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Old 12-10-2007, 04:24 PM   #1
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Help us learn to operate the solar system.

We recently bought a 96 Airstream with a solar system. We cannot figure out the control panel for it, and we hear a clicking sound from a control box under the dinette. All we were told is to turn off the AC switch on the wall near the sofa when we unplug from shore power and the solar takes over from there. However, on the solar control panel,there are three switches. One is "silent generator" next one: "campground power" and the third one says "battery ". We feel like there must be another step that we are missing. We hope that someone can help us understand the sequence of turning off the AC power and engaging the solar power. I hope I am making sense. We actually got up on the roof and noticed that some of the wires coming out of the solar panels are frayed. Should we have them replaced? We would like a recomendation for a qualified solar service person in the Southeast please.
Thanks for your time and appreciate any inputyou can offer.

Perry
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Old 12-10-2007, 07:11 PM   #2
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Need more input!

Do you have a pic of the solar controller? Brand name?

Do you know if the solar was installed at the factory or aftermarket?

If the solar controler and system was installed 10+ years ago, it might be a good idea to at least replace the controller as the solar charging/regulator technology has changed for the better the last 10 years. Depending on the brand, solar panels have a life of about 25 years. The newer panels can be more efficient though.

Yes, ANY frayed wires should be inspected and repaired/replaced ASAP!

We know several good solar people - all out west!
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Old 12-11-2007, 02:12 PM   #3
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Whitelight,
Thanks for responding. The control panel is made by "Solarmetrics" with three switches (on/off not marked on them) as I mentioned in the original post, there are three settings left to right they read:1. campground power,2 silent generator,3 battery charger.
At this point maybe a better question to ask is: What brand/model control panel should we upgrade to? I am having the frayed wires on the roof replaced as well. Our closest Airstream dealer is 2 hours away and we will more than likely have to take it in for the solar work. Can you recomend a solar company to contact?
Thanks for your time.
Perry
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Old 12-11-2007, 04:24 PM   #4
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Solarmetrics went out of business several years ago . . . if you search the forum http://www.airforums.com/forums/f448...ess-18318.html you will see that they are history.

Unfortunately, all of the solar businesses that we know are out west - the "old man" also does all of our electrical/solar, so we install all of our own components.

Unless your AS dealer has a competant solar installer, I would recommend that you seek a business that specifically deals with solar installs! One of the forum members on the east coast should be able to give you a recommendation.

The controller that you buy depends on the total watts produced by your currently installed panels plus any panels that you might add. Most modern solar chargers are 3 or 4 stage chargers.

We have installed a Blue Sky Systems charger on our 34, an AM Solar HPV 22B charger on our 22, and had a Morningstar controller on our boat (the boat had 6 panels, producing a maximum of 26 amps.) All three have performed well.

Definitely look into purchasing a new controller! There have been so many improvements over the years!
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:00 PM   #5
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update

I think you are right. It's time to upgrade. I found out that Solarmetrics is out of business today as well..We were directed to xantrex.com by a local service guy that took a look at the system and I decided that he didn't know much more than I did,so I paid him the $75 and pulled her back home. In his defense,he did find out that it is operating and charging the batteries,however, we still have the clicking coming from the controller.

I will do some networking on here and also will dig around on liine to see if I can find someone that can help us out. We typically don't do much camping without electrical hook ups anyway.

Thanks again,
Perry
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:39 PM   #6
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I'm going to take a shot at this but my system is a Heliotrope 22B from AMSolar.com and there could be some similarities in operation.

I gather that each switch has two positions, up and down, correct? Let's assume that the down position is OFF and the up position is ON. The Silent Generator is power from the the solar array and shows on an LCD display the amp output when the alternating current is turned off. This is a shot in the dark but if the other 2 switches are down or OFF then the amperage would show up from the solar panels. The voltage charge would be a max of 14.2 or 14.4 volts. The Campground switch is used in the upward position when the power cord is plugged into 115 AC and the solar panels would provide no more than 13.32 volts so that the battery is not overcharged by the solar output and your onboard charger combination. The Battery switch in the upward position may just show the battery voltage in the LCD window. If there is no LCD window then maybe there are lights next to each switch. I may be wrong about this but experiment until someone comes on line with the correct answer.
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:58 PM   #7
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Craig,

I am a dealer/installer for AM Solar. They are arguably the best in the RV solar business and build their own controller unit which has been independently rated as THE BEST in the industry. It uses MPPT (mulit-poimt power technology) and produces he best voltage/amperage thru-put available today.

You need someone familiar with RV solar systems to guage the output of your panels and upgrade your controller unit. Also, the wire guage that was used is critical, as is the overall integrity of the electical connections.

If you decide to purchase a new AM Solar controller, I'm sure that the factory will walk you thru the steps necessary to thoroughly test your system.

Give them a call in Oregon at 1-541-726-1091 or contact me.
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:54 PM   #8
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solar solution

Craig and Lew,

Between both of you..it confirms that we will upgrade the solar system. When we get ready, Lew I will be in touch with you to determine our next step. I am thrilled to hear that you are a tech, and on the East coast.

Right now, our dollars are going to P&S Trailer in Ohio for the "facelift"......Gee...I could have a facelift for what it cost to get this AS reconditoned...I know they will do a great job and I consider it a good investment in lot's of future fun...

Thanks guys..
Perry
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:57 PM   #9
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correction

Lew,

I just noticed that you are form Marco Island, Oregon...whoops I thought it was Marco Island Florida...That's OK...I can buy it thru you, and find a tech here to install...
Thanks
perry
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClayandPerry
Lew,

I just noticed that you are form Marco Island, Oregon...whoops I thought it was Marco Island Florida...That's OK...I can buy it thru you, and find a tech here to install...
Thanks
perry
Perry,

I AM on Marco Island, FL in the winter and Oregon in the summer. I usually don't head west until the end of May.
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:25 PM   #11
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Managing a Solar System

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClayandPerry
We recently bought a 96 Airstream with a solar system.
Perry
Hi Clay and Perry. WELCOME

Gee, when I bought my 1995 Excella all I got was a flag pole holder, How'd YOU get the whole SOLAR SYSTEM thrown into the deal . Hey, who'd you buy this off of anyway?

Now I'm no astrophysicist, but I'm not aware of any manual or PDF file you can download that will help you operate The Solar System?

I mean there are planets, moons, and a sun/star, and every once in a while we get a visitor...

Don't get me wrong, the Airfourm is loaded with very smart and witty folk, maybe someone (I can think of a few ) will jump in with some tips.

You know now that I think about it, I'm not sure The Solar system can be operated.

It would be like trying to operate flatulence, once it's out there it's out of your control, sure you could claim someone else is operating it, but that doesn't really manage it, just takes the stink off of you.

But I diverge.

You might want to try one of the deity forums, like Omygod.com, Vishnu.com or Geezs.com, just depends on your affiliation I guess.

Well good luck with the solar system, or should I say OUR solar system, and if you do find a manual, be sure to check in here and let us know if any catastrophes are around the corner.


PS, good luck with your NEW Airstream too.

Michael
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:55 PM   #12
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Hey Michael,

So THAT'S what happened to you when you stuck that knife into the wall outlet!!!!!!!!

You too funny!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:46 AM   #13
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Have Clay and Perry left the solar system?
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Old 01-31-2008, 08:25 PM   #14
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Hey Mike,

Save some of what ever it is that you've been taking for when we meet. I could really use some!!!
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