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Old 02-23-2016, 10:12 AM   #1
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Cornville , Maine
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Posts: 6
Appliances for full time living

Hey all!

My boyfriend and I just bought a '77 Sovereign with the intentions of living in it full time. The report we got when we bought it was that the fridge doesn't cool, but the stove "should" work. As it has been winter in Maine, we haven't filled the tanks yet, but will be testing the propane tanks and water tanks once we are above freezing temperatures.
Anyway, we are looking for advice when it comes to appliances for full time living. We are hoping to go fully solar and propane, so that we don't have to be hooked up anywhere. What are people's suggestions to maintain that type of lifestyle? Should we go fully electric and get tons of solar panels, or should we rely on propane for the fridge, stove and hot water?
Also, looking at getting a new cooling unit for the original fridge, is it worth it to spend $800 on a new ammonia cooling unit, or should we just get a new one for $1,200? Thanks in advance for the advice, we are super excited to join the ranks of the great Airstreamers!

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Old 02-23-2016, 10:34 AM   #2
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Evanston , Wyoming
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you will be all propane, cooking, frig and hot water.
If you have to get a new stove go to one of the marine boat stoves for full time.
I have used and lived full time on my boats. Dickerson or force 10 will out last you.
I all so use solar on the boat, keep it simple you can all ways up grade as need down the road. Hard to get ride of items that wasted money.
Change lights to LED, start living simple now at home it will make the life style change easier. It is amazing what you don't need when you are space challenged.
Good luck

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Old 02-25-2016, 02:35 PM   #3
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Cornville , Maine
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Thanks for the response. We were hoping to go fully solar, but it seems pretty expensive. Any other suggestions for remodeling for full time living?
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Old 02-25-2016, 02:58 PM   #4
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2014 30' Flying Cloud
Ponce Inlet , Florida
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 69
We live in our Airstream about 60% of the year -- not full time but probably more than the average person. We have had solar since the second week we owned our AS. And have recently changed to lithium batteries and added 2 more solar panels. Yes, they aren't cheep but we think they're worth it. You can get a 30% tax credit for installing solar, so that helps a little.

We have a marine fridge - runs on electric and battery only -- no propane. I love it. Everything is always nice and cold. We are in the middle of installing a 2 burner induction cooktop and removing the propane cooktop. We do have a portable propane stove (runs on those little bottles) for an emergency or if we want to cook outside. I would never completely get rid of the propane. It works great for the heater and hot water.

I know that a mostly electric AS isn't for everyone but it works for us. We do boondock about 35% of the time. With the lithium batteries and 740w of solar panels, we are just fine. We don't own a generator but are thinking about getting one before a trip to Alaska -- just to be safe.
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Old 02-26-2016, 11:03 AM   #5
2015 25' FB International
Laramie , Wyoming
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Posts: 31
Solar is free(after initial outlay) propane makes you a slave to tank filling- I would use as much free/renewable as possible!
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Old 02-26-2016, 11:32 AM   #6
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Madison , Wisconsin
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I have a off the grid cabin, It lives like a connected house. If you want to use solar for full time refrigeration and a electric stove, let alone a hot water heater you will need more panels and batteries than you probably imagine. I've a propane fridge, stove and on demand hot water heater and they work great and are economical. My solar setup has 4 400 watt panels and 6 large 6 volt batteries that will run things for about two days plus. Electrical needs are lights, battery charging, tv, radio, fans and water pump. If I wanted to run fridge, stove and hot water off the solar, I'd guess that 4-5 times the system I have might not do it. Fridge and stove and hot water are major energy users! Not to mention that cloudy days mean next to no charging.
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Old 02-26-2016, 11:41 AM   #7
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Rocky Mount , North Carolina
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Good morning TwoAirHeads. My husband and I are full timers (for three years) and here are the appliances we recommend: induction cooktop. The one we have is "Precision Induction Cooktop" available at Walmart. About $100. It uses very little electricity, is space efficient, does not use propane. And it is very easy to cook with, never burning things. Nice. We removed the stove, put in a dishwasher (SPT) to keep my old hands out of water. Then Harry put in a drawer under the dishwasher for the Induction cooktop. The drawer is less than 3in deep. That means the stovetop is put away till I need it. We then purchased a Cuisinart convention convection/steam oven and a microwave. We also use a Kuerig Mini for coffee and tea. Space efficient. And a toaster. The other "appliance" that Harry installed is a tankless hot water heater. Works perfectly. And we have 50 amp electricity which is really nice for full timing. You might think you don't need it. Wait till you blow the circuit breakers a few times in the middle of dinner And we have a 2' x 4' solar panel that charges our batteries which supply power for the inside lights and controls the switching from electric to gas for the refrigerator. Nice. Ok. So enjoy being Airstreamers.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:18 PM   #8
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Vista , California
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I was just wondering if you would have enough sun during the winter for solar to even be workable.
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Old 02-26-2016, 02:09 PM   #9
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PammieSue offered something to think about. Solar in the winter is something to consider. Solar for Full Timing in Maine... maybe for LED light bulbs and a refrigerator fan.

