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Old 11-05-2014, 09:38 AM   #15
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There are some who have had lewster add quite a bit of solar panel power to their rigs. My 50 watt panel keeps my coach batteries and chassis battery charged and can keep the refrigerator running as long as there's not two or more cloudy days in a row.
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:42 AM   #16
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The Novakool is a great product, However the "auto sensor" that switches from 12volt to 110 volt should be a switch not a sensor.
I used to have a problem with the way some things were done on the Interstate. Such as the fridge. Until I realized that the folks at Jackson Center are used to dealing with Dometic 12v/propane fridges, and not Nova Kool 12v/120v fridges. They see a power cord coming out the back, they figure it must have to be plugged in somewhere. Since the fridge will work in 12v mode regardless of power source, the easy way is to unplug the 120v cord, and cover the plug with one of those white plastic prong protectors that a lot of appliances are packaged with these days.
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By the way is there many out there using solar systems on these rigs?!
Not for camping. But since I live in an apartment when I'm not living in my Airstream, and there's no place to plug in shore power, I rely upon the solar panel to keep the house batteries charged. The panel doesn't even have to do a perfect job of it, just keep the batteries charged well enough that I still have enough power to start the generator once a month.

I never really considered an Airstream Interstate to be much of a boondocking vehicle, and the only times I expect to ever need to boondock in it is for the first night of a hurricane evacuation, or if I arrive at a WBCCI rally too late to be parked the same day and I have to spend the night in the "bullpen" until I can be parked in my campsite the next morning.

Honestly, if I really wanted to boondock, I'd still be a tent camper.
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Old 11-05-2014, 10:41 AM   #17
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......

By the way is there many out there using solar systems on these rigs?!

Yes there are a few of us on this forum that have made significant solar upgrades. I have 400 wats on top of my Interstate and it totally changes the utility of the van. Spent 5 days of dry camping in Denali NP this summer in rainy cloudy weather. Extra solar made it possible without running generator.

IIRC the 2010-2013 Interstates came with 50 watts of solar. It was an option on earlier models. Airstream upped that to 100 watts sometime in 2014. I think 200 watts is a minimum for these vans to be useful.


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Old 11-05-2014, 10:49 AM   #18
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I think 200 watts is a minimum for these vans to be useful.
Together with upgraded batteries, Mike?
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Old 11-05-2014, 11:01 AM   #19
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They see a power cord coming out the back, they figure it must have to be plugged in somewhere.
That's probably about right. The real question is why they order the 120VAC option in the first place. The NovaKool in our GWV Legend is 12VDC only--no plug to cause confusion. Plus, SOMEBODY paid for the useless power brick and cord.
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Old 11-05-2014, 12:43 PM   #20
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Thanks for everyone's help. My understanding of the Interstate's electrical system has greatly improved. Next week I am having Lew install 3 100 watt solar panels, Lifeline Batteries and Magnum Inverter along with upgraded TV Booster. Does the Magnum inverter have a way of making sure the batteries don't go below 50% automatically? Also I am looking for a cellular signal booster. Maximum is coming out with one which will allow multiple devices be used anywhere within the vehicle. This is a huge improvement over the ones at Wilson if it works. Comments?


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Old 11-05-2014, 05:22 PM   #21
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On the subject of fridges, does anyone know why Airstream switched from a propane fridge to an "all electric"? Are there disadvantages to the propane models that I don't know about yet?
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Old 11-05-2014, 05:31 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post

I never really considered an Airstream Interstate to be much of a boondocking vehicle, and the only times I expect to ever need to boondock in it is for the first night of a hurricane evacuation, or if I arrive at a WBCCI rally too late to be parked the same day and I have to spend the night in the "bullpen" until I can be parked in my campsite the next morning.

Honestly, if I really wanted to boondock, I'd still be a tent camper.
When you retire, Protag, and start roaming the country, you may change your mind on boondocking for a night or two in a spectacularly beautiful spot that has no amenities.

Extremes in temperatures prohibiting, there is something very freeing and liberating about pulling in somewhere to spend a night, knowing you have everything you need to be comfortable......right in your itty, bitty rig.

We have a flexibity the big rigs just don't have.


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Old 11-05-2014, 05:57 PM   #23
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On the subject of fridges, does anyone know why Airstream switched from a propane fridge to an "all electric"? Are there disadvantages to the propane models that I don't know about yet?
The new "electric only" fridges are compressor units (like those used in homes). Propane units are "absorption" refrigerators, which have several disadvantages, including (a) very slow initial cooling; (b) erratic performance; (c) relatively large power consumption when used in 12VDC mode; and (d) poor performance when not level.

None of these things are true of modern compressor fridges such as the NovaKool. All else being equal, a compressor unit will consume about 1/3 the power of an absorption fridge when run on 12VDC. The NovaKool is great. They are rapidly taking over the industry.
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Old 01-27-2015, 08:03 PM   #24
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The new "electric only" fridges are compressor units (like those used in homes). Propane units are "absorption" refrigerators, which have several disadvantages, including (a) very slow initial cooling; (b) erratic performance; (c) relatively large power consumption when used in 12VDC mode; and (d) poor performance when not level.

None of these things are true of modern compressor fridges such as the NovaKool. All else being equal, a compressor unit will consume about 1/3 the power of an absorption fridge when run on 12VDC. The NovaKool is great. They are rapidly taking over the industry.
I've had both types of refrigerators in my previous coaches, and since I do a fair share of boondocking, I far prefer the gas absorption type. Yes, the initial cooling is slower, but all it takes is a bit more planning ahead before stocking it. The cooling is somewhat affected by ambient air temperature, but not so much that is a problem. I could run for weeks on propane, using negligible 12V for the controller. The 12V cooling mode is only intended for use while driving, so this cannot really be compared to the performance of a 12V compressor unit as there is no battery drain issue when driving and the mode is not used when stationary. I've never had a level issue, as the coach is relatively level while driving and always leveled at campsite.

This is the one issue I have with the later Interstates - no option for absorption refrigerators. I do realize these newer 12V compressor units are quite efficient, but they still use considerably more power than an absorbtion unit running on propane. My question would be - how long can you run a NovaKool before you need to recharge the house batteries?
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Old 01-28-2015, 08:28 AM   #25
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This is the one issue I have with the later Interstates - no option for absorption refrigerators. I do realize these newer 12V compressor units are quite efficient, but they still use considerably more power than an absorbtion unit running on propane. My question would be - how long can you run a NovaKool before you need to recharge the house batteries?
Never ran one that long just on the house batteries. Before a trip, I cool down the fridge in 12v mode, and the dinky 50w solar panel on the roof is just about able to keep up with the demand except in the hottest part of mid-summer (assuming no other appliances are turned on). Given that the fridge is on 24 hours and the solar panel is only charging the house batteries during daylight hours…
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:50 AM   #26
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That's been my experience with the refrigerator also. With sunlit days, the solar panel can keep up with the load without any other loads.
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Old 01-28-2015, 06:08 PM   #27
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That's been my experience with the refrigerator also. With sunlit days, the solar panel can keep up with the load without any other loads.
Nice to know. So, enhancing the factory solar system up to about 150-200 watts of panels, there should be no issue keeping up. I'm also guessing that in colder weather, the refrigerator compressor won't be cycling as often, allowing the use of the furnace without too much effect on the batteries.

I have power management down to a science on my current coach with propane refrigeration and no solar system. So, just trying to understand how I can use an Interstate as effectively.
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