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Old 10-10-2018, 11:54 AM   #1
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2006 22' Interstate
Port Angeles , Washington
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T1N solar pre-wire

In the owner’s manual, for the earlier Airstream Interstates (in this case a 2005 manual) it says it is pre-wired for solar.
I read through IB’s blog on their solar, they didn’t use any of the pre-wired parts (I don’t think) and no mention was made. Perhaps they Never found it? Or more likely didn’t really fit in with the plan?

Anyway here is what it says:
>>>>>—————————-

AIRSTREAM INTERSTATE MOTORHOME OWNERS MANUAL
Solar Panel Pre-Wire
The Interstate Motorhome is pre-wired for the addition of a solar panel.
Locations for solar panel pre-wire:

• Charge Controller hook up - four 10 gauge wires, red, black, green, yellow are located behind tank monitor panel on the galley roof locker.

• Rooftop Solar Panel pre-wire - two 10 gauge wires, green (-), yellow (+) are located under roadside sofa to the left of the furnace.

• Charge Controller to Battery pre-pre-wire - two 10 gauge wires, red (+), black (-) are located under roadside at the battery disconnect solenoid forward end of the roadside sofa.

The yellow and green wires start at the aft side of the roadside sofa location and end at the monitor panel. The red and black wires start at the monitor panel and end at the forward end of the roadside sofa near the Battery Disconnect switch


>>>————-

This appears to be for the rear bath model (I have a mid-bath), but I could certainly be mistaken.
I found a yellow and green wire with only half of the crimp connectors ever used. It is in the little door on the driver’s side- that accesses some vent (nothing else). It is behind the shower, but above the black water tank and I can see right though to cabinet wall side.

I’m going to fit a solar panel. I was planning on doing somethign similar to what IB/LB did and just go down the refrigerator vent.
BUT- if those pre-wires are in anyplace useful at all, I would consider using those also.

I’m only adding one panel and no more battery at this point. It will mount between the Fantastic fan and the AC- across the ‘rack’ that was optional (according to my original sales sheet).

I appreciate any input.
Thanks
Mark
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:51 PM   #2
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As usual, writing it down made me think some more. I found where the pre-wire solar is located. I’ll post it here, just in case some other poor sod decides to try and use them.

Mid-Bath, rear sleeper (others certianly will be different).

Yellow/Green and Red/Black: all terminate behind the angeled panel which is in the cubby with the sliding plexi. Tank monitor, generator remote, tank heaters and hot water heaters on in the cubby, above that angled panel.

Yellow/Green end up in the little door- behind the drivers door. First one.
Black/Red end up under the closet, right near the battery disconnect relay (well, pretty sure it is that component).

I’d sort of like the solar controller to be in a location I could look at it if I wanted and the one IB/LB gave me is too large for the cubby. Unless I changed things around .
Since there doesn’t appear to be any pre-drilled holes for solar or anything, going through the refer vent seems the least destructive and least chance of leaks to me. (I’ve drilled loads of holes in roofs doing Law Enforcement radios/light bars etc. and not had leaks. BUT...)

So I’m thinking mounting the controller on the back of the little cubby over the closet. Then just running wires from there down to the battery disconnect and from the refer vent.
Just preliminary, I’ll likely change it three times before I even start. I also need to run small wire up to my Tri-Metric monitor, but I used Cat5 I had floating around for the battery one. I can just run it under the shower like I did with the extra power outlet I put in.

