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Old 08-12-2017, 05:56 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by FlyFishinRVr View Post
... put the forward-most panel that close to the A/C because you wanted to fit the rear-most panel between it and that cable that's coming out of the roof?
You got it. I think the cable is the power for the power awning. It penetrates the roof at an awkward spot, and Airstream sealed it with a great glob of something. The second (rearward) panel butts up against and rides up on that glob. Just barely fits. But I still had room for a small airgap between the two panels, for circulation.
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Old 08-12-2017, 06:39 PM   #30
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You got it. I think the cable is the power for the power awning. It penetrates the roof at an awkward spot, and Airstream sealed it with a great glob of something. The second (rearward) panel butts up against and rides up on that glob. Just barely fits. But I still had room for a small airgap between the two panels, for circulation.
I think all will be well once you move to a series connection with all 3 panels and your new MPPT charge controller, but don't freak out if you check your Atkinson and only see 5-6A coming from those two rear panels. Depending on how the new panels are made, if the A/C shades the right (or wrong....) cells the entire panel may turn "off", leaving you with just one that's providing power.
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Old 09-22-2017, 04:56 PM   #31
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Can anyone recommend a qualified pro to install additional solar and also add batteries in So California? My 2017 Airstream motor home is not capable of boondocking for more than 1 day.
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Old 09-23-2017, 12:58 AM   #32
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I've also been looking for an installer in Southern Cal. So far the dealer in Santa Barbara seems to be the most knowledgeable and responsive. I'm open to other suggestions for the battery replacement and upgrade for our 2015 .

We just purchased this unit and found that the Lifeline AGMs had been replaced with Interstate flooded cell deep cycle batteries. The Interstates are now also basically dead presumably from sitting for weeks in a completely discharged state.

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Can anyone recommend a qualified pro to install additional solar and also add batteries in So California? My 2017 Airstream motor home is not capable of boondocking for more than 1 day.
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:14 AM   #33
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Can anyone recommend a qualified pro to install additional solar and also add batteries in So California? My 2017 Airstream motor home is not capable of boondocking for more than 1 day.
Not to get too off-topic, but I'm a newbie and looking to purchase my first Class B in about a year. Most of my use will be boondocking. Usually just a few days at a time for weekend trips. Others have warned me that Airstreams are not capable of boondocking from the manufacturer. I understand the battery supply and solar are limited, but is it not possible to use the generator to charge the bank each day? What are the major limitations? Thanks!
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Old 09-23-2017, 07:47 AM   #34
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..... but is it not possible to use the generator to charge the bank each day? What are the major limitations? Thanks!
Hi

Yes, that's the design intent on a lot of MH's. You put up with the noise of the generator once or twice a day and run on batteries the rest of the time. That may not make you popular with the neighbors. Run at breakfast / run at dinner is a common approach (most are out and about at lunch time ...).

The point is that not everybody wants to / can run that way. Solar also has it's plusses and minuses. There's only so much room for panels. Some days are cloudy. Some camping spots are in the shade. There is no one ideal answer.

Bob
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Old 09-23-2017, 08:02 AM   #35
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Not to get too off-topic, but I'm a newbie and looking to purchase my first Class B in about a year. Most of my use will be boondocking. Usually just a few days at a time for weekend trips. Others have warned me that Airstreams are not capable of boondocking from the manufacturer. I understand the battery supply and solar are limited, but is it not possible to use the generator to charge the bank each day? What are the major limitations? Thanks!
Yes it is possible but generator use is either not permitted or not advisable in many areas where one might desire to boondock. Boondocking by definition means keeping a low profile and not interfering with anyone else's use of the area in question. A roaring generator is antithetical to that outcome.

Of course, a lot depends on what the target locations are. In heavy-use outdoor areas, generator use is out of the question unless it's a location where it is specifically authorized. For instance, equestrian set-asides sometimes allow non-horse-hauling off-gridders to stay there, and horse people are notorious for heavy generator use, whether they need it or not - it's a different culture than RVing. So a generator could be used in those types of areas with impunity.

In some national forest areas, there is a de facto permission to use generators for the simple reason that nobody is minding the store.

In the less-populated American West, I imagine that there are a lot of places where generators could be used, because there are so few people in those areas.

I would estimate that my husband and I COULD NOT use our generator in about 75% of the places we go, and we WOULD NOT use it in 20% of our destinations in the name of good neighbor-ship, leaving about 5% of destinations as affirmative use areas. That 5% for us includes truck stops where 18-wheelers are idling and already making noise, and on this last trip, I fired up our generator in a Cabela's RV set-aside area. There was already freeway noise plus an 18-wheeler idling in that general area, so there was little chance of interfering with the retail experience or anyone else's comfort (the 18-wheeler was resting after making a delivery at the adjacent Lowes hardware).

Cabela's is an exception where retail boondocking locations are concerned. Firing up a generator in a Walmart parking lot is out of the question in almost all cases - I've only seen one exception, that being in rural West Texas where there were no truck stops, and a Walmart was using part of its lot for big rig staging. The same is true for Cracker Barrel - no generators.
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Old 09-23-2017, 03:27 PM   #36
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I understand the battery supply and solar are limited, but is it not possible to use the generator to charge the bank each day? What are the major limitations? Thanks!
The Interstate was designed as a TRAVEL vehicle vs. a DESTINATION vehicle. As such, it's systems were designed accordingly. Yes, you can absolutely do as you describe. Let the batteries run your fridge, lights, etc. at night, and use the genset during the day to recharge them in those cases where you want to stay in that spot another day.

