Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 10-30-2013, 04:46 PM   #43
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Problems with heat, plumbing, condensation, ventilation and discomfort will probably scuttle the concept of an Airstream in winter with a tiny solar electrical system in short order. They are a poor winter cabin, slightly better than a tent.
What if everything was insulated? How big of a solar system do you need to run a propane furnace and water pump? I was just hoping I wouldn't have to start with a big solar system but if I have to I will up the wattage. What about ventilation? What problems will I run into?
__________________

__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 06:07 PM   #44
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreaminWA View Post
What if everything was insulated?
It is. The distance between the inner and outer walls does not provide enough space for insulation suitable for true winter use. The problems are not unique to Airstreams -- most other RVs are the same way.

Few Airstreams have double-glazed windows; those few that do don't have them throughout and tend to have problems with them. There are a handful of non-Airstream RVs with double-glazed windows, but reports vary on how much better they are.

Quote:
How big of a solar system do you need to run a propane furnace and water pump?
The water pump doesn't use much.

The propane furnaces generally draw 10a. How cold will it get where you are? At 10 degrees the fan will run over 50% of the time (I have a chart somewhere that I made) and it draws around 10 amps when it runs, so you'll use 120 AH a day. Allowing for wiring, controller, and battery losses, that is around 1800 watts.

Solar Insolation Map

Spokane shows an average of 4.48 hours of sun per day, which would mean you'd need 401 watts of PV just to run the furnace -- on an average day. During the winter, you'd need more, and you'd have to allow some for lighting, fans, and other uses. How much? I'm guessing 1000 watts still wouldn't be enough but ask one of the solar guys. That's more panels than you'll fit on the trailer, anyway.

Quote:
I was just hoping I wouldn't have to start with a big solar system but if I have to I will up the wattage.
You're in Washington. In the winter it's cloudy and the days are short. It's a poor environment for solar power. You'd probably be best off having utility power run in. If that isn't feasible, you'll be better of with a generator.

Quote:
What about ventilation? What problems will I run into?
You will get condensation on the walls, windows, and other surfaces due to the cold. Ventilation helps to some degree however when the weather is really cold there's not much you can do.
__________________

__________________
To learn to see below the surface, you must adjust your altitude
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 06:15 PM   #45
Rivet Master
 
dkottum's Avatar
 
2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,716
Sixty years ago my grandparents lived on a small farm and I spent a great deal of time there. It was wonderful.

They had no electricity, no plumbing, only wood fuel for cooking and heating. They had a big wood cookstove, and a big wood heating stove which was stoked with large dry hand-split oak at night and burned to embers by morning. And stoked again. They were there all day every day keeping the wood burners going in winter. Often snowed in.

There was an outdoor well pump, with a handle, which often had to be thawed and primed with hot water heated on the cookstove. You carried the water in, and heated it for baths. The toilet was an outdoor "house" over a pit, supplemented with pots to be emptied every morning.

This is how the pioneers you refer to did it, not off to jobs during the day. But the major difference between you and them, aside from seldom leaving home, is their home had volume. The big wood stoves' tremendous heat output was modulated by the size of the house; there was plenty of air and ventilation and the house absorbed and released the heat. Excessive moisture (burning dry wood dries the air, burning propane produces much moisture) passed right through the non-vapor barrier walls. Similar was a pioneer's log cabin, so different is a thin aluminum shell.

Airstreams are tiny, three-season shelters. It takes a lot of electric and propane to overcome that design in winter. Solar electric in short winter days at the low angle of the sun will not do it, even without overcast days.

We live in a rural part of the country today, but even in our county, a house or trailer set up this way would not be allowed. The minimum would be a septic and well system approved by them. Then there are state building codes that regulate all dwellings. I hate it but that's what happens as populations grow.
__________________
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

The Truth is More Important Than the Facts
dkottum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 07:18 PM   #46
Rivet Master
 
andreasduess's Avatar
 
1984 34' International
Toronto , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,496
Images: 5
Blog Entries: 1
I think it is possible to live in a small, well built, dwelling during the winter, but an Airstream would not be my first choice - as much as I love them. They're built for travelling, for movement. When the weather turns, an Airstream is designed to leave, not to suffer through it.

Have you considered a tiny house, stick built on a trailer frame? While they weigh a lot more than an Airstream, and are not really suitable for extended travelling, they can be built to withstand almost any climate in comfort.

You would still have to solve the power problem, but you'd live in a building where condensation, heating and isolation would be minor problems.
__________________
andreasduess is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 07:48 PM   #47
Rivet Master
 
garry's Avatar
 
1969 31' Sovereign
Broken Arrow , Oklahoma
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,362
Images: 7
I would think the power company would run electric to a pole like they do for mobile homes and with careful use you would be far better off.
In many places they will even set a pole, run the line for a really small fee and the monthly minimum would probably be less than $20.

