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Old 09-15-2014, 06:23 AM   #29
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No mistake here. Great option to have, for me.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:00 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by DerickBamb View Post
Anybody out there opting for solar power and making a mistake..
Quite the opposite. We didn't think we wanted it after reading about it here, but our new Airstream already had it on from the factory.

Surprise, this really beats messing with the gas, cable, noise and nuisance of a generator if you can live with the amount of power it supplies. Air conditioning is the big difference. We travel in moderate climates, took the generator/gas can on our first trip and didn't use it. Now leave it at home.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:24 AM   #31
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It is really a matter of climate and geography of the ASer. I need both, as I most often camp in deep forest. I have a 160watt portable panel, so I can "chase" the sun around the site. This extends the time between needed generator usage. But if I am in the same spot more than 4 or 5 days, (depending on clouds, trees, temps, site configuration etc.) the generators are still needed.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:29 AM   #32
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One Honda 2000 won't run the air conditioner that comes standard in Airstreams.

I just recently saw a video about an Australian offroad camper with a 12 volt air conditioning system. It is a split design, with the compressor outside and the blower under the bed. No other details, but since there is tons of room for batteries under the front bed in our AS it's an interesting thought. We're just starting our third week in the AS this year ( we're hurricane belt refugees) and I just bought a Zamp 200 charging setup. Meant I had to buy a tonneau cover for the truck to store the Zamp. But I already wanted a tonneau cover, so that worked out well.

I've installed a 800 watt solar plus 400 watt wind system on our boat for the past two years. Golf cart batteries, MPPT and PWM solar controllers, battery monitor etc. We also have two diesels with alternators on the boat, plus a Honda 2000 backup. We've found that having alternate sources of power is a good approach. My intention is to add a portable gen to the mix with the Airstream, and we like the Honda, but if the generator is going to live under the tonneau cover, it's really not that important that it be that portable. I'm considering whether or not to get a bigger generator than the 2000.

Having both solar and aux generator means that we're covered when we get four cloudy days in a row ( last week in northern Colorado, for example) and can also camp in shady spots, like under big trees or near canyon walls. The separate solar means that I can position the cells out in the sun and orient them in the best direction. Not having a dedicated solar PV system screwed to the top of the Airstream means I am not tied to current technology, and can easily change as solar develops. And putting the tonneau cover on the truck means I can slide the solar and generator in there and not worry about screw holes or weight on the airstream.
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Old 09-15-2014, 09:34 AM   #33
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We ordered solar on our '13 International 28 with the intention of buying a pair of Honda 2000 watt generators. However, as of now we have not felt a need for them and the solar panels have been adequate. I would say over half our time traveling we have dry camped but normally for 2-3 days at a time before moving again. I really think the big issue is whether one needs AC. We have been in moderate to cooler temps most of the time and only used are AC twice.

I know the factory AC is not highly regarded but we have been pleased so far. One of the only things on our Airstream that has been trouble free.
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:05 AM   #34
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Sometimes Solar is not enough when boondocking

After 8 years in our 2006 Safari with the small solar panel, it served us well for conservative, former tent off the grid campers. We were careful for the power usage while camped in the trailer. Eventually after a week, the batteries might be at 80% of capacity and eventually slowly degrade. My wife monitored the percentages every day.

Using the shower was a no no... as we could "cowboy shower" with a face towel and half a gallon of water from a five gallon jug in the back of the pickup. Too much power needed to run a shower and the loss of water was 2.5 gallons versus .5 gallon for a pan and wash cloth. This takes a conscious effort to preserve our fresh water. Being near a river or lake... jump in.

When boondocked and the temperature drops into uncomfortable inside the trailer... the furnace is the power hog. We would connect the trailer to our idling pickup to keep from draining the batteries. The cost per minute of fuel for the pickup providing 12 volt current is high. (We were stuck in Goodland, Kansas in a blizzard three years ago to test this for real!) This is probably the ONLY time we had to depend on a generator and did not have one. The solar panel and batteries would be exhausted and without power, no heat and then concern of the water lines freezing comes to mind.

For those who went from back country tent camping to an Airstream... you do not lose good conservative habits of survival. Camped anywhere in an Airstream is really more than most people in world would consider a luxury beyond comprehension. I think we all agree on that.

At high elevation and as you go north the "warm/hot" seasons are much shorter. This year... very short. We have softened a bit and actually will stop at a RV Park, plug in, clean up and move on for a break while going from point to point. We did not buy the Airstream to visit a hundred others at a campsite. It is just not in our DNA. Nothing wrong with RV parties... but we bought the trailer for more comfort and longer back country camping. The trailer limits WHERE, but what a luxury to be able to use!

