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Old 04-05-2015, 12:04 PM   #15
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Keep in mind an inverter is a device that can quickly drain batteries. The two standard group 24 batteries will quickly drain if used for high current application's like coffee pots and microwaves. Solar panels can somewhat mitigate this loss but we sometimes park our campers in part or full shade sites for comfort, thus handicapping the solar system. For example: I'm heading to the Redwood's for a long weekend and have zero expectation of getting any solar input as those campgrounds are always in deep dark shade, so need to use the stored battery power sparingly.


I have 400 watts of solar and the 300 watt morningstar inverter mated to the stock batteries used only for entertainment and light duty appliances. The system seems reasonably balanced. Consider your expectations of the inverter first.
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Old 04-05-2015, 12:24 PM   #16
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My mind is opening wide now!

If I plan to go with a Magnum inverter/charger and upgrade batteries, and install a higher capacity solar system is there any benefit to ordering the factory inverter and factory solar as an initial step? Or best to skip all of that entirely?
Skip it! The money you save from NOT getting the factory solar and inverter can be added to the overall costs of your total electrical upgrade.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:14 PM   #17
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We bought the factory system. It is useless for true boondocking--primarily because the solar panels are not adequate. Also, the supplied solar control is one stage instead of three stage--throw that away, too. The inverter itself is OK for lite use--that and the two 110 wired sockets are the only thing we use from the expensive option.

As others have said, first determine your needs for the inverter. You will most likely need more storage, too. We gave our brand new 12v back to the dealer and bought 4 6v for double the storage (440 Amps; 220 usable at 50%)and double the weight. We will change this out for a 300 amp lithium bank, (260 amp usable at 85%; weight savings of 2/3!!)

There's plenty of room on your roof for solar panels.

If you're near FL in the winter or the Pacifc NW in the summer, contact Lew Farber (Lewster.) after reviewing your needs, he will set you up with all of the best components for your particular application and do a beautiful install job, too.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:20 PM   #18
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Solar and battery upgrades are not independent of other considerations, and can $nowball out of control. We have factory solar and inverter, and know how to make it work for us.

We could get more solar but that would be worthless without more battery storage. A big battery bank would exceed Airstream's 1,000 lb. limit for tongue weight, and tax the load limits of our otherwise excellent half-ton truck. So the batteries would have to be relocated aft. That means inside the Airstream, so lead-acid batteries are no longer an option. Or do we mount them on the tongue in spite of Airstream's advice, and buy a heavier duty truck. $nowball effect.

What we have works well for us, but we conserve power usage as needed. If we needed big power (air conditioners) we would buy a big generator, but we don't, others do.

First decide what your own realistic power needs are, then decide what system to buy. If you decide on a upgraded system, Lew has excellent advice.
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Old 04-05-2015, 02:46 PM   #19
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Second that, Lew seems to have the best advice on this topic. But you can throw a whole lot of money at this issue. You really need to determine what your requirements are. The factory installation meets my needs since we do not boondock. Even so, I would not have been able to get close to someone with Lew's expertise if I wanted a new or modified installation. If I were buying new, I would probably order the factory package for the convenience.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:19 PM   #20
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If you use a 1000 watt microwave running off an inverter, you are discharging your 12 volt batteries at the rate of 1.4 AH (ampere-hours) per minute, or 84 AH per hour. I believe the fans draw about 3 amps each when running, so the two of them add another 72 AH discharge, per 12 hours (if they are running constantly and not cycling on and off via thermostats) (142 AH per 24hours). I believe the batteries have a capacity of approximately 84 AH each (total 168 AH) and I think the guidelines are to not let your batteries go below 40% of capacity (if so that means you only have 100 AH available for use, excluding solar generation or an external generator).

If you have incandescent lights, they draw about 5 times the power of LED lights, so depending on how much lighting you are using they can suck the batteries down too. To heat a quart of water from 60 degrees up to boiling (without boiling) takes 7.4 AH (continuing to heat it with 1000 watt inverter would be adding another1.4 AH per minute).

