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Old 12-27-2016, 07:02 AM   #29
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Just estimating, I would say that the insulation R value as installed in an Airstream is about 6 or 7. It seems to be laid over the frame structure, so even compacted there creates at least a thermal break. It is probably an effective R value of no more that 5 for the entire wall structure. Then you have the windows and skylites that are probably and effective R 1. This is not really energy efficient, but then again we are talking about relatively small surface areas.
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Old 12-27-2016, 07:49 AM   #30
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I am hoping that your post is in jest ... otherwise I gather that you don't use your trailer in the summer when it is hot and there is a need to use an air conditioner. Insulation (or the lack thereof) have the same properties for keeping heat in or out. In a hot climate (or summer) your coach will need more btus of air conditioning than a well insulated structure and consume the same equivalent of energy summer cooling vs. winter camping heating.
As far as using energy to either heat or cool our trailers, it's really about the difference in external to internal temperature. A hot 100 degree day is still only 20-30 degrees from comfortable. A cold 0 degree day is 60-70 degrees from comfortable. Of course this assumes that the air conditioner is roughly as efficient as the heater, which may not be the case.

As to R rating, residential windows are typically measured in a U value. This, if I remember my energy calculations class correctly, is a coefficient of an R value. All that to say, even double panned windows have a really low R value and our trailers much less.

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Old 12-27-2016, 08:28 AM   #31
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If the trailer is designed for winter use then why do you have to winterize?
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:00 AM   #32
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Pretty obvious, huh? If you have a rig that is designed for cold weather use, then you have a choice between using it in the cold, or not.

Caveats like crazy.

Not all Airstreams were built for winter use. Just look underneath from outside. If you can immediately see the dump valves themselves, then the rig is not winterworthy.

If you have a winterworthy rig, that means you have to take responsibility for keeping all water-containing lines and tanks above freezing, 33F or above. Not that hard to do, but it's also easy enough to screw up. Electric heaters, for instance, do a nice job of keeping you warm in the cabin, but a less than admirable job of keeping tanks and lines above freezing.

And then there's that final choice. Winterize it. Then you don't have any responsibility for keeping lines and tanks above freezing. Want to leave for the day or a couple of days? Do it! Turn everything off and lock the door. Of course, you have no water in the rig for any purpose, but that's the trade-off.

Here in Los Lunas (our current location) it has been getting down around 20 or 25 at night. And we use the rig to its fullest: All water systems operational; no freeze-ups at all. (Our 50 year old Airstream is indeed winterworthy!) But we also use the propane furnace to heat -- running around one 30 lb bottle every five days or so.


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If the trailer is designed for winter use then why do you have to winterize?
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Old 12-27-2016, 10:27 AM   #33
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Thus, it is only the massive infusion of carbon-based petro-chemicals which sustains an AS through such bitter cold: propane for the furnace; and coal/oil/etc-fired electrical generators to power the grid. Can this experiment in challenging the limits of winter airstreaming be done successfully? Maybe . . . but at what cost to The Earth to prove the point? High fives and manic ebullience do not change the laws of physics.

Perhaps I overstated my aim to find the extremity of my trailer’s ability to protect me from the ravages of the wild. Perhaps it is more accurate to say “if the opportunity presents itself”. ...Oh wait, I DID say that… I’m not chasing extreme weather camping, but I will gladly face it if it comes.

If you were a tent camper that traveled by bicycle, I would take your preaching as sincere. But you travel with a 2 yr old Airstream??? Yeah right!! HAHAHAHA!!!!! Good one! For a second there, you really had me. Is your TV a Prius? LOL.

As far as using energy to either heat or cool our trailers, it's really about the difference in external to internal temperature. A hot 100 degree day is still only 20-30 degrees from comfortable. A cold 0 degree day is 60-70 degrees from comfortable. Of course this assumes that the air conditioner is roughly as efficient as the heater, which may not be the case.

Actually heating with a gas fire is far more efficient than burning gas to generate electricity for cooling.

If the trailer is designed for winter use then why do you have to winterize?

The trailer IS designed for winter USE.
Winterizing is for winter STORAGE.
Trailers in use should not be winterized.

Not all Airstreams were built for winter use. Just look underneath from outside. If you can immediately see the dump valves themselves, then the rig is not winterworthy.

My bad. I didn’t consider that when blithely suggesting everyone should crank up their furnaces and head for the snow. Many of us have valves that are enclosed. Furnace ducts feed warmth to all the plumbing. It is actually more dangerous for trailers that have heated plumbing to use electric space heaters. The plumbing needs heat from the propane furnace to stay functional.
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Old 12-27-2016, 01:36 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
Looking forward to updates about weather conditions, and propane usage, as our trailers' insulation is not really designed for such extreme cold weather. I forget what the R-factor is, but R-13 would be an optimistic rating for the walls and ceiling IMO. It may be less. With the outside air at 0 F, heat is air-streaming to the outside at a very fast clip, and it is sheer folly to ignore this cost.

