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Old 12-14-2019, 09:40 AM   #1
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Operation 2015+ Classic Upgrade

I've been drooling ever since Airstream rolled out the redesigned Classic at Alumapalooza. I'm finally in a position to upgrade and have taken the first step by putting my 2006 Safari up for sale.

My only certainty is that I want a 2015-2018 Classic 30'.

You'd think this would be an easy decision, but there are significant differences between years. I have a lot questions and I need help from the Classic owners out there to work out these dilemmas.

I really love the 2018s with the full Firefly control of all the systems, they still have warranty, and their prices are not much more than the older trailers with more use and wear. Right now the 2018s seem like the best value for the money, but...

Furnace vs. Alde: My biggest concern is with cold weather camping. I use the trailer for the Wisconsin deer season and it can be pretty extreme. The Safari saw one overnight low of -6 F.

The 2015/2016 have a powerful 34,000 BTU furnace, noisy, but effective and proven.

The 2017+ trailers have the Alde system which provides 18,700 BTU max output. How long does it take to warm up an ice cold trailer with the Alde? Will the Alde be able to keep up on cold winter nights in the single-digits?

Another complication is that I only have generator power for that cold week. The furnace uses 7 amps and keeps the tanks and crossover plumbing thawed. The Alde uses significantly less power, but the additional tank heaters use 10 amps. I guess I'd need to run the generator all night or the batteries wouldn't make it.

I've read the entire Alde thread and it seems awfully fragile and finicky. Circuit boards, bad overflow valves, bad mixing valves, leaking elbows, air cushions, fluid changes, exhaust fan failure, fuel mixture at elevation, wires disconnecting from the control panel. Those are a lot of issues considering there are very few Alde trailers overall. On the other hand everyone who has the radiant heat loves it.

That's a lot of rambling for a simple question... furnace or Alde? I'm intrigued by the Alde system and I'm sure it would be glorious for 90% of my camping. It's just that last 10% that gives me doubts.

My next big dilemma revolves around the Firefly multiplex system. I love it, but there are some horror stories out there, and Airstream has now switched to a different system after only a few years.

Has the problem with the Firefly properly controlling the heating and cooling been solved or is this the reason there are 3x more 2018s for sale right now than all the other years combined?

I really like the Firefly, but I'm worried about the system's ability to 1)provide basic functionality, and 2)hold up to the road abuse over the years. In 10 years I can replace a bad light switch, but what will my option be with the more complicated Firefly system?

Other than those two huge dilemmas, I can't wait to experience the quality of the Classic, the rich depth of the cherry cabinetry, the ducted air conditioning, and the goofy little things like the candy cane door handle. I'm giddy with excitement about the next camping season already.
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Old 12-14-2019, 04:51 PM   #2
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We full time in our 18 classic. Youíll only find firefly in the 17s and 18s. 18s have the full color display and with the last update, we have had zero issues with the firefly talking to all other systems.

Alde works great. We rarely are in cold climates so we donít use our radiant heat much. I believe it will stay on while you drive down the road, so thatís a small benefit. It will run off of propane and electric, propane being the more efficient source.

We found ourselves burning through one of our propane tanks a month when we were always running out Alde. Exterior temps were around 45 and Alde kept the interior around 65. Using electric was crazy, Alde sucks the electric instead of propane if you let it. We didnít know this and our electric bill for the month was $170 running the Alde 24 hours a day.

We love our classic. If we could, we would be on the czone due to what you said. What is support going to look like in 10 years when firefly has been upgrading and itís time to upgrade our panel or a silly light switch.
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Old 12-14-2019, 04:56 PM   #3
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Your posts about your success with the Firefly have been very encouraging.

One of the dealerships I spoke with said the early issues with the system have been worked out for the most part, and that Firefly customer service is outstanding. They also said CZone has its share of problems, and the support hasn't been as good.

I feel a little better knowing that Airstream is still using the Firefly system in the Interstates and that a lot of large, expensive Class A coaches also use Firefly.
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Old 12-14-2019, 11:38 PM   #4
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We have a 2016 Classic with no Alde and no Firefly and would never consider a 2017+ Classic with these systems.