So I probably won’t use any of the pre-wired cabling at all.
Mark
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:13 PM   #3
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I would love to see a picture of where you are mounting your solar panel. I currently use a portable solar suitcase when practical but would really like a fixed panel too. The available real estate is pretty slim on my 2006 AI and I don't have the welding skills of LB_3 to make brackets for the rack. I'm thinking about sacrificing the TV antenna and putting a solar panel there. I've located the Airstream pre wires but will probably run new for my own piece of mind. My plan is to use the Bogart Engineering solar controller as it will play well with my Trimetric.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:44 PM   #4
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I will certainly take some pictures of my installation.
No welding needed (although I have a the gear if I needed to). It should be pretty simple (he says). 4 clamps around the ‘rack’ that some ‘flat’ 80/20. This has a grove on one side only, and will keep the panel from getting too high. I wanted to mount it in between the rails, but I couldn’t find anything more than a 50 watt that would work. So a 100 watt that just sits on top- maybe 1/2” higher with the mounting hardware.
I am using the same panels that IB/LB used, even though they are no longer made. Grape Solar had some ones there that were a good deal. The replacement is wider and would not fit in the space.
Next I’ll probably route the wires down the frig vent into the space behind the closet upper shelf. Mount the regulator there- tie into battery power at the battery disconnect (well- maybe). Or I’ll run them up to the battery under the seat. Seems silly though- I think it would be easier to just tap in there.
I’m going to have some sort of disconnect also.
Then I need to run some CAT5 up to the Bogart Tri-Metric meter that is mounted above and behind the drivers head area. It is out of the way and pretty handy to monitor if needed.

mark
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:33 AM   #5
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Our roof frame is 80/20 and not welded. There are cheaper ways to go... what is that metal stuff with the vanlcontinuous lines of hol
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Old 10-11-2018, 07:35 AM   #6
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My phone is acting up- I will continue later. It just posted a half thought on me. G
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:46 AM   #7
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I'm most interested in the brackets you are using to attach to the tubular rack. I thought I remember LB_3 having to fabricate them.
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:15 PM   #8
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I bought 4 of these for mounting to the rail. Since I have a very low mounted single panel (partly behind the fantastic fan vent cover) I think they will be fine.
I have them and they seem pretty sturdy- I will certianly keep an eye to see how they fare. If I was raising them and adding multiple panels, I’d probably look for something more substantial.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 10-11-2018, 12:50 PM   #9
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I supported one end of my added panels in the roof rack rail using angle brackets and the other end using angle pads with sticky tape sold by AM Solar. After 3+ years the sticky brackets are still good and secure and I think I could have used them on both ends.
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Old 10-11-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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I started taking things apart, so I could run some wire.

1. I found an excellent way to get from the ‘under closet’ space to the cab in the mid-bath T1N. I opend the little door on the driver’s side that doesn’t really seem to do much. I guess it gives access to a vent. But it is a straight shot back to the under cabinet area and forward to the wood bulkhead behind the driver’s seat.
I moved the trim on the ‘B’ pillar beside the driver’s seat. That way I could tuck in more. If I was really worried about it, I could have removed the plastic trim- but nobody will ever see this spot anyway. I wanted somethign I could both cover up if it didn’t work- and have out of the way for routing if it did.
I drilled a hole as close to the van wall as I could, about the same height as the aforementioned little door. Pushing a fiberglass rod made for ‘snaking’ wired though it came out right at that door. Super easy.

2. I removed the side trim of the closet (had to lower the lamp and move it to slide it out) then removed the floor.
Dang- what a Mess! Seems Airstream could have spent a few minutes making it a little neater. I’ll do what I can, but it will be pretty darn minimal. There is extra wire and most seems to be just tossed in there, rather than coiled up neatly for use if needed. Oh well, I knew it was like that from replacing the charger and seeing IB’s pics.

3. The house battery relay is there (two fuses on it I didn’t know about). I think rather than run new wire all the way up to my house battery under the passenger seat, I’ll just connect the solar right there. It will never move much current anyway. I’ll have to see if there is a good earth in there- or run that one to someplace that does (could be all the way to the battery- but I’ll see).

4. I’m going to use the factory solar wire (black/red) that goes up in the little cubby with the two sliding plexi doors. I think I’ll mount the solar controller there. It is an easy to access location and I only put stuff in there I probably shouldn’t anyway (first aid kit, DVDs misc etc). The regulator has a heat sink, I wouldn’t think it gets very hot. I know the super reliable and efficient shunt regulators I’ve been using for decades never did. But this one has more circuitry so I’ll watch it.

