Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 06-01-2012, 09:43 PM   #15
Rivet Master
 
TG Twinkie's Avatar
 
1974 Argosy 26
Morrill , Nebraska
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,140
Images: 2
Blog Entries: 5
I just put together an 85 watt panel and controller (10 amp). I made it portable. The max output is just under 5 amps. I have one group 24 in the trailer and a group 27 that I can plug in and run parallel with the group 24. I have the system wired to where I can charge either one of the batteries independent of the other or charge them together. Both batteries are RV/Marine lead acid type.
If I have shore power I can charge both batteries with the converter. I can also charge the group 27 while driving if I am not pulling the trailer .
We are headed out on a 10 day dry camping run in a week. I will report back on how it went.
__________________

__________________
Knowledge: "A gift to be shared. A treasure to receive."
TG Twinkie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2012, 11:06 PM   #16
Rivet Master
 
TBRich's Avatar

 
2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,483
Images: 64
We have both a factory 600w inverter and factory solar on our 19' Bambi, which we like having very much. It keeps the batteries topped if there's good sun and there usually is in our neck o' the woods. But there's only room for one 53 watt panel from the factory on a Bambi...you'd have room for more on a larger rig, of course, which would be desirable. That having been said, if I had it to do over, I'd probably not get factory solar and have it added...you can get a better system and more watts. The inverter is handy, though you can easily work around it it needed. It will run the TV and charge electronics. In fact that's what we use it for mostly when we're dry camping and the generator isn't running.
__________________

__________________
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair, 4C
Unit #3954
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
TBRich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2012, 12:35 AM   #17
Maniacal Engineer
 
barts's Avatar
 
1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,223
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 4
We have 200W of AM Solar panels on the roof, and have converted the interior to all LED lighting on our 25' Tradewind. This easily runs my CPAP machine (via a 1000W inverter) and provides night time illumination, reading, etc. We don't have a TV; it does readily charge cameras, phones, laptops. etc, as well as running the water pump, electronic ignition on fridge and water heater, etc.

In full sun, we're generally charged back to 100% (according to our handy Tremetric battery monitor) before 1:00 pm.

If you need microwaves, hairdriers, etc, this may not work for you... but for us this has kept us completely generator free.

- Bart
__________________
Bart Smaalders
Menlo Park, CA
http://tinpickle.blogspot.com
http://smaalders.net/barts
barts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2012, 02:15 AM   #18
New Member
 
2005 16' International CCD
Carlton , Oregon
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 3
Thanks!

Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments and suggestions so far!

We're going to do the "demand side" improvement of LEDs, and add more battery capacity on the "supply side". And since it appears that I have room on the roof for (2) ~2x4 ft solar panels (one on either side of the roof vent) by sacrificing (not really a sacrifice except maybe for resale value) my never-used TV antenna, we are considering going that route.

So we're down to the dilemma of choosing between an AM Solar 200 watt system with a 25 Amp controller (installed by AM) or a 190 watt Zamp Solar system with a 30 Amp controller (installed by our local airstream dealer). The AM system has slightly smaller and more powerful panels and is a little less expensive, but the Zamp seems to be a more integrated system (perhaps more like buying a Mac than a Windows PC?).

Any thoughts on the relative merits of these 2 solutions?

Please feel free to send a private message or email if you prefer...

Best regards, Brian
__________________
bellepente is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2012, 07:07 AM   #19
Rivet Master
 
AirsDream's Avatar
 
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 914
Does the Zamp system use an MPPT controller? I looked on their website (never heard of them before, sorry!) and didn't see mention of that, and I know that I've seen higher current flows from my (AM Solar) system than they spec. - I'd be sure about that, as MPPT will get you quite a bit more charging current when conditions are right.

