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Old 06-30-2008, 07:38 PM   #15
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Bambi unplugged!

Here are some photos of my installation. Thanks to several contributors to this forum. The one who suggested where the wiring harness could be found, the one who had the idea to plumb in the feed line from the solar panel through the outer housing of the Fantastic Fan, and the one who suggested adding batteries without permanently attaching them to the trailer by simply fashioning another female 7 connector receptacle and attaching that to another battery or bank of batteries and then plugging them into the trailer's plug that is detached when the tow vehicle is not attached. Terrific ideas that I used! Hopefully, the photos will tell the rest of the story.

And, of course, thanks to our neighborhood Goodyear blimp for the aerial shots.

Dick
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:27 PM   #16
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Here are some photos of my installation...
Dick
Very nice!

Our experience with solar is similar to ericinrb's: the solar panels restore our batteries to 100% by noon of each day camping, even while running the Fantastic fans, refrigerator fan, and stereo.

I would recommend that anyone thinking about placing an Airstream Factory build order read my thread Factory Installed Solar Charging System, which shows the components of my system and why I am very happy with it.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:59 PM   #17
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Solar IS the way to go!

If you order a pre-wire on a new A/S, be sure that the factory uses 10 gauge wire thru the walls for your panel connection to the controller. Avoiding voltage drop is CRITICAL in a quality solar install.

At AM Solar, we use 10 gauge ship cable (it has a round jacket that fits properly in the water-tight connectors) to join all of the roof panels to the combiner box, then run 8 gauge marine cable from the box to the charge controller.

It may cost a bit more, but this wiring will super-charge your solar applications!!!!

BTW, I just added 2 more 100 watt AM Solar panels to the roof of my Sprinter. I now have 400 watts of panels charging 2 Lifeline GPL-6CT 300 amp-hour golf cart batteries that run a Magnum 2000 watt sine wave inverter. Next mod is adding another 2 GPL-6CT batteries for a total of 600 amp-hours of DC power.

If the 220 amp-hour Lifelines run down in the CCD, I just plug into the inverter and use the van like a 2000 watt generator......much quieter!!!
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:22 AM   #18
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Watts up?

The adjustable rocker feet panel mounts and the round shipboard cable I purchased from AM Solar are really the cat's p.j.'s. Very nice to work with!

I used that cable to run from the junction box on my solar panel into the Fantastic Fan outer housing just far enough to "spot weld" with adhesive sealant from the inside. At that point I stripped down to the pair of 10 gauge wires the cable contains and brought them back through two holes drilled in the lower part of the outer housing. This allows them to go into the ceiling area where I picked up the 10 gauge solar prewire harness. Because the Fantastic Fan has an outer housing, all of this is done without getting in the way of the fan workings and it is invisible from the inside of the camper. I then used a rubberized sealant on the outside of the fan unit. I liked the idea of NOT punching any holes in my roof.

Lew, your rig sounds impressive. Watt do you do with all the watts?? Aren't you supposed to leave your camper on occasion??

SilverGate: I read your excellent thread while trying to find my factory prewires. Also noticed the references to replacing the regular lights with LEDs. Has anyone found a source for "warm" LED lighting that simply allows popping the LEDs into the existing sockets? That would catch my interest.

Dick
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:58 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
The adjustable rocker feet panel mounts and the round shipboard cable I purchased from AM Solar are really the cat's p.j.'s. Very nice to work with!

I used that cable to run from the junction box on my solar panel into the Fantastic Fan outer housing just far enough to "spot weld" with adhesive sealant from the inside. At that point I stripped down to the pair of 10 gauge wires the cable contains and brought them back through two holes drilled in the lower part of the outer housing. This allows them to go into the ceiling area where I picked up the 10 gauge solar prewire harness. Because the Fantastic Fan has an outer housing, all of this is done without getting in the way of the fan workings and it is invisible from the inside of the camper. I then used a rubberized sealant on the outside of the fan unit. I liked the idea of NOT punching any holes in my roof.

Lew, your rig sounds impressive. Watt do you do with all the watts?? Aren't you supposed to leave your camper on occasion??

SilverGate: I read your excellent thread while trying to find my factory prewires. Also noticed the references to replacing the regular lights with LEDs. Has anyone found a source for "warm" LED lighting that simply allows popping the LEDs into the existing sockets? That would catch my interest.

Dick
Dick,

Don't forget that I use my van as a service van and run power tools from the inverter. The Airstream use is a nice by-product.

IMTRA Marine has a nice selection of warm white LED G-4 bulbs. These are direct replacement units for the halogens on the newer Airstreams. I have replaced ALL of my halogens with these. You might PM westfalia and get his opinion of them.

I have these (and the entire IMTRA catalog) available at the Forum Courtesy Discount. PM me if you need further info.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:23 PM   #20
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A/C Hood Solution: Slider Mount

During my solar panel for RVs research, I ran into several references about panels being shaded by the A/C hood. Didn't understand the problem until I installed my new panel. Then I understood the problem and figured out the attached solution using AM's rocker foot mounting system and 2 pieces of standard aluminum stock from my local hardware store and 4 more SS bolts with locking nuts.