RV propane furnaces are a propane hog and would be your largest expense, I suspect electric heat would be 1/3 the cost. Plus you will have to rent a tank large enough to have it serviced by a delivery truck.

We lived in our camper over 4 months in the winter with occasional nights down to 18 deg and daytime usually above 35 and used small electric heaters.

I understand having a really tight budget and willing to rough it but do give serious consideration to water and electricity before ruling them out.
__________________
Garry
garry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 08:50 PM   #48
Rivet Master
 
cameront120's Avatar
 
1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,422
Images: 23
Garry makes a good point on propane usage. When I lived in my Airstream during a west coast winter (mild compared to inland Washington), I went through at least two 30 pound tanks every 5 or 6 days. That's considerably more expensive than heating a small home with electricity. To be honest, you'd be better off building a one room cabin that is well insulated and has all the mod cons within a small space.
__________________
Cameron & the Labradors, Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
cameront120 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 11:36 PM   #49
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post


The propane furnaces generally draw 10a. How cold will it get where you are? At 10 degrees the fan will run over 50% of the time (I have a chart somewhere that I made) and it draws around 10 amps when it runs, so you'll use 120 AH a day. Allowing for wiring, controller, and battery losses, that is around 1800 watts.

Solar Insolation Map

Spokane shows an average of 4.48 hours of sun per day, which would mean you'd need 401 watts of PV just to run the furnace -- on an average day. During the winter, you'd need more, and you'd have to allow some for lighting, fans, and other uses. How much? I'm guessing 1000 watts still wouldn't be enough but ask one of the solar guys. That's more panels than you'll fit on the trailer, anyway.

You're in Washington. In the winter it's cloudy and the days are short. It's a poor environment for solar power. You'd probably be best off having utility power run in. If that isn't feasible, you'll be better of with a generator.

You will get condensation on the walls, windows, and other surfaces due to the cold. Ventilation helps to some degree however when the weather is really cold there's not much you can do.
Thanks. So it's clear that living in an airstream during winter and being gone 10-12 hours a day will not be feasible with no electricity.

My boss actually asked me today if I wanted to work from home since she's never in her office. If I work from home that will solve the heating problem as I will be able to keep the fire stoked.

I'm looking into places with electricity already at the property so that during the winter I will not have to worry. If we rent the place out that we were thinking about I don't believe electricity is an option since there is a duplex already on the property. It would have to be metered and that's too complicated.
__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 11:44 PM   #50
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post

Have you considered a tiny house, stick built on a trailer frame? While they weigh a lot more than an Airstream, and are not really suitable for extended travelling, they can be built to withstand almost any climate in comfort.

You would still have to solve the power problem, but you'd live in a building where condensation, heating and isolation would be minor problems.
We considered things similar to the tumbleweed tiny house but they are still considerably more expensive than an airstream.
I may solve the condensation and power problem by working from home keeping a fire going. This would dry the air.
__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 11:50 PM   #51
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by garry View Post
I would think the power company would run electric to a pole like they do for mobile homes and with careful use you would be far better off.
In many places they will even set a pole, run the line for a really small fee and the monthly minimum would probably be less than $20.

RV propane furnaces are a propane hog and would be your largest expense, I suspect electric heat would be 1/3 the cost. Plus you will have to rent a tank large enough to have it serviced by a delivery truck.
The monthly minimum is about 12 here in Washington. If we can find the right place with electric we'll hook it up.

It's clear a furnace won't do the trick. I'm better off to work from home and keep the fireplace lit.
__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-30-2013, 11:54 PM   #52
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by cameront120 View Post
To be honest, you'd be better off building a one room cabin that is well insulated and has all the mod cons within a small space.
I wish I could but I cannot without owning land. That's why we want to live in an airstream. so that we can save money buy land with cash and build our cabin as we get the money for materials. We chose an airstream because you can put a fireplace in one.
__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2013, 05:31 AM   #53
Rivet Master
 
andreasduess's Avatar
 
1984 34' International
Toronto , Ontario
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1,496
Images: 5
Blog Entries: 1
If you have power, and you need power, then you don't need a fireplace or wood burner. A small electric heater will keep a trailer warm with no problems, no mess and no constant stoking of the stove.

The stove you've chosen needs near constant attention. It also needs firewood that's been cut down to a very small size. You'll be spending your day tending the fire, cutting wood, cleaning the stove, repacking the stove.

