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Old 06-08-2011, 06:29 PM   #1
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Worth $2600 for the Airstream solar system?

We are looking into a Flying Cloud but the one we want is $2600 more with the 53W solar panel, 2 Glassmat batteries, and charging panel. How reasonable is the price of this add-on? If I wanted to add one later, I would have to hire someone to do it and it may be hard to get that done in Arizona. No dealers stock Airstreams but they will do service and special orders.
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:38 PM   #2
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It is high, the install takes about 4-5 hours, parts under $1,000.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:03 PM   #3
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You can buy lot more solar than 53 watts for $2300. Look here: Welcome to AM Solar_Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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1977 25' Tradewind
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RV Solar Kits : WeGo Solar, Wind and Microhydro for Canada

$699.00 Canadian dollars + installation for a 125 watt RV system (assumes your RV has batteries already). There are likely U.S.A. distributors for HES systems as well. I'm putting this 125 watt system in our 1977 Tradewind this summer.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:56 PM   #5
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One of the guys in my unit wrote this up is it helps.

Let me say, first off, I'm no expert. I received help. So here's what I installed:

(2) Uni-Solar Solar Laminate 68W PVL-68 panels
(1) Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E controller
(1) MC3 Branch Connector, 2 Female/1 Male
(1) MC3 Branch Connector, 1 Female/2 Male
(1) 15' MC 3 Solar Panel USE-2 Cable, 10 AWG

The solar panels (9'4"x 16") were installed, one on the front RS and one on the rear CS roof. The panels are flexible and adhere with a peel-and-stick method. They will bend over curves, such as the end caps, but won't take a compound bend. The Uni-Solar panels come with about 1 1/2' of cable with MC3 waterproof fittings (one male and one female) attached. The panels were placed so that the cables from both panels came together just in front of the AC unit. From here I used the MC3 branch connectors to connect the like charged cables in parallel. The 15' MC 3 cable comes with one male connector and one female connector. I cut this cable in half and had two 7 1/2' cables, one male and one female. These cables go from the branch connectors, across the roof, through the refrigerator vent to the Solar Boost controller. Depending on where one places the controller, they may need more or less than 15' of cable. (For example, in Jerry's trailer there is a pre-wired lead from the bottom of the fridge compartment to a point in the galley where the controller will be mounted.) He will more than likely need more than 15' of cable to get to the floor. From the controller, in my unit, a short pair of wires go to the floor of the fridge compartment where they meet a pre-wired pair that go forward to the battery bus bars. The positive wire gets a 30 amp fuse just before the bus bar.

My system appears to be working well. The cool thing about the Solar Boost controller is that it converts the excess voltage coming from the panels to increased amperage going to the batteries. For example, the other day 3.6 amps were coming from the panels and 4.9 amps were going to the batteries. It's "magic".

I got the following from Akarienergy.biz.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Qty | Item # | Description | Price Each | Total Price
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 | PVL-68 | Uni-Solar Solar Laminate 68W PVL-68 | 209.95 | 209.95

1 | 32.0009UR | MC3 Branch Connector, 2 Female/1 Male, | 15.65 | 15.65
| 32.0009UR

1 | 32.0008UR | MC3 Branch Connector, 1 Female/2 Male, | 15.88 | 15.88
| 32.0008UR

1 | USE2Cable15 | 15' MC 3 Solar Panel USE-2 Cable, 10 AWG, | 22.60 | 22.60
| 600VDC
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subtotal 264.08
Tax 0.00
Shipping (Ship with Flat Rate UPS Ground (U.S. ONLY)) & Handling 17.00
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Balance Due 281.08

Akarienergy.biz has the Blue Sky Soler Boost 2000E for $249. It's not on their site, but you can get it through them by ordering on the phone. It's not clear what the additional shipping will be. I searched the web and found the following offers for the Solar Boost 2000E:

pvpower.com $245.49
infinigi.com 239.69
simpleray.com 251.78
affordable-solar.com 248.00
altestore.com 253.88 (all of these prices include shipping to my zipcode)


.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:05 PM   #6
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The Airstream-supplied setup is widely considered to be not only overpriced but too small for any practical use other than battery maintenance during storage.

Most RV solar installs are in the 200-300 watt range and up.
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Old 06-08-2011, 10:07 PM   #7
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I installed 200W of solar power on our 72 Tradewind from AM Solar this spring.... came to about $1350 delivered. It has worked flawlessly so far; keeps batteries (dual group 27s we already had) full in rain, snow and even sunshine. We have converted to LED lights in anticipation of this so our power requirements are low (water pump, my CPAP machine, lights, fans, inverter for LED outside lights, etc.). I do plan to add a small 12V sound system... the tracking controller does a great job; its very impressive to see several amps of charging current on cloudy overcast days. I also have a Trimetric battery monitor which I strongly recommend; the integrating ammeter feature really lets one track overall battery state accurately.

