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Old 06-16-2023, 02:15 AM   #1
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2023 Interstate 19
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How can I tell the Solar is working on my 2023 Interstate 19 E1

I am very confused about the E1 and the solar design on my new 2023 E1.

For starters there is nothing on the control panels showing anything is coming from the panels ( night or day ). When I am plugged in to shore power I see the Volta system recognize or when I am charging via the alternator it shows the input.

But I can't seem to get anything that shows I have solar evern connected nor working.

Some forum messages mention the meter, but I can seem to find anything.
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Old 06-16-2023, 06:12 AM   #2
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Look at this video. It might help with the confusion. Note that the solar panels won't charge the batteries if on shore power or until a charge is needed when off of the grid.


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Old 06-16-2023, 10:08 AM   #3
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Solar becomes a rabbit hole of new hardware.
There are touch screen panels that show the rate and direction of charge and can split the demand if one power source is not enough.
Victron seems to be the leader.
The gold standard of Airstream installs is member GMFL, also known as Airstream Nuts and Bolts. (apologies if you don't want more business)
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Old 06-17-2023, 10:19 AM   #4
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I have a 2023 E1 as well and due to limited room in the control area solar information was not installed. If you haven’t done so yet you need to download the app VictronConnect on your phone. Once the vehicle is on and you are inside the van the app via Bluetooth will pick up your solar system. Follow the apps prompts and you will access your solar information… sans information on the chassis battery. Your dealer should know how to do his but as reported by others they often fall short on details. Good luck and enjoy the benefits of the E1!
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Old 06-18-2023, 07:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
I have a 2023 E1 as well and due to limited room in the control area solar information was not installed. If you haven’t done so yet you need to download the app VictronConnect on your phone. Once the vehicle is on and you are inside the van the app via Bluetooth will pick up your solar system. Follow the apps prompts and you will access your solar information… sans information on the chassis battery. Your dealer should know how to do his but as reported by others they often fall short on details. Good luck and enjoy the benefits of the E1!
Good info as Airstream has apparently installed a separate Victron Solar Controller as was reported by @lorne_k2 in this March 2023 post:

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f24...ml#post2666524

Airstream may have changed the design because during my tour of the Airstream Interstate production line last month I specifically looked at the wiring of the Volta Power Distribution Hub (PDH). It had wires connected to the solar connectors on the PDH. Perhaps the installation of the standalone Victron Solar Controller is a temporary thing. Airstream is certainly known to make changes during a given model year - especially to the electrical systems.
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Old 06-19-2023, 01:25 AM   #6
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I can confirm my E1 has the victron, I connected to it via the app and BT and it is very handy.

It is also listed on the specifications page of the I19 E1.
https://www.airstream.com/blog/upgra...he-e1-package/

The confusing part is that you cant use the solar unless the volta system is on, and the standby draw of the system is greater than the solar charge, so in the end you just get to extend the off grid, not charge your batteries.

Also trying to work out if the solar charges the mercedes battery at all, as it seems the Volts into the system is 57v would lead me to believe the 3 panels are in series.
https://imgur.com/a/TfxcuQI


Ofcourse my dealer was no help did not even known about the victron install.
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Old 06-19-2023, 08:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by symonty View Post
I can confirm my E1 has the victron, I connected to it via the app and BT and it is very handy.

It is also listed on the specifications page of the I19 E1.
https://www.airstream.com/blog/upgra...he-e1-package/

The confusing part is that you cant use the solar unless the volta system is on, and the standby draw of the system is greater than the solar charge, so in the end you just get to extend the off grid, not charge your batteries.

Also trying to work out if the solar charges the mercedes battery at all, as it seems the Volts into the system is 57v would lead me to believe the 3 panels are in series.
https://imgur.com/a/TfxcuQI


Ofcourse my dealer was no help did not even known about the victron install.

Yes, according to the wiring schematic for your build year, the solar panels are wired in series. From the diagram, the two exterior ports are also connected to the roof array and the reason that they want you to use certain spec solar panels so that they can work together in harmony.