(1)- Living in Maine, go to the coast and find someone who is full timing on a yacht or house boat. Probably ZERO. Ask WHEN everyone departed.

(2)- Next.

- Find a RV Park and talk with those who are living Full Time in Maine. Not those on this Forum Full Timing in Miami, Florida.

- If you find a full time camper in Maine... Probably ZERO. If you find one, ask to look at the utility bills.

I admire your sense of Adventure. Find others who share your enthusiasm, locally. Myself... I do not want to live miserable. Discovering frost on the inside of your single pane windows, every winter day... it is too late to change your mind. We have been caught in an April snow at 6200 feet elevation in New Mexico and you can get through a day or a week... but Full Timing is not an option in Maine. The snow hits and you ARE Full Timing.

You can do it, although will go bankrupt to heat the interior. You will need electricity. Your water system is not protected enough, or even if planned to be heat wired and that does not even help. The list of caveats is longer than your trailer.

Full Timing requires that you move with the Seasons to find a comfort zone. If you work in one area and plan to full time there, check out the annual Highs and Low temperatures.

The Mohave Desert in Southern Nevada is beautiful right now. July... 110 to 120F. Travel 150 miles north of Las Vegas and it is tolerable heat and cool at night. I know. Have done it enough.
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Old 02-26-2016, 02:35 PM   #10
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2015 27' Flying Cloud
Olympia , Washington
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All solar not practical for a trailer?

To carry the area and weight of solar panels and the weight of batteries you will need to support a few days without sun in a cold location (say one that gets down to freezing at night occasionally) and also heat, (cool?), cook, and have hot water from your solar system would probably require more weight than your trailer and tow vehicle can support and more storage room than you have available in both. Full solar with a reasonable load would mean there are days or weeks with cold showers, no hot food, and cold nights inside (and all the mold and mildew that comes with a cool, damp interior). Even with new type lithium batteries, you will have substantial cost, weight and space taken to support heating, cooking or hot water from electric sources only. A small refrigerator can probably be run practically from solar-charged batteries most of the time, since the biggest load will be in the hottest periods when heating demand is less and solar is readily available.
Using a new-generation tablet or convertible rather than a laptop will probably also conserve on power if you are contemplating any on-line or calculation-intensive time. Using any inverter-using appliances is a big draw on your power reserve.
Good luck, and let us know how successful you are in trying to get off fuel for much of your energy use - specific suggestions on devices or techniques you may find and try out would be welcome to many here I'm sure.
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Old 02-26-2016, 05:09 PM   #11
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The Canadian stainless steel stove top with three burners and an oven is the Dickinson Mediterrenean. They also have a two burner model. A source in the US sells that three burner model for $1,403 and change plus about $30 for the mounting trim kit (versus the gimbal kit for a boat). The motor freight bill will smoke the credit card.

Their website is:

And the vendor is Sure Marine in Seattle.
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:23 PM   #12
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Mahone Bay , Nova Scotia
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There is an Italian made stove/oven SMEV which was featured in a Trailer Life article, also available on-line under "One hot Italian". Uses 1/3 less propane and cooks better. If you have to replace your stove/oven it might be something to look at, otherwise if what you have works, you may choose to try it for a while before spending $$. If you plan to stay in Maine year round, forget full-timing. Sorry, don't mean to be harsh, but it would be impossible to do it with any kind of comfort unless you are in a heated barn, or you are impervious to cold and discomfort. Coming north too early in the spring we have encountered some full timers hunkered down in campgrounds - with insulated skirting and huge propane tanks. To full time you need to move with the seasons, or live in South Carolina type weather - a little cold is OK, although inconvenient trying to keep tanks from freezing etc., but not all winter.
Solar panels are less efficient as you go north- wonderful in places like Arizona, less so in Maine.
Depending on the work you do, and how economical you are in getting your AS roadworthy, if you have no debt you can live fairly cheaply, and maybe telecommute or pick up seasonal work etc. enabling you to change locations with the seasons. Lots of folks living on the road.
The appliances you need are somewhat personal choice. We carry a crockpot and a small electric frypan hitch we use when we have power in a campground. Our rig has a microwave/convection oven combo, but I prefer a gas oven. Cheaper but not free and clean like solar, is a generator. Get a quiet Honda if you want to make friends with your fellow campers. They are reasonably light and small.
You have come to the right place with your questions. Good luck!
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Old 02-26-2016, 07:30 PM   #13
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We converted our pair of Honda 2,000 watt generators to propane so there was one less fuel to keep track of when on the road and the carburetor does not get gummed up from stale gasoline. We have a spare 30 pound propane tank with a two hose regulator to run both or one generator can be plugged into the grill propane outlet on the front of the Airstream.

The SMEV line was acquired by Dickinson according to the Dickinson web site.
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Old 02-26-2016, 09:41 PM   #14
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1994 30' Excella
Kiefer , Oklahoma
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I would suggest winter diesel instead of propane.
Dickerson makes a great cooktop, hot water heater, furnace.
Onan has an Ultra quiet diesel Rv generator to recharge your
House battery bank. Plus, you will have the option to use biodiesel.

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