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Old 03-04-2014, 09:43 PM   #211
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Silvery Moon, hang on to your wallet. Give the dealer-installed system a chance and see what it does for you. The factory converter (not inverter, that's a factory or after-market option) may overcharge your batteries and shorten their life if you allow it. But you can prevent this.

Always switch your Battery Disconnect (by the entrance door) to STORE position when you have external electrical power, including a generator, plugged in. This isolates the batteries from the electrical system and the solar system will properly charge your batteries as needed (if properly installed).

Switch the Battery Disconnect to USE position when your are camping without external power. And when traveling if you want the refrigerator to run on propane. This allows the batteries to power the 12 volt equipment.
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Old 03-04-2014, 09:47 PM   #212
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Our dealer installed a 145 W panel and connected it DIRECTLY to the battery pack ( by-passing the inverter / converter ) so the batteries remain charged even tho the batteries are disconnected from the trailer. Works like a charm.
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Old 03-04-2014, 11:51 PM   #213
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Whew!

Thanks, guys. We'll try that approach (switching the batteries to STORE position when on AC power!) before cracking out the credit cards again.
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Old 03-05-2014, 12:30 AM   #214
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Lewster is your man for the best systems and installs.
However, we opted for the factory solar for the convenience of the wiring already installed and the inverter with shore and inverter outlets.

When we are boondocking - which is the majority of the time- we utilize either one EU2000 or one EU3000is (it is MUUUUUCHHH quieter). Cold weather here necessitates using the furnace blower frequently and the batts (even with the AGM factories) give out after about 2 1/2 days. We try to run the refrigerator on AC before leaving and whenever possible hooked to either shore power or generator.

You can get a lot more bang for your buck with other than the factory solar option ... we just wanted the convenience and that is what the dealer had in stock. Upgrades to follow this summer.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:27 AM   #215
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvery Moon View Post
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.
There is a whole site that I think anyone contemplating solar should visit and read if you really want to understand the solar process.
Just look up Handy Bob's Solar Blog.
Well worth anyone's time to read before heading out into the solar world.
I know that when I do my install I will follow his recommendations.
George
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:10 AM   #216
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This maybe a silly question but is it possible to install factory solar system and later down the road supplement it by adding more panels or even using portable panels like the go power kit?
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:05 AM   #217
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Originally Posted by gmeikle View Post
There is a whole site that I think anyone contemplating solar should visit and read if you really want to understand the solar process.
Just look up Handy Bob's Solar Blog.
Well worth anyone's time to read before heading out into the solar world.
I know that when I do my install I will follow his recommendations.
George

Thanks for the suggestion on Handy Bob's solar blog. It is worth reading!
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Old 03-06-2014, 02:12 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by traveluminum View Post
Thanks for the suggestion on Handy Bob's solar blog. It is worth reading!
I posted this quite a while ago, and will repeat it here:

Just briefly read Bob's blog. Interesting! What I took away from what I did read is that he has been dealing with the lower end of the RV solar market where the amateurs, shysters and profiteers reside. I will be speaking specifically about AM Solar, as these are the ONLY folks that I will work with for solar equipment. Check out their web site: Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 and read thru it a bit.

You will find many interesting facts that are derived from actual use, engineering and design..........NOT MYTHOLOGY! We always specify maximum wire gauges in our installations, using up to 2AWG for larger systems. The only place 10AWG has in a solar installation is a single panel 100 watt unit or less. Anything else will show significant voltage drop.

Boost? We use Tristar controllers specially modified for specific use in Lifeline AGM battery banks (our primary recommendation for batteries) that bulk charge to the recommended voltage by Lifeline. The boost appears from higher top-end solar panel output voltages (hotter panels made to AM Solar's specifications) as an increase in the charging amperage seen at the batteries.

Has 'Bob' received bad advice in the past...YES! Is he an 'expert'? Sorry, but I don't think so. What are his electrical and/or engineering qualifications? He never states this. Greg Holder, owner of AM Solar has 25 years in the RV Solar business and runs any item he sells thru extensive real world testing before he will put anything on the market.

The only inverters we sell are made in the USA by Magnum Energy and we generally specify pure sine wave models. I might add that many large motor homes come standard with Magnum modified sine wave inverters and they have never damaged any refrigerator compressors, TVs, stereos or any other electronic components. Buy cheap (Xantrex 300 watt inverters) and what do you expect??????? Is this guy for real????? How would you feel if you had a Xantrex 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter that had a blown charging section and were told by Xantrex that they are not repairable....to the tune of $2500 for a new Magnum replacement. And this guy is carping about his $40 piece of garbage???? GET SERIOUS!!

Educate yourself as much as you can, or find someone that you trust who has the training, experience and qualifications to do the job properly using the right components.

And finally, Bob seems to have a real problem with people making a living! If I don't make a profit, I won't be in business. I don't owe Bob or any of his cronies anything .....especially advice for free!!!! He should do a bit of attitude adjustment before anything else!
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:01 PM   #219
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
I posted this quite a while ago, and will repeat it here:

Just briefly read Bob's blog. Interesting! What I took away from what I did read is that he has been dealing with the lower end of the RV solar market where the amateurs, shysters and profiteers reside. I will be speaking specifically about AM Solar, as these are the ONLY folks that I will work with for solar equipment. Check out their web site: Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 and read thru it a bit.

