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Old 08-09-2015, 10:20 AM   #1
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2016 23' Flying Cloud
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Solar Power for 2016 Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB

Hi all,


Im brand new to the Airstream Family. My wife and I purchased a 2016 Airstream Flying Cloud 23FB yesterday, mainly to take to music festivals around the country.

I like the idea of adding Solar power to keep the batteries charged and to keep everything except the microwave and AC running when we are away from a power source.

The dealer tells us the new 2016 has a different roof slope than the 2015's and earlier. He said we don't have the real estate to put many panels on the roof. He suggested a 60 Watt unit just to top off the battery. As Ive been reading other forum threads about solar, many of you are using panels 150 Watts and above with many batteries added as well. Also is it a no-no to drill holes into the aluminum (will this cause leaks). Can anyone recommend a Solar RV specialist in Northern New Jersey (Or should I let the dealer install)?

Whats the suggested way to go? And is the 2016 roof a problem for solar?

Thank you for your help and suggestions.
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Old 08-09-2015, 10:29 AM   #2
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Apache Junction , Arizona
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You might want to look at Zamp solar as they have panels that conform to the curvature of the Airstream roof. They make their panels specifically for Airstreams.
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Old 08-09-2015, 10:55 AM   #3
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Hopefully Lewster will chime in on this as he is our resident expert on all things solar.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:44 AM   #4
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You rang?????????

From what I have seen of the many installations that I have corrected that were done by dealers, they simply don't have a clue as to what the solar capacities are for a modern Airstream trailer.

You should be able to place 300-400 watts of solar panels in your roof.....all done WITHOUT A SINGLE HOLE IN THE ALUMINUM.

I suggest you start here: AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems

Feel free to PM me or e-mail with further questions: lew@gorge.net
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:57 AM   #5
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"You should be able to place 300-400 watts of solar panels in your roof.....all done WITHOUT A SINGLE HOLE IN THE ALUMINUM."

Now you're talking ...

Thanks!
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Old 08-09-2015, 12:33 PM   #6
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I concur with the suggestion that you avoid the generalized RV dealer (includes avoiding the Airstream dealer.) RV solar is pretty specialized and constantly evolving so you want to make sure you are working with someone who specializes in solar for RV's. Lewster is among the best but unless you are prepared to travel to Naples, Florida in the winter or Hood River, Oregon in the summer, you may find it difficult to have him do your install. In any event, Lew is pretty free with his advice so it is worth discussing this with him over the phone or online.

Do your research online and in person if you can find an installer in your neck of the woods. Here is a link to a pretty good site for some background:

Solar Electrical Systems for RVs | Technomadia
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Old 08-09-2015, 03:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
You rang?????????



From what I have seen of the many installations that I have corrected that were done by dealers, they simply don't have a clue as to what the solar capacities are for a modern Airstream trailer.



You should be able to place 300-400 watts of solar panels in your roof.....all done WITHOUT A SINGLE HOLE IN THE ALUMINUM.



I suggest you start here: AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems



Feel free to PM me or e-mail with further questions: lew@gorge.net

Roughly $4,500 with three 50ah lithium batteries (they fit the current space available) and 4 panels etc. to make the transition.

Thanks Lewster!
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:19 AM   #8
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I don't know anything about 2016 trailer roofs, and am not a solar expert, but I was in a similar position as you and had the dealer install solar on our 2013 25 FC when we bought it. Based on what I have learned since then, I wished I had waited and done more research before having it done. I'm now in the position of having to re-do some of what the dealer did.

I don't think you will be happy with 60 watts for anything other than storage maintenance.

If I were doing it again, I would: wait, assess my power needs, educate myself, and then have it done right by someone who truly knows what they are doing.

-Bob
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:12 AM   #9
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Thank you for all of the suggestions. I look forward to reading up.

I'll hold of on the dealer doing the work for now.
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Old 09-03-2015, 10:31 PM   #10
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AM Solar did my install, they're in Oregon but do stellar work! 3 135 watt panels and 4 volt agm batteries, they work! 
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Ford F-350 crew cab 4X4 diesel, 25' Jack Bauer edition AS
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Old 09-14-2015, 07:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
You rang?????????

From what I have seen of the many installations that I have corrected that were done by dealers, they simply don't have a clue as to what the solar capacities are for a modern Airstream trailer.

You should be able to place 300-400 watts of solar panels in your roof.....all done WITHOUT A SINGLE HOLE IN THE ALUMINUM.

I suggest you start here: AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems

Feel free to PM me or e-mail with further questions: lew@gorge.net
Lewster, any truth to the thought that the 2016 AS have a different roof slope that results in a more challenging installation? Thanks.
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Old 09-14-2015, 08:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhroberts View Post
Lewster, any truth to the thought that the 2016 AS have a different roof slope that results in a more challenging installation? Thanks.
The higher roof slope started with the ducted air system for the air conditioners in the 2015 models. Challenging? Depends on whether one is equipped for such a challenge.

We (AM Solar) have proprietary mounting solutions that work for any RV roofing system and special rocker foot mounts just for the newer Airstreams.

Challenge accepted and resolved!!
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Old 09-17-2015, 01:28 PM   #13
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2011 23' FB International
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Just completed a solar upgrade on our 23' FB

We have a 2011 23' FB with a dealer-installed solar system. I have since replaced the controller with a Blue Sky unit and replaced the batteries with Class 27 Lifeline batteries. Today I finished adding a 100 W additional panel (ours only had a 40W installed). Input amps went from 2.4 to 7.0 with the extra panel.

I didn't get my panel from AM Solar, but I did use their mounting feet, which worked great on the curved roof. I don't think a steeper pitch would have been a problem.

With the original system, we could boondock for 3-4 days before the power ran down (this dropped to 1 day before I finally replaced the original Interstate batteries). With the upgraded system, I think we could easily go for 4-5 days, even with a few cloudy days in the mix.

Good Luck with your new trailer!
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