Thus, it is only the massive infusion of carbon-based petro-chemicals which sustains an AS through such bitter cold: propane for the furnace; and coal/oil/etc-fired electrical generators to power the grid.



Can this experiment in challenging the limits of winter airstreaming be done successfully? Maybe . . . but at what cost to The Earth to prove the point?

High fives and manic ebullience do not change the laws of physics.

In depleting the Earth's resources to prove points like this, we should -- indeed must -- question our motives IMO.


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Old 12-27-2016, 01:39 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by avionstream View Post
If the trailer is designed for winter use then why do you have to winterize?
Furnace not running, etc.
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Old 12-27-2016, 01:54 PM   #36
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Furnace does blow hot air to the plumbing below, so in subfreezing it needs to run. The combo space-heater/s - furnace is a balance. I sat the space heaters (2, a larger one by the galley and a smaller for the bedroom aft) at 50% heating capacity AND the thermostat for the furnace to kick in at 50 F. I assume (correctly so far) that if the cabin is kept above 50, leaving cabinets open will suffice to keep the plumbing above 32 F. This way I use a lot less propane and not much electricity. I am connected to the grid. Outside temp falls below freezing every day and (touch wood, cross fingers, etc.) fully functional, full enjoyment of the rig so far. About $30 of electricity in about a month. BTW, not trying to prove any point, just enjoying life
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Old 12-27-2016, 02:13 PM   #37
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Done my share of cold weather camping but I'm not buying into the skirt idea.

You won't catch me wearing a kilt in winter. Same goes for the Airstream.
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Old 12-27-2016, 04:23 PM   #38
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Done my share of cold weather camping but I'm not buying into the skirt idea.

You won't catch me wearing a kilt in winter. Same goes for the Airstream.

I spent a winter in a skid shack in Estevan, Saskatchewan. Estevan gets the same weather as Fargo. Minus 30 degrees F is not rare. The trailers in the vicinity of the skid shack all had skirts. Two or three, one hundred watt light bulbs were kept on 24/7 inside the enclosure as well as another one under a cover at the propane bottles.
My point is, if you would put a little something on under your kilt, all would most likely be ok. 😋Jim
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Old 12-27-2016, 08:58 PM   #39
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Oh brother! Now I've got an image in my head of a guy with a lightbulb under his kilt.
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Old 12-28-2016, 12:46 AM   #40
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Is that a lightbulb under your kilt, or.... Never mind...😀
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Old 12-28-2016, 08:16 AM   #41
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space heater question

I ran two 1500 watt space heaters and blew a breaker. Can anyone tell me if there is more than one circuit for AC plug ins and if so how do I tell what is on which circuit?
My two cents, camping in any season puts a light bulb in my pocket but I totally understand that some don't see winter as recreational. There was a time when I use to winter camp in a tent and after that an AS is pure luxury.

I don't use the plumbing largely because there is no place to dump the tanks and it would seem to take a lot of work to ensure no freeze-up and breakage. More power to those that do.
For those of you who didn't see my winter camping video (12 reasons for winter camping) here it is:
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Old 12-28-2016, 08:45 AM   #42
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"...and blocking under chassis wind with cloth should have minimal advantage. Wind chill effect applies only to human skin."

Yes but....

Wind chill factor expresses the effective temperature on a human body as a result of wind speed in cold weather. It represents the temperature that would remove heat from a human body at the same rate if there were no wind. The difference relates to issues such as hypothermia where the wind chill reduces the amount of time before hypothermia sets in. Wind does not, however, have the capability to lower the temperature of an object below the temperature of the air. Water, for example will not freeze at a windchill of 25 degrees if the actual air temperature is above freezing.

Air flow over heat-conductive surfaces carries heat away faster whether that surface is a human body or the skin of a trailer. That is why there are fans on automobile radiators, refrigerator and air conditioner coils, etc. The heat transfer effect of air movement is significant. The internal temperature of a trailer depends on the balance between heat loss and heat gain. Heat is being added by the furnace, heaters, human bodies, appliances, etc. Heat is being lost through the body of the trailer at a rate in proportion to the difference between the internal and external temperatures and the thermal resistance between the inside and outside. Insulation between the skins increases the thermal resistance, air movement on the outside surface increases the thermal conductivity of the skin to the air, decreasing the overall thermal resistance and increasing heat loss. Think of the floor as an automobile radiator with the heat on the inside and the cooling air on the outside.

That said, I have no idea as to the effectiveness of placing a skirt around the trailer, but I doubt it is insignificant as so many people do it in really cold weather locations.

Al

Al, you are certainly correct. There will be heat transfer which is increased to some extent by airflow over surfaces. This is why the automobile radiator has so much surface area created by the fins, and fan speeds and temperature differentials that are significant. Low air velocity over a smooth surface is less significant. The calculations could get quite meaty and it's been a long time since my thermodynamics courses😴. My opinion was that the advantage of skirting a thin skinned aluminum shell trailer would be relatively minimal and not worth the bother in traveling mode.
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