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Old 03-01-2006, 11:02 AM   #1
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Is an Airstream a summer oven?

After 35 years of camping in tents and tent trailers we are seriously considering purchasing an Airstream (huzzah). We re interested in the 19' and the new 20' models. How well does the interior of an Airstream hold up under summer heat with open windows and a fantastic fan when boondocking? Do they get stiffling hot? We tend to camp at state and National parks where seldom do you have the opportunity for electrical hookups. We note that the windows on the 19' standard have small openings for ventilation. The Casita forum claims that the interior of a Bambi wil get hot enough to cook food without using the range (not that I put a lof of faith in the comment). Any experiences or knowledge will be appreciated.
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Old 03-01-2006, 11:32 AM   #2
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An Airstream in the direct sun gets hot. VERY hot. MUCH hotter than a Casita or a Scamp. I have had a parade of Airstreams as well as fiberglass trailers. I'm regularly amazed at how much difference there is between them. If you can park your Airstream in partial shade though, it's not so bad.

Roger
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Old 03-01-2006, 12:11 PM   #3
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Explorin, Like Roger says, shade works well and so do Hondas and Yamahas for generators. Considering you may not be inside your trailer much in the summertime with the exception of the nighttime hours, you'd be well advised to take a look at all the information on this forum concerning generators. Should you have the 'luxury' of planning your trips on a seasonal basis i.e. South in the Winter and mountains in the Summer, who knows, you may not even need the AC at night? Having said all that, if you camp in the open, summer sunlight, your Airstream will heat up quickly, the AC will run all the time, cool down slowly and not nearly as efficiently as your home or automobile. Good luck in your decision and welcome to this very useful Forum.
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Old 03-01-2006, 12:40 PM   #4
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It's hot, but with the windows open and fantastic vent(s) running, it's not bad. Of course when it's been 95+ outside with 40% humidity and in direct sunlight, it's nice having a good A/C unit.

In the 19' and 23' units, I think they come standard with 11k BTU units, I would opt to upgrade that to 13.5k units. If you go larger than 23', I'd bump up to a 15k unit.
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Old 03-01-2006, 01:08 PM   #5
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Part of the key to comfort is also the windows themselves. The riveted windows as found on the Classic, CCD and Safari SE line swing out. The other models which use the windows surrounded by a black gasket have a limited portion of the window that opens.

If a lack of power is an issue, be sure to get a model with the riveted windows.

Jack
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Old 03-01-2006, 01:34 PM   #6
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While it's true that AS's can heat up during the day, we have found that they also cool off pretty quick. Aluminum does not hold heat well. Also being as reflective as they are, they don't get as hot as they might if say they were the SOB white/beige paint stuff.

Like Jack mentioned, I'd consider a model where you can open windows as much as posible. On our 19' CCD, the front window swings up quite a bit, the curb side bedroom window also opens generously.

And if you really need it, you can swing the door open, and just use the screen door.

One of the best suggestions I got from Silvertwinkie: If you go with a 19' model, be sure to spend the extra 240 dollars and get a second Fantastic Fan. Our stock 11,000btu AC seems to keep us cool enough during extreme temps, so I can't say that I miss the 13,500 btu unit, and I'm pretty freon-dependent during summer months.

When you say national Parks, do you mean parks out west? If that's the case, we found that no matter where we were, we seldom had any need for AC. For example, we camped at Zion NP during the summer when temps would get to about 100 degrees during the day, but by 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening, we might be looking for a blanket! It really cools off at night, at least that's what we found.

If you are camping in the midwest/east where it can get hot and humid and stay that way, you would either need a camp ground with electric or carry a couple of portable generators or a giant heavy one to run the AC.

Jonathan
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Old 03-01-2006, 03:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcanavera
Part of the key to comfort is also the windows themselves. The riveted windows as found on the Classic, CCD and Safari SE line swing out. The other models which use the windows surrounded by a black gasket have a limited portion of the window that opens.

