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Old 09-12-2014, 06:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by westcoastas View Post
....<snip>... I imagine I will be buying the companion down the road for hot days, although ....<snip>....
If I might make a suggestion to consider... We bought the "Companion" model first and added a regular model later, even though the Companions are about $100 more.

A regular Honda 2000 requires a 15-to-30 amp adapter to use with your power cord and the Companion requires a twist-n-turn-30-amp-to-regular-30-amp-plug-in adapter... so you need an adapter with either one.

With the Companion, you get the 30-amp receptacle + one 20-amp receptacle ... but you lose the 12-volt outlet on the Companion (we've never used it anyway).

The regular model has two 15-amp outlets (that you need a 20-to-30 amp adapter for) plus the 12v outlet, but no 30-amp outlet.

You can parallel two regular models, but it's more complicated and requires a paralleling "box" that is significantly more expensive and more bulky than the cables used with a Companion.

Pic #1: Business end of the Companion ... upper green rectangle shows where the parallel cables connect ... lower green rectangle shows where the grown wire connects...red circle shows the twist-no-turn 30-amp receptacle (next to the 20amp receptacle)...
Pic #2: 15/20-amp-to 30-amp adapter...
Pic #3: 30-amp-twist-n-turn to regular 30-amp adapter... (our is black)
Pic #4: Regular & Companion with parallel cables and twist-n-turn adapter in place...

Hope this helps...
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Old 09-12-2014, 08:28 PM   #16
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Hi Ray,

We too went for the Honda 2000 and have used it for the past 2-1/2 years quite a bit. But now it is time to add solar. Our main reason is for charging the trailer batteries while in storage which is outdoors. It has gotten to be a real pain to keep the batteries charged as there is no power at the storage yard. We also dry camp in the local mountains for 2 to 3 days at a time and living in CA we have lots of sun. We are still using the stock Group 24 batteries that came with the trailer and plan to use them until they die...then replace with the AGMs.

Great post...and by the way, you sure live a very cool town. I have been fortunate to golf at Castle Pines Golf Club about once a year for the past 20 years, which is just down the road from you. Beautiful part of the country.


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Old 09-12-2014, 11:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
One important point that, due to my ignorance, is the "kind" of battery I am inquiring about replacing the current International acid batteries that came standard with the 2014 Airstream.

(snip, snip, snip)
There is no one good answer to your question and like engines, hitches and some other topics hardened opinions may be expressed.

But a quick stab at it:

Conventional batteries, deep cycle are what Airstream supplies with their non solar equipped units. Two Interstate (brand) group 24 size are the most common, and probably the ones you have in your 2014 now.

They are marginal in capacity and quality.

The first thing I would recommend is a change out of your AS supplied Paralax converter/charger to a 3 stage Progressive Dynamics 4655 or equal.

That will maximize your battery life, whatever batteries you choose.

For best $$ bang for your buck, a pair of golf cart type batteries from Costco, or Sam's club to replace your group 24's is a good move. It does require raising the battery box height as they have the same footprint as the group 24's but are higher by 1.5 inches. Your capacity will increase from about 150 amp hours to 220 amp hours with that change. A very high quality brand of golf cart batteries is the Trojan T105.

Other conventional batteries are not too much different than the original ones AS supplied. You can shoehorn slightly larger group 27's into the battery box with some metal modifications. That will give you more capacity, but the golf cart ones are probably a better solution overall, price considered.

Apparently your other trailer had AGM batteries. They are very very good, but about 2 to 3 times the cost of conventional ones. They MUST have a good converter/charger for optimum life. They require no maintenance at all. Conventional batteries need to be checked for water level to be sure they do not get too low, which will ruin them in short order. AGM batteries are sealed and need no checking.

I have opted for the golf cart battery solution as the best bang for the buck, and I don't mind some minimal maintenance they require. That is with a good converter/charger of course, not the original AS one.

I hope that gives you some more information to work with.
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Old 09-13-2014, 04:51 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
I know. I know... Our 2006 23 foot Safari with the factory solar system served us well on our 80% of the time off the grid. So far off that at times radio reception was minimal.

The purchase of the 2014 25 foot International did not have Solar. It also did not come with the batteries that the Solar Systems use costing around $300 each, but much superior than those that are standard equipment. As I had discussed on our Boondocking our new trailer, which meant getting the trailer ready for the 2015 season to continue our off the grid camping. Solar or Generator became an... issue.

