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Old 08-21-2012, 04:27 PM   #1
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how to install solar panels and what they do for you

I have recently joined the airstream clue. With the purchase of a nice 89 excella. The batteries are getting old. This weekend we camped in an area without power. I know I could use a couple of new batteries, but was wondering how hard it is to install solar panels, can I do it myself, the most cost efficient way to go about it and what benefits I might get from it. Anyone who knows something about this...good or bad...my ears are open. Thanks Ben
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Old 08-21-2012, 05:20 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by bennyp View Post
I have recently joined the airstream clue. With the purchase of a nice 89 excella. The batteries are getting old. This weekend we camped in an area without power. I know I could use a couple of new batteries, but was wondering how hard it is to install solar panels, can I do it myself, the most cost efficient way to go about it and what benefits I might get from it. Anyone who knows something about this...good or bad...my ears are open. Thanks Ben
I'm sure you will get a lot of good ideas about solar panels. We have the solar panels that the factory installs. If I were going to do it again, I would get panels that were independent and could be placed for the best sun exposure depending on where we are camped.

In order to get full benefit of your solar system, you will need good batteries. So I strongly suggest that you upgrade your batteries whether or not you get solar panels. You can generate power with solar panels, but if you don't have a good storage system, it is going to be pretty dark after the sun goes down.

Ken
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:14 PM   #3
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There is another thread titled. Solar panels funky idea.
I have a portable panel and agree with Ken. The ability to change the angle of the panel to correspond to the angle of the sun will I increase the efficiency of the system and reduce the number of panels required in the system.
With my system I can get full exposure to the sun from early morning to late afternoon. As the sun gets lower in the sky ie spring and fall, the system is easily adjusted.
Roof top systems, while out of site and out of mind are not very efficient. Requiring much more panel area to get a decent charge rate.
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Old 08-22-2012, 08:55 AM   #4
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My AS came with a 10 amp solar charger when I purchased it. We boondock frequently in Colorado in fall weather when the furnace runs frequently at night. We could not live without the charger as on a sunny day it will almost completely charge the batteries.
Granted, a stand alone panel or panels that could be turned into the sun would work more efficiently, but where do you carry them it where they won't break?
A solar system has an integrated controller and a panel that shows the state of the charge. There is significant wiring needed on an older Airstream that is not prewired for it. Much of the wiring is behind the walls and looks to be a difficult DIY project.
I have seen small, cheap solar panels that plug into a 12 v power supply. These may be a better option for those with an older trailer who boondock occasionally.
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