Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 08-14-2011, 01:49 PM   #15
Rivet Master
 
urnmor's Avatar
 
2012 25' Flying Cloud
Berlin , Maryland
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,221
My thanks to all looks like a generator or two is in my future especially if I want to boondock
__________________

__________________
urnmor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2011, 02:55 PM   #16
one of those
 
Gringo's Avatar
 
2011 27 FB International
'03 F250 PSD , Airstream summers, Catalac winters
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,091
After years of constantly re-pricing solar, it's really encouraging to see people now developing photovoltaic window curtains, and the technology is getting close on thin, flexible, more efficient and less expensive sheets that are essentially just big printed circuits. Some others are working on paint-on layers. The day is coming.
__________________

__________________
A Blog from the Devil's Triangle
http://2gringos.blogspot.com/
Gringo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 09:13 AM   #17
Rivet Master
 
1975 29' Ambassador
Reno , Nevada
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,351
re: "There are a lot of people on the very edge of some serious breakthroughs with PV."

'Real soon now' has been a common refrain for the last fifty years or so that people have been dreaming about self sufficiency and 'alternative' whatnot.

There are many reasons why it is taking so long and why such things as solar or wind as an energy source are likely to remain feasible only for special case scenarios. That is because both are low density power sources and, being power, they need an energy storage system to go with them. That means you have significant expense with collection and with storage.

These factors are significant with RV's because they are limited and size and need to be mobile. Even the big class A's can only handle 10 kWh of energy storage. That might go to 30 with Li batteries but the storage is still quite limited. Then there's the solar irradiation which is maybe 20 kW on an Airstream. Of that surface, only maybe 10% is usable for solar collection and the efficiency of solar devices is still well under 30% (and the new curtains and foils are much less). Then there's the necessary auxiliary equipment.

Of course, when someone has spent several thousand (RV) to tens of thousands (house) on a solar system, they are likely to be a bit biased and that means keeping themselves happy with their purchase in one way or another. You can see that in this thread. So take heed.
__________________
bryanl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 09:30 AM   #18
one of those
 
Gringo's Avatar
 
2011 27 FB International
'03 F250 PSD , Airstream summers, Catalac winters
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,091
the breakthroughs are in efficiency and cost. A direct result of serious money finally being thrown at the problem at a time when other advances in film techology are in the works.

Notice, I haven't bought the solar panels or the wind turbines yet. And like you, I've been watching this a long time. the intitial cost of the solar and storage issues have kept us from plunking down the moola on them, even though we live in an absolutely ideal physical location for wind and solar. We HAVE been looking at Mariah Power's Windspires for the house, but even there, big advances are being made.

What does increased efficiency, lower weight and cost mean to airstreams?

Well, pretty obvious. And we won't have those big clunky panels stickup up there destroying the lines.
__________________
A Blog from the Devil's Triangle
http://2gringos.blogspot.com/
Gringo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 12:09 PM   #19
Rivet Master
 
DaveFL's Avatar
 
2000 31' Land Yacht
Central , Florida
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,479
Images: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gringo View Post

I am going to suggest that people looking for something more than just the basic trickle charge buy a generator now, and wait a year or so to see what's coming down the pike with solar if you are looking to go completely solar. There are a lot of people on the very edge of some serious breakthroughs with PV. It's going to become cheaper, lighter, and more efficient, 'any moment now'. Buying an expensive system right now doesn't make sense to us, as we would be wanting to replace it for the new, much better stuff within just a few years. And there will be no market for the newly obsolete used glass panels.
Now, solar hot water, that works just great.
That was exactly what Gainesville professor at UF solar house said to me 30 yrs ago while designing my retirement home. Still waiting, he was using solar to a/c the house but required a fireman{boiler operator) on premises. Disney did the same thing in Orlando. I am still waiting, roof is in place with the right angle for panels, but while waiting decided to put in central A/C. 7 yrs ago got tired of waiting and using window a/c's
__________________
DaveFL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 03:23 PM   #20
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
Break throughs are unpredictable, and progress has been slow. But if you want to boondock, solar makes sense to me. I haven't measured the square footage of our roof, but with 2 panels, it must be more than 10% and there is room for two more.

If I wait for better technology, I may die first, but I'm using the trailer now. And if no one buys this stuff, waiting for a better technology, there will be no incentive to improve.

When you figure societal costs of solar and wind against the cost of climate change, I think solar and wind win.