Especially when working from home you now need reliable power for your computer and internet access. You need power because now you can't shower at work, or use the washroom.
This means that you are creating large amounts of grey water. Unless you're comfortable ignoring zoning regulations and just dumping it, not a green nor responsible choice in the long run, you will need to dump your tanks frequently, or install a septic system.

I still think you should look at other, highly insulated, trailers instead of an Airstream. Arctic Fox comes to mind. You won't have the same condensation issues, they are cheaper, and just better suited to your adventure.

An Airstream isn't the best choice for you. I don't mean to sound down on this, but I am not sure if you've thought this through. In the long run, it might even be much cheaper to rent a small apartment.
__________________
andreasduess is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2013, 10:01 AM   #54
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Gjh
__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2013, 12:26 PM   #55
Wise Elder
 
Jammer's Avatar
 
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,119
Quote:
Originally Posted by andreasduess View Post
If you have power, and you need power, then you don't need a fireplace or wood burner. A small electric heater will keep a trailer warm with no problems, no mess and no constant stoking of the stove.
When there's no wind, a small electric heater will bring the trailer temperature around 15 degrees up from the outside temperature if it runs constantly, and use 36 kwh of electricity per day. So if it's 30 degrees outside the trailer will be 45 degrees inside, etc.

Most fulltimers drive south during the winter.

Nearly all of those who stay in sub-freezing weather have utility electrical power available and heat with propane. They have the local propane company drop off a bulk tank and fill it as necessary. Around here, 500 gallon propane tanks are the most common, and if you live in an Airstream full time, you'll use all a 500 gallon tank will hold in one winter. Rates are aroudn $1.50 a gallon in that quantity so it's really a pretty good deal, compared to electricity, at least.

Quote:
This means that you are creating large amounts of grey water. Unless you're comfortable ignoring zoning regulations and just dumping it, not a green nor responsible choice in the long run, you will need to dump your tanks frequently, or install a septic system.
Besides you'll have an ice slick that will look gross and, when it melts, smell bad.
__________________
To learn to see below the surface, you must adjust your altitude
Jammer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-31-2013, 01:33 PM   #56
2 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post

When there's no wind, a small electric heater will bring the trailer temperature around 15 degrees up from the outside temperature if it runs constantly, and use 36 kwh of electricity per day. So if it's 30 degrees outside the trailer will be 45 degrees inside, etc.

Most fulltimers drive south during the winter.

Nearly all of those who stay in sub-freezing weather have utility electrical power available and heat with propane. They have the local propane company drop off a bulk tank and fill it as necessary. Around here, 500 gallon propane tanks are the most common, and if you live in an Airstream full time, you'll use all a 500 gallon tank will hold in one winter. Rates are aroudn $1.50 a gallon in that quantity so it's really a pretty good deal, compared to electricity, at least.

Besides you'll have an ice slick that will look gross and, when it melts, smell bad.
We were already planning on paying for propane. Obviously it's clear that during the winter we must be hooked up to electrical power. That's not something we can skirt around. We have a steady wood solution when it comes to heating. Would heating with wood when the furnace is not running offset some of the cost of propane?

Obviously I'm not comfortable with disobeying zoning laws and I'm not trying to do anything illegal. We have a dump site for grey water. We are not trying to live like trailer trash. Just trying to live differently.

We like the idea of taking our home with us when we move. We were also hoping to live in an AS until we can build a log cabin and live in that. We are trying to avoid debt anywhere we can and build slowly as we get the money. I know that it can be done because my aunt and uncle are doing the same thing in Montana right now living in an RV with a wood stove. They just don't have service and are very busy people so asking then these questions is difficult.

From what I have read here we are setting our plans back several months possibly a year to prepare. Which means we will only be living in the trailer for 2 years before traveling then building our home. And there's the matter of if it's actually feasible given our current situation. We love where we live now. We have a good deal on rent and a big back yard in a good location. And we do not live in a neighborhood. I will not move anywhere else because in the price range we want to be in to save money we would have to move into town and have no yard for gardening or for our dog. Which is why I'm comparing my present situation to the airstream situation.
__________________

__________________
DreaminWA is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Newbie with a '73 Tradewind and lots of questions pxlchk1 Member Introductions 2 02-13-2012 07:35 PM
Newbie with questions ariverclown Member Introductions 8 01-04-2012 07:22 AM
Newbie has power questions Czechitout Electrical - Systems, Generators, Batteries & Solar 2 08-07-2011 05:20 PM
Noob with tons of questions! 8string Full-Timing 14 07-20-2011 01:55 AM
Newbie Basics Question(s) Stonew98 Member Introductions 10 02-27-2011 09:21 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:27 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.