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Old 07-23-2017, 04:46 PM   #1
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2018 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Franklin County , Missouri
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Considering Ordering 2018 Interstate Grand Touring

I am seriously considering ordering an 2018 Interstate Grand Touring and have a few questions. I have spent the last couple of weeks reading through this forum for information. It has a tremendous amount of great information, so first off thanks to all that have participated. Now to my questions:

REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER: I have read a lot that the stacked refrigerator and freezer may not get enough cooling air flow. Has this been resolved in the latest models? From what I can tell Airstream may have changed to a refrigerator with a small freezer drawer maybe in the Fall of 2017. Did this solve the problem? Does anyone have the model number for this refrigerator/freezer? I have searched Nova Kool's website and do not see any of this style. Also can anyone with the new style refrigerator/freezer tell me how long I should expect the batteries to power it? I know there are a lot of variables involved.

MACERATOR, HOSE REEL, DUMP VALVES: It appears that I should expect to have some macerator, hose reel and electric controlled dump valve issues somewhere along the way. From what I gathered I should keep the deodorizer packet plastic out of the system along with keeping hair out of the drain system to minimize macerator problems. Also I should pull all the hose out each time I use the hose reel. Is there anything else that I should or should not do to minimize problems? Also am I overstating the potential problems here? In other words do a lot of people experience no problems with this system on a yearly basis?

DISCOUNT: What kind of discount should I expect to see ordering this unit? Reading through the forum I saw people stating from around 15% up to 22-24%. Is this the typical range?

AIR SUSPENSION: Reading the information on the air suspension I should be able to raise or lower the rear of the coach when I am stopped. A couple of people outside of this forum stated you can level the unit side to side however I cannot find any information to support this. Can you do side to side leveling? Also can you temporary raise the rear while driving (slowly) if you think you might drag the rear of the unit?

CHASSIS BATTERY DISCHARING QUICKLY: I read that some have problems with the chassis battery getting discharged in a few days even with the unit plugged into shore power. Is that still the case? I currently own a class C on the Sprinter chassis and never had a problem with it discharging quickly. If I store my class C I put a separate trickle charge on the coach and chassis batteries to keep both charged. If I am stopped more than one day in the Interstate will I need to hook up a trickle charger to the chassis battery?

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for responses. I hope to become an Interstate owner in the near future.
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Old 07-23-2017, 06:36 PM   #2
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Welcome to the AirForums! And welcome to the irony of being welcomed to the AirForums by someone who has been gone for half a year himself…
Quote:
Originally Posted by AI927 View Post
REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER: I have read a lot that the stacked refrigerator and freezer may not get enough cooling air flow. Has this been resolved in the latest models?
Even if Airstream improved ventilation to the fridge/freezer for newer years, they probably did the minimum necessary, not the ideal fix. There may still be room for improvement.
Quote:
From what I can tell Airstream may have changed to a refrigerator with a small freezer drawer maybe in the Fall of 2017. Did this solve the problem?
Doubtful. That's what the non-Grand Tour Interstates have (dorm size, 3.1cf), and changing that would be taking away from one of the things that make the Grand Tour unique.
Quote:
Also can anyone with the new style refrigerator/freezer tell me how long I should expect the batteries to power it? I know there are a lot of variables involved.
The only time the fridge/freezer ever works in isolation is just before a trip when you're cooling them down before loading up, so that's hard to say. Other appliances and devices will also be using battery power the rest of the time. Good news, initial cool-down should only take about an hour for the fridge, maybe a little longer for the freezer. Make sure they're operating exclusively in 12vDC mode (by unplugging the 120vAC cords if necessary) to ensure the maximum energy efficiency.
Quote:
Also I should pull all the hose out each time I use the hose reel. Is there anything else that I should or should not do to minimize problems? Also am I overstating the potential problems here? In other words do a lot of people experience no problems with this system on a yearly basis?
I've used my macerator pump for well over 100 trips in the past 5 years, with almost no problems. Just be sure to winterize the pump carefully to prevent trapped water from freezing inside, and you'll be fine.
Quote:
What kind of discount should I expect to see ordering this unit?
You would get a better discount buying off the dealer's lot rather than ordering one, because dealers have incentives to move units already in inventory to save on taxes and overhead. But that may not be an option for you. Don't worry how much of a discount you get. No one will point and laugh if you get an 18% discount instead of a 25% discount or whatever. As long as the price you pay is a price you can afford and that you're comfortable paying, take the win.
Quote:
I read that some have problems with the chassis battery getting discharged in a few days even with the unit plugged into shore power. Is that still the case?
There is a chassis battery disconnect located near the accelerator pedal, that you can use when the unit is stored. Thanks to the aftermarket Viper alarm system I installed in my 2012 Interstate, the disconnect is not an option for me because using it sets off the alarm. But even with the battery always connected, and even with the added drain caused by the alarm system, I can park my Interstate for up to 2 weeks without the chassis battery discharging far enough to require a jump-start.

