Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-10-2013, 08:46 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
Mikec1231's Avatar
2012 27' FB International
Ormond Beach , Florida
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 57
Can you Install Solar Piecemeal?

We are new owners of a 27FB International and have a couple of potential issues with our AS.
1. In our neighborhood storage area there is no electricity so especially during the winter months, I am worried about draining the batteries empty.
2. We plan on doing a fair amount of boondocking and my wife works remotely and needs access to computer, etc.

I realize the gennie thing but would love to not have the noise even with the Honda 2000i type setups when camping.

So since I just plunked down a pile for purchasing the AS, I am not sure I really want to put another $10K down to do a similar setup as the 600W system described in an earlier post in wonderful detail.
Is it possible to put maybe 2- 100W panels on the roof, use the built-in wiring from AS and 600W inverter, use it for a season and then down the road install a 2KW Magnum inverter, controller, combiner box, etc?

Also since I have the 2- 24 Interstate batteries that came with the unit, would I need to change batteries to AGM?
I am pretty handy so I think the installation of the panels, I can handle although electrical is not my forte. I also live in Eugene so AM Solar is a mile or 2 away.

Mikec1231 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 10:09 AM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591

The solar system for the AS will consist of two things, the panels and a charge controller plus the wiring. If you can find space with minimum shade on your roof for the two 100 watt panels you mention, and can mount them you probably will have all the power you really need for most all excursions, now or in the future. No combiner box is necessary, just parallel the positive and negative wires from the panels and get it to the inside (don't know what AS prewire consists of). At the end of the run, where it is convenient, put the charge controller. BTW, I like Xantrex controllers, inexpensive and reliable. Their C 35 or C 40 will work fine. Your existing batteries, if in good condition, will also work fine. No need to go to an expensive AGM battery. Ultimately down the road, consider two 6 volt golf cart batteries in series for your battery replacement. That is the most cost effective storage system you can find for RV's. There is nothing magic about AGM batteries other than their breathtaking cost, unless you want to mount them inside with no venting. If your trailer has the front tongue mounted battery box, you will need to make it deeper to put the golf cart batteries in, or raise the lid up an inch or two.

I can see no real reason for a 2 kW inverter in your rig, ever. Well, maybe if you want to run a big microwave. A small inverter will do most loads such as laptop computers and accessories, Television etc.

Have fun.
idroba is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 10:41 AM   #3
Rivet Master
Jim Foster's Avatar
1965 17' Caravel
1983 27' Excella
Walnut Grove/Laguna Woods , California
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,635
Send a message via Yahoo to Jim Foster
Two 100W panels and a good controller should do a good job for you. Never forget, an acre pf panels will do you no good if you don't have the battery capacity to store the juice.
Two 6v golf cart batteries are a good choice. Those and your 100 watters should get you way down the road. Just be sure your controller is rated for that, it most likely is.
Past President, El Camino Real Unit WBCCI#6620
Street Rod Builder (see avatar)
Kite flier (check out links below)
Jim Foster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 01:21 PM   #4
Rivet Master
Scott J-24's Avatar
2009 27' FB International
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 731
If you decide to build up your solar system incrementally be sure to size everything to the end state (combiner, charger, wiring, etc.). The factory pre-wiring gage is too small for your proposed system. I believe it was sized for an 80 watt system (maybe 100 watts) so make sure you size everything to your final 600 watt system.

Just my 2 cents....
Scott, Becky & Heidi (our standard poodle and travel companion)
WBCCI #1215
Air #54601

Remember... No matter where you go, there you are...

