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Old 07-23-2014, 03:10 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I don't have the solar package on my 2008 Classic 25fb and don't really plan to be a heavy duty boondocker. I've read several blogs of Airstream owners that installed their own systems ending up with a more powerful system than the factory option. Most seem to add 2 additional batteries.
Here is one:
Going Solar | WatsonsWander

What I plan to do is go with a 120 to 200 watt portable solution. Park the AS in the shade and position the panels out in the sun. I had a 17' Casita before our Airstream and found a 60 watt panel handled all our needs on the single Group 24 battery. I now have two group 27 batteries in my AS. If I find I need more than that I'll get a Honda 1000 or 2000 watt generator to assist. I'm switching all the lights to LED also. This system plus a Honda 2000 would be less than $2000.
Good economics. We have used the factory solar on several cross-country trips and have never needed more. The last two we left the Honda 2000 at home but had no plans for extended boon docking.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:01 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by RamblinManGa View Post
Hi from AZ. . .I have the 2 panel dealer installed solar system on my '05 25 Safari. I like the 'idea' of it but will probably not do it on my FC 28. Or at least go to a better system (ala Switz) or a couple of Yamahas. My system keeps batteries charged in storage, but in use, not so much. At the Balloon Fiesta, the solar would not run minimal lighting & the furnace fan thru the night, after all day, no use charge. It also quits working every 6 months or so, requiring trip to shop. This time, I'm trying a new shop Always an interesting topic this, thanks, Craig
It sounds like you may be having problems with the storage end of your system. The best solar charging won't help much if the batteries are suspect.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:55 PM   #31
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We have the factory solar and really like it.
Picture an Eddie Bauer with the hatch up , fantastic fan going. Brought in an extra fan to help circulate the air in the SUNY south and the batteries did great after all day. Would discharge some overnight but by midday they would be fully charged again.
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Old 07-23-2014, 08:19 PM   #32
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I'm sure some are happy but from what I've seen the factory system is substantially inferior for the cost compared to what you can get aftermarket. i.e. not great value.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:41 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
I don't have the solar package on my 2008 Classic 25fb and don't really plan to be a heavy duty boondocker. I've read several blogs of Airstream owners that installed their own systems ending up with a more powerful system than the factory option. Most seem to add 2 additional batteries.
Here is one:
Going Solar | WatsonsWander

What I plan to do is go with a 120 to 200 watt portable solution. Park the AS in the shade and position the panels out in the sun. I had a 17' Casita before our Airstream and found a 60 watt panel handled all our needs on the single Group 24 battery. I now have two group 27 batteries in my AS. If I find I need more than that I'll get a Honda 2000 watt generator to assist. I'm switching all the lights to LED also. This system plus a Honda 2000 would be less than $2000.
The system in the blog is from AM Solar. Their systems are designed for straight forward installations by DIY folks, along with seasoned professionals. They are all comprised of well matched components that have been thoroughly tested in real world situations prior to being made available for sale.

I have seen many folks that either buy solar components on the net or have so called 'solar experts' and RV dealers install systems that may work, but certainly not in an optimal way. It all depends on what your actual electrical usage requirements are, how you intend to use your RV, and what your budget is.

A qualified and experienced solar professional or source like AM Solar will ask many questions to ascertain your needs and will NOT just sell you components so they can make a buck.

A properly designed and installed solar charging system will give you many years of maintenance free use, extend the life of your batteries and allow you to camp in your rig off-grid for whatever time frame suits your lifestyle and budget.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:54 PM   #34
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The value of Airstream Solar Package!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cory_can View Post
I'm sure some are happy but from what I've seen the factory system is substantially inferior for the cost compared to what you can get aftermarket. i.e. not great value.
The value of the Airstream Solar Package is that it is installed during the build of the trailer and it is an integral part of the trailer from the beginning, and of course, it becomes part of the 2-year Airstream warranty!

I'm sure you can get more powerful, aftermarket solar panels installed by third parties and I'm sure Airstream dealers would love to convince you to do so. But you risk having them installed by workers who may not be qualified or experienced and who might cause damage to your trailer!

To this day, we are completely happy and satisfied with our factory installed solar charging system!
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:41 PM   #35
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Listen to Lewster for any mods; he is the expert with real world experience...just read his posts.
We have the factory solar again in our second EB and think that although the factory option is overpriced (it also includes the AGM batt upgrade), for us it gives the convenience of installed at the factory warranty with outlets for the TV, DVD, etc. Buuuut you can certainly get a bit more value for the dollar. We plan to add two more AGM batts to our EB.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:44 AM   #36
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A solar tale..........

................and speaking of an EB 25.............

I was doing a solar installation on an Airstream in the RV park that I use here in the Hood River area, and a fellow Airstreamer stopped by to ask if I could look at his solar system. He said he purchased it from AM Solar and had his dealer install it. I was immediately suspicious!

In fact, I even told the owner that if an Airstream dealer installed it, they probably screwed the panels to his roof and used the factory supplied 10AWG solar pre-wire, as this is the only way they know to install solar. Upon inspection of his trailer........it was even WORSE than I thought!!!

