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Old 09-11-2018, 02:18 PM   #1
Francis and Kristine
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2016 22' Sport
Bentonville , Arkansas
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 2
100% Self Sustained Power - HELP!

Hello world. My name is Francis, and my wife is Kristine. We have decided to to take the leap and will be moved into our new (used) 2016 Sport 22FB full time before October 1 when our lease is up at the house we are renting.

I'm trying to focus enough between these paroxysms of excitement and terror to write this because we are on a time crunch that was a bit sudden. In short, we knew we wanted to move into one, but on the advice of a respected vintage airstream restoration shop, we looked for 2015-2016 over 2017 or newer.

I need advice badly about solar power. I need to have the airstream completely self sustaining (including A/C, if possible, willing to replace A/C unit with one capable and low energy), before October 1 2018 .... yikes.

My big questions:

How many Ah do I need to run coffee machine and refrigerator, laptops, etc. indefinitely in my 22FB? I am looking at a 300Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate bank from: Relion 300Ah or the Battle Born kit

What solar panels (preferably flexible) and what Wattage do I need to charge this unit at a reasonable rate? and what, if possible would I need to run off the panels and charge the battery? I've looked at a 680W system from ZAMP (Kit2014) - but really would prefer a flexible panel ....

Lastly, the inverter, I am assuming the 55A inverter that comes with the Sport 22FB will not suffice for any of the packages above, and have only really heard of Magnum pure sine inverter and was eyeing the 3000W hybrid I could definitely use some advice here.

Am I missing anything? we will be living in this full time and trying to minimize our need to be parked at an RV site and maximize our time in the wild. I have searched but not really found practical (read: newbie) explanations of solar in terms of what you can use, and not use, and for how long, etc.

Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can pass along! We are excited to be joining the ranks!

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Old 09-13-2018, 02:31 PM   #2
Len and Jeanne
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2005 16' International CCD
2015 19' Flying Cloud
Creston Valley , British Columbia
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,656
I can't help you on solar, as our AS mechanic sort of talked us out of it on account of limited roof space on our 19 footer. We took his suggestion of traveling with an extra pair of fully charged batteries to be swapped with our regular (2 6-volt) batteries if they get low. Batteries can be recharged at the occasional RV park stop. We also bring a Honda 2000 generator and extra gas.

What we have learned is how to cut back on battery use through simple methods, like making the morning joe in a drip cone/filter paper into a thermos instead of a glass carafe or coffee maker. (Boil water on the stove.) If we can leave the windows and door open we can often get by without running the stove fan for quick cooking. Turning off the fridge fan if it's not super hot outside.

Generally we recharge small devices (cell phone, Kindle, Fitbit battery) in the truck's USB port. We also have a portable inverter for the laptop that plugs into the truck, and a fully charged beefy battery pack for the cell phone-- which we turn off a lot. We have a petite solar charger for the cell phone & Kindle, as well.

We don't much use the inboard inverter, as it uses up a lot of battery power.

We've been managing without the generator or extra batteries for up to 3 nights with this system, provided the main batteries are fully charged before departure.

We've had our Bambi lights konk out on occasion, so battery-powered or hand-cranked flashlights are good.

The big problem is cold-season camping, as the furnace fan uses a lot of battery power, and the furnace uses a lot of propane, even keeping the thermostat down low and piling on the warm bedding.

We seldom run the AC, but then we live in BC. One Honda 2000 isn't enough power, though. Your ceiling fans will run off your main batteries.

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Old 09-13-2018, 03:04 PM   #3
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Apollo Beach , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 587
I believe your solar and energy expectations are unrealistic.

First, I'm not certain on the maximum amount of solar you can put on a 22' Airstream, but I believe it will be 500W or less. You will not run your A/C on 500W of solar. Also, flexible solar panels are way less efficient and are probably not the best choice. Someone with a 22' will chime in on the maximum amount of solar that can realistically be put on a 22'.

