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Old 09-11-2007, 07:18 AM   #1
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Thumbs up AM Solar installation on a Safari

I just installed an AM HPV30 solar panel 100 w system on my 2007 25'Safari Special edition.


However, it is not as simple as just connecting up some wires, even though the Airstream is "solar prewired". I appreciate the forum's members' help in their posts, so here is some additional info.

AM provided almost all the fittings, fuses, and wiring I needed in their kit. Their less expensive model has an integrated controller/monitor. However, this would never have fitted in the available space on a wall in the unit, so I went for the more elaborate model with separate controller and monitor.

Here are some comments on it.

* Getting on the roof was via a tall ladder leaning on an attached carpeted bar. I stayed on the rivet lines, but the roof seemed plenty strong.

* I had to unrivet the refer vent cover, as well as the screen (grind flat spot on rivet, then drill out). There was no way the feed wire would snake through there without removing it, note the baffle in the way (picture below). I riveted it back with a snap riveter and caulked with aluminum-specific caulking. I used aluminum rivets.

* I glued on the panel using AM's special tape. (below) I buffed off the white paint
with a wire brush on a drill, used alcohol to clean and did it when temps in the 80's. Don't grind through the roof! You only get one chance at positioning, so I buffed a bigger than necessary area, and chose a windless day to settle all four feet standing above the panel.

* I ran wires underneath the body to access the battery. These wires are for both measuring battery temperature and voltage. This consumed most of my time for what may only be a small benefit. I ran the wires through the refer compartment floor, under the couch, and out the wheel well, then tied to a convenient gas pipe and through a frame member to the front where I screwed them to the underbody, then caulked (below).

Note! The provided wiring was just long enough to reach the battery. I would have liked to have another two feet.

* The solar power unit fit nicely in the refer compartment, after I moved the 110V receptacle used for the refer (below). Note the unit is screwed down solidly. The refer compartment floor is plenty strong. I didn't want it vibrating off and tilting against the refer. There was plenty of room for access and venting.

* The factory-installed yellow/green wiring led to the brass under-bed busses. I hooked it up with a fuse, and to charge even if the store/use switch is off. I

* Airstream wires one cat5 cable to a location under the status monitor. I would have liked to use that, but the AM solar needs TWO cat5 wires. Sounds like old technology. Hence I mounted it in the only place it could go; that is under the TV. This location was carefully selected and measured, as there is little room for error (below).

* I have strain relief and cable covers on all stress points and on exposed wires.


* Seems to work fine! I may get another panel at some time. There is room on the roof and the AM solar buss will make wiring the next panel very easy with no more un-riveting... The glued-on panel appears stable, but time will tell. Space shuttle tiles are also glued on.



I did kill the batteries one time (left a light in the storage compartment on for a week), and the solar panel monitor was blank. I guess it needs some juice to work.



Here are some cell phone pictures of the process.


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Old 09-11-2007, 07:27 AM   #2
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Hank,

Welcome to the forums. And thanks for the great description of the process and the photos. Karma on the way.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:28 PM   #3
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I also used the AM Solar products for my installation several months ago. Where did you install your panel? I placed two 100 watt AM panels side by side between the AC and rear Fantastic Vent fan. I later found an AM65 watt panel and put it on the front curb side. The HPV22B controller worked for me and will handle up to 400 watts.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:54 PM   #4
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It looks like a nice setup you've put in.

One thing concerned me about your pictures-
I think you may want to reconsider the placement of your HPV-30DR solar controller. Is it acceptable to place it in a location that is exposed to moisture?

My experience with my 2001 Bambi is that the reefer compartment gets moisture from the road and wind, and that could be a problem for your controller.

From the picture you posted, I would be concerned that your screwdown terminals and RJ45 connectors could easily get corroded.

You may want to check with AM Solar to ask if you should take any precautions locating the controller here. At the very least, I'd consider placing it inside a moistureproof box and using anti-oxidant electrical paste on all terminals.

Good luck with your project and keep us posted.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:26 PM   #5
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Good point on the moisture potential. I had a torrential downpour last weekend on the road, and no water entered. Of course that doesn't mean it won't.

