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Old 05-08-2013, 07:46 AM   #1
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How energy efficient are Airstreams?

New to Airstreaming and I am curious as to how energy efficient are the trailers. Are there any guidelines for RV's and energy efficiency?
I guess what I am asking is, Does the heat in Airstreams just evaporate out the walls? or do they retain there heat well?

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Old 05-08-2013, 08:03 AM   #2
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How energy efficient are Airstreams?

Going down the road? Kilowatt consumption to power A/C? Propane consumption for four people over a fall hunting trip?

Your question has been "answered" in the variety of ways people use them. Climate is a main factor, as is Season.

Suggest you search this topic and re-vive one or more old threads as that will alert those who've posted previously.

In general, these are 3-season campers (as are most RVs) where specific consumption of propane or electricity may be higher than a conventional TT. Trade-offs exist with every type of design. But specific use is the search parameter.

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Old 05-08-2013, 08:18 AM   #3
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The construction is of a vinyl-covered plywood floor insulated underneath, an aluminum rib frame with aluminum sheets riveted to them insulated between the ribs. Lots of single-pane glass windows, lots of plastic skylights and vents, uninsulated openings for fridge, water heater, and furnace. Outside storage access doors direct to the interior.

The design does not lend itself to retaining heat, or keeping it out. It's surely a camper, not a house.

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Old 05-08-2013, 08:35 AM   #4
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An Airstream will have an R-value of about 6 or 7 at best, in terms of insulation. Not very efficient at all compared to a stick-and-brick home where R-values generally start at 18~19 and go up from there.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:08 AM   #5
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If you are looking for a trailer for winter camping, I suggest a so called 4 season travel trailer. Wood framing, fiberglass skin, insulated floors and double pane windows are better at retaining heat than the construction of an AS.
That being said, most of us have camped in ours in below freezing temperatures and have various strategies for being comfortable. There are lots of threads on this forum.
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:20 AM   #6
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Airstreams Are Extremely Energy Efficient

Because of the vast aluminum exterior surface connected to an equally vast interior aluminum surface by the ribs of a highly conductive aluminum skeleton... they are extremely energy efficient.

In the summer they conduct heat from the sun from outside to inside with more than 85% efficiency!
In the winter, they conduct propane furnace generated heat from inside to outside with at least 85% efficiency maybe even more!

This is what you meant isn't it?

*These percentages were entirely made up, but this is what it seems like in Phoenix, AZ in the summer and Taos, NM in the winter.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:31 PM   #7
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Very efficient..... when equipped with his 'n her Union Suits with optional trap door.

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Old 05-08-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Bottom line.....

Most trailers are designed to travel, and be towed. So compromises have been made to make them light, and compromises have been made to give the most living space. Trailers are at BEST, comfortable for 3 seasons. Many zoning codes prohibit living in an RV.
Are you thinking about living in one, or traveling in one? What climate will you be spending you time? Are you handy with plumbing and electrical repairs?
Although RVs seem like they a quick, cost efficient, cool solution to your housing needs, they are at best a temporary fix. The learning curve for all of the systems in an RV, and what it takes to make them livable is steep. My thoughts are, that if you are asking that question , as many have, you are not ready for the challenge.
As far as cost....You could put a down payment on a small house, for the same mount of money as it would cost set yourself up in an RV. The most expert and frugal fulltime RVers spend about 20 K a year. You could do it for less if you can suffer and have rich friends.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:43 AM   #9
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My RV ing will be limited to short weekend trips here in Wyoming and Colorado and maybe one or two longer trips.
Here in Wyoming the temperature never gets very hot, so no worries on the short trips. Now visiting the Grand Canyon in August might be a different story. If we use our new AS in the Winter I will be going South anyway.
I was just thinking about how long my propane tanks might last. I know there are a few variables to consider and every trip would be different, but I would rather not have to deal with filling them, or have them run out on a camping trip.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgap View Post
My RV ing will be limited to short weekend trips here in Wyoming and Colorado and maybe one or two longer trips.
Here in Wyoming the temperature never gets very hot, so no worries on the short trips. Now visiting the Grand Canyon in August might be a different story. If we use our new AS in the Winter I will be going South anyway.
I was just thinking about how long my propane tanks might last. I know there are a few variables to consider and every trip would be different, but I would rather not have to deal with filling them, or have them run out on a camping trip.
We spend all of the winter in the southern states, using propane or campground electric heat when available. Weather and comfort level varies, but I think we could plan on a week to two weeks on full propane bottles most of the time. That would be with warm days and heating only at night.

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Old 05-09-2013, 08:59 AM   #11
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We Have camped or boondocked in 20 to 110F temps in low desert to high country above 10,000' without any problems.
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:34 PM   #12
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My wife and I spent much of the winter in our Airstream in Mesa, AZ, where it was unseasonably cool this year.
With temperatures in the low 30s at night, we didn't run the furnace, we just bundled up in wool blankets and comforters. In the morning we would fire up the propane furnace and turn on the 120 volt electric space heater in the bathroom.
Using this method, we used about half a tank of propane every 10 days.
But temps in an Airstream plunge toward outside ambient as soon as you turn off furnace and/or space heaters.
As a rule of thumb, we find unheated inside temps to be about 10 degrees above outside temps by morning.
Enjoy your new Airstream!
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Old 05-09-2013, 03:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgap View Post
My RV ing will be limited to short weekend trips here in Wyoming and Colorado and maybe one or two longer trips.
Here in Wyoming the temperature never gets very hot, so no worries on the short trips. Now visiting the Grand Canyon in August might be a different story. If we use our new AS in the Winter I will be going South anyway.
I was just thinking about how long my propane tanks might last. I know there are a few variables to consider and every trip would be different, but I would rather not have to deal with filling them, or have them run out on a camping trip.
We do most of our traveling in the springtime when nights are cool. One tank of fuel lasts about one month. for us They're small tanks, but it's a small trailer. My experience with a somewhat larger trailer and larger tanks was similar. I was surprised how long the propane lasted.
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Old 05-09-2013, 04:04 PM   #14
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Depending on the thermostat setting in cold weather operation, it would be possible to burn through both propane tanks in a weekend. Also, another source of electricity might be needed to charge the trailer batteries as the furnace blower uses a fair amount of 12Vdc energy.

A test run using your prefered thermostat settings close to sources of both electricity and propane might prove very informative for planning a cold weather remote camping expedition.

YMMV
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