Gene
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 03:44 PM   #21
one of those
 
Gringo's Avatar
 
2011 27 FB International
'03 F250 PSD , Airstream summers, Catalac winters
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 1,091
yeah but theres absolutely nothing we can do about climate change. Totally beyond our puny little powers.
__________________
A Blog from the Devil's Triangle
http://2gringos.blogspot.com/
Gringo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2011, 04:50 PM   #22
3 Rivet Member
 
Pat Conway's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 128
Must agree with Bill M on preference for a generator. During my stint as a Nat'l Park Campground host where there were no electric hook-ups, I always thought it peculiar that people would want to be out in the hot sun to take advantage of their solar system when it was more pleasant in the shady spots. Running our Honda 2000i in the morning for an hour or so when making coffee and the DW using the blowdrier, and then later in the evening for a couple hours watching a movie on the TV before generator hours were over seemed to keep our system charged up sufficiently. We set our furnace on 45-50 when sleeping, so the blower doesn 't come on that often.

The Honda 2000i is very gentle on fuel usage. The fuel tank holds 1.08 gals and you can generally get 7 hours approx usage on that much. I have two 2 gal gas containers I ride in a plastic storage bin in the back of the truck, and that so far has proven to be more capacity than we have needed. It came in handy also to run our house referigerator during power outages, running a vacuum cleaner and other power tools when the trailer is in the storage lot. Running it for a couple hours once a month keeps the trailer batteries up when it is in storage. Once in awhile when camping and also underway I like to be able to fire up the generator and run an electric blender in the summertime. We've had the unit for three years and have never had a problem with it.

My two cents, Pat
__________________
Pat Conway is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 02:23 PM   #23
2 Rivet Member
 
2010 27' FB International
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 24
Just a couple of observations and some more of our experience based on some previous comments:

- Solar for boondocking or dry camping in an airstream is completely feasible. We live approximately half time in our 2010 27FB (225 nights since April '10.) Those nights have been in all seasons, and mostly in the Pacific NW where the sun is not exactly omnipresent. About half of those nights have been with no electric hookups, and many in campsites with significant tree cover. Solar has consistently met our needs - including running the heater, lighting, a couple rounds with a Nespresso machine in the mornings, a few minutes of microwave use per day, all day of running a wifi-in-motion setup, charging and operating 2 macbooks, 2 iphones, 2 ipads while working on the road, TVs/DVDs, etc.

- The number, size, and type of batteries is extremely important. We have 6 Lifeline GPL-6CT batteries - rated at 300AH each. Pairing them into 3 pairs at 12V, we get 900Ah total capacity (10.8 KWh). For best longevity, you don't want to take the batteries below 50% charge, so the usable capacity is 450Ah @ 12V = 5.4 KWh. (this is significantly more usable capacity than has been estimated by previous posters). Weight of this battery array is about 540 lbs. Since these are AGM batteries, they can be safely located inside living areas. AGM batteries are more efficient at accepting charge and therefore make better use of your limited solar power.

- Optimizing your appliances and loads for solar use is also very important. We replaced all 31 of the 10W Halogen bulbs in our trailer with 1.2W LED arrays. The light output and color is almost identical to the halogens, but the power consumption is over 80% lower. We use every possible appliance at 12V rather than at 120V off the inverter. Our TVs are 12V LCD flatscreens (1080p HD with DVD players built in) that use less than 25W.

- Personally, I hate generators. Even the "super-quiet" ones are annoying and can really ruin a nice camp environment - both for you and your neighbors. If you're trying to run AC in an Airstream while boondocking, you've got several problems - you're probably running 2 generators at the same time at near-max capacity, plus an air conditioner. Inside and outside your unit that's a LOT of noise. In return for that noise, fuel, hassle, and lugging around and setting up 2 generators, you get not-that-effective air conditioning that probably still leaves your unit uncomfortably hot. If you're only using your trailer for an occasional weekend and/or a 1 or 2 week trip once per year - that might be an OK tradeoff. For me, this is my home for half the year and the convenience of solar is spectacular. It's silent, clean, and I don't have to set up, maintain, or refuel anything. It's just always on.

- Regarding solar making you park in the sun versus in the "shade" - remember that the solar panels shade the top of the trailer. If you have a significant area of solar panels, you're carrying a lot of shade around with you. It makes a noticeable difference in the temperature in hot sun - as do the extra awnings.

Right now, we are going on our fourth consecutive day dry-camping in our trailer with four adults. We're all working while camping, so we've been running four laptops, wifi, espresso machine, lights, fans, pump, Traeger BBQ (which has electric auger, starter, and fans), and TVs. The batteries have never gotten below 92%, and the solar has topped them off at 100% by the middle of each day. Our usage is around 150-200 Ah/day, so our solar must be replacing about that amount.
__________________
Riveted (blog)
tfmkevin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 10:20 PM   #24
Rivet Master
 
2005 19' Safari
GLENDALE , AZ
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,441
Tfmkevin, your comments sound good in theory, at least for Portland, Oregon. However, this is not very practical in Arizona. It was 110 degrees today, and the overnight low last night was 87. Plus, it's monsoon season now, so the humidity is much higher than normal.

