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Old 05-20-2008, 11:31 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
San Francisco , California
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 5
Newbie: 'Airstream for Dummies' Questions

Hi there,

Forgive me if these questions are very basic but we're first time buyers considering purchasing a 2008 Airstream International Signature Series 25FB.
  1. With a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 small kids) how long can we be "off the grid" (gas, electricity, water, disposing waste water) considering that we want to have the lights on in the evenings for 2 hours, shower once a day and let's say watch TV for about 90 minutes a day?
  2. Assuming there is a battery that needs charging, does it charge while we're pulling the trailer?
  3. Does the fridge run on gas or on electricity?
  4. Is having a solar panel installed worth it and if so, can I assume that eletricity-wise we're good indefinitely, assuming there is enough (sun)light?
  5. Other than the trailer, hitch and the tow vehicle, what are the most basic additional items/things we need to operate that we're not thinking off (excluding the obvious necessities such as kitchen wares, linens, etc)? Any additional devices for leveling or hooking the trailer up to electricity/water/waste connections? Or anything else for that matter.
  6. What other questions should I be asking myself, if I haven't already asked them above?
Thanks for all your help.

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Old 05-21-2008, 04:59 AM   #2
3 Rivet Member
redstart's Avatar
1998 34' Limited
ont , Ontario
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 228
Images: 3
In answer to #5, a friend was kind enough to make me this list when I first bought my airstream:

Things you should already have with your Air Stream:
-hitch ball, leveling arms, cams, chains, pry bar, locking pins
-awning rod for opening and closing main awning.
-keys for door, rear compartment, battery compartments, fresh water tank
-owner's manual

Things you will need:
-sewer hose and sewer flange
-leveling blocks for leveling the trailer
-white hose (made of food grade plastic)
-water pressure reducer
-wooden blocks for tongue jack and for leveling jacks
-septic safe toilet paper

Things you will want:
-hitch lock
-propane wrench
-garden hose
-co-axial cable (for sites that offer cable tv)
-tie-down straps and ground anchors (for anchoring your awning)
-surge protector (highly recommended)
-rubber gloves (worn when handling sewer hoses).
-blue boy (container for transporting black and grey water)
-small hitch for blue boy (so you can haul it to a dump station)
-septic chemical (breaks down solid waste in black water)
-gripper mats (for lining cupboards)
-lightweight and breakproof dishes

In answer to the other questions, yes to #4 if you want to do #1. Two people being careful with water will probably fill up grey water tank in 4 days. Fridge runs on gas or electric, you choose on the fridge controls.

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Old 05-21-2008, 05:46 AM   #3
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2015 25' FB Flying Cloud
2012 23' FB Flying Cloud
2005 25' Safari
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 10,382
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First of all, Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

We have an '05 25FB, great floorplan, by the way. I'll try to answer some of your questions.

1. By "off the grid" usually means without electricity provided by a campground. It does not generally include being without LP gas. How long you can remain off the grid without a generator depends on several factors. one of the major considerations is firnace use. If you need to use the furnace, the furnace fan will be a major battery power user. With the furnace in use, you may only be good for one night on battery power.

2. This depends on how far you will be traveling or how long the bateries will be charging from the tow vehicle. A short jaunt to another campground an hour or two away will probably not do it.

3. The refrigerator runs on both AC (110 volt) electric and LP gas. While off the grid, the refer runs on LP.

4. I don't have any first hand knowledge of solar, so I'll leave this one to someone else.

5. You'll need the usual water hoses, sewer hose system, TV cable line, etc. Quick connects for the water hoses are very helpful. One of the most useful tools is a good quality 18 volt cordless drill to deploy and put up the stabilizers. If you have a Hensley hitch, it also make quick work of the WD bars. A cordless work light is also a needed accessory for night set up and system checks. Get one that uses the same battery as the drill. A good selection of hand tools is also something that you'll want.