Jack
I have the windows with the black gaskets. They don't fully open like the Classic, SE or CCDs, however this can be overcome with a fantastic vent....as Lev said, two can really be great. I can get a wind tunnel in our 25' with the windows alone open and both fans on high or one setting before high. Opening the door with the fans on is even better.
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Old 03-01-2006, 03:34 PM   #8
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I work at a Bluegrass Festival for ten days, in July every year.
1. I try for a spot with afternoon shade.
2. I use a 12 volt, clip on, oscilating fan pointed at my person.
3. I sit by the creek in the heat of the day.
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Old 03-01-2006, 03:41 PM   #9
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We looked at two 25' Airstreams, one with beautiful wrap around front windows and high edge windows, the other with fewer and less fancy windows. On a hot Sacramento day, the one with less glass showing (the one we got) was definitely cooler. That was a major factor in our decision, helped by the cooler one being cheaper. Both units had all windows closed, the door open, and roof vents open but fan not running.

But boy do I like the looks of the one we didn't get! If I had it to do over, I'd get the one with more glass, and as Johnathan and others have said, add a 2nd Fantastic Fan.

I can't compare the windows, but I will say our windows are hard to open, and don't open far.

Cam
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Old 03-01-2006, 04:54 PM   #10
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Ditto on Jack Canavera's (and others') comments about the hinge-from-the-top windows. I would travel with my Argosy closed up and arrive all hot inside. Opening the top-hinged windows would cool it off inside purt' darned quick! Of course nothing helps on those muggy hot nights...

It is definitely hard to tote around enough 30A generator power and fuel to run the AC while boondocking (don't try the AC on anything less than a 30A circuit -- you could burn out the compressor!). You need at least two lightweight Honda EU2000i generators to run the AC -- cables are available to put it together right. I have the link for making your own here somewhere.... A single 30A generator gets pretty heavy to hoist up and down from a pickup bed. Yamaha generators have started to catch up to Honda (saw a big display at recent RV show; also featured in latest Airstream Life magazine). If you camp in the hottest season or areas, cooling off the hot inside with the AC toward the end of the afternoon has got to help some.

Due to the flammability issues with transporting gasoline I am really paying attention to this post! Propane powered EU2000i. I'd think the LP conversion could be worked with any generator -- talk to your dealer, talk to the local gas service company, etc.
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Old 03-01-2006, 05:06 PM   #11
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Good advice! One thing that has not been mentioned is interior window tinting. I had this done to all of my vehicles here in SW Florida, and it makes a huge difference. So much so, that I just had my house done (faces mostly south) and even had the CCD done in a silver reflective tint. Besides looking awesome, it has reduced the interior heat during the day considerably. If I had the time, I would have done a temp. comparison, but it IS noticeable!

Also, be sure to order a full set of awnings. They help a lot too.
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Old 03-01-2006, 05:22 PM   #12
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Airstreams are hot stuff

The newer units have white roof coating. It really helps. I had a 77 that baked when at International Rallies in Rapid city and Huntsville. I ran experiment to see if it was worth it to paint the roof. It really helps. temp inside dropped over 10 degrees F on a summer afternoon and seemed to have no effect on how fast it cooled down after the sun went down. Have had quite a few others also paint them. Helped them also. Parking so the awning shades the side also helps. Awnings all around (even covering a swing out window) also helps. Personal fans inside are also an option. It may not look classical, but form must follow function in my book.
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Old 03-01-2006, 05:44 PM   #13
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Some are hotter than others

In 1991 was when my Airstream was built. I think somebody at the factory was on something when they decided to offer a 34' trailer with a 13,000 BTU AC. I don't know if anyone thought that some people lived in the south. I know a second unit was a option. But it should have been mandatory for any units that were to be sold in the south. I've had it checked twice and was told it is functioning better than a new unit. If the temp goes above 85, staying inside is not a option.
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Old 03-01-2006, 06:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
Good advice! One thing that has not been mentioned is interior window tinting. I had this done to all of my vehicles here in SW Florida, and it makes a huge difference. So much so, that I just had my house done (faces mostly south) and even had the CCD done in a silver reflective tint. Besides looking awesome, it has reduced the interior heat during the day considerably. If I had the time, I would have done a temp. comparison, but it IS noticeable!