As for the chassis battery, I do not see any solar panel tied to it but do see that you have a BatteryMinder and it’s suppose to be under your passenger seat with a plug. Now the question is - is this outlet that the minder is connected to only active when you are tied to shore power or on all the time especially with the Voltas big battery pack. I would direct this question to the mothership and avoid the dealer. If it’s on all the time then your minder is doing its job 24/7 as well.

The reason that this is important is because the Sprinter chassis battery will discharge faster than one would think with all the newer electronics the vehicle has when it’s not being driven. Plenty of threads on that. So if you’re not tied to shore power for a few days, you may be in for a surprise with a dead chassis battery if the BatteryMinder is not on.

I’m going to assume that with the Volta system all of your outlets are live all the time. Is this correct? I would also check by turning off the vehicle and checking the minder under the seat as you will see a bunch of lights on the minder itself.

However, if this is the case, for storage purpose when you shut down all power to the rig, you’ll have to put a batteryminder directly onto the chassis batteries to keep it charged up.
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Old 06-19-2023, 04:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by symonty View Post
I can confirm my E1 has the victron, I connected to it via the app and BT and it is very handy.

It is also listed on the specifications page of the I19 E1.
https://www.airstream.com/blog/upgra...he-e1-package/

The confusing part is that you cant use the solar unless the volta system is on, and the standby draw of the system is greater than the solar charge, so in the end you just get to extend the off grid, not charge your batteries.

Also trying to work out if the solar charges the mercedes battery at all, as it seems the Volts into the system is 57v would lead me to believe the 3 panels are in series.
https://imgur.com/a/TfxcuQI

Ofcourse my dealer was no help did not even known about the victron install.
You cannot charge the Volta battery unless it is turned on because the battery is totally isolated when turned off. I consider that a Volta weakness, but Volta's design goal is to first protect the battery.

I do believe the three panels are in series and to get the Volta battery to charge the Sprinter starter battery you need to have the inverter on and plug in the 120VAC to 12VDC battery minder charger under the passenger seat. Sort of a weird system. It's shown in the AI-19 w/E1 owner manual on page 9-15 in the lower left corner of the 12-Volt Main Schematic. Copy attached.

I plan to get a new interstate 19 with the E1 package next year and have plans to add external panels when camping to get more power into the Volta battery.
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Old 06-20-2023, 01:38 PM   #9
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I have done a fair amount of experimentation with my 2023 AI-19 4x4 E1 and will not bore everyone with what I have done, but suffice to say it has met most of my initial expectations. Evidently the Volta system will not reach "100%" in order to save the unit from overheating. This includes the solar set up that will cease to send power to the Volta pack once the pack reaches 90-92% for the same reason. It will trickle charge (6-15 watts) once it reaches 85-90%. The Volta System will bleed power while actually driving at highway speed once it reaches 95-97% - again to save the unit. With the Volta system off I left the unit for a period of 3 weeks (inside my barn which remains fairly cool) and when I turned on the Volta System it's charge only decreased from 95% to 93% and the chassis battery started the unit with no hesitation (shore power was not hooked up). There is an internal heating system built into the Volta power pack that, once powered up, will use approx 200 watts of power until it reaches its minimum desired temperature (about 68 degrees). There is an icon on the controller indicating the heating is in progress. 7 day boon-docking trip in August will give it the real test and, if I remember, will report the results.
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Old 06-20-2023, 07:52 PM   #10
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I tend to agree about the E1, the more I look into the more I get initially confused and then eventually impressed with what I see as a compromise, but ultimately is a realistic design. I did 4 day boondock and drove into town each day to get supplies ( and connected ) and even though i used induction etc, the battery was charged each day just from the 20 min drive into town.
I am wondering about adding solar panels, if I was to just boondock for 7 days say, any idea on the requirements for connecting to the system or suggestions?
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Old 06-20-2023, 09:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
I have done a fair amount of experimentation with my 2023 AI-19 4x4 E1 and will not bore everyone with what I have done, but suffice to say it has met most of my initial expectations. Evidently the Volta system will not reach "100%" in order to save the unit from overheating. This includes the solar set up that will cease to send power to the Volta pack once the pack reaches 90-92% for the same reason. It will trickle charge (6-15 watts) once it reaches 85-90%. The Volta System will bleed power while actually driving at highway speed once it reaches 95-97% - again to save the unit. With the Volta system off I left the unit for a period of 3 weeks (inside my barn which remains fairly cool) and when I turned on the Volta System it's charge only decreased from 95% to 93% and the chassis battery started the unit with no hesitation (shore power was not hooked up). There is an internal heating system built into the Volta power pack that, once powered up, will use approx 200 watts of power until it reaches its minimum desired temperature (about 68 degrees). There is an icon on the controller indicating the heating is in progress. 7 day boon-docking trip in August will give it the real test and, if I remember, will report the results.
Thanks for the follow up and it sounds like the E1 package is delivering as promised which is a welcomed change from Airstream.

