What the heck.. was reading some other power threads and just want to post a bit of a rant!
Modern Airstream just plain suck for boondocking.
I've spent the last 3 years while camping trying to manage power, conserve power, plain not use power, keep asking my wife not to use lights or watch tv, and hang around the campsite all day to babysit my trusty generator who strives to keep a somewhat full charge and world peace
Last year I spend at least a grand on a very good 135W solar setup with MPPT Controller. Problem was with all the crappy weather this summer and all the trees about, the solar couldn't keep up with the battery drain. If your in the north like us, and camp amongst trees a lot, forget it (in my opinion). Luckily we have our Honda generator which is always there to save the day (at least during generator hours).
I've got a Paralax(itive) which is just plain useless for charging via our generator unless I run it for a good 4 or 5 hours a day. Why didn't they put in a 3 stage converter/charger?
After 3 years one Interstate battery packed it in.. the other is babied babied babied just to get us through the season. We had to stop using the fridge, watch TV on my little Macbook, use dollar store sticky lights for lighting, etc etc.
Here was our solutions to all the power problem during fall camping this year:
Problem: 'Propane' heater sucks an unbeliveable amount of power and easily drains the batteries over night.
Solution: We stopped using the heater! Brought more blankets. Turned on a stove burner instead (sometimes the stove) and stayed reasonably warm. ZERO power needed!
Problem: Fridge fan runs most of the time (unless its cold outside). Battery draw is considerable for a 'propane' fridge.
Solution: We unplugged the fridge fan (not wise if it overheats though)
Alternative Solution: Last camping trip we simply stopped using the fridge altogether and opted for our trust Coleman cooler which uses ZERO power. Alas we did have to buy ice...
Problem: Lights use over an AMP a piece!
Solution: Stick on lights. Over Columbus Day we use a $1 halloween light with a couple of AA batteries to provide hours of lighting.. ZERO power.
Problem: Next to the 'propane' heater the TV/entertainment is the biggest user of power on a rainy day.
Solution: Watched movies on my Macbook... enough power to watch two full movies no problemo!
Maybe AIrstream had a reason to make modern Airstreams so reliable on the umbilical cord... I don't know... then again maybe they cut their cost on producing a unit by $10 or so saving a whooping .02% of the unit cost! I wouldn't mind hearing the rationale actually. For the price we paided, I am not happy having to replace half the stuff in the trailer to make it right.... sheesh... I will have forked out a good $2000 or more by the time I am done 'correcting' all there short cuts.
Maybe Airstream should offer their units with a 'boondock package'!?
So next year I am tossing the bulky $1000+ solar panel setup that I invested in, and plan to tackle power head on...
Replacing the Paralax(itive) 7300 with an Intellipower 9100 (or similar).
Buy some mega Trojan 6V's, Group 27's or whatever I can stuff in the trailer and toss the Interstates.
Replace any of the halogen 'heater' lights we use with LED's.
Toss the heater and replace it with a good old catalytic heater.
Permanently cut the wire to the fridge fan or at least replace it with a Slientx... or pull the fridge and install a cooler :-)
Replace the whole 'enertainment' system with something more efficient... or simply build a shelf for my my trusty Macbook with its micro slim, micro ounce, long lasting battery :-)
(and what is with the multi CD changer? hasn't AIrstream heard of MP3 players yet?)
At the end of the day I should have the following sitting on my curb side on garbage day:
1 - Paralax(ive) 7300
1 - 'Propane'... NOT heater
11 - halogen lights (I'll keep 10 for posterity )
1 - Sony LCD TV
1 - Sony AMP/DVD player
1 - obsolete multi disk CD changer
1 - huge ball of wire found behind the AMP/DVD player
1 - noisy power hog of a fridge fan
2 - poor Interstate batteries that couldn't keep up with it all
1 - battery box that is WAY to small
At least the solar panel won't go curb side... will likely get some good coin for it...
There.... I am done... LOL