All that said and done, Iím a believer in using the propane stove to heat water, and run the fans and lighting judiciously. You can play around with the numbers, but still see that without additional power being supplied you still have to be conscious of your rate of consumption.

General inverter comments: If you use a 1000 watt inverter, it will draw about 85 amps from your batteries (requires large cable to wire inverter). If you use a 1500 watt inverter, it will draw about 125 amps from your batteries (requires very large cable to wire inverter). Should you try to pull this sort of current for an hour (electric oven or microwave), that alone will completely discharge your batteries. Bottom line, if you need to do electric cooking for any period of time, etc. you need external shore power or a generator.

Should you still want to pursue the high drain on your batteries, you need to consider swapping out your batteries with 6-volt golf cart batteries. The size 24 batteries mentioned above are about 84 AH each. Golf cart batteries are about 225 AH each, so if you made that change you would be almost trippling your battery capacity. The conversion takes some work though, because the golf cart batteries are too tall for your existing battery box, so you have to modify the box, wire the batteries in series, replace the battery hold-down bolt, etc.
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Old 04-05-2015, 04:53 PM   #21
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I listened to Lewster. All these choices really have to do with HOW you'll use your trailer, but the lure of operating virtually every single 110V outlet won out and I did the Magnum MSH. Yes, I did add 4 big 6V Lifeline AGM's, and yes, you do have to add a sub-panel and wire in each circuit you want to operate through the Magnum...BUT, having had just a shakedown cruise with the new Classic, I can tell you that this inverter/charger -- coupled with 600W of solar panels, really is the ultimate in convenience and "off the grid" option.
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Old 04-05-2015, 05:20 PM   #22
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Awesome comments, everyone. Much to consider.

BAB... does wiring in each circuit from the inverter involve opening up the aluminum wall panels in every area of the trailer that one wishes an outlet from the inverter? If so, that sounds like major and very costly work?

First, let me say that I know almost nothing about RV electrical circuits. Couldn't the inverter be wired to the existing outlets and have them fed by either shore power, battery inversion, or solar?

Deciding my inverter and solar power needs is inextricably intertwined with the costs involved in upgrading systems, so knowing something about the approximate costs will likely influence what I decide my inverter needs will be.
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Old 04-05-2015, 05:37 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by DHart View Post
Awesome comments, everyone. Much to consider.

BAB... does wiring in each circuit from the inverter involve opening up the aluminum wall panels in every area of the trailer that one wishes an outlet from the inverter? If so, that sounds like major and very costly work?

First, let me say that I know almost nothing about RV electrical circuits. Couldn't the inverter be wired to the existing outlets and have them fed by either shore power, battery inversion, or solar?

Deciding my inverter and solar power needs is inextricably intertwined with the costs involved in upgrading systems, so knowing something about the approximate costs will likely influence what I decide my inverter needs will be.
Based on your stated level of knowledge about electrical systems, I would initiate a email or phone conversation with Lew Farber (Lewster.) He is by far the most knowledgeable person on this forum on this topic. I believe his contact information is in his signature line (if you can't find it, PM me and I'll give it to you.)

Of course, you first need to decide how you plan to use your trailer before you know what to get (and of course, the budget comes into play at some point.) If you don't plan to camp "off the grid" much (i.e., stay in parks with electrical hookups), then you don't even need an inverter. But if you will do a lot of boondocking you will want to have a beefier battery system than Airstream provides, as well as an inverter and either a generator or solar panel system.
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Old 04-05-2015, 05:55 PM   #24
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Before you go any further with this, you might want to check out the process for installing a Magnum MSH inverter: http://magnumenergy.com/wp-content/u...Series_Web.pdf
IF you have little to no experience with electrical stuff, I would NOT recommend you take this on without someone who does -- who could check out/help you with the process.
But, in response to your question about "opening up the aluminum wall" -- the answer is a qualified "NO". Your main chore is figuring out how close you can put all the piece parts -- inverter, batteries, sub-panel as close as you can to your existing main electrical panel. My trailer's main panel was just underneath the closet...which is where I put the sub-panel. The reason I qualified the panel part is that I did have to run 120V cable from the main panel to the inverter -- which in my case was on the opposite side of my trailer. i did this using conduit mounted right up against the belly pan.
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Old 04-05-2015, 05:56 PM   #25
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Some clarifications that I added to post 20 that was on another thread.

