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Old 06-27-2007, 11:53 AM   #1
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2007 16' International CCD
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Solar Panel for 16' Bambi

Since we purchased our 16' Bambi off the lot, we were unable to get the 53W solar option. We knew from the beginning that we would be spending a lot of time at remote sites, so the solar (and upgraded battery(s)) would need to happen. I've been reading as many of the posts related to solar as I can, but haven't found too many folks talking about solar installs on 16' trailers.

If anyone has done a solar panel install on 16' Bambi I'd greatly appreciate any feedback one a) what type of system did you install , b) did you do it yourself, and if not, who did the install, c) where did you locate the panel and how big is it, d) what battery arrangment do you have (I assume that I will upgrade to either two Group 24 AGMs or one group 29 AGM), and finally e) what was your total cost?

Thanks,
Hugh
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Old 06-27-2007, 01:14 PM   #2
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Sorry no info here...but I too am anxiously awaiting some responses.
I'd like to know more about solar for my 16 footer.
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Old 06-27-2007, 04:26 PM   #3
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I've got one on my 19', but I guess that three feet makes a difference...
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:43 PM   #4
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Does the new 16' CCD come with the solar prep wiring already in place?

I do mostly boondocking with my 16' and looked in to solar. I decided against it for three reasons - the 16' doesn't have a lot of roof space so it's limited about what can be permanently mounted, I try to always park in the shade to keep things cooler anyway, and my 2005 does not have the wiring already in place. I did consider taking solar panels along in some kind of portable set up, so I could get more power, and position them out in the full sunlight. But when I considered the possibility of theft, I ruled that out.

Instead I bought a Honda generator, a good 3 stage battery charger, and a couple of 6 volt golf cart batteries that I haul in the truck and set up under the trailer when I get there.

If someone comes up with a good setup for solar on the 16', it would sure be a higher tech solution than what I am doing. My setup is low tech, but simple and didn't require mods to the trailer.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDM16CCD
Does the new 16' CCD come with the solar prep wiring already in place?

I do mostly boondocking with my 16' and looked in to solar. I decided against it for three reasons - the 16' doesn't have a lot of roof space so it's limited about what can be permanently mounted, I try to always park in the shade to keep things cooler anyway, and my 2005 does not have the wiring already in place. I did consider taking solar panels along in some kind of portable set up, so I could get more power, and position them out in the full sunlight. But when I considered the possibility of theft, I ruled that out.

Instead I bought a Honda generator, a good 3 stage battery charger, and a couple of 6 volt golf cart batteries that I haul in the truck and set up under the trailer when I get there.

If someone comes up with a good setup for solar on the 16', it would sure be a higher tech solution than what I am doing. My setup is low tech, but simple and didn't require mods to the trailer.

I do have the real estate for the panels and my unit is pre-wired. I too went the generator way FWIW.....
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:21 PM   #6
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I put a solar system on my 16' CCD using a 32W Uni-Solar flexible panel. I have it hooked up to a MorningStar ProStar 30 charge controller. The charge controller is attached to the side of the bunk under the dinette where the water tank and the all the wiring is located. Just ran the wires between the bunk and the wall. No drilling. Then fed wires out the hole the battery cables go. Works great. When we get to camp I attached the panel on the roof above the front window using 4 plastic hold downs that came with the panel. I siliconed them to the aluminum. I suppose someone could grab it and go but it takes a ladder to get it up there. Worked really well on our last trip, but we didn't really push it as the sun went down about the time we did. Though we did run the Fantastic Vent a lot and the fridge fan was constantly on. Also I have 2 6V AGM batteries. What else am I forgetting to say? Jamie
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Old 08-11-2007, 11:50 AM   #7
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We have a 16' also. What is the output of the solar that you put on, Jamie? Just how do you install it above the window? Thanks, Sheila
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:21 PM   #8
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Hugh,
Have you visited the GoSolar.com site. One of the solar threads posted this picture of a flexible panel system other than UniSolar that comes in different sizes.