Yes, the furnace is loud, but it heats the trailer quickly and it does not require a $600 fluid change every 2 years, nor do we have to worry about leaks. That said, the quiet, tho slower, heat of the Alde would be nice.

The major deal breaker for us is the Firefly system. We do not need nor want a computerized system to control our lights and other systems. Our Classic is a long term investment and I can troubleshoot switches and wires myself and not rely on a dealer every time something breaks. And most dealers really won't have the expertise to troubleshoot and fix Firefly. They'll just start swapping expensive parts, if the can still get them.

That's our take. Others will disagree. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 12-15-2019, 06:34 AM   #5
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Have a 2019 with Alde and CZone. Run the Alde while on the pulling down the road and it is nice and warm. At night it is the best. I think it makes us more self sufficient as we can use more propane for heat and less electric. It will heat you out if you turn it up and gives us all the hot water we want. It will burn propane faster but even if we ran it full time in zero deg weather, I can't imagine using up 2 big tanks in less than a few weeks. I am thinking of getting a spare mixing valve. But I am also getting a spare water pump. I want to have everything I need to keep my basic systems running. At least with the Alde, I think I can do that. I don't know if I can fix a broken furnace.

CZone works fine for us. No problems at all. Don't let your battery die and you should be OK.

The electric awning, that is another story. I would love to 'downgrade' the awning, but that is another thread.

Whatever you do, hurry up. They aren't adding more days to the time we have.
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 66Overlander View Post
Our Classic is a long term investment and I can troubleshoot switches and wires myself and not rely on a dealer every time something breaks. And most dealers really won't have the expertise to troubleshoot and fix Firefly. They'll just start swapping expensive parts, if the can still get them.
I totally agree. I've camped through 12 seasons with my current trailer and it's essentially like new and has never failed me.

My dream has always been to retire from my career early and work summers in Yellowstone so the trailer will be my summer home. I'd have a low income and the Classic needs to last 16 years until I could access my retirement savings. Based on the condition my current trailer is at 14 years old, I have no doubt the Classic will make it easily IF the electronics hold up.
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:15 AM   #7
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It will heat you out if you turn it up and gives us all the hot water we want. It will burn propane faster but even if we ran it full time in zero deg weather, I can't imagine using up 2 big tanks in less than a few weeks.
That's really good to hear. I'm a huge fan of sitting by the radiant heat of a wood stove and would love the Alde. I'm just having trouble deciding if I want to be the guinea pig testing whether the Alde system holds up to years of shaking down the road.

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Originally Posted by LilPeanut View Post
The electric awning, that is another story. I would love to 'downgrade' the awning, but that is another thread.
That's interesting. I'm completely fine with a manual awning and there's a 2015 for sale right now with the manual awning.

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Originally Posted by LilPeanut View Post
Whatever you do, hurry up. They aren't adding more days to the time we have.
One of my favorite sayings is, "tomorrow is not guaranteed." I'm hoping to be out of the cubical by 46 and working summers in the National Parks for my follow-on career.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. This is fantastic.
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Old 12-15-2019, 10:22 AM   #8
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Hi

There were a lot of people confused about the Alde early on. Once that settled down, really not a lot of issues. We have never run out of heat with the Alde. Having a *quiet* heat system is really great. Fluid change wise, on a DIY basis the cost is < $50. When you look at the "issues" consider that there are a couple thousand Alde based trailers out there.

Firefly and CZone are both used on a *lot* of RV's and boats. They are hardly unique to Airstream. Both have many thousands of installs on the road for a *lot* of years.

