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Old 09-01-2007, 04:01 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman
the f.s.p works fine...

cheers
2air'
Thanks 2air’… I’ve been waiting for your input…

Glad your Factory-installed Solar Panel System works fine!

And I understand that you, thecatsandi, & others have the two panels and are contemplating adding additional panels, either permanently attached or portable…
This would help recharge the batteries more quickly and/or enable you to park in the shade and still generate some amps with the portable panel(s).

Yes, it may seem expensive, but how do you put a price on the piece of mind that comes with knowing that your system will recharge itself and your batteries will be sustained, especially with frugal use of electricity.

Other solar vendors might be able to put together a better package, but the downside is that they might damage your trailer… put dents where they don’t belong… cause more leaks, etc.

At least the Airstream Factory-Installed Solar Charging System is covered by the Airstream 2-yr. Warranty, and certain solar components by the SUNEXPLORER, Inc. 5-yr. Warranty.

Thanks for adding the links here for more information about solar power & AGM batteries.

I hasten to add, however (as mentioned in Post #1 of this thread), a reminder that this is a thread with the focus primarily on the Factory-installed Solar Charging System, and not on other systems, including generators.

BTW, we use much less than 80 – 100 amp/hrs per day and our 2, 53-watt panels provide an average of 39.5 amp hrs on sunny days and 29 amp/hrs on cloudy days. As mentioned in my post #9 here, I’ve kept detailed log records that have helped us understand our system and electrical usage. Click on the attached thumbnail of post #9 (page 1) to see an enlarged sample page of our log on a non-hook-up outing in a wooded, mountain San Diego County Park. It will show that we made 49.5 amp/hrs on June 14 and 33.3 amp/hrs on June 15. It also shows that the lowest the batteries dropped to was 80% during the night, which rebounded to 100% by 0905.

Cheers
SilverGate
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Old 09-01-2007, 04:12 AM   #30
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Now We're Cookin' With Solar!

Thecatsandi – Thanks for your input. Would like to hear more details about your factory-installed system, how it performs in different parts of the country, etc.

Davidz71– Glad you are happy with your 3 panel system, albeit some other system, that has "worked without fail".

SilverRanger – Thanks for your comments. Glad your factory-installed solar package "worked flawlessly". Batteries’ dropping to 75-80% at night, and rebounding the next day to 100%, corresponds to my experience.

TBRichThanks for your continued input and excellent questions. Hopefully we can get others to join in on this topic and add to our growing database.

Ray Eklund – Sorry to hear your factory-installed panel was not initially connected with the rest of the system, but eventually corrected, under warranty, I hope. Glad that it works fine now!

BTW, if you are going to move the panel, you might as well add a second panel (see my panels in post #2 here). You will find your system will work more efficiently, and there's room for it on your 23' Safari!

As you have read here, batteries' dropping to 65% at night is certainly within normal limits, especially when you turn on the ceiling or reading lights. Early one morning while cooking (using stove exhaust fan and light), we had the stereo and furnace on. The battery was at 75%. When I turned the ceiling lights on, the battery went to 65%.

Changing to LED’s will significantly reduce electrical consumption.
We have already replaced our exterior lights with LED’s. See Post #200 of the following thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f396/silvergates-safari-home-last-29471-15.html

We also plan on changing out the interior standard lights to LED’s. In the meantime, we use alternative power-saving lights, such as the portable, battery-operated LED desk light as seen on post #202 of the above thread.

SilverGate
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:01 PM   #31
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Thanks, SiverGate, for helping us novices to "digest" the input we are getting on this thread. We have so little experience at actually relying on our factory installed solar system, it's good to know that others have gone before us are willing to share their knowledge. It's also helpful to those who are considering including solar systems when they order new units.

I doubt that we would add another panel to our system because of the size of our Bambi, so we are enjoying hearing others' experiences with the factory system...as well as hints to help conserve power usage and make the most of it. The LED light replacement makes sense...not only in hte decreased draw on power, but also the decrease in heat generated by the halogen lights...they get hot...and in AZ we usually don't need more heat!

By the way, we have just ordered Zip Dee awnings for the street side and rear of the Bambi to increase the amount of shade on the skin...we're looking forward to getting those, and will post feedback about the effect they have on holding down interior temps. To those who are ordering new units...if you want these awnings on your coach...order them as a package on your new AS...it's less expensive to do that way!

Here's to more dry camping!
TB
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Old 09-04-2007, 02:10 PM   #32
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configurable monitor?

SilverGate: great thread (as usual). Thanks!

To the f.s.p. folks: I wonder if the controller/monitor is configurable, with respect to the battery bank capacity?

Ray Eklund's question about his monitor reporting a drop to 65% got me thinking about the charge controller I saw in SilverGate's rig: it has a built-in 25A shunt, presumably for the purpose of monitoring amp-hours fed from the panel(s) on to the batteries. I'm not sure if it's really just looking at apparent voltage, vice tracking actual amp-hours in/out of the battery bank...

Since the monitor provides a percentage reading (among other things) I figure it might have some notion of the battery bank capacity, if it's tracking Amps in/out.

So I wonder if you can set the battery capacity for the monitor? Maybe Ray's monitor just thinks he has less capacity that he really does, thus reports the batteries drawing down faster than they really are?
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:09 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5cats
...Since the monitor provides a percentage reading (among other things) I figure it might have some notion of the battery bank capacity, if it's tracking Amps in/out. So I wonder if you can set the battery capacity for the monitor? Maybe Ray's monitor just thinks he has less capacity that he really does, thus reports the batteries drawing down faster than they really are?
Good point! I was reading the installation manual for the Bogart Engineering Trimetrics 2000 and it said that you had to enter the size of the battery bank in order for the meter to read the percentage of battery power that was being used. You make a good point in that the calibration may be off and showing he is using more from his batteries than he is.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:23 PM   #34
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We have had our 2007 23' Safari SE LS since Jan 18 and have spent around 90 nights in it so far. We have two 53 watt factory installed solar panels similar to SilverGates. However instead of being installed side by side they are front to back beetween the air conditioner and the rear vent. It is a tight fit and part of the front solar panel is somewhat beneath the A/C cover which I believe reduces its efficiency somewhat.