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Old 08-12-2007, 10:19 PM   #9
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Solar on a 16'

Our 16' Bambi Safari came with a small solar panel and electronics installed by the "factory". Unfortunately no one at the dealership knew anything about it so I had to go onine and get the "manual" and tech support. The bottom line is even a small panel keeps the battery at close to 100% all the time so whenever we pick up the trailer from storage it is ready to go. When camping I have found that the solar system will recharge the battery everyday as well as recharge a portable computer battery or portable DVD player battery also (via the DC plug over the bed).
The downside is the "electronics" trends to draw down the battery once it hits about 13.2V.... down to 12.6V and then it charges up again. It appears it is not sophisticated enough to move to a trickle charge mode. I changed out the OEM battery to an AGM battery and do have a 2KW Honda generator for emergencies or in case it really gets hot and we need to run the A/C for a bit.
The limiting factor in this 16' trailer is not the battery but very small fresh water and grey/black water tanks !!!!
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Old 06-21-2008, 10:01 AM   #10
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16' Bambi Solar Installation in Progress!

Have a 2006 16' Bambi and am in the process of installing an 80W Sharp solar panel which should arrive on Tuesday, if further delays attributable to flooding don't interfere with its progress north from Texas.

Today, I am in the process of installing a Solar Boost 2512i 25A,12V 3 stage charge controller with remote display made by Blue Sky. This is an MPPT controller:

Blue Sky Solar Boost 2512i 25A,12V 3 Stage Charg

I will use AM Solar's rocker foot mounts with tilt bars for installing the Sharp solar panel. They have a small supply of mounting kits for Kyocera panels, which are very close in width dimension to the Sharp panels. Just received my box from AM. They are good folks to do business with and their mounts look top drawer:

Rocker Foot Mounts and Tilt Bars

The factory solar harness is pre-installed in my Bambi and I have located all the wiring ends EXCEPT the one I am supposed to feed the solar panel feed into. Read somewhere that it dead-ends behind the fridge, but I can't locate it there. When I was wiring my remote display up to the galley wall, I had no problem locating the cat 5 cable for the remote display and it looks like the solar run feeds up the same bunch of wires that are destined for the roof. Even popped off my stove vent hatch to see if they might have dead-ended them there, but no luck so far.

The factory package includes a cat 5 cable run from the area under the dinette seat in front to behind the side wall to the galley, which is in the closet. Cut the necessary hole in the galley/closet wall and mounted my remote display last night. To use the RJ 11 ends (std telephone plugs) that my controller uses I simply had to splice them into the cat 5 cable, which takes some patience but is relatively easy to do. That job is done! I have cut an opening for a standard electrical box on the "passenger" seat side of the dinette and will be wiring in my charge controller this afternoon. It also has a display, but one would have to look under the table to see it.

If anyone knows where the main feed lines (2 10 gauge wires, one yellow and one green) dead end in the Bambi for hooking up to my soon to arrive solar panel, I sure would appreciate hearing from them!

Thanks,

Dick
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Old 06-21-2008, 11:34 AM   #11
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Has anyone mounted a solar panel flat on top of their Air Conditioner shroud? Couldn't the wiring then com into the "house" with the A/C wiring?

Our 17' Caravel is very short on roof real estate as there is a Fantastic fan taking up the "flat" space in the rear, and not very much "flat" space in front of the A/C. The roof on the curb side is taken up by the refer vent and patio awning and on the street side by the full length window awning.

Why not on top of the A/C shroud? My shroud is vented at the rear.
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Foster View Post
Has anyone mounted a solar panel flat on top of their Air Conditioner shroud? Couldn't the wiring then com into the "house" with the A/C wiring?
{snip}
Why not on top of the A/C shroud? My shroud is vented at the rear.
IMNSHO, the plastic shroud on most A/C's just isn't strong enough to stay stiff enough for the solar panel. Now, my Uncle has a metal shroud that he has one of his Kyocera panels mounted to and the panel has lasted atop his 94 SOB MoHo for over 100K miles.