AM recommends a "relatively dust and moisture free" place, and "some amount of air flow". Sooo.. It appears that is what I have. I will consider a cover, possibly on the outside side, but need some cooling, especially if I hook more panels., however,and some sealer on the wiring!
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:29 PM   #6
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Location of solar panel

I put my panel between the air con and the rear fantastic fan (just enough room), centered on the roof. I would add the next one on the sloping roof portion on the left front quarter.
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hshovic
I put my panel between the air con and the rear fantastic fan (just enough room), centered on the roof. I would add the next one on the sloping roof portion on the left front quarter.
Right behind my A/C is my antenna and halfway toward the rear Fantastic Fan vent is a support approximately 6" wide for the antenna arm. I would have mounted both AM100 panels just 2" apart from each other but the support would not allow it. I elected to mount each panel out a couple of inches from the antenna support and it looks OK. I also purchased two sets of tilt bars in case I want to tilt the panels for winter sun or cleaning. I have also considered buying three additional sets and having them cut in half in order to bring each panel to horizontal but have not decided if this will even be necessary.

Your system looks good and I am sure that the HPV30 will be a great controller.
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Old 09-12-2007, 11:17 PM   #8
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Guys,
Motoman did a really fantastic install description for two 130 watt solar panels and a controller for his 2005 25' CCD International in the past year. Take a look at it on these forums -- search motoman then solar and you'll find another really solid installation.

We are anticipating installing similar to Motoman's before end of 2007 to take advantage of Federal Income Tax credit for solar on our rolling home. Great project for October or November, I think.
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Old 04-08-2011, 03:53 PM   #9
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I just got off the phone with Roger Carrol from AMsolar. He assured me he knew very little about airstreams. He advised that i should call my airstream dealer or camping world. I do not know how much you spent on this install but I found AM to be a waste of time.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I just got off the phone with Roger Carrol from AMsolar. He assured me he knew very little about airstreams. He advised that i should call my airstream dealer or camping world. I do not know how much you spent on this install but I found AM to be a waste of time.
Exactly what type of information are you seeking, that you felt that AM Solar was a 'waste of time'. The folks at AM Solar are among the friendliest, most knowledgeable in the RV solar industry! I have done more that a few installations of AM Solar equipment on Airstreams and find that their systems are the best for RV use.

If you are looking for very specific, highly detailed instructions for installation, you will not find this from ANYONE.........including most if not all Airstream dealers. You need to find an installer who has the experience that you seek. If you are a DIY type of guy, you should be very adept at pulling wire and very comfortable with DC circuits.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:49 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by LRPorter View Post
I just got off the phone with Roger Carrol from AMsolar. He assured me he knew very little about airstreams. He advised that i should call my airstream dealer or camping world. I do not know how much you spent on this install but I found AM to be a waste of time.
AM Solar was instrumental in my DIY installation, and gave me all the help I needed. The day I was there to pick up my kit, they were working on several Airstreams and the work I saw was top notch professional. Not sure where the disconnect with you occurred, but from my standpoint I cannot say enough good things about them!
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:52 AM   #12
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Original experience

Three and a half years ago I started this thread about solar panels. I installed two
panels from AM Solar with controller. A trick to route the cable down the
refer vent, but it worked. I glued the panels on the top, and put
the controller in the refer compartment. Display is below the TV. Not
a problem since in 30000 miles! In the late fall and spring I can go for days with the charge
from the panels (as long as it is sunny). AM Solar suggested the refer
vent routing, and the AS came with a solar charge wire routed from the
compartment to the battery. Just in case, I put a small thermo controlled
fan in the compartment since it is not as open as it was. Never used it yet.
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:27 PM   #13
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Like hshovic, we routed our pv panel wires down the fridge chase. But we connected there to our trailer's prewire leading to front corner of trailer and near the batteries and buss bars. We wired our panels in series to halve the current and allow smaller wire size (the pre-wire) between panels and controller.

We installed charge controller inside the trailer to keep it clean and dry. Our charge controller converts from 24 to 12vdc (higher current/heat/risk) so the shortest cable is desirable between charge controller and batteries.

Our installation took us only one partial day. But repairing the two wires we damaged in the ceiling under one pv panel took us multi days.

We found very helpful guidance in diy installation from Don Williams, a California airstreamer. Web search his ham callsign, kd6uvt, for links to his nicely documented install on 25' CCD. And be sure you, if drilling in any vehicle including airstreams, use properly-secured stop collars on your drill bits. Being lucky is a poor substitute for being good, in this case.

More info about our install and batteries on our website on the home improvements page.
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