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Old 07-13-2006, 07:21 PM   #1
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2008 20' Safari SE
Thumb Area , Michigan
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Smile Hello

Hello all. I guess it is time to introduce ourselves. We live in the small town of North Branch in Lapeer county Michigan. My husband has been lurking and reading the posts for months, I have gotten hooked more recently.

We are planning to purchase a new Airstream early next year. We were originally looking at the 19-foot Safari but after the plans for, and photographs of, the 20-foot Safari came out that looks a lot more attractive to us. There is more storage and I love the bigger kitchen. Our plans are to do a lot of boondocking in the west, and go to Alaska as well as spending time closer to home in Michigan.

We plan on using solar as much as possible. Does anyone have advice on how to store food for extended times? We have looked at using a portable freezer powered by solar. We will also be taking a small generator for back up.

We are really excited about the adventures ahead of us.

Nancy: from North Branch, MI

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Old 07-13-2006, 08:37 PM   #2
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1988 25' Excella
Sunnyvale , California
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Bigger Propane Tanks?


Welcome and glad you "officially" joined.. As members, the search feature and others are with the price of admission...

This may be dumb answer, but the refrigerator/freezer in the Airstream "runs" on propane when you are not plugged in to 110V electrical outlet, plus a very small amount of 12V electricity from the battery or solar cells. Solar would be plenty to maintain 12V power for long periods..

The larger trailers (20' or 23') have larger refrigerators and freezers as well...

That said, you can keep food frozen in the trailer as long as you have propane, and it is possible to use larger tanks, and both tanks should last ten days or longer. It is fairly easy to find places to buy propane in most locations where you'll find roads and people... It is unwise, but possible to buy portable tanks also as reserves, and carry them in bed of pickup trucks.. (I know others will chime in to state how unwise this can be..) Even I would not carry them inside a tow vehicle, like a Suburban or equivalent...

John McG


In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 07-14-2006, 12:16 AM   #3
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
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Welcome to the forum. We also used the forum to help us with getting into an Airstream and as you know, a great group of people in here.

You might consider the new 23' Safari, a lot more storage and carring capacity over the 19' or 20'. It is also a twin axle, which adds a touch of safety and many believe a twin axle tows better and is easier to back. Of course, interior design is usually the deal maker, and that is always personal.

Best of luck with your search,

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Old 07-14-2006, 06:25 AM   #4
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Milwaukee , Wisconsin
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Welcome to the forum from the other side of the pond. I agree with getting the twin axle particularly if you are planning an Alaska trip. The added safety is worth the expense. Using solar to power the fridge is a good question, how many panels would it take to power the fridge? I have a three way fridge and it will wear down the batteries quickly on 12V and takes my diesel to generate enough power to keep the batteries charged.
Chaplain Kent
1994 30' Excella 1000, Chummy III- Ford Excursion- 7.3 Turbo-diesel
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Old 07-14-2006, 10:38 AM   #5
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Hello Nancy -- and a hearty welcome to the Forums! Going green is an admirable direction (this coming from an active Sierra Club outings leader). Another interest you may have is extending your boondocking ability.

Wattage ends up setting an upper limit to what solar can do. Due to the limited roof area on any Airstream, some people try solar panels on some sort of stand or tripod set on the ground at the campsite. Adding panel area adds costs quickly. One can discuss shady campsites vs open areas (more common out west). But the real limit ends up being how many pounds of batteries you can carry. There's not an Airstream made that will carry the load of enough batteries. It is fair to say that reliance on solar will not allow any A/C or microwave oven use. Even the installed one or two batteries on current Airstreams take a surprisingly long time to recharge when hooked up behind a running tow vehicle -- maybe 2-300 miles! Also note that battery life is best when not discharged much below halfway.

2-way (LP & 110V) fridges are the most common installation in RVs today. 3-way (LP, 110V & 12V) fridges aren't frequently installed. This makes sense when one looks at availability and economy of LP. Two 30 pound cylinders will last about the entire camping season for me. More info could be sought if you wish to pursue the 12V fridge idea.

Solar questions tend to bring analysis compared to a generator. I would do a search on both those words. Small generators may also not be able to run the A/C but they are quiet and can help with mealtime or microwave power requirements. Some people have even converted their generators to LP use so that they don't have to carry containers of gasoline in their tow vehicle.

[on Edit] Oh yeah... I did overlook the point that a 3-way fridge does allow non-LP refrigeration while underway, therefore you can turn off the LP valves. This is a safety measure that many swear by -- and just as many run with their fridge on LP anyway (I am usually in the latter category). It is advisable to turn off your fridge before you near gas pumps when fueling a gasoline powered tow vehicle.

OEM installed electric systems in tow vehicles provide a minimum recharging ability when a lot of accessories are turned on (headlights, A/C, etc). Heavy duty alternators do make more sense if you have a choice. Unnecessary for my use, my truck is equipped with a snowplow package -- heavy duty alternator + 2 batteries.

5 meter Langford Nahanni

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