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Old 10-11-2015, 04:54 PM   #1
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What Size Solar Panels?

We just purchased a new 2016 27FB queen and will take delivery on it in a few weeks in Oregon. We are not new to RVing as we are down sizing from a 40 foot class A but we are new to AS..Our rig now has 900 watts of solar panels and we want to out fit the new AS with solar. What size panels can be installed. We probably will purchase the panels from AM. Solar as we have dealt with them previously on several occasions and have been extremely pleased with their service. We boondock regularly and are full timers.. We will be keeping the Class A for a base and traveling I. the AS about 6 months a year. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I know this is going to be challenging down sizing, but we are looking forward to being more "nimble" and going places the Class A can't..
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Old 10-11-2015, 05:07 PM   #2
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Lewster (Lew) can help you. I have 3 135 watt panels, but they stopped selling them. I have room for a 4th panel on the 27ft FB. And I believe the current 100 watt panels are the same size. I believe the 160's are too big for the roof, but I may be wrong. I think you should be able to fit 5 panels on the 27's roof. I plan on adding a 4th within the next week or two.
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Old 10-11-2015, 06:10 PM   #3
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We also have a 27' FB model (with 2 AC's) and Lew Farber installed 4 X 135 watt panels (540 total watts) and there is room for 2 X 100 watt more panels in the future if we decide we need them (for a total of 740 watts.) We had to replace the crank up TV antenna with a Jack antenna in between the two AC units to make room for one of the panels. Also, Lew used the A.M. Solar mounting brackets so that the panels are above our toilet and shower exhaust fans (both still fully functional.) Lew spends about 6 months of the year in Hood River, OR and I highly recommend him for your installation if you are not planning on doing it yourself (which I do not recommend unless you are a masochist.)

Here is a picture of our set-up with the panels tilted (manually):
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Old 10-11-2015, 06:44 PM   #4
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We squeezed five AM Solar 100 watt panels on the roof of a 23D and eight AM Solar 100 watt panels on the roof of a 31' Classic. I would think five panels could be fitted to a 27FB.

If you have only one air conditioner and 30 amp service, consider the Magnum MSH-3012 hybrid converter like we put in the 23D. If I am running my 2000 watt Honda generator, it lacks the capability to start the air conditioner by itself, but the Magnum can draw power from the eighty-four pound 300 amp-hour lithium iron phosphate battery to start the air conditioner. This battery weighs less than the two stock lead acid batteries and can provide 85% of it's power rating.

In our Classic with 50 amp service and two air conditioners, we installed the Magnum MS-2812 converter since it has two power poles. We installed a one hundred sixty eight pound 600 amp-hour lithium iron phosphate battery under the front sofa beside the Magnum. This battery weighs less much less than the prior installation of four Lifeline act 300 amp-hour batteries at 92 pounds each.

We basically rewired both trailers so all original and additional 120Vac outlets are hot either on shore/generator power or battery inverter operation.

Send me a PM if you want the installer information who is also recommended by AM Solar on both of these installations that included other comprehensive modifications and cabinet work.
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:31 PM   #5
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Any clue as to the full cost of the whole system? Ballpark so we start saving our penny's for it.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:58 PM   #6
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$2351.96 for my setup.

You can see details in the attached.

If buying from AM Solar, just go on the website and play with combos and put them in your shopping cart.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigfoot390 View Post
Any clue as to the full cost of the whole system? Ballpark so we start saving our penny's for it.
A big number! Go to A.M. Solar's site and add up the prices of the components. Our total upgrade, including 540 Watts of solar, a 3000 watt hybrid inverter and 400 AH of LFP batteries was around $13-14k including install. You can have a lot of the benefit we have for less if you don't go whole hog as we did.
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:17 PM   #8
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Well I plan on doing the installation since I am somewhat electronically �� talented. But less then 3000 for the whole kit if I went whole hog is definitely in my ballpark.
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Old 10-12-2015, 09:56 PM   #9
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If you're a DIYer the solar installation is quite easy and you'll save a bundle. I installed four 100 Renology panels and a Solar Boost 3024 MPPT controller with the optional battery monitor and reused the existing solar wiring. Total cost came to less than $1500.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:20 AM   #10
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The Airstream factory pre-installed #10 wire is barely adequate for the two 53 watt solar panels the factory installs in their over $3,000 option.

Note that the published panel power rating in watts is a laboratory number. The real output on a great day with top quality panels may reach 75% of the "sales" number. Thus our 800 watt system once in awhile shows 590 watts being generated and the 500 watt system has shown 370 one day.

AM Solar included #2 wire on our large installation (800 watts) to reduce voltage drop in the wiring. They recommended #6 wire for the 500 watt installation on the smaller trailer.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:24 AM   #11
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If configured correctly (series vs parallel) the losses due to the pre-installed wiring can be less than 3%. In my book that's negligible.