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Old 12-15-2019, 10:26 AM   #9
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Can the heat pump be run at the same time as the Alde to get the temperature warmed up faster?
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Old 12-15-2019, 12:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TinLoaf View Post
Can the heat pump be run at the same time as the Alde to get the temperature warmed up faster?
Yes it can. Also our tank heaters don’t draw 10 amps. Couldn’t see any change on EMS. Maybe yours don’t work? Anyone else have better info on that?
I did call AS customer service and they said draw (very little) power and wouldn’t see change on EMS.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:07 PM   #11
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Yes, actually that brings up the other benefit. Usually heat pumps donít work in weather colder than 30 degrees. Alde will always work. It is independent of outside temps.
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Old 12-15-2019, 03:15 PM   #12
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Alde, new 2020 Classic

Quote:
Originally Posted by LilPeanut View Post
Have a 2019 with Alde and CZone. Run the Alde while on the pulling down the road and it is nice and warm. At night it is the best. I think it makes us more self sufficient as we can use more propane for heat and less electric. It will heat you out if you turn it up and gives us all the hot water we want. It will burn propane faster but even if we ran it full time in zero deg weather, I can't imagine using up 2 big tanks in less than a few weeks. I am thinking of getting a spare mixing valve. But I am also getting a spare water pump. I want to have everything I need to keep my basic systems running. At least with the Alde, I think I can do that. I don't know if I can fix a broken furnace.

CZone works fine for us. No problems at all. Don't let your battery die and you should be OK.

The electric awning, that is another story. I would love to 'downgrade' the awning, but that is another thread.

Whatever you do, hurry up. They aren't adding more days to the time we have.
When you say your running the Alde going down the road is that on propane or electric mode?
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:19 PM   #13
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When you say your running the Alde going down the road is that on propane or electric mode?
The two electric elements are something like 1600 and 1800 watts each so you'd need a to be hooked up. Propane-only on the road, and propane provides the highest BTU output of heat.
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:21 PM   #14
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We love our 2017 Classic 30, the Adle system works great , I love the quiet trailer effect, no hot water heater coming on, no furnace coming on. We use ours in Colorado cold weather camping, no problem it works great.
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Old 12-15-2019, 04:23 PM   #15
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We use ours in Colorado cold weather camping, no problem it works great.
Some folks have reported trouble with the boiler running rich on propane at higher elevation requiring a second regulator. Any issues or were you using the electric function only?
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Old 12-15-2019, 06:14 PM   #16
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Operation 2015+ Classic Upgrade

Hi TinLoaf,

We bought our dream Classic in 2015 new. It has been such a joy and you will love whichever one you choose. Ours is more trouble-free without the Alde and Firefly. We live in Wisconsin and camp on our farm early spring to late fall. We found the furnace works just great and we often just use a small electric heater and that is sufficient. With that said, I want to let you know we are considering selling ours because of financial reasons. We would welcome you to come and see ours anytime. It has been to Jackson Center 3 times for minor warranty work and is in excellent condition.
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Old 12-15-2019, 06:33 PM   #17
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We would welcome you to come and see ours anytime.
Your trailer popped up for sale while I was up there deer hunting. I almost called you to see it on my way home, but decided to hold off since I canít do anything unless mine sells. Itís definitely on my list.
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Old 12-15-2019, 07:06 PM   #18
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2016 Classic

The two of us just returned from 2 weeks in our 2016 30' Classic in temperatures of 27 degrees and our furnace worked like a charm. Snug as a bug in a rug.

We have "practiced" retirement with two of these beautiful Silver Gals (2014 & 2016) and have decided to build a home on the ground instead of a home on wheels.

Please help us find a new "forever home" for our beautiful 2016 30'Classic Airstream. She has all of the "jewelry" needed to complete her outfit and is ready to strut her stuff on the highway.
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:10 AM   #19
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Also our tank heaters donít draw 10 amps. Couldnít see any change on EMS. Maybe yours donít work? Anyone else have better info on that?
I did call AS customer service and they said draw (very little) power and wouldnít see change on EMS.
I should have clarified, the tank heaters use 10 amps at 12 volts while boondocking. That's a significant draw and would have the batteries down to the minimum recommended 50% state of charge in just 10 hours.

My deer hunting week would be an exercise in battery management, but again, that's only a small percentage of my overall camping, and by far the most challenging.
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Old 12-16-2019, 05:15 AM   #20
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Please help us find a new "forever home" for our beautiful 2016 30'Classic Airstream.
As long as it has cherry cabinetry, light colored furniture, and a queen bed I would definitely consider it. One thing I really like about the 2016s is the addition of the power dinette lift and the built-in overhead cabinet lights.
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