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Old 03-01-2014, 02:26 PM   #197
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Although list price is $2900 you should be able to negotiate this down considerably. Unless the dealer is making a fat profit installing them.[/QUOTE]

Funny thing is I intended to order when we made the deal but they suggested I wait. I will try and get them to come down, so far they have been very reasonable in pricing.

We ordered with all the bells and whistles we think we need. Awnings package, 1000w inverter, convection oven, bike racks (my wife has very high end road bike and needed a cradle) and ultraleather. Based on dealer recommendation We ordered pro pride directly from Sean but it will be installed by the airstream dealer. My inclination is to get factory solar while I still have the chance.
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:24 PM   #198
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We had an aftermarket solar panel installed by the dealer because the trailer we liked was already on his lot and didn't have solar in it yet. To be honest it didn't even occur to us that Airstream would install them at the factory. I kind of wish we had thought about that option or at least compared the two to see which would've been better, spec-wise and cost-wise. That said, while we haven't really put our solar system to a major test it seems to be working fine and charging the batteries nicely.

Even better, having a solar panel on the roof helps me win arguments against myself when I begin to wonder whether I should invest in something like one or two of those Honda 2000i generators. Our motor home had an Onan generator, of course, and we found it very convenient from time to time. With the trailer, I occasionally have to arm-wrestle myself out of buying one, mostly because I don't want to carry the extra weight and the maintenance headaches. I really want to find that with a solar panel, a proper coffee pot and enough cross-ventilation, we can easily and serenely enjoy the occasional boondocking experience. Here's hoping!
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:58 PM   #199
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I had the panels installed at the factory because it would be under the factory warranty. I did and still do feel like a paid too much for what I got. If I had it to do over again, I would do a bunch of research, get the best parts I could find and do it myself. I have not been impressed with the RV service work that dealers do. I would prefer to find an independent technician to do work I don't want to do.

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Old 03-01-2014, 05:31 PM   #200
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We've been very happy with our factory solar option on our 28' International. I planned on buying a pair of 2k Honda generators but so far have not. The solar has kept up with our needs when boon docking. We only used our A/C one night last year with a relatively cool summer so all of our electric needs have been met with the batteries, solar and the inverter for occasional 110.

A bit of a pricy option but one of the few things that has been reliable on our trailer.
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:05 AM   #201
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My dealer threw in the solar package at his cost, so I think I paid about $1200 for two factory 55w panels. The system has been very helpful, and seems to work very well for us. I do have two Honda Generators that I sometimes carry, but usually only when I'm hunting in the Dakotas during the fall. With the sun low on the horizon or hidden behind clouds, and the colder temps, the heater will drain the batteries and I can't make it a full two days.

I have had great success with an Aerobie coffee press ($25), and LOVE the coffee.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:08 AM   #202
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Factory Installed Solar Charging System

We have the factory installed solar system and it is great. This winter I have checked the batteries every couple of weeks and they are always at full charge. Of course you do have to carefully clean off the snow (which we do anyway).

We have spent a few days boondocking and have plenty of power. Our 2013 came with a 600 watt inverter and it has low voltage fluorescent lights. We are going to modify a couple of the lights to change out the bulbs to LED strips.

We did have one problem with the system - the voltage regulator malfunctioned and caused high voltage, which in turn caused the refrigerator to shut off. The tech guys at colonial had never see the problem before and fixed the problem in 15 minutes.

Overall I am very satisfied with the factory installed system and would recommend it as a must have option. I do plan on upgrading the panels in another 10 years from 53 watt to 100+watt; I have two panels.

Good luck.
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:32 AM   #203
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Tom & Lori,

Perhaps you just solved a problem I had last year! My refrigerator kept shutting off and I finally had to switch it to gas and take it in for repair. I was never able to find the problem, but I think the dealer finally switched out the voltage regulator.

How did Colonial fix your unit? How did they diagnose it? It would make sense if it's tied to the solar panels...
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:18 PM   #204
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We have factory solar as well, and have been pleased with it and have enjoyed having it... It maintains us well when dry camping.

That said, friends had an after market system added to their Bambi and I believe they got a better system for their money.
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:49 AM   #205
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Thought that I might as well jump in with a few comments, having removed several of the factory solar charging systems for replacement with components and systems from AM Solar, Magnum Energym Blue Sky and Morningstar.

While the factory solar set up works, for $2900 one could have a truly expandable system with MPPT controller and full temperature compensation on the charging voltage (Airstream uses a PWM-pulse width modulation style unit) and had many unnecessary connections that create significant voltage drop in the factory system.