However, as others have said, there are destinations where this isn't allowed. We just did the Yosemite thing this summer and the campgrounds we stayed at had a "No generators" sign right at the entrance. This was no problem for us because each day we drove through the park, which recharged the batteries. This is one of the huge benefits of #vanlife. Your camper is your van, and your van can get into places that larger RVs and trailers don't fit. We showed up with no reservations on July 5th and due to our small size, had no problem finding a spot, but that's because we went to a "No services" campground (no running water, no electric, etc). If you want to drive your 30'+ big-arse RV into Yosemite, you'll be limited to the reserve-ahead spots, which fill up a year in advance. Not only that, but you won't be able to drive a big rig on some of those roads because they're too tight and winding, so you'd need to pull a toad and drive through the park with it. What. A. Pain.

Don't want to be limited with how long you stay or the "No generator" thing? Well, now you're in RoadTrek EcoTrek, Advanced RV, or other custom RV territory (or a refit of something to add the bits to make this possible).

The first step is to decide how and where you want to camp. That should answer 90% of "which van should I buy".
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Old 09-23-2017, 04:40 PM   #37
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Not to get too off-topic, but I'm a newbie and looking to purchase my first Class B in about a year. Most of my use will be boondocking. Usually just a few days at a time for weekend trips. Others have warned me that Airstreams are not capable of boondocking from the manufacturer. I understand the battery supply and solar are limited, but is it not possible to use the generator to charge the bank each day? What are the major limitations? Thanks!
I use my Onan genset as a last resort. One of the reasons we bought the AI was to take roadtrips for fun and relaxation. Besides being obnoxiously loud and disruptive to any neighbors, it is impossible to relax in the bus with the noise and vibration when it is running (turn on the A/C and you've really got some noise!). For tailgating at football games, we bring along a much quieter Yamaha inverter. You hardly know it's there.
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Old 09-23-2017, 08:45 PM   #38
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We have a T1N Airstream Interstate with a single 12 volt Trojan wet cell battery and a Renogy 100 watt solar suitcase. We run a propane refrigerator and cook top and have changed most bulbs to LEDs. Some nights we use a 150 watt inverter to watch a movie on the TV. We use the water, toilet and shower (four to six quickies), charge cell phones and other devices and play the radio a bit. We have boondocked a maximum of 5 days with this arrangement and may have gone longer. We are in northern California and we have done this 3 summers in a row, in the summer, without starting the van or generator.

I have fantasies of systems like Interblog and LB_3 have installed, or some of the Roadtrek and Advanced RV offerings as I imagine we could boondock for weeks at a time with a lithium setup based on our consumption. My wife has wisly advised me not to make the expedature as she says we will never sit longer then our standing 5 days.

Recent installation of a Trimetric battery monitor has been an added treat as it has eliminated a lot of guess work (read my anxiety) about State of Charge.
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:37 AM   #39
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Sebtown's approach is very similar to our starting condition when we first purchased our T1N Interstate, except we decided that I should be able to use and re-charge my computer (I own a small business and need to work on the road).

And then my husband decided that, if we needed to integrate the computer, there was no sense going half-way - the microwave also has to be usable off-grid (which is a godsend, by the way - I would hate to live without that).

And if I'm going to be able to work on the road, showing up for business meetings and whatnot, I need my hair dryer to work. Even if one drops into a park that is semi-served with utilities rather than remaining totally off grid, there's no guarantee of electricity in the shower and bathroom areas. Mustang Island State Park in Texas is an example (and a very well-known park). No electricity in the common areas, presumably because they flood so often.

For those reasons, we embarked on our upfit project. But if an owner were happy to restrict themselves to the kind of bare bones boondocking that Sebtown is referencing - minimal power use, forget about computers and monitors and power-hungry devices, etc. it can be done that way.
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Old 09-24-2017, 07:38 AM   #40
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We occasionally use our generator, and find it a unpleasant but acceptable solution. We plan to add the Onan resonator to soften the outside sound and elastic washers to the generator mount to soften the interior sound and vibration.

An intermediate upgrade is add additional solar panels and AGM batteries. Can be done for less cost than the lithium upgrade.
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:04 AM   #41
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Even though I clearly shared with Airstream sales my intention to boondocks, I was led to the 2017 motorhome. Wasn't until I read the literature provided with the vehicle that I discovered it's inability to boondocks. So now I need upgrades to help me be off the beaten path. Will 2 more 100 W solar panels and 3 more batteries do the trick? Another idea would be to switch out the frig to a 2-way if there is one that would fit. I use very little electricity when out, it's mainly the frig that drains the system. Anyone know of a frig that would work?
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Old 09-24-2017, 10:38 AM   #42
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Even though I clearly shared with Airstream sales my intention to boondocks, I was led to the 2017 motorhome. Wasn't until I read the literature provided with the vehicle that I discovered it's inability to boondocks. So now I need upgrades to help me be off the beaten path. Will 2 more 100 W solar panels and 3 more batteries do the trick? Another idea would be to switch out the frig to a 2-way if there is one that would fit. I use very little electricity when out, it's mainly the frig that drains the system. Anyone know of a frig that would work?
The fridge in the 2017 is already a 2-way, electric-only, compressor driven model. So you're set there.

Can you give a bit more detail on how you want to camp? 2 days? 5 days? Genset or no genset? Park in sun or shade? Any daytime driving, or just park in one spot for a week? All of this makes a big difference in the type of system you need.....
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