The panel slides about 2" out from under the hood and over the rain gutter. After mounting the rocker feet to the new sliders, instead of the panel, I mount the panel to the new aluminum sliders (1/8" thick by 1" x 24") using AM's friction bolts and knobs. The "sliders" have slots cut into them to allow the loosened friction bolts to slide either into the retract or extended position before tightening the knobs. KISS solution in operation! And this also allows use of AM's tilt bars as the panel won't get hung up on the A/C hood when you swivel it up.

I now have 123 watts of solar (80 watt Sharp panel and 43 watt Kyocera panel) on the small roof of my 16' Airstream Bambi, and, with my MPPI controller, yesterday I was seeing 8-9 amps of charging juice midday in the "canyon" between my house and the spruce trees.

I am ready for a real world expedition!
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:56 PM   #21
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Love the pictures. About to add solar to a '08 16' and would appreciate any other recent experiences or words of wisdom. Pictures greatly appreciated. My understanding is that:

- the 2008 specs for the DWR show that it has "Solar pre-wire"
- we need to add a solar charge controller
- we need to add a solar panel(s)
- appears that potentially two panels (one smaller) can fit on the 16'

Do folk mount them so they can tilt to absorb maximum sunlight?
Tips on the Northwest with plenty of sun obstacles (rain, clouds, trees)?

Thanks!

BC
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:09 AM   #22
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Care and feeding, et al

Solar panels and trees don't mix real well. If you are staying for more than 2-3 nights in a shady spot, you will find your batteries are nearing their limits.

At least that has been my experience at my favorite shaded campground on Lake Superior. I have learned which spots allow for the most sun and have been tempted to run a tethered portable freestanding panel into sunny spots out from under the trees. And I do tilt the panels to follow the sun. Adding clouds to the mix, will, of course, further complicate things. Solar panels do like sun, the brighter and the longer, the better!

That said, although I have been tempted to buy one of the Honda generators to top off my batteries, especially after a number of cloudy and shady days, I haven 't done so yet. And that is 6, going on 7, seasons into using them.

Dick
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:58 AM   #23
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ladder?

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...And I do tilt the panels to follow the sun. Dick
Thanks, good info.

Practical question: other than hauling a full on ladder is there any way to tilt the panels?

BC
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Old 04-22-2014, 09:25 AM   #24
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Practical question: other than hauling a full on ladder is there any way to tilt the panels?

BC
The practical problem of tilting panels on the roof of an RV is just not worth the effort in terms of additional power produced, in most cases. Which way are they going to tilt depends on where you are parked today. Do you need to tilt forward, backward, to the left or to the right? What time of day is it? Who knows?

Since the sun is at a high angle in the summer when we do most of our camping, a flat or mostly flat panel is generally acceptable. When figuring out how much power you can produce with a given panel, I usually estimate about 60 to 70% of the nominal maximum output (the way panels are referred to... say a 100 watt panel). That also takes into account the sun angle, the controller losses, wiring and battery inefficiency.

I have two 100 watt panels on my 20' FC. The general output I measure is in the range of 9 to 10 amps in sunshine. At a 13.5 volt charge voltage that is 135 actual watts being delivered to the batteries, pretty close to my 70% overall efficiency estimate.

It is not worthwhile to get too hung up on maximizing the panel output in most cases. RV solar is not fixed like a rooftop system on a building, where one does work at best optimum conditions as they are always the same directional issues.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:02 AM   #25
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To tilt, or not?

BC, I haul a small step ladder (4') in my pickup bed. That allows me to reach the solar panels. I park my trailer in a north south orientation. Tilting toward the rising sun in the morning and then allowing them to flatten for the midday overhead sun is all the tilting I do. Watching my charging monitor's read out tells me this is helpful in my wooded site. At home, where I park it in a lightly wooded area in my back field, I don't bother tilting. It stays charged for months at a time with no problem.

Dick

Here's a picture of my back field location from just before our Easter Sunday thaw. Snow cap now gone!
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Old 04-23-2014, 08:17 AM   #26
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Tilting your panels toward the morning sun, than flattening for 'solar noon' and then tilting again (depending on the orientation of your trailer when parked) can add 20-25% to the amperage that your batteries receive during the day. Admittedly, it is a bit of a pain to do this if you don't have any easy way to access the roof.

These figures are from my hand-held specialty meter that display watts/sq-M and are calculated using the differences between tilting the cell directly into the sun vs. horizontal (as in a static roof mount).

If you have sufficient solar array capacity on your roof that is matched to either the size of your battery bank or your actual battery usage patterns, tilting will not really be required. OTOH, if you really what to squeeze every last drop of amperage from your panels, then tilting is definitely the way to go.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:12 PM   #27
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I had thought for a while about trying to make a remote power tilt mechanism using a couple of linear actuators. But then I got lazy and cheap.
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:22 PM   #28
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great idea

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BC, I haul a small step ladder (4') in my pickup bed. That allows me to reach the solar panels. I park my trailer in a north south orientation. Tilting toward the rising sun in the morning and then allowing them to flatten for the midday overhead sun is all the tilting I do. Watching my charging monitor's read out tells me this is helpful in my wooded site. At home, where I park it in a lightly wooded area in my back field, I don't bother tilting. It stays charged for months at a time with no problem.

Dick

Here's a picture of my back field location from just before our Easter Sunday thaw. Snow cap now gone!
GREAT PICTURE. Good idea on the ladder... am considering one of the telescoping pack-small ladders.
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