But remember, an Interstate is really just a big van, and you can drive it around town— or out of town for same-day trips— even when you don't use it for camping. You don't have to store it for weeks or months on end when you're not camping. When I worked for a living, I even drove mine to work every week or two just to minimize the separation anxiety I felt in between camping trips. Or I'd cool down the fridge and then make a grocery run because I wouldn't have to worry about my ice cream melting before I got back home if I loaded the groceries in the Interstate's fridge after shopping. Don't think of it just as a motorhome. Think of it as a van that you can use as a motorhome, and you'll find no end of uses for it around town. That's one of the things that's unique about a B-van compared to any other motorhome.
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Old 07-23-2017, 06:46 PM   #3
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Protagonist,

Thanks for the reply. I am glad to hear about your non issues with the macerator.
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Old 07-23-2017, 07:06 PM   #4
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I had the macerator replaced once - it started to make an unusually loud grinding noise but was still working fine. I found a lot of slimy stuff at the inlet of the pump. I attributed it to stink-um bags that did not completely dissolve. I see no need to completely unwind the hose each time you dump. But you do need to unwind it all the way to winterize it. I drilled a 3/4" hole in the bottom of the sewer pipe just before the macerator. This lets me completely drain the system when winterizing. I use a rubber drain plug in the hole, and hose clamp around the pipe and plug to make sure it stays secure. Sounds kinda hokey, but works well.

We bought a 2013 lounge EXT that had been on the dealers lot for 9 months and got it for 30% off invoice. They managed to ruin the AGM batteries in those 9 months, but I was willing to live with that.
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Old 07-23-2017, 07:36 PM   #5
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I found a lot of slimy stuff at the inlet of the pump. I attributed it to stink-um bags that did not completely dissolve.
Not well-known is the fact that some tank treatments react chemically with pink stuff antifreeze to form a substance best described as "goop." Before winterizing each year, running a couple of tanks of clean water through each of the waste tanksó and thereby through the macerator pumpó to flush out any tank treatment residue before adding pink stuff. That should help prevent the formation of slime that you described.

Also, if you use a liquid tank treatment instead of powder packs, that will help as well.
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Old 07-23-2017, 07:55 PM   #6
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Well, well, well; look at what the cat dragged back in.........

Nice to see you back Protagonist and look forward to reading your insight on issues again.

How about your insight on this doozy; you have to read the whole thread though.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...le-169483.html

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Old 07-23-2017, 08:07 PM   #7
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Well, well, well; look at what the cat dragged back in...
I actually HAVE a cat now, and she goes camping with me. Named Sylvia by the adoption center we got her from, due to her passing resemblance to Sylvester of the Sylvester and Tweety cartoons. I demanded custody when the breakup happened. (stupid sideways image attachment, even though it was transferred from my phone to my laptop first!)
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How about your insight on this doozy; you have to read the whole thread though.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...le-169483.html
No, thank you. I don't know enough about electric carsó or their towabilityó to even venture an opinion on the subject. But I guess that's what tow dollies are forÖ
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Old 07-23-2017, 08:25 PM   #8
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Thanks for the additional replies. In regards to refrigerator/freezer I thought the new Grand Tour models were using a 5 cf refrigerator with a 1.6 cf drawer refrigerator. I think I saw this on a copy of a window sticker. Anyway I could not find this unit in the Nova Kool website.

The 30% discount is the highest I have seen in my time looking through the forum.
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Old 07-23-2017, 08:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by AI927 View Post
In regards to refrigerator/freezer I thought the new Grand Tour models were using a 5 cf refrigerator with a 1.6 cf drawer refrigerator. I think I saw this on a copy of a window sticker. Anyway I could not find this unit in the Nova Kool website.
I'm not current on new model specs, so I'll take your word for it. But also bear in mind that the new unit might not be from Nova Kool.
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Old 07-24-2017, 07:17 AM   #10
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We have the 2017 GT, ordered from factory in March of this year.

>> REFRIGERATOR/FREEZER: From what I can tell Airstream may have changed to a refrigerator with a small freezer drawer maybe in the Fall of 2017.