That isn't to say you couldn't modify the existing shroud studs to keep the panel fairly rigid. Just remember to keep it easy to access the mount for shroud removal by service personnel without using the solar panel as a convenient lifting handle. They (PV panels) just hate to be flexed...
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Old 06-21-2008, 01:54 PM   #13
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Yes, the fiberglass shrouds are not very strong. I had to remove mine and do some repair.

It would be a simple matter to build a frame for the panel that attaches to the four anchor spots for the shroud, then install the panel in the frame. The panel would have to be removed to get at the bolts, so lifting the shroud by the panel would not be an issue.
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Old 06-21-2008, 06:45 PM   #14
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Prewire solar ceiling harness FOUND!

As you are standing under the Fantastic Fan, facing FORWARD, my wire ends were located about 6" forward from the right front corner of the fan unit under the ceiling liner and about 4" to the right. (I unscrewed the fan housing trim and pulled it off, first.) They are near the furthest forward ceiling light fixture. As the insulation is glued to the roofing, I had to carefully pry loose and work forward and to the right until I found what felt like the end of a wiring coupler. When I found that I got off my stool and cracked open a beer. Had to be it! Went back up and explored further and felt a second end and could feel wiring labels. Then I kept prying the insulation loose and worked further forward. Grabbed a flashlight and prayed I would see a yellow wire and a green wire. Success! I uncoiled the wire, which was caught up in the insulation glue and worked it around the Fantastic Fan housing to the other side, where my solar panel will be mounted.

The factory literature that came with my Bambi has NOTHING specific for the 16' Bambi. ALL of the wiring schematics start with the 19' models. The section dealing with the solar panels told me that the harness ended in the exterior fridge compartment. I spent days looking through all of the wiring runs there and couldn't find it. When I called the factory last year and asked for 16' Bambi wiring schematics I was told that an aftermarket firm sold a manual I could order. I refused to order it. Any reputable outfit would have gladly shipped me what should have been with their product to begin with. Disappointing. The result is that my hands are scratched from fiberglass insulation and I spent probably a total of 6 hours over several days looking for the harness ends, but I now know what the pilgrims must have felt when they finally sighted land!!

Dick
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Old 06-30-2008, 07:38 PM   #15
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Bambi unplugged!

Here are some photos of my installation. Thanks to several contributors to this forum. The one who suggested where the wiring harness could be found, the one who had the idea to plumb in the feed line from the solar panel through the outer housing of the Fantastic Fan, and the one who suggested adding batteries without permanently attaching them to the trailer by simply fashioning another female 7 connector receptacle and attaching that to another battery or bank of batteries and then plugging them into the trailer's plug that is detached when the tow vehicle is not attached. Terrific ideas that I used! Hopefully, the photos will tell the rest of the story.

And, of course, thanks to our neighborhood Goodyear blimp for the aerial shots.

Dick
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
Here are some photos of my installation...
Dick
Very nice!

Our experience with solar is similar to ericinrb's: the solar panels restore our batteries to 100% by noon of each day camping, even while running the Fantastic fans, refrigerator fan, and stereo.

I would recommend that anyone thinking about placing an Airstream Factory build order read my thread Factory Installed Solar Charging System, which shows the components of my system and why I am very happy with it.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:59 PM   #17
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Solar IS the way to go!

If you order a pre-wire on a new A/S, be sure that the factory uses 10 gauge wire thru the walls for your panel connection to the controller. Avoiding voltage drop is CRITICAL in a quality solar install.

At AM Solar, we use 10 gauge ship cable (it has a round jacket that fits properly in the water-tight connectors) to join all of the roof panels to the combiner box, then run 8 gauge marine cable from the box to the charge controller.

It may cost a bit more, but this wiring will super-charge your solar applications!!!!

BTW, I just added 2 more 100 watt AM Solar panels to the roof of my Sprinter. I now have 400 watts of panels charging 2 Lifeline GPL-6CT 300 amp-hour golf cart batteries that run a Magnum 2000 watt sine wave inverter. Next mod is adding another 2 GPL-6CT batteries for a total of 600 amp-hours of DC power.