5. I plan on a disconnect to the solar panel here also. Just in case.

6. I think the regulator does have a temp sensor for the battery. For my use it probably is not that big of a deal. I but I’ll run wire for it when I run the wire up to the Tri-Metric monitor. I’ll use that hole I just drilled for that, and perhaps an earth wire. I’ll see.

Here are some pics before I’ve done anything. I know up here having the panel flat limits the power output- optimal is about 59º angle here (year round average). But it should give enough to help out when staying someplace a couple of days. Assuming any sun of course.
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Old 10-11-2018, 08:06 PM   #11
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Mark, I'm watching you closely as I think one panel will be fine for my needs. My space under the closet floor looks identical to yours (a rats nest). I'm not clear why you needed to drill a hole in the shower wall however. What is the purpose?
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebtown View Post
I'm not clear why you needed to drill a hole in the shower wall however. What is the purpose?
I have the Tri-metric monitor mounted in the cab area (above and behind drivers seat). That controls the solar panels. So I need to get a wire from wherever I mount the solar controller to up front. That is a pretty darn easy way.
I may use it for some other wiring also.

If the monitor was mounted someplace else- or did not have one, then no need to run any wires up there.
A simple solar regulator could be mounted almost anyplace that has access to where the panel wires can ‘get’ to and house battery power.

Mark

BTW, I ran AC power under the shower stall to install a AC outlet on that wall behind the drivers seat. I use it to power a Battery Tender for the starting battery and general use if I need an outlet (small heater sometimes).
The way I went worked, but it actually would have been easier to go the way I’m running this signal wiring.
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Old 10-12-2018, 06:31 AM   #13
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This is how this addiction progresses:

- First you uncover that atrocity beneath the closet floor.
- Then you say, "I'll just add some solar, nothing complicated."
- And then a short time later, you realize just how much potential is being wasted in your van. The offensive image of that rat's nest just won't vacate your mind.
- Then you admit how cool it would be to do away with that rat's nest entirely, and put lithium into that space instead.
- Then you finally hit rock bottom when you actually DO it.



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Old 10-12-2018, 06:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotus54 View Post
I bought 4 of these for mounting to the rail. ...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Thanks for this!!! I am not sure that these existed back when we did our work.

We have a bit of rail space available fore and aft of our vaulted panels. To date, I've simply been bungee-cording items in those spaces, a real P.I.T.A. and not at all elegant. However, I was not inclined to replicate the clamps we have for our panels because it's just too much hassle and expense (and size overkill). These will do nicely for making a mini-rack or two for those areas.
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Old 10-12-2018, 10:59 AM   #15
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Thanks for the response. I mounted my Trimetric on the panel behind the plastic sliding panels. My thought is to mount the charge controller there too. I plan to run a second pair of wires to the solar charge controller with an Anderson power pole connector so I can use my solar suitcase on those occasions when parked in the shade.
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:35 PM   #16
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The solar panel is mounted- I still have to run the wiring.

I used the 80/20 Inc., 1575, 15 Series, 1.5" x .75" T-Slotted Extrusion x 48"

For mounting the panel to the two cross bars above I used:
80/20 Inc., 13052, 15 & 40 Series, Self Aligning Slide-In T-Nut with Ball Spring M6

For the ‘bar clamp’ to cross-bar, I used the same as above, but 5/16”.

I wasn’t certain how I wanted to mount it exactly, but after looking a couple of ways I chose to have the tabs of the mounting clamps point toward the centre of the van rather than out. In some ways, out would have been a little easier to fabricate and mount- but since the panel was about the same length as the centre-to-centre of the factory rack- it would have left some cross bar hanging out by itself. I thought it looked better this way, and essentially no difference in strength.

