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Old 04-16-2009, 06:25 AM   #1
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Best Airstream model for all season use ?

I have been searching RV shows and reading several posts in my quest for the best, all around Airstream. My questions center around 3 areas, some of the models have the wrap around windows in the bedroom area. Is this area hot in the summer and cold in the winter due to the large glass area. I also notice storage under the bed with o/s access, does this make the bed colder? Would I not be better with less glass area exposure? The second area of concern is how the underbelly is kept warm, some models have hotair and some have 12V heaters on the tanks. It would seem the 12V would be more efficient. Finally, I notice some interiors have a finish and some are aluminum, what are the pros/cons in regards to heat and cold? Would not the non metal finish be more insulated? These concerns will help me in deciding on which model will suit my needs best. I appreciate your input!
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:50 AM   #2
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First off, Welcome to the Forums. We are glad to have you with us.

We have spent almost 400 nights in our 2005 Safari 25FB all over the country in all types of weather conditions, including desert hot and snowy cold.

Our Lucy (the Airstream) has proven competent in all of the weather conditions that we have encountered. We have both the electric heat pump and the gas furnace. We use the heat pump down to freezing. Below that it does not work. We then use the Furnace. We find that we are "snug as a bug in a rug". In very hot weather, we have found our 13,500 btu A/C unit to be quite sufficient.

Lucy does not have the panoramic windows. I think that this fact helps our weather capabilities. We also use the silver windshield insulation material inside all of our windows. This also helps significantly.

Brian
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:53 AM   #3
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My Airstream fits the bill - for us. To compensate for different temperatures, we have a propane furnace for under 40 degrees - a heat pump for over 40 degrees and a ceramic heater just to take the chill off. I have large bedroom windows, storage under the bed and the interior is finished. Please see pictures. Best of success in your search.
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Old 04-16-2009, 07:10 AM   #4
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Not really what you want to hear, but all of them are. It really boils down to how much space you need/want. Each Airstream is fully self contained, has connections for external supply for water, power, sewage, phone,TV/Sat and are prone to follow to same laws of physics as anything else on this rock. We are talking an RV here, so although some features may be better not to have in terms of insulation from the outside (skylights, vista views, wrap windows, etc), the reality is that it's a RV that is not airtight by any means and has significantly less "R" value than that of a house. In winter with any unit, expect your LP costs to go up....larger units have larger heaters and more heating space. Summer, if you are paying a flat rate, it's not as much of a concern, but again, larger units typically have larger A/C units, some even have two and once again, larger units can take more to cool on very hot days. So to me the better question is how much space do you need and from there how can you squeeze the most efficiency out of the unit that meets your needs.
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Old 04-16-2009, 07:55 AM   #5
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We have an International with panoramic windows on both sides -- Aluminum walls, too! We lived in ours from April 2008 until now with occasional trips home to our condo. It's been in zero temps and 100s.

One trick we do to keep cold leaking into out unit from under the bed storage area is to block the side "holes" with a sheet of styrofoam.

We used our furnace with a small ceramic heater and it stayed toasty warm. Better yet, some snuggling under an electric blanket made it real comfy-cozy.

The AC works great. We upgraded our AC unit, but now we hear they put a bigger unit in our model.

That's why purchased an airstream. For year round use. LOVE IT!
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:23 AM   #6
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Cold weather camping

We recently traveled in 19 degree weather and were boondocking 3 nights. The propane furnace functioned flawlessly and provided plenty of heat. I would guess we would be comfortable down to zero. Our's is a 25' Classic without the wrap around windows in the bedroom. I have heard that the wrap around windows allow more heat to come in in summer and cold in winter. I added some weather stripping to the outside trunk doors to make them seal up tighter than with only the factory gasket. We will find out next winter how it is when we go to Santa Fe, NM in January.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley View Post
I have been searching RV shows and reading several posts in my quest for the best, all around Airstream. My questions center around 3 areas, some of the models have the wrap around windows in the bedroom area. Is this area hot in the summer and cold in the winter due to the large glass area. I also notice storage under the bed with o/s access, does this make the bed colder? Would I not be better with less glass area exposure? The second area of concern is how the underbelly is kept warm, some models have hotair and some have 12V heaters on the tanks. It would seem the 12V would be more efficient. Finally, I notice some interiors have a finish and some are aluminum, what are the pros/cons in regards to heat and cold? Would not the non metal finish be more insulated? These concerns will help me in deciding on which model will suit my needs best. I appreciate your input!
Welcome to the forums!!

In answer to your questions, most of them are a resounding YES! A window is great for a view, and absolutely terrible for energy efficiency. Most modern houses have dual-pane energy efficient windows to help offset this effect. Most Airstreams have single pane windows. Having no windows would be the best thing for energy efficiency in temperature extremes, but do you want to sacrifice the view of the lake/mountain that you just drove 1500 miles to see?

For comparison sake, the residential building code in Michigan only allows 15% of the exterior wall space to be occupied by windows. I've not measured an Airstream, but I'm willing to bet that most are far beyond 15% and probably closer to 30%.

An aluminum interior is a terrible choice for energy efficiency. (They do look great though.) Aluminum is a conductor of heat. The vinyl covering used in the 1970's models will help offset some of the heat loss, but is not used anymore. A layer of paint will help considerably. Wood cabinetry interiors do actually have some "R" value as well as thermal mass, and will be a better choice for regulating the temps.