We have separate frig/freezer compartments. We have never packet them absolutely full of food, but they maintain good cold conditions in hot Texas travel. No complaints on performance.

>>Also can anyone with the new style refrigerator/freezer tell me how long I should expect the batteries to power it?

This part sucks. During the day, no problem. Even my 100w solar keeps the batteries up to snuff while parked. But boondocking, the refrigerator runs the batteries down over night to 50% or even a bit below. Not good. If the 2018 has 300w solar panels you may have a larger margin of safety. I am currently evaluating options for more solar and battery capacity to extend to several days boondocking.

>>MACERATOR, HOSE REEL, DUMP VALVES: ..Also I should pull all the hose out each time I use the hose reel.

We found that does work best. Not a big deal.

>> DISCOUNT: What kind of discount should I expect

16% for us on a factory order.

>> AIR SUSPENSION: ... Can you do side to side leveling?

Not that I know. And don't expect too much total travel; you will still need leveling blocks for lots of camping sites. We use the triangular 3-step models to save storage space. Get four, so you can put under the rear duallys.

>>Also can you temporary raise the rear while driving (slowly) if you think you might drag the rear of the unit?

Yes, just don't expect it to change the clearance all that much.

>>CHASSIS BATTERY DISCHARING QUICKLY: I read that some have problems with the chassis battery getting discharged in a few days even with the unit plugged into shore power.

Greatly exaggerated. We haven't had a problem after a couple of weeks. I did buy a battery tender (not a "trickle charger") in case we don't drive for longer periods.
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Old 07-24-2017, 01:15 PM   #11
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I havenít had any problems with my fridge/freezer. I keep gauges in each, and both maintain temperatures in the correct range. When you shut down the fridge/freezer, be sure to put a towel in the bottom of each to soak up the condensation.

I did have a problem with the hose reel not retracting last December 25th with snow on the ground in Arizona, and most of the hose was out. I was able to take my Leatherman OHT and use the pliers to grasp the side of the wheel and retract it inch-by-inch until it was back on the reel. The motor was working but the linkage between the motor and the reel broke. What I try to do now is to park the hose as close to the dump as possible so that only a minimum of hose has to come out. You want to retract the hose until only just enough hose is off the reel, then you put the white valve in the right side of the compartment and then just push the hose into the left side of the compartment. After you do this a few times, you get pretty good at it and can get it done quickly without anything being forced. Before retracting the hose, gently pull the slack off of the reel and put a slight tension on the hose while retracting onto the reel. If you feel any tension or straining of the motor, then release and try again. Try to get the hose on the reel so that nothing binds. If I do have to extend a lot of hose out, then I align the hose perpendicular to the van before retracting.

A discount of 22-24% sounds correct.

I cannot level from side-to-side, but I can level up front-to-back 95% of the time with the air suspension. I eyeball the site, pull in, and then check for level. Typically, I can find the sweet spot by backing in and out a few times as there are usually high- and low-points on each site. I sometimes get out and walk out of the site and look under the van for these points like a golfer would before making a put. Rarely do I have to use leveling blocks, but I would have some on board.

The electrical system needs improvement. I added two more panels to the one that was included on my 2016, and I am thinking of adding a fourth. When the sun is shining, all is well. At the end of the day, I can go to a restaurant for a couple of hours and come back to find about 85% capacity with the fridge/freezer running. I shut off the propane unless I need AC, heat, or coffee. I would not even think about going on battery power overnight; the vehicle requires shore power or a generator. When in storage, I am plugged in, and I either have the house power on so the inventor will work, or I have separate chargers for house and coach batteries.

Here are some things to remove or delete from your van:
The tables, posts and floor mounting apparatus. These will just get in the way, and the floor mounts are a trip hazard. Also remove the rubber stoppers on the floor under the front TV. Flat floor space is preferred.
The rear TV. I also replaced the front TV with a smaller one so that it doesnít stick out.
The shampoo dispenser in the bath. The bath is roomier without it.
If ordering a new van, I would delete the toilet paper holder. It is not waterproof, and it is difficult to get any paper out. It would also be easier not to have to squeegee around this item. I use the sink valve handle to put toilet paper on.
The plastic sliding doors above the driver and passenger seats in the overhead compartment. They rattle, and they add difficulty in accessing the space.
The DVD player/switch box and shelving inside the overhead compartment.
The two doors and hinges separating the rear storage from the rear seats. I leave the seats in the reclined position all the time and have toppers on these seats for the bed. Without these doors and hinges, itís easier to access the under bed storage and to be able to slide things underneath.
As many rear seat belts and bolts as possible if no one will ever be riding in back. Again, itís better not to fight obstacles.
If I were building a new van, I would delete the propane stove. I would rather opt for flat counter space as opposed to something that I would never use.
If I were building new, I would prefer an AC plug above the table (behind the driverís seat) as opposed to below the table.
The remote switches for the awing and under chassis lights, and the awning switch needs to be more accessible as opposed to being located on the right side of the passengerís seat. Having to open the passengerís door and kneel down is a compromise. The light switches are battery powered and can easily be relocated.
This vehicle also needs another lock switch by the sliding door as opposed to only having one on the dash.
There are probably a few other similar items, but this is my list for the moment.


