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Old 07-08-2010, 11:19 AM   #1
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Batesville , Indiana
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Airstream - Free Standing HVAC

The idea of living in an Airstream full time appeals to me aesthetically but I read and understand the warnings posted here. Seems to me many are related to winter living or ventilation in general.

My objective would be to establish a semi permanent installation in a temperate climate. That is, I could decide to move but it would be a project and I will be looking for four seasons (not three) with snow but not at 8,000 feet elevation.

My question is; does anybody have any experience installing a standalone HVAC system in conjunction with an Airstream? Much as you would for a small (very) house. The physical plant could sit outside the trailer or beneath it if the trailer was set on piers of some sort and could be sized to provide adequate ventilation (retarding condensation) and a reasonable heating and cooling solution.

I think it will be cheaper to build a small house the size of an Airstream but, as I say, there is the aesthetic appeal. If any respondents know of a discussion of this specific topic elsewhere in this forum I would welcome the redirection.

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Old 07-08-2010, 11:38 AM   #2
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2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
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Posts: 4,129
One problem you face is that humidity levels must be kept below what most people find comfortable to prevent condensation.

Not sure what benefit the external plant would have. You could dry things out with a vanEE heat exchanger without having to move the heating and cooling outboard.

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Old 07-08-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Airstreams cannot be reasonably lived in during winter months in northern climates (there are exceptions of course, but at the limits of reason).

Tiny stick-built homes can be aesthetically better than large homes, or Airstreams. Here's one with 800 square feet:

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Old 07-08-2010, 02:13 PM   #4
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1975 29' Ambassador
Reno , Nevada
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,351
The usual RV HVAC is well tested. This would include an A/C with a heat pump and a forced air furnace.

Snow isn't the problem. Severe cold is. Once you start to get subzero temperatures or daytime highs below freezing, you are going to have quite a challenge keeping things warm. Moisture from condensation can be a challenge but that is handled by proper ventilation.

For semi-permanent situations, the first consideration is skirting. That can be anything from hay bales to canvas to temporary plywood construction. Foil-bubble-foil insulation for the windows and some other sensitive areas can help - one reason why modern Airstreams have carpet or whatnot on the walls.

For fuel, you'll want to contact the local propane company for a rental tank.

You might also consider a shed to park under to help keep snow off the Airstream and to provide a clear area around it to act like a storm porch. This can have partial walls to help block wind as well.

You will need heat tape on the water lines and some care in the use of the waste line.

It can be done.
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:08 PM   #5
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1990 34' Excella
Springfield , Missouri
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We're doing it.......and learning along the way. Like I've said before - blush - full time living in the cold weather and winter camping even for extended stays are way different!! But, you have to learn along the way.

- We had inadequate electric service - that was addressed successfully -
- Condensation problems - dehumidifier + increased ventilation - addressed successfully but the colder the outside temps, the harder it is - next step - add underskirting next year.
- Bigger propane tanks than our twin soon as the roads clear the big bottle is on it's way.......
- Thinking about having storm windows made - we insulated the bedroom windows, and took out the beds and insulated under the platforms (closed the storage compartments and insulated over them (no need to use them in our situation now - and I'd rather use the space from the inside) - all of that really helped.
- Ceramic Heater and two 'fireplace' heaters - used one at a time - depending on the zone being occupied. These assist the furnace and help extend the propane........
- Use the electric element in the water heater - and use the heat strip in the A/C........

I had everything condensation free until hubby took a nice hot shower and fogged up everything - and he forgot to use the vent fan - so I've fought the steam build up all day because it's so cold. In addition, we've had a blizzard - so there's tons of moisture in the air - then there's the pups -

Ok, so there are things to deal with - but, there's things to deal with anywhere. Living in a stick and brick house isn't problem free - and in that stick and brick house I can't hook up and move my 'home' somewhere else should I have the urge........

So, I'll get it figured out. In the meantime, I'm going to make some popcorn, put in a movie, and take a couple extra dogs to bed......

nite nite -
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:30 PM   #6
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1972 29' Ambassador
Wilmington , North Carolina
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Go girl! Go! Buckle-up. Use your head. Airstreaming means you are living life. Burning calories. Like we are supposed to be doing.

I write this as torrential rain (Buffalo's blizzard) is exposing leaks via the AC and the bathroom vent. 2 gallons collected thus far.

Tomorrow, I'll be venting windows as the dew point falls and airing out the dampness. Holes will be plugged this weekend. Propane refilled. Maybe once more before the inevitable spring.

Still living the dream . . . .
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:02 PM   #7
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1990 34' Excella
Springfield , Missouri
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It's still cold in SW Missouri. We are due to hover in the teens and single digits with more snow on the way.

We're burning propane - a lot at night for the sake of the tanks - but use the heat strip a lot during the day - especially if there's a lot of sunshine.

We've also seemed to find the right ventilation to keep things free of condensation until we replace the broken Maytag dehumidifier - which will be replaced.....with a Lowes or a Soleus. (why do dehumidifiers have such a high failure rate?)

So, other than frequent propane refills - we are comfy, warm, and dry. The 'carport' is keeping snow off the AS - and the ice. I'm looking forward to seeing the groud again - didn't know so little would make me so delirious.

I'm starting to research cork flooring - bamboo too.......any ideas?????

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Old 05-26-2011, 09:46 PM   #8
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1966 26' Overlander
1975 Argosy 26
kent , Ohio
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i have been living in my 66 overlander since december 30th. i chose to split with the ex, and keep my restoration shop. so, the airstream became my permanent home out of convenience, and choice.
the only problem i had was my original furnace not being able to keep up with the subzero ohio winter that i experienced. however, i just bought a small ceramic heater,and put it in the bedroom.
i winterized the pipes before winter, so i just use my shops shower and restroom. i am content living in it. my new girlfriend loves it when she comes to visit. its nice and cozy.
i did have a problem getting out a couple times due to ice storms. that was interesting. and going into the summer months, i might even decide to put it on a campground lot, just so i have some neighbors.
it's only the end of the world. . . . . . . . . . again.
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Old 12-04-2011, 07:20 AM   #9
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1967 24' Tradewind
Telluride , Colorado
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Anglev. That is a interesting question free standing HVAC unit. I wish I had the answer...I like the comments from D Dave, plug in some where were there is shower etc. My Tradewind is water free so I always like those comments. I have a 10,000 btu vented gas heater I have yet to hook up but that is my path. I like the park it in a shed idea, i just have to build one first!! Purd, elavation 9450

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condensation, furnace, hvac

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