If I were you, I'd call AM or Lewster and get some personal advice from pros. They are of course AM Solar biased, but they're also quite happy to talk pros and cons, and they REALLY know photovoltaic systems. Sounds as if you can't go too far wrong with either one ... good luck!
__________________
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2012, 08:46 AM   #20
Rivet Master
Commercial Member
 
lewster's Avatar
 
Vintage Kin Owner
Naples, FL , Hood River, OR
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 7,279
Brian, it's like apples and oranges.

AM Solar has been in the business for 25 years; designing, manufacturing and installing RV solar systems every day and your dealer might have a tech who does it ocassionally. As far as 'system integration', how is any add-on solar charging system more integrated than any other except for the expertise of the installers and the compatibility of the equipment? The mere fact that a system is sold by a dealer does not immediately make it more 'integrated'.

My answers should be obvious, but it's your trailer and your decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bellepente View Post
Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments and suggestions so far!

We're going to do the "demand side" improvement of LEDs, and add more battery capacity on the "supply side". And since it appears that I have room on the roof for (2) ~2x4 ft solar panels (one on either side of the roof vent) by sacrificing (not really a sacrifice except maybe for resale value) my never-used TV antenna, we are considering going that route.

So we're down to the dilemma of choosing between an AM Solar 200 watt system with a 25 Amp controller (installed by AM) or a 190 watt Zamp Solar system with a 30 Amp controller (installed by our local airstream dealer). The AM system has slightly smaller and more powerful panels and is a little less expensive, but the Zamp seems to be a more integrated system (perhaps more like buying a Mac than a Windows PC?).

Any thoughts on the relative merits of these 2 solutions?

Please feel free to send a private message or email if you prefer...

Best regards, Brian
__________________
Lew Farber...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician...RVIA Certified Master Tech ...AM Solar Authorized Installation Center...AIRSTREAM Solar & Electrical Specialist...Micro Air 'Easy Start' Sales and Installations
lewster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2012, 02:07 AM   #21
Winetripper
 
2007 25' International CCD
Santa Barbara , California
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 26
After trying to get by on a full charge when leaving shore power and counting on my '11 Expedition to fill me back up on 6-7 hour driving days, plus a 90% conversion to LED's (didn't convert cabinet/storage lights), I found I it was only a couple days of boondocking before I was heading for yellow and red on the battery condition monitor despite judicious use of the water pump and very little furnace. I carried a Honda 2000i generator, but was loathe to use it because not only is it a hassle to pull out & set up, it is not really quiet, when compared to real backwoods silence.

So I bit the bullet and had Safari RV in Reno roof mount a 135W Kyocera solar system, with a multi-stage controller. I couldn't be happier. So far I haven't been more than 40% discharged even after firing up my new 35,000 btu furnace and letting it run until the coach was really toasty. I'm usually fully charged before noon after an average night and morning's power use. After a towing day, I am always topped up. Safari's price was excellent (about the same as the quote I got for an 85W system from an Airstream dealer), and their installation looks very good. They could have done a better job of vacuuming up the sawdust and aluminum shavings, tho.

Here's a point no one in this thread has made: charging by the tow vehicle is, as I found, limited at best due to: the distance from the alternator, the charge carrying wire diameter and increasingly, I suppose, the demands of electronics on a 12V alternator that are both factory installed and aftermarket. For example, while I was driving, I listened to audio books from my iPod through the vehicle's sound system, charged my iPhone, charged my MacBook with the Expedition's 120V, 150W built-in inverter, used both the factory installed and a plug-in GPS and had the A/C running continuously in 100º+ weather. How much was left to go to the trailer's batteries? After the installation of the solar panel, the batteries were fully charged when I pulled into my campsite. I have room for another panel and the controller can handle it, but I don't think I'll need it.

