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Old 09-20-2022, 07:52 AM   #1
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Osprey , Florida
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2023 Factory Battery Box Wiring Mess

When I first opened the battery box on my new 2023 Airstream International 23FB Twin (with 300 watt factory solar option) I was initially confused and then angered.

I expected to find two AGM batteries wired in parallel with a single positive lead and a single negative lead neatly passing into the coach hopefully to an initial DC distribution bus bar or distribution device like the Victron Lynx.

Instead I found a battery box with two batteries wired in "parallel", but molested by an assortment of wires of various gauges going in all directions.

The best I could determined on casual inspection of the battery box is Airstream chose to 1) directly connect / fuse the jack motor to a battery, 2) directly connect / fuse the external tongue mounted solar panel hookup to a battery, and 3) send one set of positive and negative leads to the passenger side of the coach and another to set of positive and negative leads to the driver side of the coach.

An earlier hunt for systems buried within the coach revealed a 150 / 35 Victron BlueSolar charge controller and a 1,000 watt Progressive Dynamics inverter forward under the passenger side bed, and a 55 amp FWCO converter within the distribution panel, midship on the driver side.

This arrangement might to cost effective but it violates everything I've learned in a life time working with marine low voltage wiring.

Keeping lead acid batteries out of coach makes perfect sense, but to bypass the initial bus and directly attach electrical components to a battery, albeit fused, is a no-no as far as I'm concerned.

I was hoping to install a Victron SmartShunt / Battery Monitor System (normally a rather simple task).

But with the inverter load leaving the battery box one way, the DC distribution panel load leaving the battery box another way, and with an external solar charging and jack load directly connected to batteries within the battery box, this leaves me with the needlessly more complicated task of undoing Airstreams "convenient wiring" disaster before I can proceed.

As far as I'm concerned, all of the DC input and output must be consolidated if a battery monitor is to produce valid information.

(RANT OVER)

Has anyone confronted this issue? Your input would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:10 AM   #2
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Cool

Another reason I won't be buying the factory Solar.

jc
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:12 AM   #3
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2023 28' International
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You are correct on you observations. Both the jack and solar port are directly connected. The 2 feeds into each side of the trailer are for the Converter and the Inverter, which on some trailers are on different sides.

Unfortunately, the battery box in the picture is very normal. If you are shocked by this, wait until you try and update/fix the internal wiring "rat's nest" where the solar controller, trailer connector, and other wiring distribution occurs.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xpcdoojk View Post
Another reason I won't be buying the factory Solar.

jc
The factory solar option has nothing to do with how this is wired. This would look and be wired the exact same without the factory solar
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:33 AM   #5
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Yes, that makes sense, as the inverter would be on that side with or without the solar charge controller.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:36 AM   #6
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb831 View Post
The factory solar option has nothing to do with how this is wired. This would look and be wired the exact same without the factory solar
I understand, don't the dealers install the batteries and not Airstream?

I think I will buy mine without any battery install and take it straight to the solar installer.

jc
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:40 AM   #7
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My head is already spinning from finding the numerous and useless "pre-wired" Airstream Smart Control Technology wiring littered through this model.

The labor and material to do this -- what were they thinking?
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:45 AM   #8
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+1 on what jeffb831 says

Jeffb831 summed it up. What you have may not be best practice but it works. Many of us have replaced components / cleaned up the rats nest.

Our 2019 came with an Atkinson Solar Controller. I replaced it with a Victron SmartSolar 100|30 and a BVM-712 battery monitor. Cleaned up the battery box wiring with a negative busbar and a Blue Sea disconnect switch.

Take your time, enjoy the new trailer then decide how you want to update your wiring.

Good luck!
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xpcdoojk View Post
I understand, don't the dealers install the batteries and not Airstream?

I think I will buy mine without any battery install and take it straight to the solar installer.

jc
The dealers literally just install the batteries. All the wires are already there in the battery box for them to connect. They don't do any of the wiring.

I guess if you are going to a larger solar installation with something like a 3000W inverter and more battery capacity, a good portion of the wiring will need to be redone so that would be the opportunity to clean up the mess.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SallyForth View Post
The best I could determined on casual inspection of the battery box is Airstream chose to 1) directly connect / fuse the jack motor to a battery, 2) directly connect / fuse the external tongue mounted solar panel hookup to a battery, and 3) send one set of positive and negative leads to the passenger side of the coach and another to set of positive and negative leads to the driver side of the coach.
Mine is wired the same way. I never considered it a problem. 1. Tongue jack + direct to battery? Isn't everyone's? It's the shortest path with the fewest connections.
2. Zamp connector? Yep, ditto. I use mine to power the TPMS repeater.
3. One pair of leads go one direction and another pair go to the other side.
One set of mine supply power to the converter and the other pair power the inverter. They are on opposite sides.

