing some threads, as I find them, for future reference.

Setup done by FlyFishinRVr - I like the fact that you were able to reuse the existing wiring... hummm

Upgrading the solar charge controller from Atkinson to MPPT
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Old 09-27-2017, 04:55 PM   #35
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Do not mind me... site does not allow to edit post after 1/2 hour... so I have to make additional updates for stuff like this... just capturing some threads, as I find them, for future reference.

Setup done by FlyFishinRVr - I like the fact that you were able to reuse the existing wiring... hummm

Upgrading the solar charge controller from Atkinson to MPPT
That's the main reason I chose the MPPT controller that I did. It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I like to conserve energy....

If re-using the Cat5 cable that's there for the Atkinson isn't important to you, then by all means go with another controller. Honestly all the big name brands are good, and I think the Victron that you've selected is an excellent choice. If it used Cat5 cable instead of phone cable, that's the one I would have gone with. But if you don't mind using your smart phone to check on it, or don't mind pulling a new cable through the coach to add the Victron remote, then just go with it.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:40 AM   #36
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Something else that I forgot to add... bright red LED strip on the front TV/Screen... can't count the times I hit that sucker...
Our standing practices is to fold back the rear TV against the driver-side wall of the van once we park for the night. That gets it out of the aisle way.
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Old 09-30-2017, 06:48 AM   #37
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I thought I read somewhere that with the air ride, you can stop the van and raise the back up, but the moment you put it in drive or reverse, it automatically goes back to a "normal" ride height. If true, would the air ride really provide a benefit when parking, or does it just naturally ride a bit higher? Even 1" would be a big help.....
The moment you put in in drive or reverse it BEGINS to go back to normal ride height. It adjusts slowly, giving you useful extra elevation to get out of a tight spot. If you want it to stay elevated during a parking maneuver, you can shut off the engine ASAP and it will keep that height.
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:22 PM   #38
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Our standing practices is to fold back the rear TV against the driver-side wall of the van once we park for the night. That gets it out of the aisle way.
Ours is a Lounge and has this setup (photo found in the web, not ours)



During the time looking at it at the dealer, and moving back and forth from the driver or passenger seat, I kept hitting it.

I see now a few photos where folks are able to raise it inclined above the front cabinet... something to test when I get mine....and I know it is just getting use to it.
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:25 PM   #39
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The moment you put in in drive or reverse it BEGINS to go back to normal ride height. It adjusts slowly, giving you useful extra elevation to get out of a tight spot. If you want it to stay elevated during a parking maneuver, you can shut off the engine ASAP and it will keep that height.
I will just stay away from doing this. I donít want one day forget and rip everything out...
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:41 AM   #40
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This came in while I was traveling...



Called the dealer to confirm delivery date of our AI. Delivery will be between mid Nov/early December.

Also documenting some additional things we should get:

Leveling block and chocks
Wheel chocks
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:05 AM   #41
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This came in while I was traveling...

Called the dealer to confirm delivery date of our AI. Delivery will be between mid Nov/early December.
Looks good!

With a new solar charge controller, the Blue Sea ACR, and your stock 300W of solar, you will be in great shape right from the start. I think you'll be surprised how well it all works and may find that for overnight stays. Once you get some time with the coach and where/how you guys like to use it, you'll have a good idea of where to go next with regards to the electrical system.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:58 AM   #42
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Looks good!

With a new solar charge controller, the Blue Sea ACR, and your stock 300W of solar, you will be in great shape right from the start. I think you'll be surprised how well it all works and may find that for overnight stays. Once you get some time with the coach and where/how you guys like to use it, you'll have a good idea of where to go next with regards to the electrical system.
I have been reading the feedback on some of the sub-components (generator, fridge, etc.) to know what changes I might need to look at down the road.

The challenge is that I can't find in the parts manual the exact model numbers for these items... for example, the fridge is listed as Refrigerator, 3.1 CF, LH, Novakool - I don't see a 3.1 CF fridge listed in the Novakool site. The only one that I see is the R3100 R3102 3.0 cu.ft. (85 liters)... all this to be able to determine correct dimensions for finding a replacement that is more energy efficient when the time comes.

I did read your thread ... and 2018 has the same fridge. So not in a hurry to change anything since you seemed to be okay with the stock unit. Just reading on the Vitelloni refrigerators....

Loved this photo from your thread!!

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