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Old 12-29-2014, 09:36 PM   #1
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Winter Travel

We just purchased a 2014 Interstate. It is located in New Jersey and we would like to pick it up in mid January and drive it back to Houston.

Is it realistic to plan on having two nights on the road without a power hookup in nighttime temperatures of 18 to 20 F. I would plan to get the van either to a power hookup or to an area of above 32 F temperatures after two nights.

Can we use either the generator or the diesel to provide enough power for the tank heaters and run the furnace?

Also I am curious on how much time the tank of propane would last if we only ran the generator and furnace for 8 to 9 hours at night.

Any insight would be appreciated.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:04 PM   #2
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Interstate have propane furnace, as long as you have propane you should be fine. Water tank runs on either propane or electricity so no need for power hook up. If you want to use microwave and don't have power hook up, you do need run generator which also run on propane. Only thing I would worry is freezing temp that might cause problems with water plumbing system and grey and black tank and plumbing that are associated with them.
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Old 12-29-2014, 10:15 PM   #3
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Is it realistic to plan on having two nights on the road without a power hookup in nighttime temperatures of 18 to 20 F.
Yes. I've been camping in mine in below-freezing temperatures.
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Can we use either the generator or the diesel to provide enough power for the tank heaters and run the furnace?
If it has not been winterized and you need tank heaters, then you will need to run the generator. Tank heaters will drain your house batteries stony dead in four hours or less in below-freezing temperatures.
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Also I am curious on how much time the tank of propane would last if we only ran the generator and furnace for 8 to 9 hours at night.
On late-model Interstates (any dual-rear-wheel model) a full tank of propane will operate the generator for 24 hours at a moderate load, if the generator is all you're running. If you're also running the furnace along with the generator, I would plan on 16 hours of operation before you need to refill the propane tank, but that's just an estimate. It will depend in large part on how high you set the furnace thermostat.
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:23 PM   #4
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Without a shakedown run and along with freezing temperatures, I think you should seriously consider staying in hotels for the 1st night or two.

Without shore power and being unfamiliar with your new van could make for a couple miserable nights. Or at least one
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:47 PM   #5
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Winter Travel

You should also expect that the first time you fire up your furnace it is going to spew a goodly amount of smoke from residual oil friends the manufacturing process. It will be enough to set off your smoke alarm and make for a very unpleasant evening. Unless, it is a used Interstate.

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Old 12-30-2014, 06:13 AM   #6
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Have the dealer you are purchasing the I3500 from do an operational check of all systems, including running the furnace to 'burn-off' the assembly residue. The ops-check should be run regardless of what your camping plans are.
Good Luck and have a safe drive.
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Old 12-30-2014, 06:42 AM   #7
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Have the dealer you are purchasing the I3500 from do an operational check of all systems, including running the furnace to 'burn-off' the assembly residue. The ops-check should be run regardless of what your camping plans are.
Agreed. In fact, it should be part of your "new RV" orientation. Watch him perform each task, taking notes as necessary (here's where a smartphone comes in handy because you can also video him doing it), and then do it yourself under his watchful eye to make sure you know how. No task should come as a surprise the first time you have to do it for yourself. Ideally.

Oh, and while he's demonstrating the RV systems, make sure he demonstrates the van systems, too. For example, it took me weeks— and some coaching from here on the AirForums— to learn how to downshift a Sprinter; something you may need to know for your first trip depending on weather and terrain. Somehow when I read the manual it just went in one eye and out the other, and the dealer didn't cover that.
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:09 AM   #8
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If you do camp without hookups get a portable jump box and charge it up.. That way if you do run down all the batteries you have a self contained source to get your van started.. You can get one for about $80 at Walmart, Home Depot etc... Good luck and welcome to Airstreaming it's an awesome way to travel!!
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:17 AM   #9
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If your propane tank is full, and battery charged, I think you would be fine overnighting in a rest stop with your furnace running. You shouldn't need to also run your generator, at least not for your furnace.

If you are driving during the day, should be able to do this all the way back to Houston, if you choose, as long as you have propane. You could stop at a truck stop and pay for showers.

Pick up a few gallons of water for drinking, and you will be good to go.

If it is seriously cold, open your lower cabinet and bathroom doors when you go to bed, to disperse heat a bit better.

We have done this a dozen times or more, with no problem, and never run the tank heater.

Basic rule of thumb is.....if it is warm enough for you, it is warm enough to keep things from freezing.

Have a great time!


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Old 12-30-2014, 08:38 AM   #10
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Dry camping is a leap of faith.

Once you know all the systems are working, you need to trust that if it works for everyone else, it will work for you.

Could turn your furnace on when you stop for lunch or bathroom breaks, just to reassure yourself that it's all working.

it is a wonderful sense of independence, knowing you have what you need to live with you....your house on your back.


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Old 12-30-2014, 06:52 PM   #11
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I would ask Colonial RV to winterize your fresh water system. Drain all lines and water tank. Drain fresh water tank. Have them flush great and black tanks with a gallon or so of the RV antifreeze and have them flush the macerator line and pump with the RV antifreeze. Then use it and maybe stay in a motel the 1st night as suggested. Once you are far enough south, stop and add fresh water to the water tank keeping in mind the water heater alone is 6 gallons. Turn on the water pump and purge the water lines and ENJOY your new motorhome.

Yes stop at Walmart and pick up maybe 2-3 gallons drinking water. We did the same thing last March. Came from PA to FLA and once we got to GA we added water to the fresh water tank and then had a normal operating m-home. Along the way we just drank from the water bottles and used some water to flush toilet and freshen our face/brush teeth/etc.

As to a spare starting battery, your engine battery is isolated from the RV batteries and should have no reason to go dead overnight while "dry camping."

But ask away. There are lots of knowledgable answers available here on AIR FORUMS.
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Old 12-30-2014, 07:22 PM   #12
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My batteries are connected.. On our old B van the batteries were separate you could run the coach down but still be able to start the engine. I wonder if they made an error on our Interstate cause if the coach bat dies then it starts to draw from the car battery and when that happens everything is dead.. But I carry a small jump box just in case..
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:03 PM   #13
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You may have a bad battery separator. The house and chassis batteries should both charge from the alternator or generator but when using the "house" system the Interstate should be just like your old van and only draw down the house.
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Old 12-31-2014, 08:54 AM   #14
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I just called an Airstream service center and they said that the battery system is all connected, which makes no sense whatsoever.. So if you don't start the engine, gen or plug in all batteries will be out of juice in a day or two depending on what you're running.. When it happened to me the only thing running was the fridge and it was in front of my house so not a big deal.. It would really suck to be in the middle of no where camping and be stranded..
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