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Old 07-19-2011, 04:47 PM   #1
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Solar Power for Battery Maintenance

Our storage facility does not have shore power, so I decided to use solar power to maintain the batteries. The photos show some features of Phase 1 of this project. I selected a 20W panel from HQRP and mounted it "temporarily" on the LP cover using 'L' brackets and Command picture hanging tape with hook and loop. The wingnuts make it easy to remove for trailering since I don't believe the hook and loop would withstand wind turbulence at 55MPH. The Anderson Power pole connection makes it a snap to disconnect. The cabling runs in parallel with the battery cables to the battery bus compartment where the solar charge controller is mounted. This is also where the solar prewire terminates. I selected a Sun Saver Duo by Morningstar shown in one of the photos. The remote meter is temporarily placed next to the bed while I contemplate whether to mount the meter where the factory placed the CAT 5 solar prewire--above the shore power outlet in the kitchen as shown in the photo.

The owner's manual was unclear as to the location of solar prewire in my 2011 23FB so I called Airstream Tech Support. Randy McNeeley called me back the same day and talked me through the location and then sent some photos via email. Great support, thanks Randy!

Phase 2 of this project will include mounting solar panel(s) on the roof in a permanent installation and relocating the "temporary" panel from the front LP cover. Since this is a work in progress, I would be interested to hear from others who are installing solar power, especially those who have a 23FB model.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:02 PM   #2
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I'm kind of wondering about this, too. Just ran across an ad on FB for a mobile 80-watt solar setup:

solar unit w/ Airstream discount

Tell me what you think! I'm too dumb to know what I'm looking at.


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Old 07-24-2011, 09:37 AM   #3
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Hi Lynn, yes that looks like a nice setup for portability. You can set it up and stow it when you are traveling. The disadvantage is that if you leave your trailer to go touring/shopping, there could be a security problem since it is so portable. Some dishonest person could easily walk away with it. Another website that you might want to check out is AM Solar at Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987. I also forgot to post a photo of the Morningstar Duo, charge controller and remote meter so here it is. This is available from Northern Arizona Wind & Sun at Solar Electric Power Systems For On & Off Grid. PM me if you have more specific questions.

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:56 AM   #4
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What about the 80-watt part? WOuld that be sufficient to recharge the battery? That's all we'd really be interested in.

Thank you for those additional resources!


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Old 07-24-2011, 03:35 PM   #5
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80W solar will help extend you battery life a good bit.
But the rule for solar is to buy as much as the space and weight will allow. Its not a maintenance item going forward, so spend the money up front, and then you won't have to upgrade later.
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Old 07-24-2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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Lynn, I concur with masseyfarm. More is better when it comes to solar and he's right about operating/maintenance costs--almost nil after the sunk costs of purchase and installation. 80W will do a fine job of recharging your batteries.

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Old 07-24-2011, 09:16 PM   #7
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Yes, and I've also been thinking thru his point out having to leave it out. We don't generally spend a whole lot of time in campgrounds near the rig, so recharge time would be limited.

On edit ... of course, we spend loads and loads and loads of time at one particular campground. Just not one where we vacation!


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Old 07-24-2011, 09:45 PM   #8
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If you have a ac cover that is like this Penguin try this.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f313...ml#post1021953

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:03 PM   #9
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Lynn, I think you can get an AM Solar panel for about the same price for a 100 watt panel for roof mounting. The controller will cost around $300 and has a multistage charger. There's super sticky tape (don't know where you can get a little) can stick it to the roof. You will need some #10 wire (works with or without smoke)—use single conductor (different colors) and wrap it in tape.

Contact lewster for prices and he can arrange it for you and have it shipped to you.

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Old 08-12-2011, 07:06 AM   #10
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Solar Panel

I know nothing about nothing but... On the roof, could you improvise and
attach, permanently, an aluminum sheet that would be areodynamically
correct.
It would be flush with the roof at the front and elevate 4-5" to the height
of the solar panel.
Then to that you can stabilize the solar panel. The you would not need
To remove it when you take that trip into town.
The solar panel could be locked to the aluminum areodynamic sheet.
You'd have a locked down panel, stability of the solar panel, and maybe it
could withstand the 55 mph during travel, but still be detachable from the
areodynamic aluminum sheet. Only the sheet would be permanently
attached to the trailer.
To remove the solar panel for storage, you just unlock it.
Good luck with your project.
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Old 08-12-2011, 07:10 AM   #11
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30W of flexible panels...

roll up for travel/storage...

Works for us...
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