If the 220 amp-hour Lifelines run down in the CCD, I just plug into the inverter and use the van like a 2000 watt generator......much quieter!!!
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Old 07-01-2008, 03:22 AM   #18
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Watts up?

The adjustable rocker feet panel mounts and the round shipboard cable I purchased from AM Solar are really the cat's p.j.'s. Very nice to work with!

I used that cable to run from the junction box on my solar panel into the Fantastic Fan outer housing just far enough to "spot weld" with adhesive sealant from the inside. At that point I stripped down to the pair of 10 gauge wires the cable contains and brought them back through two holes drilled in the lower part of the outer housing. This allows them to go into the ceiling area where I picked up the 10 gauge solar prewire harness. Because the Fantastic Fan has an outer housing, all of this is done without getting in the way of the fan workings and it is invisible from the inside of the camper. I then used a rubberized sealant on the outside of the fan unit. I liked the idea of NOT punching any holes in my roof.

Lew, your rig sounds impressive. Watt do you do with all the watts?? Aren't you supposed to leave your camper on occasion??

SilverGate: I read your excellent thread while trying to find my factory prewires. Also noticed the references to replacing the regular lights with LEDs. Has anyone found a source for "warm" LED lighting that simply allows popping the LEDs into the existing sockets? That would catch my interest.

Dick
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Old 07-01-2008, 08:58 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Yooper View Post
The adjustable rocker feet panel mounts and the round shipboard cable I purchased from AM Solar are really the cat's p.j.'s. Very nice to work with!

I used that cable to run from the junction box on my solar panel into the Fantastic Fan outer housing just far enough to "spot weld" with adhesive sealant from the inside. At that point I stripped down to the pair of 10 gauge wires the cable contains and brought them back through two holes drilled in the lower part of the outer housing. This allows them to go into the ceiling area where I picked up the 10 gauge solar prewire harness. Because the Fantastic Fan has an outer housing, all of this is done without getting in the way of the fan workings and it is invisible from the inside of the camper. I then used a rubberized sealant on the outside of the fan unit. I liked the idea of NOT punching any holes in my roof.

Lew, your rig sounds impressive. Watt do you do with all the watts?? Aren't you supposed to leave your camper on occasion??

SilverGate: I read your excellent thread while trying to find my factory prewires. Also noticed the references to replacing the regular lights with LEDs. Has anyone found a source for "warm" LED lighting that simply allows popping the LEDs into the existing sockets? That would catch my interest.

Dick
Dick,

Don't forget that I use my van as a service van and run power tools from the inverter. The Airstream use is a nice by-product.

IMTRA Marine has a nice selection of warm white LED G-4 bulbs. These are direct replacement units for the halogens on the newer Airstreams. I have replaced ALL of my halogens with these. You might PM westfalia and get his opinion of them.

I have these (and the entire IMTRA catalog) available at the Forum Courtesy Discount. PM me if you need further info.
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Old 07-10-2008, 06:23 PM   #20
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A/C Hood Solution: Slider Mount

During my solar panel for RVs research, I ran into several references about panels being shaded by the A/C hood. Didn't understand the problem until I installed my new panel. Then I understood the problem and figured out the attached solution using AM's rocker foot mounting system and 2 pieces of standard aluminum stock from my local hardware store and 4 more SS bolts with locking nuts.

The panel slides about 2" out from under the hood and over the rain gutter. After mounting the rocker feet to the new sliders, instead of the panel, I mount the panel to the new aluminum sliders (1/8" thick by 1" x 24") using AM's friction bolts and knobs. The "sliders" have slots cut into them to allow the loosened friction bolts to slide either into the retract or extended position before tightening the knobs. KISS solution in operation! And this also allows use of AM's tilt bars as the panel won't get hung up on the A/C hood when you swivel it up.

I now have 123 watts of solar (80 watt Sharp panel and 43 watt Kyocera panel) on the small roof of my 16' Airstream Bambi, and, with my MPPI controller, yesterday I was seeing 8-9 amps of charging juice midday in the "canyon" between my house and the spruce trees.

I am ready for a real world expedition!
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