We don't have AGMs... but w/ a solar rig, unless you're really hammering the batteries, the need for resilience in the face of repeated deep discharges is much reduced.

We'll get some good testing in @Juplaya and Burning Man this year; we hope to spend some time camping in the national parks soon.

- Bart
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Old 10-14-2011, 05:30 PM   #8
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I have the AS solar panels that were installed on my trailer when it was made in 2010. I recently used the trailer at the Balloon Fiesta in the NM sun and things went like this:
Started out at 100% first day. By night the batteries were still at 100%. even with the 2 roof fans running all day.
The next morning after using stuff like some lights and the water pump and fans at night. The batteries were down to 65% by 10 am. That afternoon the batteries recharged 100% and that was while still using fans when needed. Same thing for several days, over and over. They work for me just as advertised.
One afternoon I did hook up my Yamaha generator but that was only to run my air conditioner for an hour or so. I didn't need to use the gen to recharge the batteries at all.
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:15 PM   #9
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We got the factory solar on our new trailer because that's the way this trailer was ordered by the dealer for their inventory. I didn't want it because of cost, but believe I was able to negotiate that option near dealer cost, because it was already there.

Love it. Nicely installed, wired during build, convenient control/indicators. My experience is the less my vehicles are in after-market/maintenance shops, the less chance of collateral damage. If you know someone skilled at installing solar in Airstreams, fine. If not, get the factory option.

doug k
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubadog View Post
We are looking into a Flying Cloud but the one we want is $2600 more with the 53W solar panel, 2 Glassmat batteries, and charging panel. How reasonable is the price of this add-on? If I wanted to add one later, I would have to hire someone to do it and it may be hard to get that done in Arizona. No dealers stock Airstreams but they will do service and special orders.
Monetarily, it is not a good deal. So it is a matter of how much your time and trouble is worth to you. We ordered our trailer and got the factory panels. I knew when we ordered it that I could get it done much cheaper after market. However to me the it was worth the extra to have a standard factory installation with the same warranty as the rest of the trailer.

Ken
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:14 AM   #11
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I have purchased two Grape Solar 100 watt panels and a SunSaver MPPT 15A charge controller for installation on my 2007 Safari 27FB. I expect to install them myself, hopefully over the next 4 weeks while I have access to a well equipped shop.

I'm concerned about at least two things:

- mounting securely on top of the Airstream

- running the wiring from up top

I plan to build two angle aluminum mounting frames with a key & key-hole system that will allow me to remove the panels for security and occasional tilting on some ground setup, but I still have to mount the mounting frame. I've never drilled a hole in my Airstream, and it's a little scary.

My Airstream has "solar prewire". Whatever that means. Where would those wires be up top?

Helpful thoughts appreciated.
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Old 11-15-2011, 08:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubadog View Post
We are looking into a Flying Cloud but the one we want is $2600 more with the 53W solar panel, 2 Glassmat batteries, and charging panel. How reasonable is the price of this add-on? If I wanted to add one later, I would have to hire someone to do it and it may be hard to get that done in Arizona. No dealers stock Airstreams but they will do service and special orders.

NO...

Bob
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Old 11-22-2011, 04:25 PM   #13
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Scubadog, the best place to scope out solar deals is in Quartzsite AZ - one day drive from Flagstaff. Last year I saw several vendors of solar stuff there.

As for what you may need, in my '94 LY motorhome, I had a 123-watt panel but only 2 wet cell batteries. I can tell you that it was not really enough storage, and I planned to add 4 more batteries. Then I came across a deal and sold the motorhome and bought a 1987 32-foot Excella that came with: 3 75-watt solar panels, 4 AGM batteries and a 1400-VA Xantrex inverter/charger. The guy I bought this from had had this installed in Lake Havasu City AZ back in 2003 for $4,300.

If you plan on boondocking, you will find that 4 AGM batteries is comfortable. There are those who go nuts for this type of stuff - I recall meeting up with a guy in a SOB Class A who had a rack of 24 AGM batteries and something like 12 120-watt solar panels on lifts so he could align them for maximum efficiency. He was able to run his two roof airconditioners off the batteries. I admit that this is gross overkill, but a minimum 120-watts solar panel is what you should look for. As for batteries, 4 AGMs are nice.
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:37 PM   #14
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I agree with a previous poster - if you are ordering your AS new, there is value in having the wiring etc. done during assembly. But that is a tiny system!!
Sounds exorbitant to me.
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