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Old 11-07-2016, 11:42 PM   #1
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Insulation efficiency

I am getting ready to purchase an Airstream. There are many things I don't know and want to be prepared for. We sometimes camp in the Sierras and the low temps in spring and fall can get frosty. I read something recently regarding how long a battery would last, running a furnace all night long. Got me wondering, If the outside temp is 32ish and I wanted no lower inside than, say, 60, and using propane only, what percentage would the furnace have to work? And, if in a plug-in site, would a heat strip be able to accomplish this and avoid propane use? How efficient is the insulation in a newer AS?

Thanks, Ralph

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Old 11-08-2016, 11:16 AM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums!

There are lots of threads investigating space-age, and not so spacey options for reinsulating the walls in an Airstream durring rennovations, but at the end of the day, regardless of what is in the wall, you will likely get something on the order of R6 at best. While we worry about what is in the walls, we need to consider that the walls are only 1.5" thick and have a very conductive rib connecting the inner and outer skins every so often. To make matters worse, the window frames are all equally conductive, and the windows themselves bleed heat continuously.

So all that being said, the challenge of keeping the trailer warm or cold boils down to brute force. The stock furnaces put out plenty of heat, but as you note, running the fan all night may very well deplete your battery if boondocking. I have never heard anything positive about the heat strips installed in airconditioner units. Many people will heat their trailers (quite effectively), using one or more portable electric heaters (in the case where you are on shore power), or propane fired catalytic heaters that don't require a battery-draining fan running full time.

For a real example, I recently camped in my 21' trailer in temperatures that went down in the low 40's at night. I have no interior cabinetry or furnishings (its an aluminum tent at the moment), so there was a fair amount of empty space to heat. I used a simple electric "milkhouse" heater with a thermostat on it. In order to keep the temperature in the high 60's at night, the fan on the little heater kicked in probably every 10-15 minutes or so. Despite my pining over the decision of how to insulate the trailer as I have rebuilt it, I still noted that condensation was beading up on the interior walls following the rivet lines (indicating the presence of a rib) on the interior skins.

Good luck!

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Old 11-08-2016, 05:26 PM   #3
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You could move up to solar, or lithium house batteries or both.

Others have use a catalytic heater, which does not drain the battery.
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:35 PM   #4
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You might want to see my post on this subject. I live in the Sierra

Bill Dunlap
Swall Meadows (Bishop, CA)
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