I'm afraid all that extra shade provided by the solar panels won't help much when 110+ degree air is coming in the front door and through the FantasticFans. We need air conditioning if we camp in the desert areas. Phoenix has deaths every summer where people have tried to survive in their houses without air conditioning, or at the very least, swamp (evaporative) coolers.

However, it should be noted that we don't regularly camp in the desert in this weather. We head for high country, like Flagstaff, where the temperatures are much cooler (above 5,000 feet). The Colorado Rockies are even better, and are a frequent destination the summer months. If we must camp in the heat, the alternative is a campground with electric hookups.
__________________
Phoenix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 10:51 PM   #25
Rivet Master
 
AirsDream's Avatar
 
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 914
There is something to the climate issue, which depends in turn on where you live and camp. If I were in Arizona or S. Texas, etc., I'm not sure that a generator would be enough.

But where I spend most of my time, north of Mason-Dixon line, I don't NEED air conditioning. And if I don't need a/c, I don't need a generator. I've just got two 130W or 150W (can't remember which) solar panels and three Lifeline Group 27 batteries. They always seem to be fully charged by about 9 or 10 a.m., even in pretty cloudy weather. Sooner if it's sunny. That works fine for me, and where I am most of the time.

I can happily get along with just the Fantastic Vent and an Endless Breeze Fantastic Fan up to about 90 degrees daytiime high ambient temp. At those sort of high temps, it cools off enough at night for me to sleep, whether I'm in the A/S or in a tent. But above that, I get grumpy without air conditioning, and so that is the sole factor that for me decides whether I need shore power or a generator. I've got two generators, carry one 2400 watt Yamaha along in the truck, but I haven't used it in two years ...

Sometimes I like to remember that even in the desert southwest, for thousands of years at least, there were folks living there without air conditioning or generators. Or even solar panels or Fantastic Vents.
__________________
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 10:59 PM   #26
2 Rivet Member
 
2010 27' FB International
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 24
@Phoenix:

I hear ya! I grew up in South Texas, so I understand the heat issues. I've camped extensively in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and New Mexico.

However, is it your experience that the Airstream A/C actually provides much relief - even on shore power? When we've camped in the desert SW, we found that our A/C could lower that 110F down to a nice, cool, comfortable 95F. We also noticed that the majority of the campgrounds provide at least 30A power.

I'd love to hear from people that actually dry-camp/boondock in these areas and run Airstream A/C with generators... Is that a satisfactory solution? Is it a hassle to keep 2 generators running all day to run the A/C? Does the A/C actually cool the trailer to the point that you want to hang out in there? What do you do when 10PM generator curfew arrives and it's still 95 degrees out with 90% humidity?

When I've been in these scenarios, I've taken advantage of a different feature of the Airstream - the wheels! We get the heck out of there and camp somewhere at higher elevation (like you) or where there isn't quite the challenge posed by the environment.

Now, we do have a story about being almost out of gas in the Mojave with the OAT at 113F, and the nearest gas station some undetermined distance away... (Those little "110 miles to empty" trip computers can accumulate some serious errors.) Ever try to decide if you could kill the engine and coast down the hill in neutral - losing power steering and power brakes, in order to save a little fuel so you might make the station that might or might not be open?

Seriously, I'd like to hear from anybody that runs A/C on generators in extremely hot climates. How is that experience?
__________________
Riveted (blog)
tfmkevin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 11:32 PM   #27
2 Rivet Member
 
HankO's Avatar
 
1997 28' Excella
Eden , Utah
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 70
Plugging into the generator

I'm also in a dilema, in trying to justify the cost of a new generator vs solar panels. Right now I'm leaning toward a new 3000 watt Honda generator as it has multiple uses not only for the trailer but emergencies at home. My question is, if I use it to charge my Airstream batteries while Boondocking is it more feasible to hook the generator directly to the Airstream shore hookup or plug in a battery charger to the generator and connect the charger to one of the batteries. I've been told that I need only to connect to one of the batteries as this will charge both and I can charge them in a lot less time.

Thanks

HankO
__________________
HankO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2011, 11:40 PM   #28
2 Rivet Member
 
2010 27' FB International
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 24
If you have a good converter/charger built in, you should just plug into the shore power connection.
__________________

__________________
Riveted (blog)
tfmkevin is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
What solar panels to buy? GaRoc Boondocking 45 10-09-2011 08:15 PM
Seeking Feedback: solar solutions for full-time telecommers burnsdl Generators & Solar Power 7 08-19-2011 03:31 PM
Solar Power for Battery Maintenance Tumajin Generators & Solar Power 10 08-12-2011 07:10 AM
Solar panels Marilynperl Generators & Solar Power 6 05-27-2011 10:21 AM
Solar Panel Prices Dropping tbro Generators & Solar Power 11 03-30-2011 09:21 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:13 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.