RV News RVBusiness 2021 Top 10 RVs of the Year, plus 56 additional debuts and must-see units → ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 05-23-2016, 01:51 PM   #1
3 Rivet Member
 
2016 30' Classic
Sammamish , Washington
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 113
Return to Airstream Factory for Solar?

Has anyone returned to Jackson Center to have Airstream install solar, if so please let me know about your experience, equipment and costs. I would like to get solar installed on my new Classic to keep my batteries charged when I am not using the trailer.
PJohnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2016, 03:40 PM   #2
2020 Classic 33
 
Box Elder , South Dakota
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 1,710
Images: 1
Rather than drive to Jackson Center consider having Marvin Braun www.precisionrv.com, Lew Farber (Lewster on the forums) or AMSolar in Eugene, OR do the work of you. Nothing inherently wrong with the Airstream supplied/installed system but you can do more for less with one of these three folks. And all operate around your area without the long drive.
__________________
Gary
2020 Classic 33 Twin, 2019 Ram 3500 Longhorn, ProPride
NōVPN
ghaynes755 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2016, 06:49 PM   #3
3 Rivet Member
 
2016 30' Classic
Sammamish , Washington
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 113
I do appreciate the suggestion but I would rather have the factory do the work for the following reasons:
1. The panel pre-wiring for the 2016 Classic is no longer in the refrigerator compartment. Access to the pre-wiring for both the solar panels and the monitor requires drilling (on the roof and above the range). I prefer to not have the after market companies practice on my trailer.
2. I do not need or want to pay for new monitor and heavy gauge wiring. I prefer to use the existing wiring since I only want a 50 - 100 watt system.

If anyone has experience with the factory / service center install, please reply.
PJohnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2016, 11:10 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
2015 30' Classic
Pleasanton , California
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 743
If you consider the solar system that Airstream installs, you can do much better by specifying the system you want and seeking out the experts that Gary suggested. The Airstream solar charger doesn't include a three-stage battery charger or quality battery monitor. By selecting quality components you'll get better value for your money and a solar installation that has room to grow. For example, I have a 2015 Classic and I installed the Blue Sky 3024 controller and IPN Pro remote. My system reused the existing solar pre-wiring and CAT5 cable. I installed it myself but if that's something you're not comfortable with, I can assure you these guys and many others who specialize in solar installs can do a clean install and reuse the existing wiring.
__________________
Al, K6IV
2015 30' Classic, "Chez Nu"
2014 RAM 2500 w/Cummins Diesel
ProPride Hitch, 400 W Solar
alano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-24-2016, 11:48 PM   #5
Site Team
 
Rocinante's Avatar

 
2016 Interstate Lounge Ext
Green Cove Springs , Florida
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 6,466
Blog Entries: 49
So a small solar system will certainly help keep batteries charged when not using the trailer, as long as it is parked outdoors vs. under cover.

If you want more than this from such a small system, however, you will be disappointed. From our experience, even a 150 watt system is not enough to keep the batteries charged while camping without electric hookups unless we're camped in the blasting sunshine and are incredibly stingy with our usage. As long at that's cool with you, the system installed by the mothership will probably do the job.

To make life easier for yourself, you may also want to check with your local Airstream dealer. Ours put in the 150 Watt Zamp system we have today. It uses the built-in solar wiring that Airstream puts into trailers. Within the margins you've established (e.g. just charging batteries when you're not using the trailer), that system would also meet your needs.