I spent all summer traveling around the country in my 25' Airstream with 400W of solar and 230AH of batteries. I did not have to ever plug into shore power, or use a generator, but I used propane for refrigeration and stayed at high elevations out West (Colorado) so I did not have to run A/C. The refrigerator uses very little propane. I used the heat nearly every night (we're from Florida) on propane and did not overuse the battery. But I had to avoid full canopy of trees/shade to keep the battery charged. I used a propane generator if I needed to run the A/C or microwave and mostly cooked with propane.

I would suggest calling AM Solar in Oregon to discuss a realistic expectation for your situation. They can sell you all the hardware for a self install or make an appointment to have them install it in the next couple of months. The only way to install solar in two weeks will likely be a self install.
2017 Flying Cloud 25FB (Miles) 231 nights 31,632 miles
400W Solar, ProPride 1400#, 16" Michelin's
2019 F250, 6.7 Power Stroke, 4x4, 1.5" Leveled (Sully)
Sold: 2013 Casita SD17 89 nights 16,200 miles
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Old 09-13-2018, 03:08 PM   #4
Rivet Master
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
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Welcome to the forum!

There are tons of threads/posts here about solar, so I would recommend that you avail yourself of the new search function in the blue box above. It works great!

Also you might want to peruse the list of topics in the Generators & Solar sub-forum:

The forum "above" that one has lots of solar threads too:

"Solar Show and Tell" is one such long thread, and AirMiles has posted there recently:

"Solar 300 watt upgrade DIY" is another:

Good luck,

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Old 09-13-2018, 04:54 PM   #5
Overkill Specialist
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Dadeville , Alabama
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Can’t be done.

There I said it. What you are asking is not possible. You can’t get enough solar (500watts or less) on the roof or enough battery AH in a 22’ trailer. You could spend $20000.00 + on a very complex system and still not be 100% self sustaining. Flexible panels are not a good choice either. And your time line whew, you gotta do some soul searching on this one.
It takes roughly 11 amps of DC power to run 1 amp of AC power
A/C pulls around 14 amps. This means that that A/C would use 154 DC Amps to run 1 hour. That’s your entire usable battery bank with no means to recharge fast enough.
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:09 PM   #6
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Long Island , New York
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Originally Posted by 2AirHeads View Post
. . .
I need to have the airstream completely self sustaining . . . before October 1 2018 .... yikes.
. . .

[missed the timing in earlier post]
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:08 PM   #7
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Davidson County, NC , Highlands County, FL
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If you are really serious about running the AC while not connected to shore power you will have to have a portable electric generator.
The quantity of batteries and solar equipment required to run an AC unit would be too heavy to add on to your Airstream. And, your Airstream does not have enough available roof area to install more than a couple PE panels.

A forum member "Lewster" is a professional (installs/designs solar systems and hybrid systems (solar/lithium battery/small generator) capable of running AC systems. You might contact him for an installation.
2014 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab 5.3L maximum trailering package (yes, I'm towing the 34')
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Old 09-13-2018, 08:35 PM   #8
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Parker , Colorado
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100% Self Sustained Power - HELP!

I have a 2017 23D with Solar. 500w panels and 320 amphours of lithium. I have Victron equipment including their large inverter. I live in Colorado where the sun is always shining.

One day I tested the system. Full clear sun all day. Outside temp 80. Inside AC at 74. Ran for 6 hours like this on batteries and dropped batteries from 100% to 20% in 6 hours with full sun recharging.

I am not sure without a generator it’s possible to run AC. My system cost $10K and was all self installed.

You would need to cover your tow vehicle in solar panels and also fill it with lithium batteries to make it work. I would think it would be in the 20-30K price tag range as do it yourself. Maybe double that for pro install. Those pros are good but booked for as much as 6 months out. It took my 6 weekends to get m be done.

I don’t think what your asking is possible at a reasonably cost. If money is no object, maybe you could pull it off in a very creative way.
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Old 09-13-2018, 08:43 PM   #9
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2007 27' International CCD FB
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People new to this often focus too much on energy storage and solar generation. Recognize that both aspects take a lot of money, weight, and complexity to solve.