Originally Posted by WindyJim
General comments: Using your batteries to heat water can really suck your batteries down. If you use a 1000 watt microwave running off an inverter, you are discharging your 12 volt batteries at the rate of 1.4 AH (ampere-hours) per minute, or 84 AH per hour. Battery discharge is measured in amp/hours (A/H). If you wish to obtain amp/minutes, divided A/H by 60. You then have amp/minutes.There is no measurement for battery discharge called amp/hours per minute I believe the fans draw about 3 amps each when running, so the two of them add another 72 AH discharge, per 12 hours (if they are running constantly and not cycling on and off via thermostats) (142 AH per 24hours). I believe the batteries you referenced have a capacity of approximately 84 AH each (when new) (total 168 AH) and I think the guidelines are to not let your batteries go below 40% of capacity (if so that means you only have 100 AH per day available for use, excluding solar generation).The generally accepted rule of battery discharge is a 50% depth of discharge, which for Interstate Group 24 liquid cells would be 80 amp/hours of usable capacity.

You state the solar was putting out 10 amps at 12 volts. That may be the max, with less in the morning and tapering off in the evening, going to nothing at night. Lets say that effectively you produce 10 amps for 10 hours per day, or 100 AH per day from your solar (more in summer, less in winter). No solar charging system puts out a consistent, continual amount of power during a sunny day. There is minimal charging from dawn that increases with the sun's azimuth, and hence the solar radiance that the solar array receives and increases to 'solar noon' which is generally 2 hours before and after peak sun angle. If one assumes a 10 amp maximum solar output during solar noon, then the projected output of this system would be approximately 70-80 amps including 10 amps/hour during solar noon and a tapering of this amount for the remainder of the day. Let's call it 80 amp/hours of solar charge per day. This is assuming a summer sun pattern.

If you have incandescent lights, they draw about 5 times the power of LED lights, so depending on how much lighting you are using they can suck the batteries down too. To heat a quart of water from 60 degrees up to boiling (without boiling) takes 7.4 AH (continuing to heat it with 1000 watt inverter would be adding another1.4 AH per minute). Don't know where you got these figures from, but there are few electric kettles that will run from a 1000 watt inverter, as many have 1200 or 1500 watt heating elements. And remember, there is an increase in the load by a factor of 10 going from AC to DC, so a 1000 watt heating element appliance (8.3 amps) would draw 83 amps plus 15% for inverter inefficiency or a total of almost 100 amps from the batteries for each hour of use, That translates to 1.7 amps for each minute of use that will be coming out of the battery bank.

All that said and done, I’m a believer in using the propane stove to heat water, and run the fans and lighting judiciously. A heavy overcast day can mess up your anticipated solar generation. Don’t let the batteries get too far discharged. Make sure they have the plates in the batteries complete covered (by adding distilled water if necessary). You can play around with the numbers, but still see that without additional power being supplied you still have to be conscious of your rate of consumption. This is good advice for any system.
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:12 AM   #26
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The #10 wire the factory pre-positions for their solar system is just barely adequate for their 106 watt system. Any larger solar system will require much larger diameter wire to reduce the DC voltage drop.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:42 AM   #27
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All good! But one observed fact for us is that changing from halogens to LED's resulted in a 10 fold (rather than 5x) reduction in amp draw. The 14 main cabin lights drew about 14 amps/hr when halogen, but only 1.4 amps/hr when we switched the bulbs to LED. Of course, dimming them reduces the power consumption even more.
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Old 04-06-2015, 11:51 AM   #28
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The #10 wire the factory pre-positions for their solar system is just barely adequate for their 106 watt system. Any larger solar system will require much larger diameter wire to reduce the DC voltage drop.
Lou... would having the factory #10 pre-wired provide a good (easier) upgrade routing path for heavier line later?
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