I spent 8 years with my batteries charging with the Solar System. Worked well for 80% of our needs. The 20% had to be regulated:

Water Pump to faucets
Non LED lighting in the 2006, but in the 2014
ONLY 12 volt service was practical
Fan over the stove top to vent
Fantastic Fan use to ventilate air to heat or cool the interior

The 2014 has wonderful LED lights. We still use them as if they are draining our batteries. Now with two flat screen televisions... 12 volt is not of much value to those and some boondocking situations can receive a signal... IF you wanted to watch the news, weather... or polka dance contests in color.

The 2014 has electrical outlets... everywhere! Obviously focused on electrical hook ups at a RV Park camping, which I totally understand.

First thing I did... yes, I did consider getting a Solar System installed for less than the factory cost and with more wattage. Starting around $1500 +/- and probably does not include the $600 +/- batteries.

EU2000i Honda Generator for around $1,000, after a 10% discount since they were not selling well in August and needed to move some along...

This break in trip brought us some below freezing weather in Wyoming. Pulled out the Honda, fired it up and ran it until we had charged the batteries and ran the furnace fan. Maybe a half a gallon or less in gasoline. The less load, the less RPM on the generator. This got me thinking... about "adding" Solar to the mix and why I decided NOT to ADD A SOLAR SYSTEM.

West of Buffalo, Wyoming, listening to a radio station about 100 miles away, the weather report was rain and sleet, freezing temperatures, over cast skies and just basic lousy weather on the horizon. From our camping spot above Buffalo I could see the fog over the town and we were in partly cloudy at higher elevation. Then... I discovered the limitations of Solar and why I will stick to the generator.

I was able to easily connect the generator to the trailer. These Honda's ARE quiet. I had it sitting on the tail gate of the tow vehicle and idling away current to the trailer. It could easily be sitting on a plastic milk crate or on the ground... Television. Batteries being charged. All of the 12 volt and 120 volt current we would have asked for. The Solar System could not deliver... anything, under these circumstances. Running the furnace would have quickly run our standard batteries down below minimums. This was September 1st... not late October or December! This was an area we would have expected upper 50's at night and mid 70's during the day.

As I sat thinking of the "cost" of the generator, I had to rationalize my spending the original purchase price.

Option ONE:
-A Solar Panel may or may not increase the value of my trailer.
-I can sell the trailer and keep the generator to sell or use afterwards.

I liked the generator option. It would sell easily and for a fairly high percentage of my original cost.

Option TWO:
-A Solar Panel and batteries deliver 12 volt and maybe some inverter 120 volt.
-A Generator delivers both for the cost of fuel. Maybe not the amperage for running the air conditioning, but everything else.

I liked the generator option.

Option THREE:
-A Solar Panel is working every day in the sunlight. Not as well, if at all on cloudy days. Never at night when a furnace would have its most likely demand on the 12 volt system.
-A Generator works anytime, anywhere. On high demand use, it operates and charges the batteries with the excess power. Using "eco-throttle" cuts fuel use considerably with minimal power needs.

I liked the Generator.

Option FOUR:
-A Solar Panel has been paid for and working while getting sun light, charging the batteries while you are doing something else. Although will FULL hookups, it is not needed.
-A Generator costs less than $1.00 per hour. (I tried to find the fuel use for load in the manual while typing this, but could not. I will add it when I can find it again.) Cost of fuel and the output of the generator per gallon/hour seems very reasonable, considering the minimal hours it would need to operate over the camping season off the grid.

I liked the Generator. For the cost difference of the Solar Panel and Generator I do not need to run the generator every day, every time I am camped and the furnace is not needed in Las Vegas in July. In Las Vegas I am connected to the grid at the cost of the RV Park daily camp site.

As you can see in my experiences... the Honda generator is fairly light, portable, quiet running, has a resale value, uses fuel only when I need it and gives me 120 volts to use, what would otherwise be two worthless HDTV's.

AND if I want... I can purchase a second generator and combine them to run a jukebox and the air conditioning and the wife can take out the hair dryer...

During a hail storm, the generator is safe. It will not blow off the planet from a Wyoming wind on the interstate. It may need servicing or repair some day, but so does a solar system.

... am I missing something? Lately I have no concerns with Global Warming or Change from CO2 emissions. I am more concerned with cold and wet if you ask me. If this is your criticism of my running a generator... look at that vehicle pulling tons of metal behind YOU... so lets be fair.
I think you are absolutely right..Generator is far more effective..Solar power i is less efficient and expensive too..
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:03 AM   #19
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Ray, well thought out post. I agree totally with your decision on the generator. Jim
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:41 AM   #20
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No. 13 on post #16 made an important point that the 2006 Safari with Solar offered to me while parked outside at a RV Storage site.