I think the solar system was a very good investment.
__________________
1 Guy, 1 Gal, 1 Golden

Retirement isn't.
Winetripper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2012, 05:26 AM   #22
Rivet Master
 
richinny's Avatar
 
2011 34' Classic
Westchester Cty.NY , / Miami FL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3,122
Quote:
Originally Posted by Winetripper View Post

Here's a point no one in this thread has made: charging by the tow vehicle is, as I found, limited at best due to: the distance from the alternator, the charge carrying wire diameter and increasingly, I suppose, the demands of electronics on a 12V alternator that are both factory installed and aftermarket. For example, while I was driving, I listened to audio books from my iPod through the vehicle's sound system, charged my iPhone, charged my MacBook with the Expedition's 120V, 150W built-in inverter, used both the factory installed and a plug-in GPS and had the A/C running continuously in 100º+ weather. How much was left to go to the trailer's batteries? After the installation of the solar panel, the batteries were fully charged when I pulled into my campsite. I have room for another panel and the controller can handle it, but I don't think I'll need it.
jammer did a nice bunch of mods to address this issue:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...can-70352.html
__________________
Ricky
2012 F150 Super Crew 5-1/2' bed Ecoboost 4x4 3.73 elec. lock diff. Propride hitch
give life. kidney & pancreas transplant 9/9/06
Ingrid-my unofficial '"World's Oldest Streamer" 1909-2008 R.I.P.
richinny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2012, 12:29 AM   #23
Winetripper
 
2007 25' International CCD
Santa Barbara , California
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 26
Ricky, I remember reading Jammer's post when I was researching my first Forum question, which I posted several weeks ago: "How long can I boondock, electrically?" While I understand the basics of the charging issue, I'm not qualified to do the kind of mods that Jammer undertook - other than check the electrical connections in the Airstream, perhaps.

I used to be able to do much of my own car maintenance (carburetor, points and plugs, etc), but beyond adding washer fluid, I wouldn't dare get my fingers into the innards of my new Expedition. My best line of defense was a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty, because I know sooner or later the power-everything doodads will start refusing to operate and the electronics will get senile (much like yours truly).

My solution to not getting enough charge from the TV was to get enough from old Sol, and I'm happy with the results - especially since someone else did the work!

Cheers, Don
__________________
1 Guy, 1 Gal, 1 Golden

Retirement isn't.
Winetripper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2012, 10:02 AM   #24
1 Rivet Member
 
2005 25' International CCD
Santa Clara , Utah
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 5
AM solar is fantastic. 600 watts on the roof of a 25'. Installed by Marvelous Marvin Braun. Could not be happier. T.V., Popcorn, Hairdryer, power to waste, and totally charged back up to 100% by noon. Live long and prosper.
__________________
Gbsmith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2012, 11:04 AM   #25
mgm
Pursuit of Happiness
 
mgm's Avatar
 
2007 25' Safari FB SE
ravenna , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 141
Carmanah Go Power Solar Panels

The Factory uses GO Power Solar Panels made by Carmanah Industries. Ther Sales rep guy posts on the Forum alot and is always quick to answer my questions, or give me advice on my crazy schemes to upgrade my system.

Mark Spilsbury is his name, I have also found some great deals on the Go Power Solar stuff with Free Shipping at this website, BOAT AND RV ACCESSORIES

The Go Power Solar Regulator is really easy to use and I just wanted to say a few good things about thier products as well. I know a lot of people have worked with AM Solar, and thier service record seems great! They have a lot of happy customers and If you live out by them, they are a great source.

Jackson Center is close to me and I had the factory install my 110W Panel back in 2010 and have been quite pleased with it. I am planning a long trip out west to some National Parks this summer where I will be boondocking, and I just bought an additional 2 panels to add 240W for a total of 350W and I will be letting Jackson Center install them as well.

The Factory could use a higher quality wire, they use 10 Guage, but for the systems they typically install that is more then adequate. #10 wire is rated for 30 amps, and very few Solar set ups will have that kind of power. Even with my total of 350Watts of panels now, I will only be able to gain 20.5 AMPS per hour and that is assuming the panels are ALL in direct sunlight and the sun is not blocked by clouds, trees or other.

