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Old 05-06-2011, 05:19 PM   #127
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Thanks for the tip on the controller. Lewster may be able to stop here next month and check out the system. I don't really need the solar for a while, so things are good.

Gene
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:38 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Thanks for the tip on the controller. Lewster may be able to stop here next month and check out the system. I don't really need the solar for a while, so things are good.

Gene
Hi.

Well if you can have Lewster check it out that would be great. If anyone could resurrect it I would think he would be the guy.

Cheers.

-evan
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:47 PM   #129
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All,
Well after year installation report, sytem is still producing great power, battery issues are all resolved and only one issue of concern to report.
On the legs that are attached to the AS roof with VHB tape, someone suggested a dab of Dicor sealant to prevent any water from collecting above the tape between the leg base and roof, freezing and possibly causing seperation.
While installing my forward MaxxFan, I noticed one of the eight leg bases doing just that, lifting somewhat. I removed the holding bolt to the panel frame and checked the leg attachment (VHB tape) and was satisfied it is still fine, and then, added a dab of Dicor to the top of each leg to fend off any future concerns. Just a suggestion and an additional 2c of insurance to very easy and solid install, (thanks Evan)...
Spring cleaning, a good wash and don't expect to be up on the roof again till September (2nd MaxxFan install).
Oh and I too wired as per AMSolar to the buss bars connectors and not my batteries. Temp sensor does however go out the the Batt compartment. Soyboy, have fun on your install.
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Old 05-07-2011, 02:56 PM   #130
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Can't wait to get them elfirebob. Should be here Monday.

Today I'm out futzing with the fridge, it's blowing the 20 amp fuse that serves it, the pump and the heater. I disconnected power at the fridge and it stopped blowing fuses. Who knows, think I will take it to the dealer rather than bolting on parts. I figure it's one of the circuit boards, maybe a bad safety thermistor. Could be a switch in the control panel. After $2,100 in repairs/maintenance on truck this week - brakes, rotors all the way around, new front hub, tie rods. alignment.....ouch. Oh well.

Then, up on the roof, I wanted to get some things done on the AC before I put the panels up. Of course I used the center top of the shroud as a base while I was getting up from a sitting position by the A/C and put my hand through it. Oh well there goes another $100 bucks. The old shroud was very brittle and really need to be replaced anyway. It's only money honey.

Oh and I just bought new Macbook Pro last week and of course the solar panels this past week.

I think I am on a money diet for the rest of the summer! :-0 Got to fill my savings account back up!
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:43 AM   #131
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Received the parts last night from AM Solar (less the controller, that will arrive today). Very complete kit. Nicely put organized into various plastic bags with diagram/instruction sheets. I would say that the hooking up the wires part of this is very easy. It's the pulling/running wires part that will take some time (as is usually the case in pulling retrofit wiring, in the trailer or the house!).

I mounted the remote control in the end "blank" of the front overhead cabinet, when smoothing once I figured out how to remove the "blank". Ran the cable (basically like a phone or ethernet cable) out the back of the cabinet against the wall. It runs behind the curtain out of site. I might feed it behind the carpeted wall, but really at this point, it's in a place where it can't be seen. I think it turned out very clean. I'll take a photo of it when I get a chance.

Tonight I am working on the fridge. After going around the horn on the fuse blowing thing and messaging Lew (I really appreciate his advice), I decided to go ahead and try a new Dinosaur board with out testing the old one. I was just getting burnt out and PO'ed at it. These RV fridges are a PITA. I think the board had some age to it and they all seem to go eventually. Hopefully that will fix it. If not, it's off to the shop (FWIW: Beckely's in Thurmont or S&S in Gettysburg, both reliable shops - for non-Airstream specific repairs) and I will have a spare board. BTW I got a good price and fast service from ASAP RV parts in PA. Being in MD and them in PA I will get the part today using regular UPS service.

Next step is to mount the panels and the combiner box. I am really tempted to go just with the tape on the panels, but I guess I will heed AM Solar's advice and use some screws. I was thinking about using the tape and then putting eternabond over top of the mounts. That stuff sticks like crazy. After that I will remove the fridge vent and feed the wires into the trailer. Lew recommended drilling a hole in the vent stack feeding the wire into the trailer using a grommet, rather than just bending it over the stack, cutting the screen and feeding it down. Don't know if I have a large enough metal bit (wood yes). Once that is done, there is a wire "chase" that runs along the outside wall from the fridge cabinet to the front of the trailer. I hope to be able to pull-push the wires through that without a lot of hassle (yeah right :-) ).

If we go camping this weekend I'll likely finish up the install sometime next week. However, the weather is calling for cool/showers/thunderstorms (stalled front) kind of weather. Not much fun for sitting in the mountains (kinda puts a damper on the hanging outside, having a campfire thing), especially when I can stay home and work on my new "toy". We will make the call on whether or not to go tomorrow. Hate to give up the spot at Rocky Gap SP. A prime spot in the woods, right on the lake and me with my new Current Designs Whisper kayak that I have not tried out yet. But with the price of fuel these days I get reluctant to take a 190 mile RT for a two night trip, especially if the weather is less than optimal.

Photos will follow in time.
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Old 05-10-2011, 08:44 PM   #132
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Hey the fridge is working (new Dino board), now I can stop hijacking this thread about my problem and move on about installing my solar panels.

Thanks for bearing with me!
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:04 PM   #133
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I have this controller & get reasonable charging even when I'm parked in shadier spots. It ain't cheap but it will allow for further expansion of your system in the future.
HPV-22B MPPT | Charge Controllers
-evan

I ordered our 200W system from AM Solar today w/ this controller. Since we've switched to all LED lights, this should be ample power for boondocking @national parks, Burning Man, etc... I'll report in once I get it installed.

