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Old 09-30-2018, 09:45 AM   #1
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2019 19' Tommy Bahama
2018 Tommy Bahama Interstate
Tucson , Arizona
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Posts: 31
AM Solar Lithium Install References?

I just took delivery of a 2018 AI Tommy GT and am new here. My previous rig was a RoadTrek / Hymer with 400 Ah EcoTrek lithium setup, which was very nice. I could run the A/C for up to 4 hours, hairdryers, microwave etc without ever really thinking about power. Clearly not the case with the AI so I would like to upgrade the new rig with something close to what I had.

After doing some searching on this forum I found a few threads about lithium upgrades but nothing really authoritative. I've seen some references to AM Solar as being reputable. I received a quote of about 11k for a 400aH lithium setup w/ 3000W inverter and other electronic bits installed.

The problem is AM Solar couldn't give me a clear idea on where the batteries and components would be installed. I want to know a) what storage will I need to give up, if any b) will everything fit in the current factory locations, including batteries? c) will the (visible) interior need modifications?

They pointed me to two installs documented on their website (below) but they are solar upgrades, not lithium.
2016 AI GT example 12016 AI example 2
  1. Has anyone had similar work done by anyone including AM Solar?
  2. Has anyone just bought the parts and done it themselves? (I am very mechanically inclined)
  3. Where will the components be installed? Factory locations or otherwise?
  4. Thoughts on what I should be prepared for to self-install
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Old 10-02-2018, 06:00 PM   #2
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2017 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Houston , Texas
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I have no info on AM Solar, though I've seen them referenced often (and not aware of any negatives). The price $11K is in the range of other estimates I've seen.

A lot of us have done less extreme upgrades, adding additional solar panels and AGM batteries.

There is a fellow on this forum "lewster" (Lew Farber) who is our resident electrical upgrade expert.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/memb...ter-10325.html
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Old 10-02-2018, 06:12 PM   #3
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Hi

If you are doing a 400AH upgrade, there will be some part of the MH used by the new batteries. You have (at most) two house batteries right now. There will be four when the upgrade is done. A phone call probably would be the best way to sort things out.

Bob
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Old 10-03-2018, 05:46 AM   #4
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League City , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisCow View Post
....
The problem is AM Solar couldn't give me a clear idea on where the batteries and components would be installed. I want to know a) what storage will I need to give up, if any b) will everything fit in the current factory locations, including batteries? c) will the (visible) interior need modifications?
....[/LIST]
Welcome to Air Forums.

You might try solving the inverse problem in order to get at an answer. *YOU* decide where you want your system components to be installed, for space-saving reasons. And then request that they re-quote the job based on your wishes.

I'd be very curious to see what they think will happen to that labor cost if you have to start re-plumbing and/or re-wiring and/or re-cabinet-ing, etc. in order to make way for a space-efficient electrical alternative.

The brick wall you might encounter is a statement such as "We don't do plumbing (or other necessary adjunct service such as carpentry)... you'd have to have that done elsewhere and then bring your rig back here for the electrical install." That would be quite a logistical challenge for you.

Alternatively, they may not feel comfortable giving you a lump sum estimate under those working conditions. They may say time and materials only, and you pay whatever it takes them to accomplish it on their hourly rate.

I understand where you are coming from with your question. My husband and I reached the conclusion that we could not forfeit any storage space in our non-EXT Interstate. So we did a void space DIY install, the labor for which mushroomed to become obscene because of the domino effect of one thing being on top of the next thing in a confined Class B space, such that altering one thing meant having to alter the next thing. I discussed that in this recent "purple squirrel" post here on another thread where someone was asking a similar question - how would I get lithium etc. in a shorty Interstate when I would have no space to spare?
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Old 10-03-2018, 06:53 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. I had my solar AND batteries upgraded. Lewster installed 3-160 AHR lithium batteries, 4-100 watt solar panels, a 3000 watt inverter and associated controls and wiring. My AI is a Lounge Ext so your GT presents a different set of issues,

My new batteries used the interior space previously occupied by the AGM batteries. The new inverter did eat up some space in the rear of the coach. The new solar controller is in the same area as the batteries.

Your batteries are currently, IIRC, underneath the coach. The new lithiumís could reside there too, but that introduces exposure issues (temperature and road debris).

I also think a phone call to someone like Lew Farber or AM Solar themselves may give you a good answer about layout.
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Old 10-04-2018, 07:43 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone. I went ahead and made an appointment with them in December. I feel confident we will come up with something that works. I’ll post pictures of the process (if I can stay out of their way)!
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Old 10-05-2018, 07:27 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone. I went ahead and made an appointment with them in December. I feel confident we will come up with something that works. Iíll post pictures of the process (if I can stay out of their way)!
Hi

The real answer is that you are going with a high end pro to do the work. They very much understand that nobody ever wants to throw away usable space in an RV. They also understand what needs to be done to produce a good / working / reliable install. On top of that, they have done this a lot of times (so probably have tried a lot of things ...). Let them work it out and sit back and enjoy the show ....

Bob
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:20 AM   #8
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They understand that nobody ever wants to throw away space in an RV, and then they go ahead and place those components in that space anyway, because of the labor issue.

With that in mind, another idea for you:

Somewhere in these vast forum pages, there are pics of other peoples' install jobs, very often consuming space, usually in the rear storage area. If you dig out some of those pics and take them with you, you might be able to discuss with them the possibility of moving the install components this way or that way.

Conversely, you could request that people either post or PM you their pics.
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
They understand that nobody ever wants to throw away space in an RV, and then they go ahead and place those components in that space anyway, because of the labor issue.

With that in mind, another idea for you:

Somewhere in these vast forum pages, there are pics of other peoples' install jobs, very often consuming space, usually in the rear storage area. If you dig out some of those pics and take them with you, you might be able to discuss with them the possibility of moving the install components this way or that way.

Conversely, you could request that people either post or PM you their pics.
Hi

They do what they do and are pretty good at it. That's very typical of a pro at any sort of trade. The also know what they don't know. They don't rebuild this or that from scratch. They aren't set up for it or experienced at that part of it. Again, a very typical approach.

Any good outfit will stop short of stuff that would double the price. They know people get quotes and look at cost. If indeed, double the price and double the time is ok with you, make that clear up front.

Bob
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Old 10-08-2018, 04:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
...
Any good outfit will stop short of stuff that would double the price. ...
A really good outfit will give two price options without having to be asked: a standard price for the lower-labor, space-eating option, and a higher price for custom work designed to maximize space efficiency.

I sometimes do that myself, as a consultant. It's all about carefully defining the scopes of work. Most of the time, people don't choose the Cadillac option. But sometimes they surprise me, and they do, because they realize that they want more than the basics, and they can pay for it. I'm working one of those jobs right now.
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