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Old 02-21-2016, 03:20 PM   #1
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Delete the converter? Battery location?

Hello,

We are talking to the dealership about installing our solar system on a new 2015 FC 25 rear bedroom. We hope to do a lot of boondocking and would like to install a good solar base that can be expanded if needed. I have read through a lot of the threads, but am not technical enough to apply it to our situation. Before we pull the trigger with his recommendations, I have questions.

First question:
They are recommending (2) 100W curved panels on the top of the trailer, supplemented with a portable suitcase system that provides another 200W. As part of this install, he said he would remove the factory controller and that the factory 1000W inverter would be fine. Does this seem right to you? I don't understand why the converter would be removed.

Second question:
We plan to install (4) 6V batteries, but these won't fit in the original battery box on the hitch. The dealership is wanting to install them under the couch side of the dinette. I would rather not have them inside and so difficult to access in the future. Does anyone have photos of an alternate solution?

Third question:
Is there somewhere else in Southern California that we should have do our install instead of the dealer?

Fourth question:
For someone with a very limited understanding of the system, is there a different way to approach this ? I am that I am going to regret some part of this later.

Thanks for any input you might have on any of these questions.
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:35 PM   #2
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Old 02-21-2016, 05:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peabrain View Post
Hello,

We are talking to the dealership about installing our solar system on a new 2015 FC 25 rear bedroom. We hope to do a lot of boondocking and would like to install a good solar base that can be expanded if needed. I have read through a lot of the threads, but am not technical enough to apply it to our situation. Before we pull the trigger with his recommendations, I have questions.

First question:
They are recommending (2) 100W curved panels on the top of the trailer, supplemented with a portable suitcase system that provides another 200W. As part of this install, he said he would remove the factory controller and that the factory 1000W inverter would be fine. Does this seem right to you? I don't understand why the converter would be removed.

Second question:
We plan to install (4) 6V batteries, but these won't fit in the original battery box on the hitch. The dealership is wanting to install them under the couch side of the dinette. I would rather not have them inside and so difficult to access in the future. Does anyone have photos of an alternate solution?

Third question:
Is there somewhere else in Southern California that we should have do our install instead of the dealer?

Fourth question:
For someone with a very limited understanding of the system, is there a different way to approach this ? I am that I am going to regret some part of this later.

Thanks for any input you might have on any of these questions.
Your dealer, or for that matter…..ANY DEALER, will give you a poor excuse for a proper solar charging system. Your initial indication for this is his recommendation for using flex panels. I have written in several threads of my personal experience with them and how…in the best of environments, will only give you a maximum of 60% of the output of a hard panel. One of the many reasons, especially on an Airstream's curved roof, is that no panel will ever be getting 100% exposure to the sun's rays at the same angle for maximum solar radiance.

I have removed several systems that were installed by 'dealers' in CA and every one of them had a minimum of 30 additional holes placed into the Airstream's roof. When applied properly by someone who is IN the solar field (and has half a clue as to what they are doing), you should have no more than one hole on the roof!

Adding a remote portable solar array might be good for the type of use you intend to give your trailer, but must be done to certain specifications if you expect the maximum return from those panels.

PM me if you would like further details.
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Old 02-21-2016, 05:47 PM   #4
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Forget the dealer. Do as Lew suggests, find an RV solar expert in your area and don't use the flexible solar panels.
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Old 02-21-2016, 08:12 PM   #5
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Our 2013 25FB had a dealer installed single 155 watt solar panel that could not recharge the stock batteries on a sunny day from the furnace running the night before. Fortunately we had a pair of Honda 2,000 watt generators to get the job done quickly. They put the control display right by my wife's face down low by the bed so it started flickering when the first rays of the sun hit the panel and would wake her up.

We went with an AM Solar systems recommended third party installer (A & P Vintage Trailer Works in Paradise, TX whcih is just Northwest of the DFW airport) for both the Classic and the 23D. The local dealer tried to copy our larger installation and cut corners (big surprise) and the that resulted in some real unhappy folks who had paid an inflated price for a really poor performing system.

Some good reading to get up to speed in the solar world is here:

http://www.amsolar.com/home/amr/cpag...education.html
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Old 02-21-2016, 10:03 PM   #6
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There's a good chance your dealer will charge you twice what any other RV place would, and perhaps even more than what a solar specialty installer would. If you go with your dealer, be prepared to negotiate, and remember to not drop the soap!
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Old 02-21-2016, 10:59 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the feedback! I will talk to Uwe at Area63 tomorrow.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:22 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by peabrain View Post
thank you all for the feedback! I will talk to uwe at area63 tomorrow.
good choice!!! :d
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Old 02-22-2016, 04:21 PM   #9
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Buy a honda generator, or even two to run the ac, one for charging...
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Old 02-23-2016, 08:11 AM   #10
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A Honda 2,000 watt generator creates enough power to run an air conditioner but is short on power to start it. If a substantial battery system is installed (like a 300 amp-hour lithium iron phosphate battery that weighs less than the stock two lead acid batteries) and is connected to the hybrid Magnum MSH-3012 inverter, the inverter will draw enough additional power from the battery to cover the inrush power needed to start the air conditioner which the Honda will then keep operational. The air conditioner can cycle as needed.

We have this setup in our 23D.
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Old 02-23-2016, 12:09 PM   #11
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Switz - could you please post a photo of your lithium batteries that show their size and location?
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Old 02-23-2016, 01:52 PM   #12
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Do as Lew suggests. Dealers do lousy work. Lithiums are nice, and so is the setup Switz described, but just be aware you will be paying top dollar. Lithiums are nice because they are so small and lightweight and pack a lot of power with a great curve.
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Old 02-24-2016, 07:29 AM   #13
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In our 2015 23D, the street side forward of the refrigerator (which is mounted above the wheels) is the sofa with a pull out shelf for a wider sleeping area, the furnace and the above it is the dinette seat.

We used all the space behind the visible back walls of the storage areas under the sofa and dinette. All off the solar equipment fit height wise as well. The front battery box is now used for plastic wheel chocks and pads for the stabilizers.

The 300 amp-hour lithium battery is about 14 ' x 16" and weighs about 84 pounds which is about ten pounds less than the two stock Interstate batteries. The battery is close to the street side wheel well. The solar charge controller is mounted on the wall just forward of the battery. The Magnum MSH-3012 hybrid inverter/charger is just forward of the furnace along with aa automatic transfer switch for the new front power inlet as well as the new main breaker for the trailer. A new circuit breaker box with full sized breakers was installed under the refrigerator replacing the factory panel.

There five AM Solar GS-100 100 watt solar panels on the roof to recharge the battery when off grid. The lithium battery can provide at least 80% of it's power or 240 amp hours and some say 90% so a safe working estimate is 250 amp hours.

This same sofa and dinette space exists in the 25' and 27' rear bed models. The front bed models have the flipped over setup at the back of the trailer and that solar installation could be more weight than one might want behind the axles.

In the 2014 31' Classic, the 600 amp hour lithium battery at 168 pounds is installed under the front sofa along with the MagnumMS-3012 inverter/charger. The Morningstar 60 MPPT solar charge controller is inside a void the storage cabinet behind the front dinette seat and there are nine GS-100 panels on the roof. That system is capable of starting and running the air conditioner for a period of time, like a lunch break along side the road.
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Old 02-24-2016, 07:46 AM   #14
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Speaking of lithiums, here are a few more shots in various Airstreams.

First is under the rear bed in a 34' Slide-out, second is under the front lounge in a 30' rear bed and third is under the bed in a 27FB.
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