Admittedly, it's not a thing of beauty, but it also doesn't have to start a Diesel engine.
If the batteries are in parallel, then running a single set of leads to a junction panel would negate having the loads spread across both batteries. Airstream uses the + from one battery and the - from the other.
Since the jack uses the chassis ground, the + runs to one battery.

I can't imagine any RV wired like a yacht although it would be pretty and functional with battery disconnects and buss bars, it adds cost, weight and complexity. As well as consume space and add production time.

If you're shocked at the battery box, wait until you see the rat's nest hidden under cabinets.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:56 AM   #11
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I wish I was there looking over your shoulder and handing you tools while you made these modifications. I was think of doing something like this with a Victron SmartShunt IP65 within the battery box before the DC lines bifurcate to either side of the coach. But, I can't seem find the IP65 version of the SmartShunt online anywhere.

I would love to move as much as possible of this within the coach and out of the weather, as I foresee lithium batteries are in our future.
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Old 09-20-2022, 08:57 AM   #12
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"Has anyone confronted this issue? Your input would be greatly appreciated"

Not sure what you need to CONFRONT? Does the trailer work and function as is should? Seems like if you want to go about "REPAIRING" all the things Airstream should have done better you will be there a long time and maybe should have bought a better trailer.

Nothing about Airstream is best practice. There are so many threads complaining about Airstreams quality control or better lack of quality control, why do people get surprised when they purchase them and they are a mess?

Fix it when/if it brakes.

JMO

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Old 09-20-2022, 09:04 AM   #13
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LOL. I had a Grand Banks trawler built in Singapore and all of the factory wiring was spectacular -- every wire labeled, numbered at both ends, accompanied by a legend and laid out neatly as the paths on a printed circuit board. Heck, every screw head was aligned the same direction.
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Old 09-20-2022, 09:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SallyForth View Post
I wish I was there looking over your shoulder and handing you tools while you made these modifications. I was think of doing something like this with a Victron SmartShunt IP65 within the battery box before the DC lines bifurcate to either side of the coach. But, I can't seem find the IP65 version of the SmartShunt online anywhere.

I would love to move as much as possible of this within the coach and out of the weather, as I foresee lithium batteries are in our future.
Not sure which post you’re referring to but will add what I did for the shunt.

I found a water tight box on Amazon and used gland nuts to seal the wires coming into it. I wanted to keep the large negative cable runs to a minimum. Going on three years without an issue.
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Old 09-20-2022, 09:08 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SallyForth View Post
LOL. I had a Grand Banks trawler built in Singapore and all of the factory wiring was spectacular -- every wire labeled, numbered at both ends, accompanied by a legend and laid out neatly as the paths on a printed circuit board. Heck, every screw head was aligned the same direction.
And your Grand Banks retailed for X$ million, and the Airstream maybe 120K.
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Old 09-20-2022, 09:24 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by jeffmc306 View Post
Not sure which post you’re referring to but will add what I did for the shunt.

I found a water tight box on Amazon and used gland nuts to seal the wires coming into it. I wanted to keep the large negative cable runs to a minimum. Going on three years without an issue.
Thank you for your reply.

Victron makes two version of the SmartShunt -- one is IP21 and the other is IP65. The IP65 is better sealed and more suitable to an environment like this exposed battery box.

Your solution looks like a viable alternative to IP65 version of the SmartShunt that I can't seem to locate.
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Old 09-20-2022, 09:38 AM   #17
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And your Grand Banks retailed for X$ million, and the Airstream maybe 120K.
LOL. It was a used 1985 GB36 Classic, single Lehman, $79k back in 1995, sold for $125k in 2001.
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Old 09-20-2022, 10:01 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SallyForth View Post
Thank you for your reply.

Victron makes two version of the SmartShunt -- one is IP21 and the other is IP65. The IP65 is better sealed and more suitable to an environment like this exposed battery box.

Your solution looks like a viable alternative to IP65 version of the SmartShunt that I can't seem to locate.
I'd reach out to Victron directly and they will be able to identify a retailer.
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Old 09-20-2022, 10:09 AM   #19
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Isn't there some place in the front of the trailer (inside) where Airstream could have installed pos. and neg. bus bars so that only one set of cable needed to be connected to the batteries? The wiring to both sides would be nearly the same, only to the internal bus bar instead of to the batteries.
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Old 09-20-2022, 10:41 AM   #20
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It is hard to believe that this is a 'professional' factory install. It looks like it was cobbled together by an novice. Take some time, figure out how to rewire it. It seems you have knowledge in marine standards. Unfortunately, there is no ABYC type standards for recreational vehicles. I have seen many installs that violate so many of the standards. They work but have a lot of hazard potentials. Good luck!
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