I just like to know how things work as not to be surprised. I looked through the manual and all I read on the chassis battery was that "the engine battery and house battery are isolated from each other, preventing the two systems from drawing down simultaneously". Or maybe I missed how it works somewhere in the manual. So I'm assuming that the Volta is feeding that outlet somehow on some type of schedule or when the Volta system is on.
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Old 06-21-2023, 10:13 AM   #12
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Symonty- I am hoping to avoid adding solar and, as you know, storage is almost non-existant. Hoping the sun does its job boondocking and added solar is not needed. That being said there are a number of threads on solar that should be of help.

StogieMan - I read the updated E1 manual cover to cover and it helps, but it does not cover everything so there is a learning curve. The battery-minder is not under the passenger seat and I have yet to find it, however it is probably in the battery area near the Volta pack which is in the are under the back seat. It has been boxed in with wood planks to avoid making any contact with the Volta unit. This is why the Volta set up eliminates most of the back storage area with only about 11” deep of usable space. I know the battery minder is working as when the inverter is turned on, power is sent to the chassis batteries. Wattage usage increases with the inverter so I turn it off when not needed. I‘m sure Symonty can attest to this. I feel the upgrade cost is worth it and am happy I went the E1 route. I have done a lot of upgrades…but that is for another thread.
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Old 06-21-2023, 10:39 AM   #13
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Symonty- I am hoping to avoid adding solar and, as you know, storage is almost non-existant. Hoping the sun does its job boondocking and added solar is not needed. That being said there are a number of threads on solar that should be of help.

StogieMan - I read the updated E1 manual cover to cover and it helps, but it does not cover everything so there is a learning curve. The battery-minder is not under the passenger seat and I have yet to find it, however it is probably in the battery area near the Volta pack which is in the are under the back seat. It has been boxed in with wood planks to avoid making any contact with the Volta unit. This is why the Volta set up eliminates most of the back storage area with only about 11” deep of usable space. I know the battery minder is working as when the inverter is turned on, power is sent to the chassis batteries. Wattage usage increases with the inverter so I turn it off when not needed. I‘m sure Symonty can attest to this. I feel the upgrade cost is worth it and am happy I went the E1 route. I have done a lot of upgrades…but that is for another thread.

The Airstream manuals can be have different info and they do update them. I usually go here for the updated manuals:

https://www.airstream.com/owners/manuals/

If your area under the passenger seat is stuffed with Airstream installed electronics, it may be sandwiched in between there somewhere or it could possibly be under the drivers seat. I don’t think that they would put it so far back but again this is Airstream. Usually you want them close to the battery as the cables for it are not that long so you want it near your chassis battery.

However, Mike was at the factory tour and I saw him looking at the system so he might have some insight and maybe saw it back there.

Regarding solar panels, if you’re going to be doing a lot of boondocking I could see the benefit of the extra solar but if you’re going to be on the move often and only stopping for a few days in between, I would forgo the extra solar as that 2nd alternator can charge up your system pretty quickly. I would first try this out and see if you need the extra solar.
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Old 06-21-2023, 03:42 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Sidewinder View Post
Symonty- I am hoping to avoid adding solar and, as you know, storage is almost non-existant. Hoping the sun does its job boondocking and added solar is not needed. That being said there are a number of threads on solar that should be of help.

