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Old 11-28-2010, 09:19 AM   #1
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Non-Factory Solar Installation on New AS

I did not order factory solar on our to-be-delivered 2011 FC23FB. This was an improvement that I enjoyed doing myself on our 09 Casita, and I preferred to select my own panel and MPPT controller. The new AS will be "pre-wired" for solar. I'd appreciate hearing the experience/advice of anyone who has self-installed solar on a "pre-wired" AS.
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Old 11-30-2010, 09:05 AM   #2
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I was wondering if the factory will install other products on your AS?

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Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
I did not order factory solar on our to-be-delivered 2011 FC23FB. This was an improvement that I enjoyed doing myself on our 09 Casita, and I preferred to select my own panel and MPPT controller. The new AS will be "pre-wired" for solar. I'd appreciate hearing the experience/advice of anyone who has self-installed solar on a "pre-wired" AS.

I am having the factory install two (2) panels possibly three (3) and as I read more and investigate what is on the market I keep going back to AM Solar's products. (Thanks to 2Air's suggestion to look at bigger panels!!!)

Here are my questions:

*Has anyone had the AS Factory install AM Solar's products? If I purchased them in advance of arriving to JC?

*Will the "preinstalled" solar wiring work with three (3) panels in the area of three hundred (300) v. with an MPPT unit?

*When I read about the wiring harness on AM Solar "education" page it seems that the wire guage is very important when you get into or near the
three hundred (300) mark. Is the AS preinstalled wiring adequate to handle the three (3) panels and an MPPT unit?

* Could one (1) of the panels be detachable to use on a longer wire if the sun blocked by trees?

I do not know anything about electricity (obviously) and it seems a bit over whelming to try weigh which information is important or not important when reading these product websites.

I want to ask the questions in advance so that I can do it correctly the first time and get the most for my money. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Many thanks,

Lin.
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Old 11-30-2010, 11:53 AM   #3
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lew has posted several times that the factory PREwire is too small.

i suspect that the adequacy of the wire depends on length used and panel voltage and other bottle necks in the systems.

clearly to get the MOST from any panel, fat wire is useful.

the loss can be calculated but focusing on just than one variable is deceiving.
________

a lot is made of the value of having the factory prewire.

basically it's just wire/conduit running from the roof to the fridge between the skins.

some1 has still got to cut a HOLE up there and fish it out, then run surface wire TO the panels.
________

it's not that big an issue to run better surface mount wire on the top.

fact is, there will be sections of surface mount wire added with any solar install.

we all tend to freak about holes on top, but sealing new holes is easy.

if going to the trouble and expense of adding good solar, go with 10 gauge wire.

the factory service center runs wire on top of units, they know how to do this properly.
_________

on a longer trailer panels can be positioned/spread out which helps with partial shade.

my understanding is that most panel output goes WAY down in partial shade,

unless the panel is designed for that issue (like some flex panels)
_________

having one panel that could be removed and used by long wire seems like a good idea,

except it overly complicates the install and getting UP there to fetch it is tricky.

then how often would one actually dismount a panel?

it would be easier to have one portable panel/stand that simply plugs into a connector somewhere.

there are several threads that show mobile/portable panels on racks, stands and so on.
_________

here's a couple of threads with nice ROOF mounting racks and some insight on wiring issues.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f448...tml#post584199

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f448...lar-35844.html

cheers
2air'
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:37 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
lew has posted several times that the factory PREwire is too small.


a lot is made of the value of having the factory prewire.

basically it's just wire/conduit running from the roof to the fridge between the skins.

some1 has still got to cut a HOLE up there and fish it out, then run surface wire TO the panels.
________

it's not that big an issue to run better surface mount wire on the top.

fact is, there will be sections of surface mount wire added with any solar install.

we all tend to freak about holes on top, but sealing new holes is easy.

if going to the trouble and expense of adding good solar, go with 10 gauge wire.

the factory service center runs wire on top of units, they know how to do this properly.
_________


it would be easier to have one portable panel/stand that simply plugs into a connector somewhere.

there are several threads that show mobile/portable panels on racks, stands and so on.
_________



cheers
2air'
That's why I love this forum !!! Thanks for the insight and I will call the factory to figure out how to specify the 10 gauge wire and non factory panels with the MPPT controller as well as one "detachable" panel.

