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Old 07-14-2016, 10:03 PM   #1
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Problem with solar 2017 classic

Just got off the phone with Airstream Customer Service. The new Zamp 3 port cap is only being wired to the controller with 10 gauge wire!!! If you buy 3 160 watt panels from Zamp, you will have 480 watts on 10 gage wire. I hope they fix this or there is going to be alot of issues.
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Old 07-14-2016, 10:16 PM   #2
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Just got off the phone with Airstream Customer Service. The new Zamp 3 port cap is only being wired to the controller with 10 gauge wire!!! If you buy 3 160 watt panels from Zamp, you will have 480 watts on 10 gage wire. I hope they fix this or there is going to be alot of issues.
Don't hold your breath............
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Old 07-14-2016, 10:28 PM   #3
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bad solar

Lew, what size wire should they use from the panel to the controller and than controller to batteries.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:57 AM   #4
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Lew, what size wire should they use from the panel to the controller and than controller to batteries.
If you are considering building a system that has potential for future expansion, then I would use 6AWG up to 400 watts and 4AWG up to 700 watts. This is for a 12VDC based system with all panels wired in parallel.

If you want to think about series connections, the wire gauge can be reduced, but then you also require a solar charge controller that will accept the now higher output voltage of a series solar array and one that will also be usable when charging a 12VDC battery bank.

The Blue Sky 3024iL does this nicely, but the Victron solar charge controllers have a much higher working voltage (up to 150VDC) range and lightning fast MPPT sampling as well. By that time, you have already totally redesigned the solar charging system, so you might consider doing that initially and not ordering Airstream's solar package at all.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:20 PM   #5
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Having done two solar installs myself on two Airstreams (well, with Lew's help -- albeit from afar!), I'd just say that if you are going to do this, do it for maximum benefit for the $. I just returned from 5 days at Shenandoah NP with no hookups. I do carry a Honda EU3000i Handi, but even with a fairly tree'd site, my 600W of AM Solar panels did a great job. I haven't run the cost per watt of my solar system vs. what Airstream is charging on the '17 Classic, but I know it'd make me smile. Solar is a great add-on if you don't plan on being an RV park inhabitant. I wish Airstream would take the subject more seriously than they seem to.
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Old 07-15-2016, 03:27 PM   #6
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Preinstalled solar wiring is 10 gauge, been that way for years. With the small panels supplied on an Airstream build, if you order the option, 10 gauge is probably ok. But not for anything more than the 100w or so with the option.
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Old 07-17-2016, 11:04 AM   #7
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Lew, other than a small reduction in the power going to the batteries, what other issues are caused by Airstream's use of #10 wire. Couldn't this be overcome by using slightly more wattage on the roof? After all, #10 wire is rated for 30 amps isn't it?
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Old 07-17-2016, 12:07 PM   #8
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Problem with solar 2017 classic

The voltage drop for 12 VDC is much more evident than for higher voltages like 120 VAC.

This can be overcome by series wiring of solar modules to increase their effective DC voltage output, but if any part of a panel in a series string gets partially shaded, you will lose the majority of that string's output.

Look at the tech manual for a quality solar charge controller like the Blue Sky 3024 iL and you will find a chart of what wire sizes Blue Sky considers acceptable for certain voltage/ length combinations.

And remember that a circuit length is for both the positive and negative cables, effectively double the length of the length of a single cable.
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Old 07-17-2016, 12:12 PM   #9
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Is the ONLY issue with voltage drop the decrease in watts reaching the batteries?
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:22 PM   #10
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Problem with solar 2017 classic

It's a MAJOR ISSUE.
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Old 07-17-2016, 07:45 PM   #11
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Problem with solar 2017 classic

When you buy a solar system it is all about the watts reaching the batteries. Why else would you do solar?

Why waste them by warming up an inadequate wire in the circuit?

This is exactly why I did not bother even looking for the other end of the too-skinny wires preinstalled in our 2007 AS. Our kit came from AM solar and is properly sized and then some.


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Old 07-17-2016, 09:41 PM   #12
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I installed my own solar and originally had 2 100w panels with a short run of #10 wire down to the controller and it was barely adequate. I added 2 more panels for 400w with the usual line connectors and was very disappointed in the output. I pulled #4 wire and built a combiner box on the roof and immediately saw almost double the output from the panels.
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Old 07-19-2016, 10:08 AM   #13
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Solar Wiring specs & engineering response

When I saw the original post, which expressed concern regarding solar hub gauge waiting, I contacted my dealer. (I've a 2017 International Serenity 27FB on order, with 160W solar on the roof and 160W of portable via the front solar connector for use in shade).

An Airstream electrical engineer responded back straight away. It's been a long time since I was a practicing electrical engineer, but I'm comfortable with his response. I've pasted a copy of his response below:



The 10 AWG wiring used by Zamp is sized correctly for the application and will support up to 3 x 200W panels running at 100% capacity with a 10% overhead. Note this also assumes that all 3 panels could actually run at 100% capacity, which is rare. While I understand the one forum poster's reasoning behind it, 6 AWG or 4 AWG in this application is not needed.

There are a number of factors that come into play when deciding the correct wire size, these are things like the length of the wire run, insulation size, air flow, ambient temperature range, proximity to other wires, breaker / fuse response time, etc.

In general use applications, like house wiring, the voltage is higher and most of these variables are not fully known or understood by the installer, or can be accounted for over the life of the house, so for a safety margin, the wire is de-rated to a smaller number.

14 Gauge = 15Amp Circuit
12 Gauge = 20 Amp Circuit
10 Gauge = 30 Amp Circuit

In Zamp's case, the application is known, the voltage range is known, and a number of other variables are also known, so it allows more freedom to better utilize the capacity of the wire safely.

Here a couple of links to websites that attempt to explain these ratings and what they mean. This information has been around a long time and is published in Handbook of Electronic Tables and Formulas for American Wire Gauge. 10 Gauge, non-bundled, open air wire is capable of handling 55 Amps for Chassis wiring, which is a conservative rating. 55 Amps in a solar application equates to around 660W, which is 10% more than 3 x 200W Zamp panels operating at 100% capacity.

http://www.coonerwire.com/amp-chart/
http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm[/B]
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:06 AM   #14
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For a most excellent video on series vs parallel and impact of shadowing see this video from a few weeks ago from the GonewiththeWynns. The impact of even a small shadow on a single panel in a two panel series was MAJOR as Lewster said. Video is better than a thousand words sometimes.

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