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Old 12-05-2014, 12:24 PM   #15
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Congratulations on your new Airstream, Mimi and Dan. You will love it!

We have used our new-to-us 25' Flying Clouds for about five weeks of camping now and although we have a slightly different set-up, our experience would lead me to believe that your solar panel will not be enough if you use the heater much. If you use the heater much, your solar panel might not be enough since the heater fan is a major energy draw and your solar panel will probably not have the capacity to recharge your batteries after a cold night. After a few cold nights, you might be drawing your batteries below an optimal level because the solar panel will not be recharging them enough during the day.

You could consider a portable solar panel to help charge your batteries on days where the little one is not enough or a combination of a portable solar panel and 2000W generator, which would give you options based on cloud cover. The latter combination could meet your needs pretty well if you are going to be in some colder areas or areas where cloudy days are common.

We have calculated our basic 12V usage (RV systems like the water pump and propane detector, heater fan, Fantastic Fans, stereo and lights - no TV) to be about 50 to 60 amps per day on a typical, nice weather day with some conservation efforts. Your solar panel will probably only generate about 15 amps per day on a sunny day. You can see how the gap in what you are producing and using will widen over a few days without something more than the small panel. Your trailer is a little smaller than ours (and a few years newer) so your usage may be lower, but just with this basic calculation (based on our use, not your use of course), your solar panel may not be enough.

We decided try our trailer on one long trip before deciding on a solar solution, which might be a good option for you, too. Our decision... Because we do not want to spend the $10,000 we were quoted for an "ideal" solar set-up, we bought a 2000W generator, are going to get a 200W portable solar panel, enlarge our battery bank, and possibly get a smaller (like 300W) roof-mounted solar system in the future after we see how often we actually want to boondock since we are big on visiting national parks.
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Old 12-05-2014, 01:31 PM   #16
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Not enough!

Congrats on your new Airstream!

We unfortunately also ordered Airstream's solar package when we ordered our 2009 28' new. We find it to be virtually worthless for boon docking in three ways:
The two 56 watt panels that came with ours do not generate enough replacement power, especially in winter, spring or fall, or in areas where you don't get full sun all day. The supplied batteries were good quality, but 12 volt--six volt batteries rigged in pairs hold double the storage. The 700 watt inverter was adequate for the setup, but not adequate for a more robust one. And finally, the supplied controller, is a one-stage instead of a three stage charger (flood, regular, and trickle charge) to help your batteries reach their max lifetime. We tried it for one California mountain February weekend, and with the furnace cycling on and off all night, we awakened to dead batteries--in both the Airstream and Suburban. We were quite shocked to find out that there was no cutoff switch to prevent the Airstream batteries from draining the Suburban battery (we now automatically unplug every night if we're traveling.)

Our quick solution was to replace the 2 12 volt batteries with 4 Lifeline AGM's, increasing our storage to 440amps. Because Lifeline advises never draining batteries below 50%, that gives us 220 amps effective storage. We then replaced the controller with a BlueSky and remote--the main unit is under our forward lounge, and the remote replaced the Airstream controller. Then we added two 80 watt panels so that we now have 272 on the roof. These were the most powerful panels made narrow enough to fit. Finally, I replaced all of the halogen bulbs with LED's--your new Airstream comes with them, which is great--the LED's use literally 1/10 the amps.

The Lifeline batteries were a little too tall to fit in the front box, so the guys extended the box 1/2 inch higher. The second pair are under the front lounge next to the subwoofer. We may move them under the rear bed--we have had the left front tire blow twice now in 4 years, and I'm thinking that it's not a coincidence--that's an extra 160-180 lbs forward and left!

If we were to do it all from scratch, I'd do the same batteries, either all aft or 1 pair fwd and 1 aft, use the same excellent!!! controller, and take advantage of the way more powerful panels available now at same width and go for at least 350 watts total. The inverter would be 2000-2500, not 700, to allow judicious use of microwave or AC in bursts on high-light days. This should NOT cost 10k!!!!

Our experience with our current setup is that in Texas in March on the beach, where it will often be overcast until 1 or 2 pm, and you can count on a storm every five days or so, we have no problem at all for two weeks of boon docking, using primarily lights, stereo and reefer only, while also charging iPhones/computers and other low draw devices We can't use the AC with our inverter, and if we use the furnace it's definitely a significant draw down. We don't use the TV boon docking. We don't use hair dryers, and microwave again is not an option with the smaller inverter.

