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Old 04-06-2015, 12:00 PM   #29
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Lou... would having the factory #10 pre-wired provide a good (easier) upgrade routing path for heavier line later?

Nope! It follows thru strain relief and bulkheads and can't be pulled thru. Besides, it's much much easier to run new solar cable by the most direct route to keep the length to a minimum.


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Old 04-07-2015, 01:47 AM   #30
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Since everything the factory preinstalled for their solar system is undersized for anything larger, the prewiring becomes useless. As Lew stated above, it can not even be used for a pull wire. I have photos of my unit on the assemble unit before the insulation went in the the wire runs went through the ribs. If any wires would have to be replaced in the future, I think the inner skin would have to come off to provide access.

All our controls and equipment were placed elsewhere to keep the DC wires as direct as possible. Our control center shows in my avatar and the refrigerator space provided access to the backside of that wall. The TriStar charge controller panel is top left with the Magnum remote below it and the Thermostat below the Magnum control head. The SeeLevel display is above the clock. The Magnum MS2812 resides where the factory inverter was located and the new battery will be within inches of it under the sofa.

The original battery install used 4-0 copper wire (about as thick as my thumb) and was routed as short as possible. When reading installation manuals, one sees that five feet or less is preferred to reduce voltage drop. Longer runs require even larger diameter wire which becomes ever more difficult to work with as it is so stiff.
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Old 04-07-2015, 11:18 AM   #31
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OK... thanks guys for all the wonderful advice! Much to consider now.
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Old 04-07-2015, 12:25 PM   #32
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Just thinking, is it possible to order a new trailer all prepped for an inverter but without the inverter installed?
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:38 PM   #33
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As far as I know, all modifications and special orders are $500 each, so there would really be no savings.
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Old 04-07-2015, 06:52 PM   #34
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And depending on the size of your battery bank, you can start and run a 15K BTU roof A/C with a Honda 2000 watt generator and a Magnum MSH3012-M hybrid inverter. It will seamlessly supplement the output from the generator to 'fill in the gap' for additional amperage when the A/C starts.

Many custom electrical options exist if you think just a bit 'out of the box' and consult someone with the knowledge and experience to point you in the right direction.
We are about ready to order our first Airstream (and first travel trailer) and I really like the ability to run the a/c with one Honda eu2000i generator.

Should we order it without an inverter and have the Magnum MSH3012-M installed after delivery? Will the factory batteries work with the generator and inverter to start the a/c compressor?

I think that I like the idea of the factory putting any holes in the top of the trailer.

Should I not worry about that, order it without solar also, and have all of the upgrades done together?

We want the ability to boondock but really don't know what we need yet.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:51 PM   #35
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We are about ready to order our first Airstream (and first travel trailer) and I really like the ability to run the a/c with one Honda eu2000i generator.

Should we order it without an inverter and have the Magnum MSH3012-M installed after delivery? Will the factory batteries work with the generator and inverter to start the a/c compressor?

I think that I like the idea of the factory putting any holes in the top of the trailer.

Should I not worry about that, order it without solar also, and have all of the upgrades done together?

We want the ability to boondock but really don't know what we need yet.
If you're considering using a Magnum MSH3012-M as a supplement to a Honda 2000 for A/C use, then it is pointless to order the factory inverter as the hybrid inverter requires some extensive re-wiring of your circuit breaker box.

Also, Magnum recommends a battery bank of at least 400 amp/hours for proper operation of the hybrid inverter during heavy use like A/C operation. The factory solar is also not necessary, as any properly sized solar charging system will utilize new, heavier cabling for the effective charging your larger battery bank.

If a new solar charging system in installed, it will introduce NO HOLES into your roof if properly mounted!
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:41 PM   #36
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If a new solar charging system in installed, it will introduce NO HOLES into your roof if properly mounted!
Lew... is this true even if there is no factory solar panel installed?
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Old 04-07-2015, 09:33 PM   #37
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Lew... is this true even if there is no factory solar panel installed?
This is true ESPECIALLY if there is no factory solar. Airstream places 4 holes per panel into the roof for their heavy lag screws and another penetration for their solar cable. That alone could be 9 holes with a 2 panel system......and they don't go out of their way to really seal any of them especially well!!!

