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Old 03-08-2004, 08:23 PM   #29
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Question Solar/wind pkge

My problem is that I am chemically sensitive to any gas or propane products. That's why I'm especially intrested in a lot of solar and the boat/rv whisper quiet 4' fan generator. BUT BUT BUT I have never been rv ing. My 1971 31' airstream should arrive this week. After my husband and son rip out all propane, gas appliances, pipes tanks stove ref etc (Any one interested?) It will be stripped down to the bare walls and rebuilt to products I can tolerate. I'm VERY energy intensive. air filters ,water filters, incinolet toilet (any experience out there with this product?) electric burners, microwave, washer/dryer ref/ freezer etc etc. This isnt so much for boondocking which would be nice if I could drive, but living for months at a time when the air quality is too bad where I live. I figure at the gulf coast there should be a pretty good breeze. Are they REALLY noisy? As noisy as the gas generators? I even plan to do a simple passive hot water solar heater. ( Called coiled black hose) I'm going to use the incinolet toilet so I wont need to dump the black water tank. Since I wont be able to move the trailer. I was hoping to use those tanks on wheels to empty the grey water tank.
Any nice breezy site that anyone knows of along the TX gulf coast that isnt polluted, I'd love to know about. and why isnt swimming mentioned? Is the water too polluted all along the coast? I still have a young family and it will be 8 hours away from them when they are in school.
Does anyone know how to get ready internet connections? Talking to my family several times a day keeps my sanity.

Also the one RV place we walked into said they rarely take trailers that are older than 10 years. But if my 1971 is all polished up, do you think I would have problems? I am handicapped and will have a handicapped trailer license.

I am really throwing myself into a pool of sharks, here. I have no idea of what I'm doing. But my doc said I MUST leave, and so I shall. Any advice would be appreciated. My husband will drive me down spend a couple of days settling me in and then they are gone . school starts about aug 11. Thanks, everyone!
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Old 03-08-2004, 08:27 PM   #30
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tin hut, you have a great face- is Southlake near Argyle? do you boat on Grapevine or lewisville lake? Are the props REALLY noisy? thanks silver suz
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Old 03-08-2004, 08:46 PM   #31
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Good Lord Silver Suz

You sound in rough shape. My heart goes out to you. But I'll eagerly await all your experiments with alternative energy because that's right up my alley.

And, uh, let me know what kind of appliances you're junking. Especially the fridge. I'm starting from scratch with a 26' footer so am open to all sorts of things.
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Old 03-08-2004, 09:02 PM   #32
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Boat is on Lake Grapevine, but I dream of the BVI's and one day will trade in the AS for a nice Catamaran live aboard.
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Old 03-09-2004, 01:16 PM   #33
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All-Electric Airstream

Suz, you definitely need 50A service for an all-electric Airstream. I'd recommend sticking to 120V appliances so you could adapt to a 30A 120VAC campground outlet if you had to and still have use of everything by running no more than two things at a time.

120VAC 50A Leg 1
RV Roof-Mount AC/Heat Pump 20A
Two-Burner 120V Cooktop (1600W) 15A
Combo 120V Washer/Dryer 15A
Bath, Kitchen, Outdoor Outlets 15A GFCI

120VAC 50A Leg 2
10 gallon Rheem 120V Water Heater (1700W) 15A
Microwave/Convection Oven (1800W) 15A
Incinolet Toilet (1800W) 15A
Living Room, Converter, Bedroom Outlets 15A

Your lights, water pump, vent fans, and radio are powered by 12VDC supplied by the converter. If you keep the batteries, you'll have backup for these should the electricity go out. If you unplug the converter, you can run these off the batteries, using a couple of 100W+ solar panels and/or a wind generator to recharge the batteries to cover their use. You could also power a small TV from them. But these will only amount to about 5% of your total electrical use. Forget about trying to run any of the things on the 120VAC lists on solar or wind power.

They're expensive, but I'd consider the use of a 12 or 16 cu ft Sun Frost refrigerator/freezer. If you get a 12VDC model, and keep the trailer at 75 degrees, a 120W solar panel would just about supply the 12 cu ft's daily power requirement in the summer, and perhaps even in the spring and fall. I'd want two 120W panels for the 16 cu ft to ensure operation in spring and fall. A 12V model would also give you the advantage of battery backup if the power goes out, as well as allow you to keep the refrigerator running while you're towing the trailer, since you won't have propane to do that while underway. As with the other 12VDC items, they can be powered by the converter, if the solar and wind doesn't keep up in the winter.