Happy solar charging!
__________________
Rocinante Piccolo is our new-to-us 2016 Interstate Lounge 3500 EXT
(Named for John Steinbeck's camper from "Travels With Charley")


Rocinante is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 08:43 AM   #6
Rivet Master
 
Aerowood's Avatar
 
1971 21' Globetrotter
Arvada , Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3,037
I can speak for Lew only as I have taught with him at the Vintage Restoration Rally's. His is a true professional and I would not hesitate for a minute to let him put a hole in the roof in my Airstream and aircraft metalwork is one of my professions. You are kidding yourself if you think Airstream can do a better job then Lew. You will get better quality components, more capacity, a cleaner install, and probably a better price.
Aerowood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 11:21 AM   #7
2 Rivet Member
 
Minipad's Avatar
 
2013 23' FB International
2013 25' Flying Cloud
In the Rockies, 6700' , Colorado
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 49
I had the factory install my 150 watt panel, controller and display. The cost was about $2200. The work was terrible and the controller and display are poor quality and design. The display has issues, however only aesthetic. The controller had to be replaced in 8 months, for which Airstream offered no assistance. I had to contact the supplier and purchase a new one and then fight to get a refund when they received mine back. The factory failed to install a required inline fuse for the panel. To access the preinstalled wires, the had to remove the shroud of my Fantastic Fan. When they put it back, they nicked the negative wire with a screw. Took me months to figure that out. Back to the controller, while it is rated at 30 AMPS, it does a poor job of handling the current above about 8 Amps. I have a truck mounted panel that I can plug into the system to supplement the roof mounted system but the controller doesn't like the added amperage. The additional panel is properly wired to be upstream of the controller and it should work. The controller is also not a multi-stage and, as often discussed in this forum, that is a bad plan for the house batteries. If you are worried about drilling holes in your roof, you should know that Airstream will drill plenty. At least 8 to hold the panel and they still have to drill a hole to access the preinstalled wires. I ended up having to repair their work on the roof as well. Perhaps it depends on the tech that actually does the work but my experience was not good. And that doesn't mention the metal filings that I kept finding for about a month after they finished.
Minipad is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 11:57 AM   #8
3 Rivet Member
 
Urbanologist's Avatar
 
2009 34' Panamerica
2008 22' Safari
Metro Detroit Area & Metro Dallas Area , Michigan & Texas
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 222
Mothership - NOT!

You'll not get what you're hoping for at the factory. However, you seem to be convinced otherwise. They are not the guru's on ADVANCED solar technology! Don't justify the journey to Jackson Center AND pay them for JUST keeping your house batteries charged. My PanAmerica has a basic solar system (factory) that came with it via the dealer. Just NOT what you'd expect - given the price of a new PA! Some things just aren't best done by Mother! She means well. Heck, do your homework on this and check out experts as noted by the forum members.
Urbanologist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 12:30 PM   #9
4 Rivet Member
 
Plan-B's Avatar
 
2016 26' Flying Cloud
2016 25' Flying Cloud
1997 21' Excella
Full-Time , Full-Time
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 281
Don't waste your money on Airstream solar. It's nothing but a little over a novelty with very sub standard charge controllers and components. Listen to what others on this thread have mentioned and whom to contact. They are not steering you wrong and the installation will be superior as the equipment to Airstream's. There will be NO holes drilled anywhere in your roof, not even for the solar mounts. They are experts. I have had two systems from AM solar and most recent a 400w system installed on a 26U. You will not regret and will be elated going the path(s) suggested.
__________________
Greg

2016 RAM 2500 6.7L Cummins, 4WD, Crew, Rear Air
Plan-B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 01:23 PM   #10
Rivet Master

 
2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 8,439
Go with AM solar, don't bother with the undersized pre-installed wire or the too-small and cheap overpriced Airstream system. Do it right

Search for posts by Lewster. He knows what he is doing. Period.