In any solar installation, voltage drop is the nemesis of charging efficiency. Knowing this, cable gauge should be adequate for any potential system expansion, connections should be kept to a minimum and most important, the charge line from the solar controller should be connected directly into the batteries, NOT a bus bar (as the factory does).

Thee are also many other options for inverters than the factory offering, such as 3-stage 'smart' inverter/chargers with full temperature compensation in the charge algorithm and delectability for the type of battery you have. These features guarantee that your batteries will be properly charged according to their ambient temperatures and voltage requirements by battery type, and thus lead to maximum battery life. My idea of a quality system does NOT include a single stage battery charger (converter) and a 1000 watt inverter-only device.
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Old 03-04-2014, 02:58 PM   #206
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Thought that I might as well jump in with a few comments, having removed several of the factory solar charging systems for replacement with components and systems from AM Solar, Magnum Energym Blue Sky and Morningstar.

While the factory solar set up works, for $2900 one could have a truly expandable system with MPPT controller and full temperature compensation on the charging voltage (Airstream uses a PWM-pulse width modulation style unit) and had many unnecessary connections that create significant voltage drop in the factory system.

In any solar installation, voltage drop is the nemesis of charging efficiency. Knowing this, cable gauge should be adequate for any potential system expansion, connections should be kept to a minimum and most important, the charge line from the solar controller should be connected directly into the batteries, NOT a bus bar (as the factory does).

Thee are also many other options for inverters than the factory offering, such as 3-stage 'smart' inverter/chargers with full temperature compensation in the charge algorithm and delectability for the type of battery you have. These features guarantee that your batteries will be properly charged according to their ambient temperatures and voltage requirements by battery type, and thus lead to maximum battery life. My idea of a quality system does NOT include a single stage battery charger (converter) and a 1000 watt inverter-only device.
Ok. I like that advice. Problem is the dealers don't really seem to understand solar, most customers never order it. So I am think just start out with portable and eventually find someone who can install. I've done some searching and haven't found any solar rv installer in central Illinois... If anyone has advice feel free to share
Thanks
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Old 03-04-2014, 03:11 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by SchuHouse View Post
Ok. I like that advice. Problem is the dealers don't really seem to understand solar, most customers never order it. So I am think just start out with portable and eventually find someone who can install. I've done some searching and haven't found any solar rv installer in central Illinois... If anyone has advice feel free to share
Thanks
Road trip to visit Lewster?
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Old 03-04-2014, 06:09 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by SchuHouse View Post
Ok. I like that advice. Problem is the dealers don't really seem to understand solar, most customers never order it. So I am think just start out with portable and eventually find someone who can install. I've done some searching and haven't found any solar rv installer in central Illinois... If anyone has advice feel free to share
Thanks
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Road trip to visit Lewster?
Funny you should mention this….

I'm actually about to start a thread about my new venture. I will be opening an RV Solar installation center in Hood River, OR for the summer featuring AM Solar products, Lifeline batteries and Magnum Energy products. Actually, May 15 thru Oct. 15. It will be easy access just off I-84.

We will be doing a variety of other work as well but specifically electrical related; solar, electrical upgrades, 30-50 amp conversions, new converters, batteries and …………..air conditioning.

Drop me a note for available work scheduling. The Columbia River Gorge are is beautiful at that time of year too!
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Old 03-04-2014, 08:51 PM   #209
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I don't remember exactly what my dealer installed for the Solar panels - I'll look it up next time I visit the trailer. However, I'm interested in what people are saying about the stock inverter and batteries in a new Airstream vs. what should be in there to provide better battery management. What, *precisely* are people suggesting should be installed vs. what would have come standard with our 2014 International Signature 27FB? I'm pretty sure they just wired the solar system into what was already there, and didn't upgrade anything else. Should I be getting out my wallet to "finish" the upgrade, and if so, what should I be putting in there? Thanks!

Oh, and please provide web links that clearly illustrate what's being suggested. I like to read more than random opinions. Thanks again.
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:38 PM   #210
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Tom & Lori,

Perhaps you just solved a problem I had last year! My refrigerator kept shutting off and I finally had to switch it to gas and take it in for repair. I was never able to find the problem, but I think the dealer finally switched out the voltage regulator.

How did Colonial fix your unit? How did they diagnose it? It would make sense if it's tied to the solar panels...
Colonial would not replace it until they witnessed the problem. Luckily, while we had the trailer at Colonial, it acted up again. With our problem, the refreidgerator would not run on gas either, because the voltage was running between 16 - 20 VDC. I disconnected the solar cables from the battery to get us through the week. Since the regulator was replaced we have not had any problems.

Good Luck!

Tom
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