I wouldn't even consider tankless water heaters... most are 240V and the few that are 120V use at least 30A. A tank-type water heater will also let you heat up a tank, shut it off, then use heavier appliances on that leg. You could leave it off during the day, pumping warm water into through it from your black hose coils, and that would give you a head start and reduce its power use.

Make sure you install the washer/dryer, refrigerator, and water heater over or very near the axles (slightly ahead of is better than slightly behind). They are quite heavy and need to be there.

I'd personally use a conventional RV toilet and the black tank. In a long-term campsite setup, you can adapt PVC pipe from the sewer outlet to the campground sewer inlet. The grey water can run through this constantly, and all you'll have to do is occasionally pull the handle to dump the tank. I'd find that much preferable to dealing with ashes inside the trailer. If you have a wood-burning fireplace you know what I mean... look through sunbeams around where you're handling them.

Not having an electric toilet on that power leg would also give you some leeway if you find that a 31' trailer parked in the sun on the Texas Gulf Coast really needs two roof-top air-conditioners.

Most long-term campgrounds don't include electricity in the site rental. You pay for what you use on top of the site rental, and the rate is sometimes considerably higher than the power company charges.

You may also find that many campgrounds do not allow use of clothes washers at the campsites due to the amount of water they put into the sewer system. They require you to use the campground laundromat, which feeds into a dedicated grey water plant separate from the sewer system. You may not have access to it even if you are willing to pull a 185 lb 22 gallon blue tank to it. Most campgrounds also forbid clotheslines.

Some campgrounds provide cable TV to some of their campsites (typically the more expensive 50A ones), and sometimes their cable plant is of sufficient quality for you to get RoadRunner. The same can be said for telephone lines and dial-up, but these are usually too far and of insufficient quality to support DSL. If you have a clear view of the southern sky, you could get a permanent DirectWay system set up, if the campground would permit it.

Hope this helps,
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Old 03-09-2004, 02:22 PM   #34
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Late model Bambi refrig don't use bat

The refrig that A/S puts in the 19' Bambi is the Dometic Americana series which only require propane or 120V, no 12V needed. The whole thing is good old millivolt technology. There is an meter at the top of the unit to show the voltage output of the thermocouple so that you know when the propane is running.

I also added a switch in the LP gas detector circuit to let me kill that thing when the rig is in storage. I used an illuminated pull/push switch and located it near the master kill switch. I talked to the manufacturer and A/S and both said that the warmup time is about 30sec to 1 min and if the unit did not go into green state in that time, there was something wrong, and neither indicated a problem with switching it off and on. I think A/S wired it in permanently as a "lawyer" factor item.

The only remaining power parasite in my rig is the Tri-Metric battery monitoring system, which I installed. In the no-display mode, the drain from it is less than the natural self-discharge rate of the batteries, so I just ignore it.


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Old 03-09-2004, 02:29 PM   #35
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I sent this comment from this forum to Airstream,

"Dicky Rigel (President of Airstream) was at the Sarasota Rally and I caught part of his presentation/q & a. The Factory is looking to add a "real" solar system with 2 larger panels and 2 glass mat batteries. I do not know if or when it will go into production but he was talking about it like it was in the pipeline."

This was Airstreams reply,

"This has been discussed and it is being looked into. If all goes well, it could be incorporated as an option sometime in the 2005 model year."

I wonder if this could be added to existing Bambis that are prewired?

Thoughts?
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Old 03-09-2004, 02:29 PM   #36
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There's a shallower version of that washer/dryer than the one Wal-Mart sells on-line.

Being side-load, either of these would let the water heater be mounted on top of them, and they use less water than a top-loader.
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:00 PM   #37
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The problem with solar and the Bambi

The biggest issue with solar installation and the 19' Bambi is roof real estate or the lack there of. I was able to fit two, 55W units on my rig, but the rear unit is slightly cantilevered off the back. It does not extend even as far back as the rearmost vertical plane, but it does extend into the radius of the rear panels. I made a mount for it that runs WAY forward so as to support the cantilevered area. The front unit fills the space between the front Fantastic Fan and the AC. There is NO space between the AC and the rear vent, so that leaves the space behind the rear roof vent as the only other space. I did consider mounting one on top of the AC shroud, but then decided that I did NOT like the look and the question of adequate support was problematic. The panels I used measure 25 3/4" wide X 32" long. It just takes space to install solar and there is no substitute.