2009 27FB International Ocean Breeze
2010 Toyota Tundra CrewMax, 5.7L V8, 4x4
Scott J-24 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 04:15 PM   #5
1 Rivet Member
1994 25' Excella
Atlanta , Georgia
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 16

Just a silly question. While boondocking, using solar for power, how will you connect the computer to the internet so your wife can work remote? Or is it that she will do the work on the computer and then drive in so she can connect?
Mike Steele is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 05:14 PM   #6
Rivet Master
Jim Flower's Avatar
2012 30' International
1997 25' Safari
1967 20' Globetrotter
Burlington , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,499
Wow! Are you ever lucky. Pop into AM Solar. They have fantastic stuff and are a pleasure to work with. They will be able to guide you through the process of power independence which greatly enhances the Airstream experience not only during the camping portion but also the storage issues. You will save the grief of rework by following their guidance on the best kit for you now and for expanding in the future. The addition of solar power to my Signature ( from Can Am RV) and my son's addition of Solar (a kit from AM Solar) has been an extremely positive experience.
Jim Flower is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 05:37 PM   #7
2 Rivet Member
Mikec1231's Avatar
2012 27' FB International
Ormond Beach , Florida
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 57
Originally Posted by Mike Steele View Post

Just a silly question. While boondocking, using solar for power, how will you connect the computer to the internet so your wife can work remote? Or is it that she will do the work on the computer and then drive in so she can connect?
Yes, it is really about doing work so that when she gets connected she can forward her work. Recharge, print, etc. (while drinking her latte )
Mikec1231 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 05:42 PM   #8
Rivet Master
AirsDream's Avatar
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 917
Big Second on That ...

Originally Posted by Jim Flower View Post
Wow! Are you ever lucky. Pop into AM Solar. They have fantastic stuff and are a pleasure to work with.
I have one of their systems on my roof (talk to Lewster if you need more advice or installation), and couldn't be more pleased. BUT get some advice in advance, so you make sure you install the infrastructure NOW that you might need LATER ... tearing it out in the future just to replace e.g. wiring with a heavier gauge or a controller will make you angry. This is clearly one of those places where you want to plan three times, measure twice, and cut only once!
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-10-2013, 06:04 PM   #9
Rivet Master
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 5,151
Blog Entries: 1
Bill M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2013, 05:38 PM   #10
Rivet Master
Bigventure's Avatar
2016 30' Classic
Hinckley , Ohio
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 908
Images: 4
There is a great solar sytem in the classified adds of airforums. (450 watts)
My budget won't stop me from buying something online that I don't need, but the threat of getting promotional
emails every day for the rest of my life just might!
Bigventure is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2013, 06:09 PM   #11
Free Range Human
Drathaar's Avatar
2012 25' FB Flying Cloud
Currently Looking...
Haines , Oregon
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 736
Images: 4
Mike, we're just up the road from you. I put a Zamp 150 watt panel, with 30 amp controller on our AS earlier this year. On our annual trip to Death Valley and vicinity, I only used the generator once, and that was not really necessary. Most days, the batteries are fully topped off by noon or so. I think if I invested in some better batteries (that I hadn't allowed to run down), it would have even better performance. I am thinking about some group 31 AGMs. They require a slight mode to the battery box lid, but it seems easy to do.

To be truthful, I over paid for the Zamp, as I purchased from our dealer. I did however negotiate the price down to less than 50% of what was being asked. My only concern about doing it myself was getting on top of the trailer without leaving dimples in the aluminum to document my adventure.

On the trip to the desert, I met a number of folks with solar expertise, including some who live completely off grid at their permanent residences. The main thing I learned is that most of the solar panels that are being sold now, have the same warranty as the Bosch panels that Zamp uses. I checked out Solar Blvd on the internet, it looks like you pay about $3.00 per watt for the panels. That's a lot less than what dealers are asking. I didn't check the cost of the controllers, but I suspect that it is less as well.

If you want, send me a note offline, and I will give you the details.
Drathaar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2013, 06:39 PM   #12
New Member
rockledge , Florida
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 2
AM Solar - they were great. While in a 5th wheel we set up a 400W system with six Trojan 6 volt batteries. We lived off grid for months at a time with no lack of power (no microwave of course), tv, computer, lights, heater fan, etc. The battery bank capacity is important. You should do an amp hour usage estimate. There are several good websites that discuss doing an estimate. I agree you need to know your end point design.

AM Solar's website educated me to the point were I was able to install the entire system, panels, controller, monitor, batteries, etc the whole system. They were eager to help anytime. Good Folks.
Denise Brook is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:38 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.