Now obviously some power can be lost in the transfer due to the Wire and a higher grade wire at a lower guage will be better served if your closing in on anything around 25AMPS, as a wire rated for 30AMPS really is not ideal to handle that amperage at a constant load.

So Its ONLY when people add ALOT more panels that the guage becomes a concern. And AM Solar specializes in Solar and uses adequate gauge wire based on what you order or want installed. Point being, they don't use 10 guage and everyone now assumes that the Factory has set them up for failure in the prewire with an "inferior" guage. Which really isnt the case, unless you make some serious upgrades.

Long story short, I am a big fan of Solar and I learned alot on this forum prior to making my purchase. I even learned a few months ago about the energy tax credit I was eligible for from my initial install in 2010 and just received back my TAX Credit from my ammended return. ( $541, about 1/3 my initial expenses)

I do believe the factory price on the Panels and Kit was high, but their Labor rate was right on par with what you would get anywhere.

So keep the Go Power Solar Panel products in mind as well, they come in different sizes and wattage and fit the Airstream nicely IMHO. Thier webiste speaks alot for them, their panels are high quality.
__________________
mgm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #26
2 Rivet Member
 
2012 23' Flying Cloud
Sacramento , California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 21
AM Solar

I would add my voice to those who point out the advantages of systems from AM Solar. I have a 23' Flying Cloud and I boondock almost exclusively. I have a small honda generator but I wanted a robust power system that could meet my needs under most circumstances without using the honda. I spoke to David at AM Solar and indicated I wanted sufficient battery reserve that my system could provide power to do everything short of AC for at least three consecutive cloudy days. This means running the furnace, lights, recharging phone and laptop, watching at least one dvd on the TV, and occasionally using the microwave. Despite all of these demands over a three day period I also wanted enough solar panels that when the sun came out I could quickly recharge the battery bank.

AM Solar put together a great system with 600 amp hours of AGM battery reserve allowing me to draw on 300 amp hours over any three day period. These batteries are charged by 400 W of matched solar panels through a three stage MPPT charger with a 2000 W inverter to provide power to all the accessories. I have had the system for over a year and it has worked as advertised. I have yet to use my generator on 7 trips varying in length from 2 -6 days in the shade or under full sun or a complete canopy of tree cover. The cost of the system was reduced by 30% this past April when I claimed the federal tax credit.

I do not mention my experience because I believe everyone would want the system I designed. Instead, the advantage of a expert vendor like AM Solar is that they can put together a great variety of integrated systems to meet those individual tastes and budgets. I doubt that even the largest RV retailers have that background and expertise.
__________________
Dillon2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2012, 12:48 PM   #27
mgm
Pursuit of Happiness
 
mgm's Avatar
 
2007 25' Safari FB SE
ravenna , Ohio
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 141
No arguement that AM Solar is great at what they do and that they provide quality products and help develop the best system for each client.

By No Means, can any Airstream or any other RV Manufacture compete with the extensive Solar Packages that AM Solar specializes in.

All i was trying to say, is that if you cant drive out to have the system installed or if you would like to weigh your options before pulling the trigger on purchasing the AM Products to have them installed by a local dealer, or by yourself- that I think Go Power Solar is worth considering, and I feel Aistream has chosen a solid product to install on the campers, and if you do the research and decide you need more panels, they are more then capable to install them.

They won't design a "package" for you or be able to speak at the lengths that AM Solar can about their products. But they can install them.

I contacted the Vendor of the Panels for all my techinical questions and he was more then helpful in the whole process.

If your willing to spend enough time reading,( thats the fun part for me) and if you can make an honest assessment of how much amperage and battery power you go though on a typical day of camping, its easy to see what kind of system you will need to break even on power.

With a lot of people going with 6V batteries, or multiple 12V batteries they are really adding a great deal more "boondocking power" by adding those batteries and the additional amps alone. With that they also add a lot of weight and make significant modifications to suit their needs. The Solar panels are a nice combo with a larger battery bank, but the gain they see is from the batteries more so then the Panels.