That being said, A/S could build in an array into the top of the AC shroud (ala Coleman) and that would give them more room, but even then there is only so much space left up there. Even on a 34' there is typically only room for two 75watt panels due to dual AC, vents, etc. The only other option that I see is A/S deciding to make the roof itself into a large solar array, but the cost of such an installation would make it pretty farfetched in my estimation. I would not take the comment of a "real" solar system to mean a lot.

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Old 03-09-2004, 03:31 PM   #38
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I am not a solar expert by any stretch but I would like to ask three questions.

First, what about more, smaller panels that could fit and shape to the roof.

Second, are there more efficient panels.

Third, what about folding panels that could be unfolded when camped.

Just a few thoughts.
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:39 PM   #39
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solar in the boonies

Yea! I found out how to reply! I'm just totally a computer idiot. When I was researching solar and wind for trailers, I found a man in WA who makes up such packages. We talked and unfortunately he was going in for surgery the next day. But he promised in the next couple of weeks to send me info on his kits. I will pass on the info when I get it. This was for energy for boon docking
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:53 PM   #40
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Some answers

There are more efficient solar cells, but the cost is vastly higher than the more common cells and the additional efficiency is not linear to the added cost.

Folding panels could be designed, but you still have to have a place to unfold them and surface area is critical. There would also be the problems of ensuring that wind would not blow such an arrangement away and preventing theft.

The idea of smaller panels is a matter of the economy of scale. The low cost solar arrays that you see sold for trickle charging are typically the lowest efficiency and the cheapest to produce. The type of cells used in the common solar array are more expensive to build, but have higher efficiencies, and the cost/benefit ratio seems to be around the 50watt size. If A/S wanted to buy solar cells in bulk and create their own custom enclosure, that say, form-fit the roof space, then that would be a possibility. In fact this is what I was referring to with my comment on using the whole roof as an array (ie coving as much as possible with solar cells). I still contend that the cost is the killer on this potential.

While I would not characterize myself as the final word in solar technology, I am an EE so do have a pretty good frame of reference. What I suspect A/S is planning is to offer is a system with a pair of high quality panels, with proper sized wiring (the existing solar prewire is really marginal except for a single panel) and a quality MPPT controller. This would qualify as a "real" solar system. Whether it makes sense from a cost vs power produced perspective is another discussion entirely.


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Old 03-09-2004, 03:58 PM   #41
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electricity and AS

Do you mean that a campsite can't give you all the electricity one needs to run all the electrical appliances I need? 50 amp 30 amp?? I thought it would be like a house, you are hooked up to the electricity and pay for as much as you use??? This isnt true??? :-(((. I have been living inside my specially built house maybe 98% of the time now because of pollution and now pollen. I'm HOPING this trailer will save my life or lengthen it? now my Doc says get out, and you dont think this trailer will do it? :-{. truly folks we are going in debt to build this trailer if you dont think it will work out because of the RV campgrounds, please let me know. It is only in the past couple of years, that I have finally decided to get the handicapped parking card, cause my darn oxygen bottle is such a hassle to drag along. Now I have decided I am going to fight this all out. I have applied for a seizure service dog, and I'm going to pull the handicapped card as much as I can. My life is simply too difficult as it is, and doing it by myself is life threatening. all it takes is a good dose of charcoal fire starter, or a propane leak for me to go out. If I'm going to throw myself into this pool of sharks to try to live then I'll use what I can in order to survive. If that means using my own washer dryer then I will. Please understand, This is very difficult for me, but I've just got to throw myself in. thanks everyone ,, silver suz
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Old 03-09-2004, 04:03 PM   #42
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> First, what about more, smaller panels that could fit and shape to the roof.

Thin-film panels can be made somewhat flexible, however...
They require much more area for the same amount of power
If mounted flush on the roof no cooling air can get under them to keep their temperature down, and thus their voltage up.

> Second, are there more efficient panels.

Two of the Kyocera KC-50 ought to fit on a Bambi.

> Third, what about folding panels that could be unfolded when camped.

Solar panels are sails and are also expensive items that develop legs and run away. They have to be secured very well.
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