Solar Installation

Why put 2010 solar on a 1956 Airstream? As this will be our primary trailer, the functionality the solar charging provides to the 12v electrical system allows uninterrupted travel, boondocking, and peace of mind of never running out of power for lights, the water pump, cooling fan and other conveniences.

Up on top inline with the vents are the two 60W each solar panels.


The tops of one of the 4 feed through provisions for the 2 solar panels. The discolored area is where the old swamp cooler used to sit.

Inside of the bulkhead feedthroughs from Blue Sea Marine.

Looking aft of the center vent at the solar panel connectors and wiring.

Same area looking curbside at the solar wiring (#8) as it goes down the curbside to the control panel area. (the connectors got wrapped later with electrical tape just in case the foil bubble wrap ever dropped).

The Heliotrope solar controller is in the middle. The red/black 8 AWG wiring from the panels connect to it via the terminal strip, and the output drops back down to the battery compartment. It can be turned off to disconnect the panels, or selected to Shore Power to allow the batteries to be maintained at a lower voltage by the 110v battery charger and the Heliotrope will still indicate system status (array amps, charging amps & battery voltage) and still be in standby.

The output from the Heliotrope connects to the main DC bus via 8AWG cable in the battery and DC electrical center under the bed.

Since all lighting is LED, the only other power users are are the two fans, the water pump and the inverter. The result is an endless power supply with just minimal sun during the day. With full sun, the 120W solar panel output can run the microwave without using any battery power.

The 60W panels cost $267 each from Mr Mounted on the roof in the centerline they are not visible from the ground unless you are far away. The adjustable mounts allow quick access to the underside and for cleaning.

The AM Solar mounts are expensive ($55 a pair), but are worth it, as they are what allows the panels to be mounted on the arched top Airstream roof, and the quick release knobs allow you to pivot one side up for access, cleaning, or if you so desired, able to tilt towards a low sun angle.