Prior to the Airsteam we ownded a 2619 TrailManor, a folding solid trailer. It had a dealer installed 100 watt solar panel and kept our batteries well charged in over 300 hights of camping. We had a 3.5 KW Onan genset on the trailer that we never used.

So we now use our Airstream for dry camping and we do not bring along a generator. We changed some of the interior lights to LEDs so that we could more efficiently use our batteries when dry camping. We changed all the interior non-halogen incadescent bulbs, and the two halogen lights over the bathroom sink to LEDs. We also changed the patio light and stair light to LEDs. When dry camping we use only LED lights, and LED headsets for reading. We have camped up to two weeks at one spot and have managed to keep our batteries from discharging. Our most difficult camping wrt conserving battery power was at Prairie Creek State Park in the northern CA Redwoods. It was foggy and cloudy much of the time and the tree cover was very heavy. We only got very little solar recharge. At the end of two weeks our batteries were down to 45% charge.

In most places in the southwest we have no problem recharging our batteries during the day. We use our notebook computer around 2 hours a day to store and organize photos from 3 cameras, as well the fantastic fan, LED lights and so on. We do have the 600 watt factory installed invertor, which is very convenient for charging camera, cell phone and computer batteries.

We are leaving for a one month trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in a couple days. However, on this trip we will have shore power at most places we camp.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:48 PM   #35
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Our two factory installed solar panels mounted side to side in front of the AC have worked perfectly for us. We shut everything down during the day while we are out daytripping and that night after running the tv (direct 12v, not through a converter), lights, and fans, we rarely drop to 75% on the meter, usually 85%. By the time we return to the AS the next evening it is back up to 100%.

We do carry a generator for those times we need to cool the interior down or run the convection oven, but rarely use it.

Overall, the solar setup has been great for boondocking and has worked perfectly.
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Old 09-04-2007, 11:56 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5cats
SilverGate: great thread (as usual). Thanks!

To the f.s.p. folks: I wonder if the controller/monitor is configurable, with respect to the battery bank capacity?

Ray Eklund's question about his monitor reporting a drop to 65% got me thinking about the charge controller I saw in SilverGate's rig: it has a built-in 25A shunt, presumably for the purpose of monitoring amp-hours fed from the panel(s) on to the batteries. I'm not sure if it's really just looking at apparent voltage, vice tracking actual amp-hours in/out of the battery bank...

Since the monitor provides a percentage reading (among other things) I figure it might have some notion of the battery bank capacity, if it's tracking Amps in/out.

So I wonder if you can set the battery capacity for the monitor? Maybe Ray's monitor just thinks he has less capacity that he really does, thus reports the batteries drawing down faster than they really are?
Good question, and I don't know the answer...but it makes sense based on following posts. I don't remember seeing anything in the literature about calibrating the monitor...SilverGate, do you know?... How about the AS service guys among us?

TB
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:05 AM   #37
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It's really great to hear that the factory installed solar systems are working well for folks (most recently RazorBack and OrangeKid)... It inspires me to get out there and really see how we do when depending on the Bambi's single 53 watt panel...seeing it gives us enough juice to keep us going...

OrangeKid...enjoy the trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons...that will be a fantastic trip! Orange with envy...

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Old 09-05-2007, 12:17 AM   #38
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...uh, slight hijack here.. but, OrangeKid, please post where you camp in the Tetons and Yellowstone. I am also headed out that way later this fall (or maybe spring) and would like to know some good spots. Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2007, 04:25 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetstream
...uh, slight hijack here.. but, OrangeKid, please post where you camp in the Tetons and Yellowstone. I am also headed out that way later this fall (or maybe spring) and would like to know some good spots. Thanks!
In Yellowstone we are camping at Fishing Bridge and in the Tetons we are camping at Colter Bay. Both have full hookups. We like to camp in the National Parks as opposed to RV places outside the park.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:10 PM   #40
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tetstream... I see you have a 2007 19' Bambi...does your unit have a factory solar panel? If so, how is it doing for you?

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Old 09-08-2007, 11:22 PM   #41
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More details,
The panel output is not enough for my size coach. It seems there is one system they install on every trailer reguardless of size. Boon docking overnight drains the batteries down to about 75% using the furnace on a moderatly cold evening thermo set at 65. A little TV on the inverter to get the weather and some lights for about an hour.

Between the solar and the TV I can recharge the Couch batteries if I drive for 4-5 hours. If I spend more than two days in one place I need to run the generator to bring the batteries back upto 100%.

I have room for two more 80 or 85 watt panels. that would being my solar capacity p to 275 to 285 watts. That would be a big help. The charge controller can handle the possible 20 amps.

The panels are going to have to wait. I have a few other post warrenty upgrades in line already.
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Old 09-08-2007, 11:40 PM   #42
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hi 3cats'

my usage results are similar to yours...

remembering that the % battery meter is very inaccurate.

watching voltage on the sun explorer odometer is a little better.

we've both got room to add panels and i've considered it...

but would absolutely replace the factory parallax and sun explorer bits IF adding panels...

a less expensive, simpler first step in solar upgrade progression is adding 2 more agm batteries.

the greater reserve would basically double the juice.

also i'm not sure the solar works while the trailer is getting ANY juice from the tv alternator...

are you?

cheers
2air'
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