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Old 12-03-2006, 08:21 AM   #1
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This topic comes from the tragic loss of a member's Airstream to a fire which was possibly caused by an electrical problem. They had their trailer plugged in, at home, and vowed not to do that again. Several of the responders agreed this was not a good practice. I am curious why this is not a good practice? I have Chummy plugged in most of the time and will be installing a new electrical service so he will be plugged in all the time. We will camp in one spot for over a month at a time while I am camp hosting, why is this any different? There are people who live in their Airstreams parked in long term campgrounds and plugged in all the time. Am I missing something here?
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:36 AM   #2
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Greetings Chaplain Kent!

In theory, there should be limited exposure to risk, but there are still two risks that come to mind when a coach is left plugged-in for extended periods of time:
  1. If the refrigerator is left in operation and an amonia leak should develop and go unnoticed, a fire could be the end result.
  2. If the coach happens to have a power converter that boils the electrolyte in the battery, the battery could be a source of fire if the the converter is left plugged-in and the battery is boiled dry.
Another potential is a "critter" invasion where a rodent may munch on wiring causing a short and pose a fire risk.

I have left my rig (Argosy with modern Univolt installed by Airstream dealer in 2005) pugged-in for extended periods with minimal trouble. Even with twice-monthly monitoring the battery boiled dry once -- I now try to remember to unplug the Univolt if I am going to leave the coach plugged in. Fortunately, the coach is parked in a side-driveway next to my father's home so it receives at least three walk-arounds every day as he walks his Chihuahua.

Kevin
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:43 AM   #3
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I agree with Kevin. When ours is parked for extended periods, all appliances are off, LP turned off and it's plugged in to keep the batteries topped off. Though the current converter most likely cooked our batteries, I do plan on putting a different converter in if I don't trade the unit in the spring. I think for the most part having an Airstream, or an RV in general in this state is perfectly safe. Insurance is what you get for the unexpected events in life. Of course taking every possible precaution.
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:46 AM   #4
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My home, garage, trailer, office, boat, are plugged in 24/7 and I have a F-150 in the driveway which do I disconnect or move first. Maintain your equipment in good shape, and inspect your equipment. Yes @X!! happens.

I operated main propulsion in a marine environment for years and dealt with large facility's for years and had very few problems but ^&% dose happen.

Jim
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:46 AM   #5
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Fire is always a potential issue when something is plugged in. If you want to avoid any possibility of fire go live in a cave and eat roots I suspect the vintage units that have not been thoroughly gone thru may be more at risk than a newer unit, however given some of the things I have seen on the quality control threads I wouldn't want to bet on it. Everything that Kevin mentioned is true and bears checking out. I have left RV's on shore power for months on end with no bad results. Currently with the known issues of the elderly univolts, I typically leave my univolt unplugged and only plug it up every now and again to top the battery up. I do leave a 120 line plugged up to the trailer all the time to keep a small solid state heater on it to keep the moisture levels down. The oil filled radiator is a good choice for this. I kind of look at like having power on at my house, I don't switch the main power panel off every time I leave... However by being in motion and subjected to excessive vibration the Airstream may be a bit more at risk. All we can do is proper preventive maintenance, inspections and keep the insurance paid up.

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Old 12-03-2006, 08:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Clark
My home, garage, trailer, office, boat, are plugged in 24/7 and I have a F-150 in the driveway
Hopefully with the Ford cruise control fix in place....or you'll be able to roast your smores by it.
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
Hopefully with the Ford cruise control fix in place....or you'll be able to roast your smores by it.
Living on the edge.

Jim
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Old 12-03-2006, 09:30 AM   #8
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Like I said there, ours has been plugged in 24x7 since we bought it over 4 years ago. We upgraded the 13.8V-forever factory converter to an Intellipower with 3-stage Charge Wizard, which has the appropriate 13.2V float charge, and went with no-maintenance AGM batteries. It will certainly be plugged in 24x7 if we full-time in it. My view is if you can't trust it to do that without burning up, why would you trust it to sleep in it?
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Clark
Living on the edge.

Jim


It's a free fix at the local Ford shop when you're up to it.

Moe has a great point....
"if you can't trust it to do that without burning up, why would you trust it to sleep in it?"
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaplain Kent
This topic comes from the tragic loss of a member's Airstream to a fire which was possibly caused by an electrical problem. They had their trailer plugged in, at home, and vowed not to do that again. Several of the responders agreed this was not a good practice. I am curious why this is not a good practice? I have Chummy plugged in most of the time and will be installing a new electrical service so he will be plugged in all the time. We will camp in one spot for over a month at a time while I am camp hosting, why is this any different? There are people who live in their Airstreams parked in long term campgrounds and plugged in all the time. Am I missing something here?
Good morning Chaplain Kent

This is an area where people seem to feel strongly one way or the other. Personally I leave mine plugged in, appliances off, and for longer storage I remove the battery although it could just as easily be simply unhooked from the system (mine goes onto a shelf with other batteries for easy winter trickle charging, etc). I have two things plugged in being an electric ceramic Sears heater (now the fan is noisy and will be replaced with an oil filled heater I bought yesterday ), and a radio I listen to (oldies station of course) when I am sitting or working in it. Everything else is shut off and where possible unplugged. As others have mentioned it is no different in my mind than the house or the shop (where the trailer is stored) having power full time and we leave the computer, TV, radios etc all plugged in at home. As with those appliances I do have a high quality surge suppressor on the trailer when it is parked at home and I don't know if it's necessary but I do that for comfort sake.

Should a problem with the electrical happen and a fire occurs I'd much rather it happen while we are not sleeping in it even if that means it goes unnoticed and the damage is worse. The trailer can be replaced and so can the vehicles it's stored with. We enjoy our Airstream very much and I would hate to think that it could come to an abrupt ending, but my logic is if it can happen in the shop it can also happen in a campground when we are far from home and actually living in it.

Take care,
Barry
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Old 12-03-2006, 10:35 AM   #11
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The manual on my 1988 Moho says to keep it on shore power at all times if possible. I do that in the winter and keep a small ceramic heater set at about 45 degrees.

I do switch the batteries off for the most part, but do switch them on from time to time to keep them charged. Works for me......

--------Bob---------
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Old 12-03-2006, 11:26 AM   #12
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Prudent

I think the bottom line is that - whatever your choice - take all the safety precautions you can. And, &%$H does happen sometimes in spite of all we do.

People sharing their experiences - good and bad - is ONE of the main reasons I hang around this site. One, it is nice to know, I am not the only dummie/rookie and two, it is nice to know that for MOST things, there is someone who can help and a reasonable solution.

THANKS EVERYONE!

Jer
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Old 12-03-2006, 12:13 PM   #13
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Barry- congratulations on becoming a rivet master. Your insightful and helpful posts have been a welcome addition to these forums.

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Old 12-03-2006, 12:39 PM   #14
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Thank you Chaplain Kent - it snuck up on me.

I have learned so much from this group and feel very much like we are part of an extended family of good people. It's like being in a virtual campground of really nice people you enjoy learning from and are comfortable adding what little knowledge you can to the dynamic. For all it's challenges this electronic world has opened a world of knowledge sharing, creativity, good will, and friendships I am very grateful for.

Take care,
Barry
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