6. Depending on the amount of boondocking you want to do, you may want to looking into a generator.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:21 AM   #4
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1989 25' Excella
By The Bay , Rhode Island
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I’ll try to provide a short/practical answer; we are Family of 3 (plus dog=4, although he doesn’t shower as much as he should!). We can go 4 days pretty comfortably running on our 2 house batteries and 50 gals of fresh water that we carry on board (your tanks may be smaller. Excella/Classics have the largest tanks in the AS line). Propane seems to last forever…
When we are in National Forest land, and some remote state parks (I am not sure how far “off the grid” you plan to be) we are running our fridge and hot water off propane (fridge will use a small amount of electricity also) our house lights a little bit each night, and depending on our access to a pond, lake or other swimming that would include 3-5 showers as well as dishwashing, cooking with the 50 gals of water. (The Wife pretty much showers every day, my Son and I can get by with a nice swim in a cool/clear lake. I might shower every other day). We have never carried a television in our camper, fire pit makes for great entertainment at night, and we are usually so exhausted from kayaking/swimming/hiking/ mountain biking that bed time comes fairly early.
You will most likely use up your water before anything else. We carry 5 gal collapsible containers that I can use to put some water in, as well as 150’ of collapsible hose. Almost all the NF Land or SP’s have some water source if needed. Sometimes I can run a hose to a spigot, top off, and put the hose away (you cannot stay “hooked up”) in these parks. If needed, I will make a few trips with the 5 gal jugs to a water spigot (I try to avoid this, it’s not fun). We have never stayed long enough to run out our 2 batteries, they seem to be more than enough for our needs. We are not fanatical about conserving any of the above, this is living comfortably. Many Folks, which get way out, or stay for longer times, take more drastic conservation measures. As we know we are usually staying no longer than a 4 day weekend in these types of parks, we don’t have to be as conservative. By the end of a 3 or 4 day weekend, we will pretty much be out of water, still have 50% of battery power remaining, and barely made a dent in propane usage (we use 1 or 2 tanks over the entire season). Keep in mind, the above does NOT include running a heater all night (this will use a considerable amount of power) but we may put it on in the morning for a few minutes if it is chilly. (Our camping season runs from May-October).

Hope this helps,
*Life is Good-Camping all around the Continent*
*Good people drink good beer-Hunter S Thompson*
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Old 05-21-2008, 10:32 AM   #5
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1986 31' Sovereign
Miami , Florida
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I have usually found the limiting factor in determining how long I can survive off grid to be the grey water tank. With two adults, very sparse dishwashing and "sea" showers I fill our 40 gallon grey tank in about 4 days.

The big draw on the batteries is (as previously noted) the furnace fan. Lighting and the reefer are relatively insignificant. I have a 300 watt inverter (runs the TV and directv rcvr) but have yet to run it long enough to determine what duration I can get.

I also carry a single Honda 2000i generator which tops everything off nicely on very little fuel.

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Old 05-21-2008, 08:32 PM   #6
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San Francisco , California
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 5
Wow, thanks for all the great insight. This has been very helpful and I am happy to say that this pushed me over the finish line quite rapidly. I did decide to add the solar panel, just in case. Pickup of the trailer is this weekend - yeah!

I'll return the favor and post a "newbie how-to" once we got a few trips under our belt.
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Old 05-21-2008, 08:42 PM   #7
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Deerfield , Illinois
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"Airstream for Dummies"

And now... I have the title for my first NYT bestseller!
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:01 PM   #8
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Sorry Brad

This may confuse people and cut into your sales
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:23 PM   #9
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2003 25' Safari
Eden Prairie , Minnesota
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For off-grid camping you should consider a small generator to recharge the battery(s) every day or two. Lights, water pump, TV, refrigerator controller, water heater igniter... all drain the battery(s). Using the furnace can use up a battery in one night. The Honda EU2000i generator is popular for camping because it is quiet. I run mine for 1-2 hours - making sure all rechargables are plugged in during this time (razor, AA battery recharger, laptop computer...).
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Old 05-21-2008, 09:34 PM   #10
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2005 19' Safari
Duluth , Minnesota
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 101
Hello and welcome HS!

First of all, your "off-grid" question is pretty well answered by others... We typically last four days, occasionally five, if we really stay conservative... We never watch TV though... We typically spend our evenings around a fire or just sitting and visiting. We watch too much TV at home. My strong preference... Leave the box at home and bring games/cards/etc. to interact with the kids... We left the box at home whenever/however we camped, and frankly, we were glad we did (off-grid issue not withstanding).

The other thing to keep in mind, depending upon your camping location of choice, TV may require a dish to receive! FWIW

Hope you enjoy your rig as much as we do! We just have a hard time getting our schedules to allow for as much use as we'd like! All the best!!!

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