Many thanks,

Lin.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:14 AM   #5
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Lin,
Did you actually get the factory to do a custom solar build? My ordering experience and communication with the factory was that they will not deviate from their standard 50w solar installation, at $2839.00. I've specified the following system and agreed with my dealer to install for $1550.00

2 ea Kyocera KD-135SX panel - (ea 135 watts, 7.63 amps 27" x 60")
1 ea Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E 25 amp MPPT Controller
8 awg wiring

The factory would not give me a reasonable upgrade cost to include AGM batteries without their standard solar. I'll handle batteries separately.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:56 AM   #6
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With solar, efficiency is much of the game, so voltage drop through smaller gauge wire is a big deal. Measure your presumptive wire routing from roof panels to charge controller to batteries, and do some web searching for voltage drop calculators. I got lewster do a custom install on my trailer, using 2 AM Solar panels and three Lifeline AGM batteries, and I couldn't be happier. I'm not a heavy "juice" user, but if there's sun (and I don't park in the shade!!), I never have to go to shore power or generator unless I want to run the AC or an electric heater or some such. Very nice for boondocking.

Anyway, spending a little more on heavier wire is a small investment, given the overall cost of a solar system, and the ocnsensus seems to be that the factory wire is o.k. to marginal for their lower wattage / current flow system, but if you want higher powered panels up there, you just need heavier wire.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:28 AM   #7
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Yes, they agreed to do it with AM Solar wiring kit

I was very specific sending the wiring diagram etc.
Lin.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
Lin,
Did you actually get the factory to do a custom solar build? My ordering experience and communication with the factory was that they will not deviate from their standard 50w solar installation, at $2839.00. I've specified the following system and agreed with my dealer to install for $1550.00

2 ea Kyocera KD-135SX panel - (ea 135 watts, 7.63 amps 27" x 60")
1 ea Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E 25 amp MPPT Controller
8 awg wiring

The factory would not give me a reasonable upgrade cost to include AGM batteries without their standard solar. I'll handle batteries separately.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:45 PM   #8
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Thanks, that's interesting. At this time (at least for my 2011 order) the Airstream factory will do nothing custom or optional beyond the fabric selection, awning, inverter, standard solar, and convection microwave.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:13 PM   #9
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jamu'

factory (as in production-assembly plant) does NOT equal company (factory) service center...

so the issues of ON the line production/modifications are handled differently from work done at the service center.

my guess is lin is dealing with the service center or her CURRENT a/s.

which means RETURNING to j/c, having the work done in the service shop.

the service center does lots of 'custom-customer' jobs.

ordering a new unit means making 'options' requests from a menu.

we often loosely use the term factory in these discussions,

but the assembly plant and service center are different operations.

so your solar choices DURING production are limited to what they normally offer/use.

lin (or ne1 else) scheduling work at the service center can request (or supply them) parts from almost any product line.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:17 PM   #10
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JamuJoe,

Installed this system and added a Unisolar panel that works in shade and over cast conditions.
GP-RV-125 RV Kits
I also have a third panel(20 watt) on the AC shroud.
Three AGM batteries store the juice. I just need to up the size of my inverter(600 watt AS OEM)