- Bart
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:46 AM   #134
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I ordered our 200W system from AM Solar today w/ this controller. Since we've switched to all LED lights, this should be ample power for boondocking @national parks, Burning Man, etc... I'll report in once I get it installed.

- Bart
That's a great system, and you can still add a couple of 100 watt panels if you need more 'juice'! You will find that there is everything you need to do a smooth install. Congrats!

I've got a 'monster' system waiting to be installed on my motor home. 6 panels at 150 watts each, 60 amp Morningstar controller, 2AWG gauge wire.....all the goodies! that should do a nice job of keeping the 900 amp/hours of Lifellnes well charged!
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:11 AM   #135
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900 amp/hours??!! Lew, that's a lot of juice! Woweee. I know you run your power tools and such thorugh an inverter, but do you really need that much? That is indeed a "monster system!"
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:30 AM   #136
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900 amp/hours??!! Lew, that's a lot of juice! Woweee. I know you run your power tools and such thorugh an inverter, but do you really need that much? That is indeed a "monster system!"
Yep! Sure is!

Laying the ground work for a lot of boondocking. Plus, I'll be changing out the RV fridge to a marine unit that is 12VDC/120VAC that will need to run from the batteries. Of course, there is always the 8K diesel generator if it's cloudy for an extended period. One of the benefits of a diesel motor home.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:16 AM   #137
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Now this is some INFO I am Happy to know about! Solar is in the works(future)...still in basic 'refurbish' at this point!!

Christopher
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:30 AM   #138
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I ordered our 200W system from AM Solar today w/ this controller. Since we've switched to all LED lights, this should be ample power for boondocking @national parks, Burning Man, etc... I'll report in once I get it installed.

- Bart
Hi Bart,

Enjoy the installation.

LED's do make a huge difference. I have switched all but the overhead "Pot Lights" to LED; but, the one outstanding current draw is the furnace. I have looked into going to a catalytic system but the one vented system manufacturer isn't answering his emails.

Have fun.

-evan
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:25 PM   #139
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I have been purchasing LED replacement "bulbs" for my interior lights over the past year. They make such a huge difference in energy usage.

I just about have my solar installation done. I cut one of the PV-panel to combiner box cables too short. I called Roger at AM and he is shooting me some new connectors/shrink tubing in the mail. I should be able to wrap up the beginning of the week. I plan on posting photos once I get things squared away.

The installation has gone well, with of course the expected PITA of running the cables from the combiner box to the front of the trailer where I have located the the Morningstar controller. I wound up having to remove the Microwave/pantry cabinet in order to feed the cable. There is a cable run along the floor, but for some weird/Airstream goof-ball engineering reason it ends half way behind the cabinet. Once I did remove the cabinet the rest went easy. AM Solar has everything laid out and packaged very nicely.

That said, I did have one self caused goof up, in trying to find the wire chase from the fridge compartment, I cut into one of the main 12V power feed wires running to the back of the trailer. Airstream in it's infinite wisdom decided that to incase the wires in Vulkum (or whatever it is) was a good idea. Of course, I was just as stupid digging around through the caulk trying to find the entrance to the wire chase, which of course in the end didn't exist at the fridge compartment because it ended behind the microwave/pantry cabinet. Fortunately with the help of a wiring diagram and some time digging through the caulk and getting the wiring organized, I was able to get the wiring squared away today and everything is working properly.

Of course, now that the system is mostly installed (except for one panel) it has been very cloudy/showery/rainy and the small 50 Watt panel (laying flat on my roof) is not putting out anything that registers on the remote meter. Hopefully once I get the 100 mounted on the to the south side (when it's parked behind the house) I will get some "action". After a beautiful, sunny week most of last week (pre installation) it looks like this crummy weather is here to stay until late next week (Sweet!....not). When even did a rare thing, cancel a camping trip this weekend. Partly weather, partly to fix my goof up.

After I see how things work out when I get the 100 watt panel up next week, I will decide about ordering a third panel. I figure I likely will as I can use the extra juice in some of my less than PV optimal camping situations. I am thinking about a 150 which will fit nicely behind my AC unit and in front of the rear bedroom vent. That will give me 300 watts. 100 over the rated capacity of the Morningstar Sunsaver controller. But thats fine, maybe even perfect as one rarely will reach max PV panel output around here (don't worry the Sunsaver is current limiting protection circuitry). Maybe at a few trips to the beach I might get close to max, but not in the mountains and not parked behind the house, especially in the winter.

I mounted the remote monitor in one of the front overhead cabinet end "blanks". Worked out great.

Again, I hope to wrap this up next week and then post some photos, likely not as nice of display as the OPs!

Also, Kudos to Lewster for some hand holding on this and even more so on helping me trouble shoot my fridge problem as I discussed earlier in this thread.
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Honda EU2000i, Equalizer Hitch
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:28 PM   #140
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I need to amend my post above, I wasn't looking at the meter correctly, the 50 Watt is putting out power even with the cloudy skies. I stuck the 100 up on the roof with temp. wiring until I get the new connectors and with them both I am getting about 8 amps when the sun comes out and about 4 when we have cloud cover. Very much what I expected, maybe even better than I expected with the cloud cover. I will likely add a 150, as mentioned above, soon.

It's going to be nice not having to worry about the batteries when it is in storage, and the panels should keep up with our typical camping use when the can get some sun on them. That will be the next test when we are camping at Cunningham Falls SP on Mem Day. The site has trees all around it, but is open in the middle, we'll see how that goes.
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Honda EU2000i, Equalizer Hitch
AM Solar Panels 150W - 2 Trojan T 105 6V Batteries
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