You will find many interesting facts that are derived from actual use, engineering and design..........NOT MYTHOLOGY! We always specify maximum wire gauges in our installations, using up to 2AWG for larger systems. The only place 10AWG has in a solar installation is a single panel 100 watt unit or less. Anything else will show significant voltage drop.

Boost? We use Tristar controllers specially modified for specific use in Lifeline AGM battery banks (our primary recommendation for batteries) that bulk charge to the recommended voltage by Lifeline. The boost appears from higher top-end solar panel output voltages (hotter panels made to AM Solar's specifications) as an increase in the charging amperage seen at the batteries.

Has 'Bob' received bad advice in the past...YES! Is he an 'expert'? Sorry, but I don't think so. What are his electrical and/or engineering qualifications? He never states this. Greg Holder, owner of AM Solar has 25 years in the RV Solar business and runs any item he sells thru extensive real world testing before he will put anything on the market.

The only inverters we sell are made in the USA by Magnum Energy and we generally specify pure sine wave models. I might add that many large motor homes come standard with Magnum modified sine wave inverters and they have never damaged any refrigerator compressors, TVs, stereos or any other electronic components. Buy cheap (Xantrex 300 watt inverters) and what do you expect??????? Is this guy for real????? How would you feel if you had a Xantrex 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter that had a blown charging section and were told by Xantrex that they are not repairable....to the tune of $2500 for a new Magnum replacement. And this guy is carping about his $40 piece of garbage???? GET SERIOUS!!

Educate yourself as much as you can, or find someone that you trust who has the training, experience and qualifications to do the job properly using the right components.

And finally, Bob seems to have a real problem with people making a living! If I don't make a profit, I won't be in business. I don't owe Bob or any of his cronies anything .....especially advice for free!!!! He should do a bit of attitude adjustment before anything else!
Lester. Traveluminum asked for other sources. I suggested one. I never said Bob was an expert. Bob actually says he is not an expert.
I for one will listen to and read his whole blog and take from it what I want to from someone who lives totally off the grid.
I will also read other sources he has noted.
I found him a very refreshing person of knowledge to speak to who offered to help with my installation with
suggestions of where I could go to buy my equipment at retail where someone could make money.
I have even gone to the AM solar site for information and they have some good Ideas too.
Methinks thou dost protest too much.
George
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Old 03-06-2014, 10:10 PM   #220
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Funny you should mention this&hellip;.

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 &hellip;&hellip;&hellip;&hellip;..air conditioning.

Drop me a note for available work scheduling. The Columbia River Gorge are is beautiful at that time of year too!
How about on your trip back to the great North-West, you detour through the Common Wealth of Kentucky and perform an install on an Airstream. Of course there will be a generous selection of Kentucky's finest Bourbon for refreshment at any time during or after installation. Think about it. I'm open to suggestions. Oh, and water/electrical connections available if your willing to challenge the driveway.
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:04 AM   #221
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Tsumani,

I would be glad to if I wasn't opening the installation center. I will be on a very tight time frame to be back in FL for Nov.1 when my 'season' there starts up again. How about a FL vacation this winter??????????

PM me if you have any other questions.

Thanks!
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:17 AM   #222
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Lester. Traveluminum asked for other sources. I suggested one. I never said Bob was an expert. Bob actually says he is not an expert.
I for one will listen to and read his whole blog and take from it what I want to from someone who lives totally off the grid.
I will also read other sources he has noted.
I found him a very refreshing person of knowledge to speak to who offered to help with my installation with
suggestions of where I could go to buy my equipment at retail where someone could make money.
I have even gone to the AM solar site for information and they have some good Ideas too.
Methinks thou dost protest too much.
George
George, that post was from a couple of years ago when old Bob's blog was first mentioned on these Forums and I was asked to comment…..which I did from a professional's point of view. Since becoming deeply involved in the RV solar business, I have found that there is a wealth of mis-information available on the web about any topic that you can imagine, often posted by self-styled 'experts' who happen to have a working system……..usually through no fault of their own! RV solar happens to be one of them.

My comment was not meant in disrespect to you or anyone else who posts information or links here, and I hope that you did not take it personally! Folks will glean whatever they find useful from myriad sources, including Bob. My comments were from an engineer's and working professional's perspective only. I am not a 'my way or the highway' type of guy.

Doing this every day gives me a wide overview of what works and what doesn't. I have been called upon to correct a lot of poorly installed solar charging systems (and other types of work) and have seen the direct results of poorly designed and installed system using low-end components.

My comments to this Forum are always intended to help it's members make educated decisions within their RV microcosm and to avoid the costly mistakes that I see others suffer. I hope you take them in that spirit.
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Old 03-07-2014, 06:44 AM   #223
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Thanks Lewster. I am trying to learn more about solar, and you are right about all the misinformation. Through Bob's ranting, I was able to use these tips. Use the right size wire, get a good battery monitor, and follow the battery manufacturers charging instructions. I've seen all these suggestions before, but for some reason it never really got through. My thick skull probably has something to do with that. And me not wanting to spend any more money than I have to. I appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:25 AM   #224
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I like to wander several sites ,not only A/S to get all the information that I can on RV solar.Just came across this the other day.Thought those who are still searching would be interrested,
The Truth About Solar Power for Your RV

George
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