The solar panel (only one small one was standard then for AS) kept the batteries fully charged, according to the control in the trailer. This IS an important bonus if you are not plugged in while storing your trailer.

When we moved some years ago, one important "need" was a home with a RV garage. It has a 10 foot garage height and can get a 30 foot AS backed into it if needed. The 25 foot AS fits, but it is wider than the 23 foot AS, so the wife's SUV needs to enter at an angle... but it works. Since the AS is in the garage I keep it plugged into power and the battery is always charged when we leave. It also helps when I can cool the Dometic refrigerator down on electricity, fill it and when we pull the trailer out it is changed over to propane operation.

Had we stored the AS without power available to keep the batteries charged... Solar does have benefits a generator cannot provide. Unless someone who wants to pull the batteries out and keep them charged at home... there is always an other option.

Following the fresh information coming in... this is going to be a steep learning curve to have an understanding of all of the other options. I do agree from one post, that it is in my best interest to use the batteries I currently have. By the time they need to be replaced I will be "fully charged" with following the great advice coming in from experienced owners!
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:16 PM   #21
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Many in my group have that portable Zamp solar system and like it. Im still learning about it..but at least you can keep it should you sell the trailer. Also you can park in shade while setting panels up in sun.
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:42 PM   #22
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I will (one day) be interested at the minimum to have a bit of solar to keep batteries fresh when away and dry camping. This probably for the most part will not happen too often to matter much yet with our kids these days...once they get bigger and we are traveling even more...and definitely when we (one day) retire, it seems really a great perk to have this option.

We have a bit of home electricity that gets to our AS parked in back yard that keeps batteries fresh and a dehumidifier running, and to crank up the fridge a day or two before a trip.

If you plan on seeing a broad number of regions of the country, it seems having both is really nice...I hope by the time later down the road I would be in the market the tech will be even further along...for now, most of our camping is in the southeast and so often we simply use alot of juice requiring generator or hookup to keep wifey, 2 small kids, and our boston terrier happy.

I simply cannot wait for the day to take off and travel for more than my standard allotted 1 week vacation at this point so as to see much more of our great country....which for me will mean generator + at the minimum a bit of solar if not a robust showing...
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Old 09-13-2014, 12:44 PM   #23
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semi-related....I went to our local zoo today here in Birmingham, AL....they have a small cafeteria with large outdoor kinda covered area with this large metal structure...they were doing construction up there some months ago...I noticed today they had installed along that whole long length of structure a huge series of solar panels.....I got to wondering what they powered with those and how.
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:14 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by PharmGeek View Post
semi-related....I went to our local zoo today here in Birmingham, AL....they have a small cafeteria with large outdoor kinda covered area with this large metal structure...they were doing construction up there some months ago...I noticed today they had installed along that whole long length of structure a huge series of solar panels.....I got to wondering what they powered with those and how.
More than likely a commercial grid-tie system that produces DC voltage from the solar array and then feeds that into a bank of inverters, which then invert the DC into usable AC power for their needs. It will also feed power back into the electrical grid thru a 'smart' meter via a process called 'net metering'.

This will essentially allow the meter to go backwards if the installation is producing more power than is needed, and it gets fad back into the grid for a net reduction in the facilities electrical bill. This is only possible is your state has a net metering law that requires the power company to buy back any excess electricity produced by large scale photo-voltaic installations. Many states like FL are not only on a program like this, but are actually hostile to them. YMMV!
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Old 09-13-2014, 01:45 PM   #25
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SOLAR or GENERATOR? That is the question for Boondockers...

Big thread....

I will ignore all that has been posted til now and answer short and sweet .

In general, if a person wants to have air conditioning, a generator is needed, if not solar is a fine alternative...

(But it is possible to have both)
The fact that I am opinionated does not presuppose that I am wrong......

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Old 09-13-2014, 03:41 PM   #26
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Alabama is of no help - but they still have a tax credit for wood fire as primary heating source.

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Old 09-13-2014, 05:40 PM   #27
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Don't forget the coal tax credit!
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Old 09-14-2014, 11:39 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by DerickBamb View Post
I think you are absolutely right..Generator is far more effective..solar kits are less efficient and expensive too..
Anybody out there opting for solar power and making a mistake..

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