When I install solar on an Airstream, there are NO HOLES from the solar charging system on any trailer that has a fridge roof vent, as I use this as the pathway for solar cable runs in and for cell/WiFi antenna cables out. All panel feet are bonded to the roof with 3M VHB tape and SikaFlex 221 with no screws used.

If a Jack digital TV antenna is used to replace the old Winegard crank-up unit, there will be a new hole for the rotational mechanism. THAT'S IT!

On smaller trailers with no fridge roof vent, there will be ONE HOLE under the combiner box for the solar cable run that is triple sealed and WILL NOT LEAK!
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:50 PM   #38
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Lew... thanks for the info. It certainly looks like there is no benefit to be derived from purchasing factory solar/inverter systems, if one wishes to have either upgraded from that.

That's essentially what I wanted to know all about by starting this thread.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:30 AM   #39
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Unless the factory solar is all you need, primarily for lights, entertainment systems, and furnace and vent fans. It provides enough to recharge the factory AGM batteries by noon on sunny days. A generator runs the air conditioner and recharges the batteries on overcast days, and the propane system heats the trailer, hot water, and range/oven. The factory solar also keeps the batteries charged when the Airstream is not being used.

Our Airstream was on the lot with factory solar and inverter and we're glad to have it. It may not be for everybody for their own reasons, but is certainly a very usable system. The only upgrade we are considering is one size larger batteries when these wear out, the solar output is plenty but the battery storage is where we may come up slightly short with heavy furnace fan use.

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Old 04-08-2015, 01:46 AM   #40
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[QUOTE=ckottum;1604304]Unless the factory solar is all you need, primarily for lights, entertainment systems, and furnace and vent fans. It provides enough to recharge the factory AGM batteries by noon on sunny days. A generator runs the air conditioner and recharges the batteries on overcast days, and the propane system heats the trailer, hot water, and range/oven. The factory solar also keeps the batteries charged when the Airstream is not being used.

Our Airstream was on the lot with factory solar and inverter and we're glad to have it. It may not be for everybody for their own reasons, but is certainly a very usable system. The only upgrade we are considering is one size larger batteries when these wear out, the solar output is plenty but the battery storage is where we may come up slightly short with heavy furnace fan use.

Cheryl... I agree. If not planning to upgrade solar/inverter, I would definitely get the factory options for this... to cover basic needs!
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Old 04-08-2015, 05:50 AM   #41
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If I had installed the factory inverter and solar system in our Classic, all those components would have been removed and trashed and the wiring not used when we installed the large system. It would be possible to acquire at least two and perhaps three times the solar wattage and appropriate equipment with properly sized wiring for the charges of those two factory options. Plus the owner gets to determine where the control head will be located.

On our queen bed 25FB, the dealer installed the Zamp solar controller right beside my wife's face in the cabinet beside the bed. As soon as the sun came up, it started blinking and would awaken her. They could have mounted it two feet higher at eye level when standing and it would have been less intrusive.

Perhaps improper dealer installation caused the 155 watt solar panel on our 25FB to not work properly, but in full clear sky daylight, it would not bring the standard factory batteries to a full charge (lucky to see 90%) after the furnace ran during the night and brought the batteries down to 50% per the Zamp control head. So we had to run one of the 2000 watt Honda generators to top the battery up. The factory installed 600 watt inverter (changed to a 1,000 watt model later in the 2013 model year) would not even run our toaster, so the generator had to be run for most anything that drew more than a few watts of power.

The devil is in the details as to whether the installation works properly or not. Many Airstream dealers totally lack the knowledge to properly install a really sophisticated solar system and the customer ends up disappointed in the performance, but lacks the knowledge to ascertain it was due to installation errors.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:01 AM   #42
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After installing one and using it for awhile I've decided the importance of an inverter is overrated. The battery system in any Airstream (excepting those radically modified) cannot sustainably power the air conditioner, the microwave, or a coffee maker or toaster etc.

So this leaves the TV, and cell phone / laptop recharging duties. With a little rewiring effort the TV could even probably be wired to power off 12 volts supply. Any car charger can recharge cell phones and laptops. In my case, assuming the above, all I really need the inverter is to power the blender and vacuum. Both are just luxuries.
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