On other solutions, personally we don't like generators--in tight quarters, they're not considerate for neighbors, and you have to figure where to store them and gas tanks. Portable panels present the storage problem, and require setup time, of course, but they are an excellent solution. A gentleman that we meet in Texas every year has 1 100w panel that he puts on a metal stand that has a crude "sight" on it so that every hour or two he can adjust the angle (vert and horiz) to the sun. Because his panel is always almost perfectly aligned, he get similar charge to 4 panels lying on the roof!

All the advice about trying it first is excellent! We boondock a lot less with our Airstream than we did with our Fleetwood. We just love being able to use all the power we need in the elegance of our "yacht!" You can see if your habits change before you spend more $$$. But the extra portable panel or (if you must!) a generator, are a wise temporary investment if you're going to boondock for more than a weekend with your current setup. Smart to find the solitary panel narrow enough that it can later go on your roof if you decide to expand your solar.

Have fun!
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Old 12-05-2014, 02:08 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by danandmimi View Post
Hi All,



My wife and I have just very recently purchased a new 2015 FC 23FB! We are very excited! We can't wait to take delivery of the unit, and go out on our first of many adventures together!



The unit comes with the factory installed solar bundle (53watt panel + 2 glassmat batteries + a control display). We plan to do a considerable amount of 'boondocking', and our power needs will be: heat fan, lighting, radio, maybe a little tv (we have 1000W inverter in the unit - I think this allows us to watch tv?), and to operate the water pump.



The question we have for the forum is the following: should we wait and see how the solar performs in recharging the battery during the day, or should we take advantage of some sales going on, and buy a 2000w Honda/Yamaha generator? If you have the solar package mentioned above, your thoughts and experiences would be great! We tend to think to wait and see how it all works out before making a considerable purchase.



Thank you for your thoughts.



Mimi and Dan

Mimi & Dan,

I hope that you enjoy your FC23FB - we've enjoyed ours for almost 4 years and 40,000 miles, with lots of great boondocking.

I installed my own solar, adding 85w panels one at a time. The first 85w was fine in full sun sites, but in deep forest or cold rainy days it proved inadequate. Three 85 w panels now seem to do it for us in all conditions, and I have roof space for one more should our consumption increase. Two GP 24 AGM batteries serve well. One issue with the factory solar install, other than the cost, is the wire size, inadequate for additional capacity. I had 8 AWG cable run to a Blue Sky 2000e controller by my purchase dealer, so adding additional panels myself was really easy. If I were starting over at this point, I'd install 100w panels of about the same dimensions.

I retired my Yamaha 2400is generator after one season of little use. Great machine, but we just don't use the aircon or microwave enough while boondocking to bother carrying the generator. Offered the Yamaha for sale, yet still have it in the garage.

Safe Travels,
JamuJoe


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Old 12-05-2014, 04:59 PM   #18
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need generator

The solar panel most likely won't keep up with your demand and of course the sun is not always out. You didn't mention A/C but if you plan on cooling you will need two generators or one big one at least 3500 watts. Honda makes 2000 watt generators that can be linked together with an accessory. Otherwise, you can get by with a small 1000 watt generator to keep the battery fully charged. If you have the microwave/convection combo you will need a 2000 watt generator. At least on my 2014 unit the microwave draws over 1000 watts. You hear most about the Honda units which are time tested but I think there are other similar systems, I believe Suzuki has one but I could be wrong. Bottom line is that you most likely won't enjoy all your features without some extra power or a huge solar system.
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Old 12-05-2014, 06:14 PM   #19
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"If we were to do it all from scratch, I'd do the same batteries, either all aft or 1 pair fwd and 1 aft, use the same excellent!!! controller, and take advantage of the way more powerful panels available now at same width and go for at least 350 watts total. The inverter would be 2000-2500, not 700, to allow judicious use of microwave or AC in bursts on high-light days."