Unisolar 68 watt panel

Solar Laminate PVL-Series Model: PVL-68
• High Temperature and Low Light Performance • 20 Year Warranty on Power Output at 80% • Quick-Connect Terminals* • Bypass Diodes for Shadow Tolerance
• UL Listed to 600 VDC • Meets IEC 61646 Requirements
PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS
Rated Power (Pmax): 68W Production Tolerance: ± 5%
CONSTRUCTION CHARACTERISTICS
Dimensions: Length:2849mm(112.1”),Width:394mm(15.5”),Depth:4mm (0.2”),16mm(0.6”)including junction box. Weight: 3.9 kg (8.7 lbs.). Output Cables: ~2.5mm2 cable with weatherproof DC rated quick-connect terminals* 560mm (22”) length. By-pass Diodes: Connected across every solar cell.
Laminate Encapsulation: Durable ETFE (e.g. Tefzel®) high light-transmissive polymer. Adhesive: Ethylene propylene copolymer adhesive-sealant with microbial inhibitor. Cell Type: 11 triple junction amorphous silicon solar cells 356 x 239mm (14” x 9.4”) connected in series.
QUALIFICATIONS AND SAFETY
AAPPLICATION CRITERION
LListed by Underwriter’s Laboratories for • electrical and fire safety (Class A Max. • Slope 2/12, Class B Max. Slope 3/12, • and Class C Unlimited Slope fire
New or other qualified roof installations 16” minimum steel pan width PVDF Coated (Galvalume® or Zincalume® steel metal pan)
ratings) for use in systems up to 600 • VDC. pencil beads, stiffening ribs, or
decorative stippling)
Steel pans with flat surface (without
LAMINATE STANDARD CONFIGURATION • • Installation temperature between 10oC -
Installation by certified installers only
Photovoltaic laminate with potted terminal housing assembly with output cables and quick • connect terminals*. •
OPTIONAL CONFIGURATION
Photovoltaic laminate with junction box. * e.g., Multi-Contact (MC®) connectors.
40oC (50oF - 100oF) Maximum roof temperature 85oC (185oF) Refer to manufacturer’s installation guide for approved substrates & installation methods
Data Sheet
Solar Laminate PVL-Series Model: PVL-68
IV Curves at various levels of irradiance at Air Mass 1.5 and 25° C Cell Temperature
STC (1000 W/m2) 800 W/m2 600 W/m2 400 W/m2
200 W/m2
ELECTRICAL SPECIFICATIONS: STC (1000 W/m2, AM 1.5, 25o C Cell Temperature) Maximum Power (Pmax): 68 W Voltage at Pmax (Vmp): 16.5 V
Current at Pmax (Imp): 4.1 A Short-circuit Current (Isc): 5.1 A Open-circuit Voltage (Voc): 23.1 V Maximum Series Fuse Rating: 8 A
TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENTS
(at AM 1.5, 1000 W/m2 irradiance)
Temperature Coefficient of Isc: 5.1mA/K Temperature Coefficient of Voc: -88mV/K Temperature Coefficient of Pmax: -143mW/K
NOTES:
PVL-68
All measurements in mm. Inches in parentheses.
Tolerances Length: ± 5mm (1/4”) Width: ± 3mm (1/8”)
NOCT (800 W/m2, AM 1.5, 1 m/sec. wind) Maximum Power (Pmax): 53 W Voltage at Pmax (Vmp): 15.4 V Current at Pmax (Imp): 3.42 A Short-circuit Current (Isc): 4.1 A Open-circuit Voltage (Voc): 21.1 V NOCT: 46° C
Temperature Coefficient of Imp: 4.1mA/K Temperature Coefficient of Vmp: -51mV/K
1. During the first 8-10 weeks of operation, electrical output exceeds specified ratings. Power output may be higher by 15%, operating voltage may be higher by 11% and operating current may be higher by 4%. 2. Electrical specifications are based on measurements performed at standard test conditions of 1000 W/m2 irradiance, Air Mass 1.5, and Cell Temperature of 25°C after stabilization.
3. Actual performance may vary up to 10% from rated power due to low temperature operation, spectral and other related effects. Maximum system open-circuit voltage not to exceed 600 VDC per UL. 4. Specifications subject to change without notice.
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Old 02-25-2011, 07:05 PM   #11
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Here is a link to the Unisolar panel.
Uni-Solar 68W PV Module | PVPower.com

Mark
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Old 02-25-2011, 08:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JamuJoe View Post
Lin,
Did you actually get the factory to do a custom solar build? My ordering experience and communication with the factory was that they will not deviate from their standard 50w solar installation, at $2839.00. I've specified the following system and agreed with my dealer to install for $1550.00

2 ea Kyocera KD-135SX panel - (ea 135 watts, 7.63 amps 27" x 60")
1 ea Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E 25 amp MPPT Controller
8 awg wiring

The factory would not give me a reasonable upgrade cost to include AGM batteries without their standard solar. I'll handle batteries separately.
I had the same Blue Sky and was very disappointed in the performance. I replaced it with a Morningstar TriStar MPPT 45, MPPT Charge Controller, 45 amp and couldn't be happier....it is a better unit ALL AROUND.

And don't use any wire less than 6ga (battery cable wire at auto stores bought in bulk rolls).
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:46 AM   #13
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I am planning to add solar, as well. I looked at the GP-RV-125 web site, and the specs are confusing to me. I understand that W/V= A.The unit is rated at 17. 3 v. If that is dialed down to 12v somehow, will the Amps go up? I may be mis-speaking, so anyone, please correct me if I am wrong.
I also have seen a thread that talks about how much juice is needed to dry camp, be it generator or solar backup. Does anyone have a link for that topic?
Dwight, when you say 6ga., do you mean from the solar units to the converter?
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:49 AM   #14
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Thanks, 2air. That clarifies 'factory' vs. 'service center'. I was not aware of the latter.

Regarding wire size, here is an interesting (but note disclaimers) voltage drop calculator spreadsheet. http://www.solar-guppy.com/forum/dow...calculator.zip
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