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Old 03-19-2019, 09:13 PM   #1
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Libertyville , Illinois
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Solar wiring question

Hi folks,
Im planning a 300 Ah LiFePO4 battery + solar upgrade to my 2015 GT next month and will do my best to share all the details and experience here. Before starting I have a question for those who have replaced the factory solar wiring. Did you remove the Aluminum ceiling and if so, how, or just fish the bigger gauge wire through the space between the Ai and MB space?

Really excited to start this project and tour unplugged this summer

Thanks

Eric
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:15 PM   #2
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I used the existing entry point for the tv antenna and awning but I think there was a location change at some point in the design and not sure it would still be a viable location for a 2015. I have seen one install where a new entry hole behind the cabinet behind the A/C on the driver’s side was made and used, which is a bit more difficult. I used AMSolar for the panels and combiner box for a three panel upgrade (no room for a fourth). It is not an easy install and is very labor intensive but at least I know it was done correctly.

I did not have to remove the ceiling, as the area was reachable behind where the controls for the inverter and gen set were located.

I upgraded the solar controller to a Victron 100/30 controller and added Victron battery and solar controllers with Bluetooth as well.

I am upgrading the batteries soon, but am having trouble deciding exactly what I want to do and what hardware I will use. Several different choices are available.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:43 PM   #3
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I just had a 600 aH LifePO4 and +100W solar upgrade done on my AI. They ran the cables down the shower wall. There is also some dead space between the wall and storage compartment above the driver's side jump seat in the rear. I'm pretty sure that's all they used -- they definitely didn't take down any of the ceiling nor disassemble any cabinetry.
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:39 AM   #4
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I used the original Airstream solar entry fitting (road side, 1/3 of way back) as the entry for the larger wiring I used when I upgraded to 200W. I was able to access the underside of the fitting through the cabinets above the kitchen area.
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Old 03-20-2019, 09:56 AM   #5
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Tucson , Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCow View Post
They ran the cables down the shower wall.
Just to be clear ... down the inside of the shower wall, between the fiberglass liner and the wall itself. I re-read that and it sounded like it was on the outside to me haha
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:42 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info everyone

@Titus. Do you recall if there were any tricks to accessing the roof penetration through the overhead cabinet?
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Old 03-20-2019, 07:59 PM   #7
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Gmillerok1,
After much research I decided to go with a Lithionics 300 ah GTR series and a master volt charge mate pro 40 BIM for alternator charging. More details to follow
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Old 03-20-2019, 10:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Schmitte View Post
Gmillerok1,
After much research I decided to go with a Lithionics 300 ah GTR series and a master volt charge mate pro 40 BIM for alternator charging. More details to follow
Lithionics are great batteries no doubt, but they sure are proud of them. For the cost of the GTR 300, you could get 300 amps of Lifeblue's for almost half as much. Or double up the amps for not much more. Maybe you get what you pay for but AMSolar is selling them, and I wouldn't think they would unless they satisfied of their quality.

I've never seen the BIM manager you mention. It sounds similar to the Vitctron li-ct combiner, but may be better because it limits the load from the alternator if you are worried about that (which I am).

I'm thinking of going with a Redarc DC to DC charger. It also is limited to 40 amps, but is programmable for lithiums. It would isolate the chassis and house battery banks plus top off the lithiums with the correct voltage. Seems to me that the Redarc would charge and then float at 13.6 vdc once the batteries are topped off.

But, I haven't fully decided.
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Old 03-21-2019, 09:53 AM   #9
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The BIM that is (or at least was) used by Airstream does not limit the current except by way of the (120A? or 180A?) fuse located at the chassis battery on the cable feeding MB power back to the BIM. I don't know how much power actually feeds through the BIM -that depends of course of SOC of the coach batteries.
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Old 03-21-2019, 10:38 AM   #10
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The charge mate does limit current to 40 amps (MB spec) and can be switched on and off using the logic in the lithionics BMS.

https://www.mastervolt.com/products/...e-mate-pro-40/
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Old 03-21-2019, 01:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Schmitte View Post
The charge mate does limit current to 40 amps (MB spec) and can be switched on and off using the logic in the lithionics BMS.

https://www.mastervolt.com/products/...e-mate-pro-40/
Yes, but it won't "boost" the voltage to 13.6vdc, which is what lithiums like. For the same cost the Redarc both limits the current to 40 amps and boosts the voltage to the correct voltate lithiums require, plus if you have solar, you can use it for the controller instead of the worthless junk Airstream used. The Redarc also isolates the chassis battery, and will go to float charge when the battery bank is full and I'm not sure the Mastervolt will do the same.

So many choices and decisions, but I'm pretty certain I'm going to go with a Victron inveter/charger (if I can fit the thing in the limited space I have), a Redarc DC to DC charger, together with the Victron Solar 100/30 solar controller and 3 panels I already installed, with Lifeblue battery (either 200 or 2x200amp) depending on space. No more will fit.
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Old 03-21-2019, 01:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Titus View Post
The BIM that is (or at least was) used by Airstream does not limit the current except by way of the (120A? or 180A?) fuse located at the chassis battery on the cable feeding MB power back to the BIM. I don't know how much power actually feeds through the BIM -that depends of course of SOC of the coach batteries.
If you switch to lithium, the OEM BIM must be removed from the system. If you have a large lithium battery bank (say, 600amps) and the batteries are fully discharged, they will draw as much as the alternator will send them unlike AGM's. For that reason, I am not comfortable with installers using a simple combiner such as the Victron ct-li that disconnects them when the chassis battery is low, or alternatively, connects them when it is not. I fear that's a good method of having to replacing the alternator, eventually, something that would be very inconvenient in the middle of nowhere.

That's why I think it is important to use some method to limit the current draw on the alternator when using a large bank of lithium's. If, and when, I decide to take the plunge, that's how I'll go, with a disconnect switch for each charging source. If they need a slight charge to top them off, I'll leave the solar on. If they need a charge and I'm driving, I'll use the charger. If I don't need either when stored, I will turn them both off and disconnect the inverter/charger as well.
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