Gecko,
I'm remodeling a gutted 72 Tradewind and plan to put 2 batteries in a box on the tongue and 2, somewhere else.
With all the posts of rear end separation, how would you avoid that problem with putting 4 batteries Aft?
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:04 PM   #20
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I am about to do it over again with a '15 Classic 30. I'll add 600W of solar panels (AM Solar set-up), 3 GP27 AGM Lifeline's, a 2000W inverter, upgraded converter, and a Honda EU3000i Handi for generator power. I think the question about "what you need" is so dependent on how, where and when you use your trailer. I can't imagine not having a generator for A/C when you're out in the heat of the south or southwest come summertime...
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Old 12-06-2014, 12:36 PM   #21
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LEDs

Don't know how far back Airstream goes with interior LED lighting, but my 2013 25' Interstate has them so assume they were standard on 2013 models.
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Old 12-06-2014, 09:54 PM   #22
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BAB take a look at the Magnum 3000 Hybrid Inverter. Would allow you to use a mix of batteries, solar and smaller EU2000 generator if you don't already have the the EU3000. You would have enough to run 1 of the A/C units.
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Old 12-06-2014, 10:28 PM   #23
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I am about to do it over again with a '15 Classic 30. I'll add 600W of solar panels (AM Solar set-up), 3 GP27 AGM Lifeline's, a 2000W inverter, upgraded converter, and a Honda EU3000i Handi for generator power. I think the question about "what you need" is so dependent on how, where and when you use your trailer. I can't imagine not having a generator for A/C when you're out in the heat of the south or southwest come summertime...
You won't need an upgraded converter if you have a Magnum inverter/charger of any size, as they all have one of the best 4-stage fully programmable charging sections available with full temperature compensation.

The new MSH-3012M 'hybrid' inverter/charger will, given a sufficiently sized battery bank, the ability to operate your roof A/C by seamlessly combining the inverter's 3000 watt output with a small generator (Honda/Yamaha 2000) to provide up to 5000 watts of A/C compressor starting power.

Once running, the inverter will taper off it's contribution and allow the 2000 watt generator to operate the A/C, only spooling up momentarily if additional amperage is required to again start the compressor.

Also, your 600 watt solar array can easily handle a 440 amp/hour or even a 600 amp/hour Lifeline battery bank.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:43 AM   #24
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I am about to do it over again with a '15 Classic 30. I'll add 600W of solar panels (AM Solar set-up), 3 GP27 AGM Lifeline's, a 2000W inverter, upgraded converter, and a Honda EU3000i Handi for generator power. I think the question about "what you need" is so dependent on how, where and when you use your trailer. I can't imagine not having a generator for A/C when you're out in the heat of the south or southwest come summertime...
Barry, a more elegant solution (and well within your technical abilities) would be a 3kw fuel cell stack. Forget the heavy batteries, ugly solar panels, generators and gasoline.
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Old 12-07-2014, 09:55 AM   #25
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A fuel cell stack appeals to my "early adopter-ness" -- but (like an OLED TV), needs to come down in price a LOT. BUT, it could easily operate off of the 74 gallons of diesel. Lew, I think the idea of the MSH-3012M is a great option...IF I hadn't bought the Honda 3000iH last year. I have a (more or less) great install in the bed of my Ram 2500...that I used successfully last summer -- even running A/C at lunchtime in rest stops. Going up to 3 AGM's is going to give me a lot more "cushion" ....and once I have some experience with this set up -- and a fix on whether there's adequate room, I could add a 4th Lifeline. Good options galore!
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Old 12-08-2014, 10:04 AM   #26
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Dan&Mimi
Based on your address I suspect much of your camping will occur along the East Coast and mid-Atlantic states....you will need the AC! As others have stated, solar won't do a thing to help with running the AC...you'll want/need a generator as well. I use the Honda 2,000W pair..(you'll need both to run the AC), but it allows you to leave one 50lb unit at home when you don't anticipate needing AC. Have fun. Jon
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Old 12-08-2014, 12:23 PM   #27
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Dan&Mimi
Based on your address I suspect much of your camping will occur along the East Coast and mid-Atlantic states....you will need the AC! As others have stated, solar won't do a thing to help with running the AC...you'll want/need a generator as well. I use the Honda 2,000W pair..(you'll need both to run the AC), but it allows you to leave one 50lb unit at home when you don't anticipate needing AC. Have fun. Jon

Actually, solar CAN help run a roof A/C when you have a 'hybrid' inverter. With this device and a properly sized and installed solar charging system, you can start and run the A/C with a single 2000 watt generator.


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Old 02-25-2015, 05:55 PM   #28
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Actually, solar CAN help run a roof A/C when you have a 'hybrid' inverter. With this device and a properly sized and installed solar charging system, you can start and run the A/C with a single 2000 watt generator.


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It would be great if you were in the Los Angeles area and could set this up for me!!!
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