Sent from my pocket Internet using Airstream Forums
__________________
Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
'The Silver HamShack' ('07 International 22FB CCD 75th Anniversary)
Multiple Yaesu Ham Radios inside and many antennae sprouting from roof, ProPride hitch, Prodigy P2 controller.
2012 shortbed CrewMax 4x4 Toyota Tacoma TV with more antennae on it.
rmkrum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 04:09 PM   #11
:SPACE A" S/O 11 Air19745
 
guskmg's Avatar

 
2006 34' Classic S/O
Fort Worth , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,329
Go with 'lewster." He has the technical background, certifications, and ability to do the job right the first time. The Airstream factory is excellent and I have them do all my repairs and modifications. But, they are not as capable with solar. Mainly, because of costs, but engineering as well. I had "lewster" do mine with AM Solar components; 800w Blue Sky solar, 600ah lithium Po, and a 3,000w Magnum inverter charger. Everything went like clock work. I could not be more pleased with the results. I love playing with it and staying off the grid. Lew is a prince of a guy and very easy to work with. I would repeat the experience in a heart beat. The experience is worth the trip many times over.
guskmg
guskmg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 06:02 PM   #12
2 Rivet Member
 
2005 22' International CCD
Cambria , California
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 38
The Airstream factory package is junk compared to what's out there in the private sector.
Ziggy2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 06:04 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
TBRich's Avatar

 
2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,620
Images: 64
I'd 2nd AMSolar / Lew Farber...better system and you don't have to worry about "practicing" on your rig...they are pros, and not new to this game, by any means.
__________________
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair & PastPrez, 4CU/WBCCI
#3954
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
TBRich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 06:14 PM   #14
3 Rivet Member
 
MarkFinATX's Avatar
 
2016 28' Pendleton
Currently Looking...
Santa Fe , New Mexico
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 111
Images: 1
I was at the factory in March, the week our Pendleton (#62) was built. We added the solar package at our dealership and I did see it being installed. I had terrible wifi in Lima (hotel) and in Jackson Center, but what I was able to learn is exactly what the majority say in this thread. It's basic, basic solar. Aftermarket offers so many options that are better than the factory, I wish I had waited. Just didn't know any better.
My plan now is to add portable panels, and tie them into the current system. Still in testing mode, but have had weeks of cloudy weather in TX (unusual) and so far it looks like it tops off the batteries (AGM x 2) but would not be enough reserve for long term boondocking. We do travel with a Honda 3000i generator so I can run one A/C unit and get a full charge on the batteries without sun. Some of the dry camping sites that we have reserved this summer (National Parks) have pretty dense forest canopies, so I doubt I would rely on any solar system for an entire week. I'll just run the Honda during the late afternoon for a couple of hours. Good luck with your decision. I love JC but it's a long haul from Austin and I don't know if I would trust my dealership...
__________________
Don't look back, you're not headed there anyway
MarkFinATX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 07:27 PM   #15
Rivet Master
 
2015 30' Classic
Pleasanton , California
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 743
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Go with AM solar, don't bother with the undersized pre-installed wire or the too-small and cheap overpriced Airstream system. Do it right
If you're planning to install 200 W or less the existing solar pre-wiring is fine and not undersized. The losses due to the pre-wiring, even in the 30' classic will be less than 3%. You can even continue to increase solar capacity by adding two more panels in a series/parallel arrangement for a total of 400 W. In my system, the losses due to the existing solar pre-wiring are less than 2%!

I think for some folks who are concerned about the work involved in installing solar, to not reuse the existing solar pre-wiring is a deal breaker. For me, I probably wouldn't have undertaken a DIY installation if I had to run the cabling. I'm sure I would have also found it challenging to run a CAT5 cable from the solar controller to the area containing the See Level monitor. So there are efficient ways to reuse the existing wiring, keep the losses down and avoid unnecessary mucking about in trying to run additional wires that I'm sure some folks can appreciate.
__________________
Al, K6IV
2015 30' Classic, "Chez Nu"
2014 RAM 2500 w/Cummins Diesel
ProPride Hitch, 400 W Solar
alano is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 07:48 PM   #16
3 Rivet Member
 
Climber's Avatar
 
2012 27' Flying Cloud
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 126
Quote:
Originally Posted by PJohnson View Post
I prefer to not have the after market companies practice on my trailer.
I may be misunderstanding you, but the idea that Lewster would "practice" on your trailer indicates you should probably do more research. Lew and AM Solar are considered by many folks to be the industry standard.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