Reusing the existing wiring makes the entire solar installation doable for the average DIYer. AS even lays a control cable that can be used for the Solar Boost remote and battery monitor.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by alano View Post
If configured correctly (series vs parallel) the losses due to the pre-installed wiring can be less than 3%. In my book that's negligible.

Reusing the existing wiring makes the entire solar installation doable for the average DIYer. AS even lays a control cable that can be used for the Solar Boost remote and battery monitor.
Where did you get your 3% loss figure?
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:26 AM   #13
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Here's a link to the thread. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f520...on-133838.html

You'll find calculations for the loss due to the pre-wiring. It's in fact less than 2%.
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Old 10-14-2015, 03:09 PM   #14
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"We had to replace the crank up TV antenna with a Jack antenna in between the two AC units to make room for one of the panels."

Bob, how do you like your jack antenna? I like the crank type so much, I need to be convinced to give it up for a solar panel.
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Old 10-14-2015, 07:44 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Outdoors4me View Post
"We had to replace the crank up TV antenna with a Jack antenna in between the two AC units to make room for one of the panels."

Bob, how do you like your jack antenna? I like the crank type so much, I need to be convinced to give it up for a solar panel.
We've been living with the Jack antenna since January and it seems to work as well as the crank up one ever did. Plus, there is no "penalty" for forgetting to lower it before moving on. If you want the roof space for an extra solar panel, don't give it a second thought, get the Jack!
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:56 PM   #16
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You might find this table of interest; taken from Pg. 8 of the Blue Sky Energy 3024iL manual: (slightly mis-aligned, but you get the picture!)

12VDC System 24VDC System
Feet/Meters
12AWG 4.0/1.2 10.7/3.3
10AWG 6.4/2.0 16.9/5.2
8AWG 10.1/3.1 26.9/8.2
6AWG 16.1/4.9 42.8/13.0
4AWG 25.5/7.8 68.1/20.7
2AWG 40.6/12.4 108.2/33.0
1/0AWG 64.6/19.7 172.2/52.5

Pay particular attention to the line in red, which is for the 10AWG that Airstream uses as their solar pre-wire. For a 12VDC parallel connected solar array, you need 6.4' or less to achieve 3% voltage drop. For a 24VDC series/parallel array, you need 16.9' or less for 3% voltage drop or less. Still thinking of using the solar pre-wire????

But of course, some folks don't believe everything they read....especially if it's on the internet!
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Old 10-15-2015, 11:53 AM   #17
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The 100 W Renology panel operate at 18.6 V and 5.3 A. So stacking panels in series and then in parallel to build a 400 W system yields 37.2 V at 10.6 A. If you reuse the pre-wiring, and the length of both conductors is less than 35', then the voltage drop due to the pre-wiring is 70' * (1 ohm/1000 ft) * 10.6 A = 0.742 V. Therefore the loss to the pre-wiring is only 0.742 V / 37.2 V = 2%!

If you're a DIYer, using the pre-wiring to build a 400 W (series/parallel) solar system with a MPPT controller is quite doable. I'm very pleased with my system and the total cost of materials was less than $1500. I selected the Blue Sky 3024 controller with the optional IPN remote. The remote is highly recommended so you can keep track of your battery consumption and make sure you don't deplete your batteries resulting in damage. Not only can you reuse the existing wiring, Airstream provides a pre-installed control cable that you can reuse as well for the IPN remote reducing the installation difficultly.
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Old 10-15-2015, 05:47 PM   #18
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Have used AM Solar twice. First on my '12 28' Intl CCD (400 W install), and recently on my '15 30' Classic (600 W install). A rookie can install with their super instructions and the easy to set-up panels. Really nice to be able to boondock and see batteries at "100%" -- without any 120V plug-ins or running my generator.
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Old 10-15-2015, 08:03 PM   #19
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I was going to piece my system together DIY style with Renology, but research on their panels lead me to believe they are subpar. I chose AMSolar and the GS-135 panels because they are high-efficiency panels that by numbers alone bet the 100 watt Renology panels. It's a shame they stopped making them. I would of added another panel. But plan on adding a 100 watt panel next.

I'm really glad I chose AMSolar, the kit includes everything, no guessing, and no running to the store to get parts/supplies or even wondering if you have everything you need. They provide everything.
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Old 10-15-2015, 09:47 PM   #20
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I agree that AM Solar does a heck of a job supporting solar installations for RVs. I bought my solar controller, wiring, combiner box, etc from them. They also provide great support and answered all my questions.

I think you'll find that the GS-135 panels are made by Grape Solar. They are in fact longer than the 100 W Renology panels, and the longer frame accounts for most of the addition power. I was very impressed with the quality of the Renology panels. 400 W costs approximately $569 including shipping!
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