The clamps as mentioned were these:

GS Power's Bracket Clamp (2 inch). Mount LED Light Bar, Safety Flag, Antenna onto Bull Bar Tube Rack Roll Cage Bumper on Boat Can-Am ATV UTV Bike (2 pc)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I mounted it with the ‘open’ side of the bar toward the panel, so I just put bolts through the panel mount into the ‘T-Nuts’. Super easy.
I did have to drill a hold through the back of the bar to bolt into another T-Nut. That meant some careful measuring. I drilled them a little oversized, just to make sure. I did test fit the T-nuts- that meant using a piece of solid ground wire with at hook on it. Put that in the bottom of the slot first, and the T-nut would clear that. I could slide the T-Nut in, test fit a bolt and be able to pull it back out. I could have pulled the panel off and done it, but I already had locktited to panel bolts and didn’t feel like it.

It is lower than the taller fan hood and even the AC unit. I wanted to keep it as low as possible, for a number of reasons.
I could have used a different 80/20 with slots on both sides, but it would have been taller and it was worth it to me to do the extra fabricating. It would have been much easier to fit using one with slots opposite. But it is probably an inch or more lower, less obvious and also cost a little less.

Next onto routing the wire and connecting everything.

Mark

Edit:
One of the pictures shows the bolt into the cross-bar, but just sitting on the mount. I forgot to add one showing a closeup of the bolted down clamp setup
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Old 10-13-2018, 05:49 PM   #17
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Here are a couple more pics.

I used the Grape solar GS-S-100-TS That IB/LB used. They are no longer made, but the newer ones are wider and wouldn’t fit. I emailed them directly and they had some, so I got a pretty good price on a pair (one spare).

Mark
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Old 10-14-2018, 05:21 PM   #18
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I ran the wires from the solar panels, through the refrigerator vent. At the back corner is a bundle of wires, there was enough room to slide them through that and into the area under the closet.
After that I ran them up above the closet, then drilled a couple of holes so I could get them into the little cubby with the sliding doors. I wasn’t originally going to put it there but I decided it would work out well. I had bought 11 feet of wire with the fancy connectors the Grape Solar panel came with. It would have been cheaper to just run wire, but those were already terminated and looked so nice...

The factory put wires from there down to the battery disconnect (and up forward for panels, but I didn’t use those). So I connect the + from the regulator to the + coming from the house battery.
The negative I’ll make a good earth to chassis It think. The battery is just run to the chassis- as long as I get a good connection, it should be fine. The battery neg is all run through the shunt for the tri-metric monitor (and also controls the solar regulator), all should work fine. (He says)

I ran some CAT5 up to the cab area, it will connect to the monitor. I could move the monitor back into the same cubby- but I actually quite like it were I have it now. Really handy.
The controller only has a RJ11 jack- no terminal strip. So I’ll probably just terminate the CAT5 to an RJ11 jack then use the jumper. Easier to test and repair that way.

I wanted to finish all the roof stuff first. It is a gorgeous day and while the weather forecasts claim more nice weather. I never trust those. So all tied up, sealed up and (hopefully) ready for the rain.

Later today or tomorrow I’ll finish terminating and mounting and seeing how well it all works.
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Old 10-16-2018, 10:53 PM   #19
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I got everything wired up- works great!
I do need to reprogram the Monitor for what I have. Plus try and do some wire ‘neatening’ under the closet.
Thanks again to IB/LB for the TriMetric monitor and solar controller!

I’ll get a few more pics.

Mark
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:34 PM   #20
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I’ve been testing the solar panels a little. I’m had quite a few years installing panels around here in the mountains, and know the best ‘year around’ angel is about 59º
So I figured that it would be significantly lower when flat, especially this time of year. I’ve tested it before at work- but it was a long time and and I didn’t really remember.

I’m netting about 34 watts of charge (2.4 amps) with a bright sunny day and full sun. I know the regulators we used to use were slightly more efficient (straight shunt type), but I think it is mostly the poor angle.
But it will certianly help out for keeping the battery going well, especially in the summer and further south.
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