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Old 12-20-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
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FT in a '90s Airstream?

One of the concerns we had was whether an Airstream really is a full-time coach. Those who say it isn't point to poor insulation in the walls. I'd sure like to hear from someone who is full-timing in a WB Airstream.

One thing we did for this coach was to purchase an electric heater for the salon area so we wouldn't use so much propane. That's fine when we have 50A service, but I wonder about whether we would have problems with a 30A site. 30A service translates to 3600 watts, and the electric heater uses 1500 of that. Yes, I can turn it off when we need the microwave, but that still is a bit of a nuisance.

I also have a small (750W) electric heater in the wet bay. Yes, it is heated by the rear furnace, but it is just some added insurance. Do you use such auxiliary heaters?
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Old 12-20-2014, 05:30 PM   #2
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We are "part-time full-timers" which means we spend up to 9 months or so on the road so please take these observations in that context.

We carry a small space heater and use it all the time when the weather is cold. We have not had any problem using it when we have "only" 30 amp hookups. Our microwave is only 700 watts and does not trip any breakers when we use it at the same time as the space heater. Of course, we tend to use the microwave for less than 10 minutes per day so it would not be much of a hardship to turn off the space heater to use the microwave.

The space heater is fine up to a point. Then the propane comes into play. So far our coldest stretch was a period of several days where we did not get above freezing and the nighttime lows were in the mid teens. We did fine and propane usage was tolerable. We did find that the aluminum skin is cold to the touch when the outside temps are below freezing. I'd have to say that Airstreams are "three season" campers and not "four season" campers. We do not have experience with other brand of RV's in winter to say whether the Airstream is better, the same or worse.

However, we are not lovers of winter sports and tend to stay inside when the temps get that ridiculous and that's when the 27 foot Airstream shows it's true limitations. So what's our solution? We head south to where we can be outdoors. There is no way that we would spend time in our Airstream (or any other RV including a 45 foot Class A) if we had to be cooped up in it all day long during the winter.
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Old 12-20-2014, 05:37 PM   #3
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We are in a 1999. The windows are what leaks most of our heat. We just go where it is warm.
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:57 PM   #4
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Thanks. We had a 19' Heartland mpg as our "learner" and discovered that it was too small for the two of us if we were going to be stuck in it for several days. That said, we don't typically spend all day every day inside of our coach. Even with our 40' MH we're usually outside some each day, weather permitting. That said, though, sooner or later weather will force us to stay inside, so having comfortable surroundings is important.
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Old 12-20-2014, 07:30 PM   #5
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I fulltime in Coastal Virginia - It does get cold in the winter - especially as I have the EB with bare aluminum interior. I JUST experimented with using little Command hooks to hang prodex "blinds" over the windows and fan in my bedroom. Seems to help a lot, but the bedroom becomes a black cave.

First thing in the morning I pop off the prodex on one window and the fan just so I can feel like it's morning. May try the same thing over the panos and whole hatch in the back. Probably a 2 piece one in the hatch so I can drop the top half and have the center window.

The panos are a problem because you basically have to put the Prodex behind the curtains making it hard to remove the insulation easily.

I fulltime but don't travel as much as I'd like - not retiring yet. To do it, I constantly battle the desire to buy clothing and stuff I don't have room to store. About 3 times a year I have a major "give away/throw away/sell event. I hope I'm getting better at resisting temptation but victory is not in sight. If you fill more than 2 laundry baskets per person, you've got too much stuff!

It can be done, but I wouldn't do it in the cold frozen north.
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Old 12-21-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
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I went about installing the insulation the other way around. I opened the windows and put it in from the outside except the entry door, vista views, stacks, skylights, and fan. Some of it is left in permanently- the panos and some of the other windows. I remove the pieces installed from the inside in the skylights, vista views, and stacks to get daylight in the trailer.
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Old 12-21-2014, 05:04 PM   #7
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I use Reflectix in six of nine windows for seasonal extremes. Added charcoal cloth to exterior of that so that it disappears behind window tint.
That we can have low heat LED or CFL lighting makes for better interior lighting to offset window covers.

Reflectix also for overhead vents. Double glazed types are available.

An older trailer will need new weatherstripping at doors and elsewhere. Take your time with this.

On my list are polycarbonate interior storm windows.

Trailer vinyl skirting at some point.

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Old 12-21-2014, 06:56 PM   #8
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We had a smaller 1300 watt heater to use with our limited 30 amp power. The heat tapes used on water supply and stinky slinky were plugged into the aux. 20 amp circuit. We also installed an extended stay fitting at the LP tank. This way we could use 30 lb propane tanks to refill. This was a lot easier than driving to the local KOA when we needed propane. This fitting also allows us to hook up our grill to the MH when out at a rally or just camping. Click this link to see some of what we had to do when we full timed in our 1989 345 MH.
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Old 01-14-2015, 08:45 PM   #9
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Thanks for the advice. Usually, Laborers park their coaches at the church, which provides FHU for each coach. Unfortunately, church parking lots are usually lacking shade and wind breaks. We know enough not to take a job in Texas in July or Wisconsin in November, but what about more normal temperatures, say lows in the 40's to highs in the 80's (with sun)?
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Old 01-14-2015, 11:47 PM   #10
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That's easy enough. You'll get used to turning on heat or air earlier than temps would suggest. I also recommend a dehumidifier.
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:57 AM   #11
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Theres a reason Airstreams have wheels!

That said:

Boondocking you can be good down to about 30, on shore power, mid teens (Using electric and propane)

That metal bubble insulation over the windows helps, as does getting a roll of insulation to skirt the thing with. (my 28 footer takes 2 rolls)
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Old 02-08-2015, 06:04 PM   #12
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We have been FT since 2007 in a 1976 Ambassador. I took out one of the twin beds and had a custom double mattress made for the curb side. A cabinet maker built a set of drawers and small closet to replace the one twin. I also expanded the number of 110 outlets and installed LEDs everywhere. This last summer we replaced the copper plumbing with Upanor PEX. We are in a small central Oregon RV park. The temps got down to -7F but we did just fine by rotating the use of two electric space heaters (1500/1500) and the furnace. Took a few precautions to protect the plumbing but did nothing elaborate. Monthly utility bill was $180.
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