Some posters confuse camping in Miami, Florida having the same needs as camped off the grid in Jackson, Wyoming in the Grand Tetons. You must consider one person's comments from their perspective. You visualize YOUR situation and apply it to MINE. You would NOT WANT TO CONFUSE YOUR CAMPING WITH OURS. But it is what we like.

Solar has its limits. Generators have... limitations. There is a big difference. Our solar in 2006 is NOT the same as 2014. What a big change, but you will never be able to afford nor haul all of the panels needed to spend a "RV Park ten days off the Grid". I know, we do it every year.


Having Solar AND a Generator solves it all. Having Solar Panel(s) has most needs covered. Having a Generator solves OUR camping situation. Sure, spending $1,500, $4,000 or whatever on a Solar System might work for some of you. I opted this time for $1000 and will have years to figure out IF Solar will be part of OUR power needs. Maybe it will... but I am going to run with this Generator to find out what I do not know for short comings.

This is not a Green or "Smelly Generator" issue. This is using what options that exist today that work for each person's needs.

Some Airstream owners would not make it two days off the grid. Why would I say that... there are other trailer brand owners that discovered campgrounds and RV Parks are safer and fit their life style. Solar to a RV Park camper is not needed. I expected more criticism from from this post than received, thank you. This is NOT a right or wrong issue. It is intended to get input from experienced individuals. I have used Solar for 8 years. It had its limitations as I know them. This time around we did not have Solar on the trailer and will try a generator when necessary. It could be over kill... but the cost is less than mounted solar. Maybe a portable small panel will be in the future, but the costs will be considered as an important factor.

Pioneers of this country had NO Solar and/or Generator and survived. Please do not judge each individual's unique needs. Express your experience(s) and why or why not or both. I am sure 90% of Forum members would not want to camp as I camp. I have used Solar. Now a generator. I WILL follow this thread and comment when I find my limitations. Ten days is not enough time to discover what else, if anything, I need for powering the trailer. Sure enough, if something comes up, I will post it.
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Old 09-15-2014, 10:35 AM   #35
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With the new technology available from 'hybrid' inverters, you can now use a small, quiet generator like a Honda or Yamaha 2000 to run a roof A/C by supplementing the A/C's power requirements with your battery bank and hybrid inverter.

Of course, a properly designed and installed solar charging system is required. And like Ray states, many folks just move when the climate gets too hot and needs A/C.

I have set up several trailers that use robust solar/battery combinations with marine-based appliances that minimize the need for propane and allow the owners to stay off-grid as long as they like.......limited only by things like water, food and waste rank capacities.


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Old 09-15-2014, 11:34 AM   #36
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"...limited only by things like water, food and waste rank capacities."

Only the nose knows!
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Old 09-15-2014, 01:00 PM   #37
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Love auto correct!!!!


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Old 09-15-2014, 05:56 PM   #38
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Solar vs generator...the saga continues...

[QUOTE=lewster;1510781]With the new technology available from 'hybrid' inverters, you can now use a small, quiet generator like a Honda or Yamaha 2000 to run a roof A/C by supplementing the A/C's power requirements with your battery bank and hybrid inverter.

Of course, a properly designed and installed solar charging system is required. And like Ray states, many folks just move when the climate gets too hot and needs A/C.

I have set up several trailers that use robust solar/battery combinations with marine-based appliances that minimize the need for propane and allow the owners to stay off-grid as long as they like.......limited only by things like water, food and waste rank capacities.




We just finished 3 trips in MT and Utah with our new 25' FC....the portable 80W seemed to do a good job of keeping the batteries toped off, but in Zion, we needed Air....I had access to power in the Federal Park luckily, so no issue...but I think after reading excellent input like others have stated and yours regarding both types of power, I think the generator is also needed as back up for sure for any serious boon docking...I am going to look into propane powered so I can use quick disconnect on front of trailer and avoid the issues of carrying extra gas...Thanks for your expert advice to all!
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Old 09-15-2014, 06:03 PM   #39
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The quick disconnect may not have the proper pressure to operate a propane generator. Just a heads up to check before you purchase.
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:31 PM   #40
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Quote:
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The quick disconnect may not have the proper pressure to operate a propane generator. Just a heads up to check before you purchase.

The tri fuel manufacturer I checked with said it was no problem with their setup. They make both high and low pressure kits.
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:54 PM   #41
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Thats good to know, thanks for the comeback.
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Old 09-15-2014, 08:25 PM   #42
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SOLAR or GENERATOR? That is the question for Boondockers...

How much can stock converter interstate batteries fully charged last you in 30-40 degree overnight temps dry camping (40-50 during day) keeping thermostat on 65 furnace? And running generator say a couple hours a day to charge those batteries?

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