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Old 06-23-2014, 07:01 PM   #1
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Solar panel wire routing question

I am about to install an AM Solar system on our 2008 23' CCD Aristream. I don't want to make any holes in the roof & there is no fridge roof vent on this model. Has anyone ever used the vent pipe from the black water tank that exits through the roof to route your wires? If so any tips?

My plan is to drill a hole in the pipe just below the cap. The vent pipe runs in a wall between a closet & the bathroom. I need to drill an exit hole in this pipe, then route the wires through the closet, under the sofa to the controller which will be mounted close to the buss under the dinette.

I believe the hard part will be finding the vent in the wall between bathroom sink & closet. I don't know how much of the closet I will have to unassailable to locate/expose the vent pipe in order to drill exit hole for #8 wires. Again....any tips?

Thanks in advance for any help
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Old 06-23-2014, 08:54 PM   #2
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Running through the vent pipe

Running through the vent pipe is common that's how mine was installed, then into the pantry to the overhead cabinet, where the LCD display panel /controller was mounted, then back inside the pantry and down to exit outside to the underbelly straight to batteries. Every model will be slightly different . RE;160 WATT GO POWER showing via fridge vent.
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Old 06-23-2014, 09:18 PM   #3
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The 23' ccd is pre wired for solar. I spoke with Airstream a few years ago and asked them where the solar wires were since the manual states to use the fridge vent which our model does not have. The wires (green and yellow) are located right behind the rear fantastic vent. I took the shroud off and poked around and sure enough they were there. They are 10 gauge wires which is enough for most panels. Also there is cat5 controller wire located behind the Micro pulse sensor. All wires end up at the electric bus located on the road side front corner under the seat. I have detailed solar installation instructions from the repair manual that Airstream scanned and emailed me. I will attach. Keep in mind that the list that they provided me doesn't have the 23 ft ccd and states the wires are located near the front vent for the 22 ft. They are at the rear vent.
Don't feel uncomfortable in drilling one hole in the roof. Make sure to seal it up with the recommended sealant and reseal it every few years.
I happen to have the shroud off due to a leak and have attached a photo for you..

Please contact me if you have any more questions.

Paul
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Old 06-23-2014, 11:03 PM   #4
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Airstream's solar pre-wire (10AWG) is insufficient (per AM Solar's very tight standards for voltage drop) for anything over 100 watts of solar. AM Solar uses a minimum of 8AWG for 200 watts, 6 AWG for 400 watts, 4 AWG for 600 watts and 2AWG for anything over up to 1000 watts.

In addition, if you have read your installation guide, you will be running the solar cable that comes from the combiner box directly to the charge controller and then from the controller directly to the batteries. Few solar company use this direct method for connections, as most simply use the bus bars located where the solar pre-wire terminates. This addition of many connections will contribute to more voltage drop in your system and will decrease the efficiency of your charging system.

I would NOT recommend using a tank vent for running any wire. It is the 'quick and dirty' method that will have the potential of sewer gasses entering the coach.

The roof combiner box is specifically designed to cover any hole that you have to put in the roof to run the solar cabling. In over 100 installations, I have never had a leak when the combiner box is properly placed and sealed. PM me if you would like the specific technique and materials and sealants that I use for this type of installation.
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Old 06-24-2014, 01:28 PM   #5
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Thanks

Thank you all for your replies. Very helpful. As per Lewster's post, I have decided to use a combiner box & go through the roof.
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Old 06-24-2014, 05:12 PM   #6
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Also installed the AM Solar package...last Spring. Four panels. Very easy to install, once you have the panels wired to the combiner box you just have one cable to run inside. I used the vent pipe so I didn't have to drill a hole in my roof, but your trailer may not have as convenient a location as mine (inside a wardrobe). Under NO circumstances are you to drill holes in your roof for the panel mounts. They'll provide the two side heavy duty tape, which really does work perfectly. AND, if you attempt to drill a hole I can promise you that Lewster will give you the same lecture I got! Barry
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:30 PM   #7
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My first post to the forums, woohoo. I will soon be the owner of a 2014 (maybe 2015) 23D Airstream and one of my first modifications will be a solar install. Lots of good information here but I have yet to see a detailed install on a 23 footer. I plan to use AM Solar equipment but I'm wondering how many panels and size one can fir on the 23foot roof. Also, I'm guessing that with a 23 footer there no refrigerator vent on roof so a hole is necessary (as described by Lewster above).
Any guidance appreciated (as well as roof pics).
Thanks
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAB View Post
Under NO circumstances are you to drill holes in your roof for the panel mounts. They'll provide the two side heavy duty tape, which really does work perfectly. AND, if you attempt to drill a hole I can promise you that Lewster will give you the same lecture I got! Barry
Hi Barry,

So you can use the 3M double sided tape with the framed steel panels?

How exactly did you do this? Did you apply tape to the entire perimeter of the panel or did you just use the tape on the stand-off mounting brackets?

I was under the impression that the framed panels needed the stand-off mounts to aid in cooling.

If you use the tape around the perimeter of the panel was the panel able to make contact with the roof at all four edges, given the curved roof of the Airstream?

If you used the tape on the stand-off mounts, does it seem strong enough to hold the panel safely?
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Old 07-11-2014, 02:16 PM   #9
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All AM Solar panel kits come with brackets and pre-taped mounting feet and very specific instructions for the mounting process.

Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.


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Old 08-20-2014, 12:08 PM   #10
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Thanks for the reply. In the factory pre-wire they use 10 gauge wire. Not heavy enough for most (my) application. I need to use at least gauge wire. Thus the need for a hole.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:14 PM   #11
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2008 23 CCD Solar instillation (reply to Deansgg post)

Just noticed your post. (deansgg) This may be too late to help you, but I just finished installing 2 AM Solar GS 135 panels on our Airstream 23D. Two fit nicely on roof. I think, if needed, I could fit a 3rd one if I took the stock TV antenna off & replaced it with a 'new style' one. I bought the TM 2030 battery monitor, SC 2030 controller, wiring along with panels from AM Solar. They were very helpful in answering questions I had in doing the install.
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Old 09-04-2014, 07:36 PM   #12
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However, I will say that running the 8awg wires parallel to the vent pipe might not be a bad idea. Not inside, but many times you will find that the roof cutout is larger than the diameter of the vent pipe and, although you may have to enlarge the cutout for 8awg wires to fit, it might be better than a separate hole. It might be a good path, depending on the layout.
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