StogieMan - I read the updated E1 manual cover to cover and it helps, but it does not cover everything so there is a learning curve. The battery-minder is not under the passenger seat and I have yet to find it, however it is probably in the battery area near the Volta pack which is in the are under the back seat. It has been boxed in with wood planks to avoid making any contact with the Volta unit. This is why the Volta set up eliminates most of the back storage area with only about 11” deep of usable space. I know the battery minder is working as when the inverter is turned on, power is sent to the chassis batteries. Wattage usage increases with the inverter so I turn it off when not needed. I‘m sure Symonty can attest to this. I feel the upgrade cost is worth it and am happy I went the E1 route. I have done a lot of upgrades…but that is for another thread.
Thanks for clarification on the battery minder. StogieMan and I were only guessing on its location. If it is located in rear area, it will be easier to change to a solar battery charger for the Sprinter chassis battery as the wiring will be there in rear.

I keep my Interstate in driveway, it often stays there for a week or more. Having the ability to use solar to keep the batteries topped off for weeks is a real advantage in my view. But I agree with StogieMan that solar would be less important when traveling and driving every day ot two. That would keep the Volta battery with more than enough power for normal use.

My only insight from the factory tour was that they had wires plugged into the solar port on the Volta Power Distibution hub.

I'm ready to buy a new Interstate 19 with E1 package, but I'll hold off until the new 2024 models are available.
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Old 06-22-2023, 01:36 AM   #15
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After spending a few days researching solar, it is a minefield of broken promises and misleading statistics ... there is no such thing as free power....

And as you say unless you are not driving for several days it is not worth it with the E1.

BTW on my first trip i found the second alternator charged a normal days worth of power ( induction and all ) in under 30 mins.
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Old 06-25-2023, 05:22 PM   #16
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Victron

Stock Victron 100/30 has no Bluetooth when GMFL did our upgrade it was swapped out for a Bluetooth unit. Same for the shunt it has no Bluetooth.

You should have a Victron meter near the sink that is hard wired to the solar unit
that will show you amps in volts etc.
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Old 06-26-2023, 12:22 PM   #17
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The I19 E1 has no display, but it does have bluetooth. I am using the app to confirm the charge.
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Old 06-26-2023, 12:23 PM   #18
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Smile SOLVED: I19 E1 has no display but supports the App via BT.

The victron app seems to fine the unit and gives me loads of fun information.

Thx, for all the help.
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Old 07-05-2023, 04:19 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StogieMan View Post
The Airstream manuals can be have different info and they do update them. I usually go here for the updated manuals:

https://www.airstream.com/owners/manuals/

If your area under the passenger seat is stuffed with Airstream installed electronics, it may be sandwiched in between there somewhere or it could possibly be under the drivers seat. I don’t think that they would put it so far back but again this is Airstream. Usually you want them close to the battery as the cables for it are not that long so you want it near your chassis battery.

However, Mike was at the factory tour and I saw him looking at the system so he might have some insight and maybe saw it back there.

Regarding solar panels, if you’re going to be doing a lot of boondocking I could see the benefit of the extra solar but if you’re going to be on the move often and only stopping for a few days in between, I would forgo the extra solar as that 2nd alternator can charge up your system pretty quickly. I would first try this out and see if you need the extra solar.
A little late follow-up but on our 2023 I19 w/E1 the battery minder is under the driver's seat. Under the passenger seat is the JBL subwoofer for the coach radio. It works pretty well but most folks will want to play with the "volume" control in the cubby behind the TV.
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Old 07-05-2023, 08:47 PM   #20
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A little late follow-up but on our 2023 I19 w/E1 the battery minder is under the driver's seat. Under the passenger seat is the JBL subwoofer for the coach radio. It works pretty well but most folks will want to play with the "volume" control in the cubby behind the TV.

Thank you for clarifying that. I figured that it was close to the chassis battery(ies).

On another topic, my wife mentioned to me that some folks with the E1 system have encountered issues with either their Volta battery being drawn down and not being able to charge it or issues with their AC not working with something do to with the system defaulting to 15 amps or something like that. Airstream’s fix is to install some type of a dual rib box or something like that. What the heck is it and what does it accomplish if anyone can elaborate.
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