Likewise, adding a lot of panels to an RV that has under 200 amps of battery, will help quickly recharge the batteries, but it won't give you any more available power when the sun sets and you power up all your electronics, or furnace and you wake up to see you have depleted more then half you battery power.

Now if you had 400 amps of battery power, instead of 50% down you would be only 75%....and with adequate panels and sunlight you may be able to break even on your nightly use, assuming your daytime use in nominal. If its not, then your going to keep taking down the power and even in direct sunlight your daily use will overtake what you gain with your panels. Hence, your available power drops daily and your boondocking days are limited.

Long story short, everyone camps differently and uses power based on their own individual needs. I don't need 300amps of battery power for the way I camp, I have very limited daytime use in the camper, and my nightly use is easily regained during the day by my panel set up.

Others use more power, and need the additional batteries and the additional panels to charge them...All depends on YOU

No matter what the system, adding panels is easily done...if you have the room on top of your camper, and you may find you just need more or larger batteries amperage
__________________
mgm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2012, 09:34 AM   #28
Rivet Master
 
blkmagikca's Avatar

 
1987 32' Excella
Nepean , Ontario
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,131
When I had a LY motor-home, I had installed a single 123-watt panel on the roof in conjunction with the two 6-volt batteries for the "house". To conserve power I also converted all my lights to LED's. This gave me a bare minimum for boondocking given that I sleep with a CPAP machine.

The trailer I now have came with 3 x 75-watts of solar panels which are roof mounted and, to some extent, follow the curved contour of the roof so the are unobtrusive. The PO had also installed 4 x AGM batteries (which I had to replace at a cost of $1,200) and a 1400-VA Xantrex inverter. I also converted all the lighting to LED's. I can easily boondock for weeks limited by the fact that the holding tanks need to be dumped.

Factors you will want to consider:

(1) How much real estate to you have on the roof of your camper for solar panels. From a practical point of view I would avoid portable solar panels - likelihood of theft, something else to have to put up and take down, possibility of damage in handling and the possibility of inadvertently leaving it behind when you break camp.

(2) How much storage capacity do you have. Practically speaking 4 batteries is the most that you will need. However, because, in AS trailers the design is for 2 batteries (wet cell batteries need to be vented externally), going to 4 batteries, where 2 of them will reside inside the trailer (behind the gaucho) means that you can only use the more expensive AGM batteries. I found that when I had the motor-home with 2 batteries, the voltage dropped overnight from 13.2 volts to 12.0 volts; with the trailer that has 4 batteries, the drop is about .2 volts.

(3) Are you going to install an inverter. Having 110-volts available is very useful for such things as using a computer, watching TV, charging cell phones as well as cooking with a slow cooker. The slow cooker uses about 60-100 watts of power, and in a sunny day out in the southern Arizona desert setting up a slow cooker in the morning for a supper works just fine (and doesn't use any propane).

(4) Generator??? I carry a 3500-watt generator for emergency purposes. When I had the motorhome, there were times where the batteries did not have sufficient charge to start either the engine or the built-in 6500-watt propane-powered generator. On several occasions I have to jump start the motorhome from the car I towed behind. As a result, I purchased a small 800-watt gas generator and a battery charger. When I sold the motorhome and got the trailer, I found that the 800-watt generator wasn't powerful enough to run my air compressor if I needed to top up tire pressure. So I replaced it with an inexpensive 3500-watt one. The bonus is that if it is extremely hot, the 3500 watt generator can power the airconditioner.

(5) Wind generator. These cost about $400, are totally self-contained and can be mounted on a pole attached to the front of your trailer (using the flag pole holder). Pros: 400 watts, works at night as long as there is wind. Cons: put up & take down, some noise.

Gentlemen, choose your weapons!
__________________

__________________
VE3JDZ
AIR 12148
1987 Excella 32-foot
1999 Dodge Ram 2500HD Diesel
blkmagikca is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:23 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.