It's far easier and more practical to focus on conservation. This is true even for solar at a home.

Make sure your existing batts are actually in good condition as far too often, people are simply compensating for batts that are in poor health.

No system is big enough to run A/C beyond limited durations. No way to fully restore reserves after that for extended use. Only a generator is practical here.

Without explaining everything, I will attempt to offer you the realistic easy button. Especially given your departure date.

Only takes 2 steps:
1) Get yourself a portable solar panel - 100W, that you can easily tie into the battery box. This is useful even in the future if you get solar installed on the roof, as it allows flexibility to capture energy when parked under shade. 100W will go a very long ways to stretching the batts, for 5-7++ days boondocking, (*depending on usage and weather). 200W if you are power hungry and won't have rooftop solar installed for awhile. 100-200W will easily top off the batts fully on a nice sunny day, potentially well before the day is close to over with conservative power use.

2) Get yourself a Honda EU2200i generator. A single unit should power the 13.5k A/C on your trailer. Gives you an easy option to top off the batts, or support a power hungry device (A/C, microwave, blow dryer, blender, coffee maker but better stovetop).

Longer term:
3) Install solar (rigid!). Realistically, one really only needs 200W on the roof, + the 100W portable panel. Anything more, and the effort is better spent on the conservation.

4) Increase battery reserves for flexibility with weather/usage/etc. This doesn't have to be huge, expensive, or exotic (exotic doesn't like certain cold weather). I believe the stock 22FB has 2x group 24 batts. Modify the battery box to support 2x group 27s. Or go straight to the big daddy 2x 6V golf cart batts.

5) Inverter is completely optional but might be a nice convenience if you're really tied to a 120V device/appliance. Your genny can support anything, but it opens up some options.

With 300W solar, and generator, you're set for just about anything and then some.

Know that anything huge and exotic comes with potential tradeoffs, such as cost, serviceability, maintainability.
Boondocking option package:
'07 27FB Ocean Breeze "See Turtle", 3" lift
'09 Lexus LX570, on 33's
Tongue Mount Honda eu2200i
Rear Bumper Hitch
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Old 09-13-2018, 09:18 PM   #10
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2007 27' International CCD FB
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BTW, laptops don't have to use 120V.

Get a newer power efficient USB-C capable laptop. Use a high power USB-C car charger. I've seen them up to 75W (

This along with the built in batt on the device (some now easily go 10++hrs), will easily go through the day, potentially never losing charge. And/or be fully charged by morning.
Boondocking option package:
'07 27FB Ocean Breeze "See Turtle", 3" lift
'09 Lexus LX570, on 33's
Tongue Mount Honda eu2200i
Rear Bumper Hitch
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Old 09-14-2018, 03:38 AM   #11
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2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
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Originally Posted by 2AirHeads View Post
. . .
Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can pass along!
. . .
Once again, welcome to the forum! Just wondering if you are following this discussion, as your ID info shows only 1 post total.

Good luck,

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Old 09-14-2018, 06:02 AM   #12
.-. -...
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Port Dover , ON Canada
Join Date: May 2016
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Portable Wind Power

Boaters who need to be self sufficient usually have a combination of solar and wind power. If you are going to be in the same location for long periods of time it would be fairly easy to add 400 watts of wind power - which is also less expensive than solar.

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Old 09-14-2018, 06:20 AM   #13
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League City , Texas
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The OP never said WHY their Airstream needs to be self-sustaining (in their view). Knowing that would help other posters to formulate realistic suggestions in the face of the obvious impossibility.
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Old 09-14-2018, 06:21 AM   #14
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So, now that the solar/AC question has been answered I'm wondering if you put as much thought into the part where you "minimize our need to be parked at an RV site and maximize our time in the wild". Little things like where do you get your water and where do you get rid of your waste might be good to ponder before the lease on your current living situation expires.

ps.- interblog, I think the "our time in the wild" part was where they covered that. Maybe to avoid those pesky fees so many places like to charge to let you park for the night?

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