Also, be sure to order a full set of awnings. They help a lot too.
I can attest to the effectiveness of window tinting. I tinted the windows in our Overlander just before the Florida State Rally, and there was at least a 5 degree drop in interior temperature versus the week two weeks previous. It will probably also cut down on the colors in your fabrics fading, as well.
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Old 03-01-2006, 07:33 PM   #15
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Is an Airstream a summer oven?

hi explorin....welcome

one thing odd about your post....your stats showed zero/0 posted after you posted....haven't seen that.

no hotter than any other rv would be my observation....so many variables.

otoh......airstreams are the HOTTEST way to travel!!

and i have fond memories of ovens anyway....

cheers
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Old 03-01-2006, 08:11 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explorin
How well does the interior of an Airstream hold up under summer heat with open windows and a fantastic fan when boondocking? Do they get stiffling hot? We tend to camp at state and National parks where seldom do you have the opportunity for electrical hookups.
Five years ago my '77 31' Excella 500 developed an electrical problem in the 30 amp power cord plug. It was in July in TN. and a short kept tripping the campground GFIC at the pole. It got over 107 degrees inside the trailer during the day and it was 8 p.m. that evening before the trailer cooled down with the help of two box fans running to the 15 amp. plug on the power pole. It cooled down to around 70 that evening, just enough for us to sleep. We were less than 25% shaded by trees, had a patio awning, an awning on the street side and an awning at the back of the trailer by the rear bath. All three factory installed overhead vent fans were running during the night. I sure am glad that the two Delco Voyager grp. 27 batteries were fully charged before the trip.

It is my understanding that if you open the awnings, open the windows on the side opposite the sun then run your fans on exhaust, it will cool the trailer down more than if you open all windows. I would take advantage of any shade you can get during the hottest part of the day and leave all awnings open to shade the trailer further. If you are boondocking, a solar panel is not helping you much if it is shaded but could do wonders if you were able to run the panel away from the trailer to take advantage of the sun. I am going to add either one 100 watt panel or maybe two 100 watt panels to the roof of my now 25' '86 Sovereign trailer in April '07 but will keep my current portable 5 watt and 30 watt panels for the previous reason. I plan on starting with a Yamaha 30iseb generator in April '06 for my boondocking to run the AC during our hot summers.
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Old 03-01-2006, 09:54 PM   #17
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Phoenix in the summer, everything is an oven
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Old 03-01-2006, 10:23 PM   #18
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Do they get stiffling hot?

We camp in our 16 foot AS throughout the summer, often right on the beach. Our trailer can get stifling hot during the night, but then I just turn the heat down.

Greetings from Alaska.
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:35 AM   #19
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Summer Oven

Hello -

A few more tips for keeping your AS cool in the heat of the summer.

The aluminum skin soaks up way more heat than the white skins of SOB's - thus recent models of AS have white roofs. Minimizing the amouint of direct sunlight on the skin is therefore essential in keeping the unit cool.

Keep your awning extended as frequently as possible and consider adding the streetside and rear awnings as well. We did this and it helps a lot!

Additionally, keep the sliding cover closed on any skylights you may have in your coach during midday to reduce the amount of sunlight entering and heating.

As mentioned in previous posts, a second Fantastic Fan helps too.

Best of luck with your AS!!!

Steve
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Old 03-02-2006, 05:55 AM   #20
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summer heat

First thing we do in the summer is extend all awnings. Then we open the windows for good ventilation. When we ordered our AS, we purchased it with both skylights. We hardly ever us them and keep them closed in sunny weather. If I were you, don't waste your money on skylights. The fantastic fans are great. One blows in and the other out.

I can't stress it enough, keep the sides of the AS in the shade of your awnings as much as possible.

Mark
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