A view of our Airstream Power setup

Airstream power to go!

Richard Charpentier Adventure, Airstream, Arizona, Notes from Rich, RLC Design, Travel 1 Comment

Airstream power in the desert

Things have been so busy.  So it’s no wonder that I haven’t provided any updates on the new Airstream power system.  But today I’ll fix that quickly with this post.  And with luck over the weekend I’ll finish another video on my time with PrecisionRV.com.  There will also be another post over at my business blog talking about what we did for Precision RV.

Adding Solar

I’ve owned my 2004 Airstream Safari for 12 years now.  And I first set out across the country 10 years ago.  And in all of that time I never added a solar system to the Airstream.  I always wanted to, but never got around to it.  Time, expense, and who would I have do it?  Those were all of the issues.

Airstream Power 600 Watts of Solar

600 Watts on the roof

Fortunately I learned about “Marvelous Marv” from Precision RV this year.  A mutual friend and Airstream owner put us in touch.  Marv needed a new website, and I needed to get off the fence about putting a solar setup on the Airstream.  A match made in heaven!

Marvin and I first met in January while we were visiting Sundance1 RV Resort again to migrate their websites to a new hosting platform.  Marvin was kind enough to stop by while we were down and take a look at my Airstream.

In talking with him about solar power for RV’s I knew immediately that he really knew his stuff.  Watts, Amps, Volts, batteries…..oh yeah.  It’s fun meeting people who really love their jobs, and Marvin is one of those people!

After our initial meeting we kept in touch weekly via phone planning out when to do his new website.  Given his skills and reputation, he was pretty busy.  But finally a few weeks ago we decided it was time to rebuild his website, and get my solar Airstream power system going!

Over the past 2 weeks we worked around his schedule.  In addition to my solar setup, Marvin was also working on a 30 foot Airstream, a 22 foot Arctic Fox travel trailer, and finally an Arctic Fox 5th Wheel.  Amazing!  I got to see it all.  Small installations and big installations.  Go figure, I was the only non-lithium battery plant.  I had requested a simpler system.  And we’ll see in time if I did the right thing……

What did we add?

Airstream power from Precision rV

Precision RV hard at work on my Airstream

Okay, here’s the super short list of what was done.  In comparison to the other jobs I watched Precision RV work on, I’d say I was the easy installation.

  • 600 Watts of Solar Panels:  We’ve got 6 panels on the roof now.  And they start charging the moment the sun comes up.  I’ve been watching ever so closely!
  • Blue Sky Charge Controller:  The charge controller is very important to the system.  It monitors the battery temperatures, how much power is going into the batteries, and it keeps me up to date with the whole power system through a cool little wall remote.  Know my favorite part?  the part where it keeps telling me the batteries are at 100%!
  • LifeLine AGM Batteries:  For the moment we’ve got a 300 Amp hour battery plant.  So realistically we can use 150 Amp hours (50% doesn’t get used).  In 4 days of experimentation we’ve seen our power plant at 100% by 9 a.m. and it remains there all day.  Batteries only get drained at night, and get full power before noon every day!  You might ask yourself, “Why didn’t Rich go with the super awesome Lithium batteries and a hybrid inverter as well?”  In answer to that?  I’m cheap, and that’s something I’ll have to save for down the road.
Airstream Power solar system

Changing how we boondock forever!

So there you have it.  A pretty simple system.  We opted to not do an inverter at the moment.  I’ve got several portable inverters that will allow me to charge computers, cameras, and the rest of our gear.  Plus while experimenting I found I can power my laptop and big monitor with the little inverter I have.  Guess what?  That’s all I need.  I can’t run the microwave or air conditioner, but that was by choice.  The fridge, water pump, hot water heater all get power from the DC power plant, so covered there.  If there’s ever a moment where we desperately need the air conditioner, I still have the generator!

Look forward to more boondocking stories this year…….


Comments 1

  1. Congratulations… your trailer will be happier and get a charge out of it!

    BTW, I’m on my second set of Lifeline batteries and love them!

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