Cheers,

Climber
__________________
2012 27' Flying Cloud FB (Bella)
2014 F-150 3.5L Ecoboost
Climber is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 08:16 PM   #17
2 Rivet Member
 
Oak Harbor , wa
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 65
Solar from AM SOLAR

I have done two installs using AM SOLAR kits. Their kit truly is complete, you need nothing which is not supplied by them in the kit in one shipment. How much time would I need to invest if I sourced everything singularly? Excellent on line videos allow one to self train.
These guys have been in business for many years which speaks to their reliability.
Larry
Stormalong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2016, 09:18 PM   #18
Rivet Master
 
1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,454
Blog Entries: 13
The OP seems to be long gone. Guess he has his heart set on the Mothership.
__________________
new (usually dirty) Nissan Titan XD (hardly paid for)
Middle-aged Safari SE
Young, lovely bride
Dismissive cat
n2916s is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2016, 12:38 AM   #19
3 Rivet Member
 
2016 30' Classic
Sammamish , Washington
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 113
I am not “long gone,” I am waiting for an answer to my original post. Clearly I was asking about the cost and work quality of the Airstream service center upgrade.

Many of you have or need high power systems and it is obvious from your posts that the factory system is not adequate for your needs. On the other hand, I do not need a high power system. I need a system that will offset the 170-milliamp draw from the LP monitor and the inverter (4 amps per day – 28 amps per week) while the coach is in storage. I would like to have the system top off the batteries after I do a bulk charge with the generator and battery charger in order to reduce the time I must run the generator. After an earlier discussion with AM Solar, we determined that a 50 to 100 watt system would be adequate. Clearly, the system installed by the service center would be adequate (the service center does not use the same equipment as the factory).

I am also considering the Bogart Engineering SC 2030 / TM 2030 system (available for AM Solar). Furthermore, I would install the system myself if I knew where to access the pre-installed wiring (it is not in the same location as it was in older coaches like my 2010 Classic Limited). The problem with the Bogart system is the need of re-wiring the battery compartment since both the inverter and the converter power lines must be wired on the downstream side of the shunt.
PJohnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2016, 12:55 AM   #20
Rivet Master
 
gandttimes's Avatar
 
2014 25' FB International
2007 20' Safari SE
2005 19' Safari
Qualicum Beach , British Columbia
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 1,016
I am also considering the Bogart Engineering SC 2030 / TM 2030 system (available for AM Solar). Furthermore, I would install the system myself if I knew where to access the pre-installed wiring (it is not in the same location as it was in older coaches like my 2010 Classic Limited). The problem with the Bogart system is the need of re-wiring the battery compartment since both the inverter and the converter power lines must be wired on the downstream side of the shunt.[/QUOTE]

I installed both of these units and it is really a simple operation and was very easy for a novice to install on my 2014 25fb.
Many on this forum will disagree with me but I got all the help I needed from " Solar Bob" who led me through the whole easy process. Most refer to him as "Angry Bob".
He would as others who have answered your post recommend highly against having the factory install the system for you. Get someone who understands solar, or learn how to do it yourself. It's not rocket science
gandttimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


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


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Is this a factory installed solar panel ? I think it's factory installed and ... JacobMerridy Electrical - Systems, Generators, Batteries & Solar 1 01-14-2017 10:23 AM
Vote on lost key return service 66TradeWind Community Polls 12 05-01-2009 11:28 AM
Past the Point of No Return kayelm Cleaning, Stripping & Polishing 3 08-13-2007 08:13 PM
Flamingo Return rickandsandi Off Topic Forum 5 08-03-2007 09:50 PM
The return of the Argosy..... Silvertwinkie Vintage Kin 25 04-06-2007 05:20 PM


Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

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 05:01 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.