The dealer installed the 2 GS-100 panels at the front of the trailer, as I would have done, but rather than using the provided 3M VHB tape and sealant, they felt in necessary to also screw the panels into the roof. This added 16 holes to the roof. They then also screwed the combiner box to the roof (3 more holes) and used the 10AWG cable meant to connect the panels to the combiner box to make a run all the way down the roof to the back of the trailer, using P-clamps and.....you guessed it........6 more screw holes!!!

Then they drilled an access hole in the rear roof to enable them to attach this 10 AWG cable onto the Airstream 10AWG pre-wire and simply gobbed a ton of sealant on it. No gasket or bushing in the hole either. That makes a total of 26 holes in a new Airstream roof!

When I figured the length of the 10AWG cable runs, it was in excess of 50 feet!!! The owner was wondering why the system was not performing to specifications and only getting 5.2 amps maximum to the batteries. To top it off, the solar charge controller, which was a Morningstar 15MPPT unit, was located under the bed and then connected only to the bus bars instead of directly to the batteries as specified in the installation directions, which the dealer obviously never read!

My solution was to remove the 10AWG connection cable running from the combiner box and replace it with the specified 8AWG cable, a total of 13 running feet. This was then run thru the roof thru a purpose specific cable entry fixture (the same one that Airstream uses on the Interstate) at the front closet and then under the bed directly to the controller.

The charge lines from the controller then ran thru a 30 amp fuse directly to the batteries. When the system was powered up at 4:00 PM, the remote meter was reading 10.2 amps!!! The owner was both amazed and saddened. Amazed at the doubling of the performance of his system and saddened that he trusted his dealer to do a proper installation job of an AM Solar system, which BTW, has very complete and specific details and procedures for the installation process.

A perfect example of how proper wiring and component connections will maximize the charging capacity of any solar charging system.

Be VERY CAREFUL out there!!!!!!!
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:08 AM   #37
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The post above reinforces the old question, why is there always time to do it over again, but not enough time to do the install properly the first time?

That example is the exact reason I selected a non-Airstream dealer for our AM Solar system installation. The local selling dealership was certainly not one I could verify any qualifications to complete a proper solar system. In fact, they wanted to see my system after it was installed to see how it is done properly.

I used an installer recommended by AM Solar that was relatively close by: A&P Vintage Trailer Works in Paradise, TX near the DFW airport. They have done many solar installations and also do restorations. They are factory authorized for warranty work so were able to correct cabinetry issues from the factory build as well as complete installation customizations to cabinetry and 120Vac wiring.

The qualified installers are busy, so a scheduled time is the the only way
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:29 AM   #38
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lewster's example is the most important reason why I prefer the factory install, the second reason being it's installed nicely, works very well and supplies the needs of most Airstreamers.

For those who need greater solar/battery capacity it's "good luck" with the installer.
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:56 AM   #39
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The factory solar was a no brainier for us. We do not have the expertise to install ourself and did not want any problems with our trailer if the solar package was not installed correctly.
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:57 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Ed Brownfield View Post
One of the dealers that I talked with quoted $3,000 for solar panels I can't remember how many watts the price purchased. Another dealer quoted $1,300 for 160 Watts and $1,000 for 95 Watts. I know nothing about solar. We just bought a 28 foot Airstream and I am trying to decide whether or not to have the dealer install solar panels. Any help from someone with more knowledge than myself will be greatly appreciated!
Real Wattage Output is what should be important in your decision remember Volts (110 Volts) X Amps (Actual Load-look at the device to be used) = Watts. OK say you have a 100 Watt Light Bulb 100(Watts) /110 (Volts)=.91 Amps. So how long do you want to run the device? How many Amp Hours are your Batteries (you should only use 50% or less)?

I am considering SOLAR Panels for my '58 Traveler. I have decided to use Portable Panels that I can set up once we get where we are going. 1st) The Panels may need to be aimed and 2nd I will always look for as much shade as I can find for the site.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:10 AM   #41
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I agree with you piratesteve, that you could do better in the solar after market. I am still reading the forums and learning.
but For those who are electrically mentally challenged like me it was a nice way to have solar for our needs without the worries of getting it installed correctly. We are careful of our usage when off the grid, mostly lights, fans.
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:50 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Brownfield View Post
One of the dealers that I talked with quoted $3,000 for solar panels I can't remember how many watts the price purchased. Another dealer quoted $1,300 for 160 Watts and $1,000 for 95 Watts. I know nothing about solar. We just bought a 28 foot Airstream and I am trying to decide whether or not to have the dealer install solar panels. Any help from someone with more knowledge than myself will be greatly appreciated!
Dear Ed.

DON'T get solar. Camp for a while and then decide if you need it.

My newbie advice is always wait and see. Remember salesmen and saleswomen make more money when you SPEND more money.

Read the "Nitrogen to fill tires" threads. Marketing nitrogen when it makes up 80% of the atmosphere. I still drink tap water most of the time. On the road or at a campground where the water tastes like iron - I use bottled, but I'm not kidding myself about paying way too much for the most common substance on earth.

About once every 5 years a camping experience MIGHT be adversely affected for lack of solar. It's just the latest marketing ploy to part you from your hard earned money. If you want to blow that kind of money, you could visit PARIS for the cost of a solar system.

I got it as a freebie with my new to me Eddie Bauer - and it's convenient! It is necessary once in a blue moon. A small generator is cheaper and more versatile.

please send me the 2 cents (wink)
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