As was mentioned earlier, an RV was not designed to be a model in energy efficiency. The furnaces and A/C units are oversized compared to a modern house, and they are expensive to operate. A LEED rating for an RV will be another hundred years from now.

Good luck,

Woody
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:57 PM   #8
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We love our SE model which has both the panorama window and the aluminum interior...we like both features very very much and would not go without them. Whatever energy and warmth is lost by them is worth it to us. There are other ways to increase efficiency. We would not enjoy our Bambi nearly as much if we didn't have a big wide window and we had a cloth interior in a previous motorhome and never did like the way it gets dirty over time. There is no "best" IMHO...It all depends on what's important to you. My 2 cents.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:10 PM   #9
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Our 25' FB Classic with front and rear panoramic windows has been great in hot and cold weather; upgrading to the 15K air conditioner with the heat strip has proven to be a good decision. The wide body 25' has nearly the same interior square footage as our 1971 31-footer, but despite having more windows, the newer trailer stays cooler than the old with its better insulation and 15K A/C vs. the 13.5K in the older trailer.

I think an almost equally important source of heat gain in the summer and loss in the winter is the skylight. When we ordered our trailer, we had Airstream delete the skylight in the lounge area and leave the one in the bathroom, and we're glad we did. The skylights, even with the little paper shade drawn, can allow a fair amount of sun and heat in.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:55 PM   #10
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The 12v. tank heaters are impractical for boondocking because you will run the battery down fast. The propane fired furnace also uses a fair amount of battery, but will keep the water from freezing more efficiently.

We have the panoramic windows and aluminum interior because we made a style choice. Yes the big windows are impractical when you take heating and cooling into account. You can line the curtains or get better ones. A lot of what's comfortable has to do with what you want—we like it cool, especially in the bedroom, and that saves some propane. In the summer, you need 120v, or a large generator to run the AC. We don't go to Phoenix in August! I think the AC in ours strains to keep up with the heat when it's above 80˚ and the sun is directly on the trailer.

If you want a better built trailer for 4 season use, check out Arctic Fox—thermalpane windows and more insulation. We don't use the Safari in midwinter, but we have been out in it when the temps were in the teens overnight and we did fine. Remember to disconnect the water hose when the temp goes below about 28 or 29˚.

The panoramic windows help bring the outside in and make the interior seem less confining. The views are worth it sometimes, though some RV parks are not worth looking out the windows. I could do without these windows inn the bedroom, but I think it was both or nothing for the model we wanted with the interior aluminum.

Gene
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley View Post
I have been searching RV shows and reading several posts in my quest for the best, all around Airstream. My questions center around 3 areas, some of the models have the wrap around windows in the bedroom area. Is this area hot in the summer and cold in the winter due to the large glass area. I also notice storage under the bed with o/s access, does this make the bed colder? Would I not be better with less glass area exposure? The second area of concern is how the underbelly is kept warm, some models have hotair and some have 12V heaters on the tanks. It would seem the 12V would be more efficient. Finally, I notice some interiors have a finish and some are aluminum, what are the pros/cons in regards to heat and cold? Would not the non metal finish be more insulated? These concerns will help me in deciding on which model will suit my needs best. I appreciate your input!
Hi, welcome to the forum. Whatever you chose to buy will be the best for you. We have the Safari with lined interior and small windows, and love it. My opinion, is that it is better insulated, therefore shouldn't be a problem in either hot or cold situations. But I haven't heard of anyone being cooked of frozen in any of the other models. As for the view, the best view is from outside of any trailer. Note: we haven't camped in any extreme tempuratures cold or hot. We chose our trailer for it's floor plan and size/weight and price range, in part because we wanted no monthly payments. All of these trailers are nice and the choices are up to the buyer. Good Luck on your decission.
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:37 PM   #12
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25 to 30 ft airstream with "fabric-coated" interior. I have both and the aluminum interior is always cool or warm depending on the outside. An after-market radiant heater will keep you toasty when boondocking- must vent though. Don't over noodle, just jump in, it's the best way to learn! We are full timing in a 30' which is great for space, much better than the 25. Give some thought to the tow vehicle. Diesel is the way to go, I tried gas and it didn't work.
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Old 08-27-2010, 04:00 PM   #13
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We have the panoramic windows on both ends. They are the one item I would change if I could. We would have plenty of light and view with the regular ones (other trailer had regular). They make it a little colder, a lot hotter if in the sun without giving you any extra ventilation. But my biggest problem I have with them is the lack of window covering options! You are stuck with short style curtains with track top and bottom. I would love to put blinds throughout. Maybe even bamboo blinds in summer and insulated Roman shades in winter but there is no way to do that on my end windows. Any suggestions?
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Old 08-27-2010, 05:22 PM   #14
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Could you run vertical shades or blinds around the panaramic windows? OR if you think you have enough window and they are covered with the dark window rock guards would you consider walling the sides and keeping only your center window with traditional blinds? You could even make a window insert or over panel that is removeable covered with mouse fur, aluminum or whatever wall treatment you desire to camoflage and insulate the wrap windows. No one need be aware the windows exist from the interior with some creative appointment.
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