Be advised that the front speakers included in this van are low quality. I think my stock 1975 Chevy had better speakers. A visit to your local adult-oriented audio specialist will have you listening to the music.
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Old 07-24-2017, 02:55 PM   #12
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TayaraTravel,

Thanks for the response and information. Getting to or below 50% battery charge for just one night is not good as you state. We do like to go to some areas without shore power so that sounds like it may be an issue. Is your refrigerator/freezer the one with a larger refrigerator on the top and drawer freezer on the bottom? If so is that a NovaKool or some other brand.

Thanks for the other information also.
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:01 PM   #13
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CoasttoCoast,

Thanks for the responses. It does not sound encouraging parking without shore power. As stated in a prior response we like to visit some areas without shore power.

Thanks for the info on the air suspension and its use in leveling the vehicle. To bad you cannot do a little side to side leveling with it.

Also thanks for the information on items to delete or remove from a new unit.
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:07 PM   #14
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FYI I looked up the amount of manual adjustment with the air ride system and it appears you can raise the unit by about one inch or lower it up to about 2.4 inches.
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coasttocoast View Post
...A discount of 22-24% sounds correct...
I doubt you will find a dealer to give that kind of discount unless that van is already on their lot. For a special order on a new Interstate you might get 15-16% off. But it's always worth asking for more, just be prepared to walk away if you must get the higher discount.

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Originally Posted by coasttocoast View Post
... The electrical system needs improvement. I added two more panels to the one that was included on my 2016, and I am thinking of adding a fourth. When the sun is shining, all is well. At the end of the day, I can go to a restaurant for a couple of hours and come back to find about 85% capacity with the fridge/freezer running. I shut off the propane unless I need AC, heat, or coffee. I would not even think about going on battery power overnight; the vehicle requires shore power or a generator. When in storage, I am plugged in, and I either have the house power on so the inventor will work, or I have separate chargers for house and coach batteries. ...
If you didn't upgrade the solar controller when you added solar panels -- that is causing your problems. The most cost effect change you can make to the Interstate electrical system is replacing that piece of trash controller installed by Airstream. I just don't understand why they keep using it -- it's junk. Other users on this forum have recently reported very good over night performance with a better MPPT solar controller and only two 100 watt solar panels. That was also my experience when I did the first part of my upgrade with two 100 watt panel a BlueSky MPPT controller and the original two 12V batteries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coasttocoast View Post
... Here are some things to remove or delete from your van:
The tables, posts and floor mounting apparatus. These will just get in the way, and the floor mounts are a trip hazard. Also remove the rubber stoppers on the floor under the front TV. Flat floor space is preferred.
The rear TV. I also replaced the front TV with a smaller one so that it doesnít stick out.
The shampoo dispenser in the bath. The bath is roomier without it.
If ordering a new van, I would delete the toilet paper holder. It is not waterproof, and it is difficult to get any paper out. It would also be easier not to have to squeegee around this item. I use the sink valve handle to put toilet paper on.
The plastic sliding doors above the driver and passenger seats in the overhead compartment. They rattle, and they add difficulty in accessing the space.
The DVD player/switch box and shelving inside the overhead compartment.
The two doors and hinges separating the rear storage from the rear seats. I leave the seats in the reclined position all the time and have toppers on these seats for the bed. Without these doors and hinges, itís easier to access the under bed storage and to be able to slide things underneath.
As many rear seat belts and bolts as possible if no one will ever be riding in back. Again, itís better not to fight obstacles.
If I were building a new van, I would delete the propane stove. I would rather opt for flat counter space as opposed to something that I would never use.
If I were building new, I would prefer an AC plug above the table (behind the driverís seat) as opposed to below the table.
The remote switches for the awing and under chassis lights, and the awning switch needs to be more accessible as opposed to being located on the right side of the passengerís seat. Having to open the passengerís door and kneel down is a compromise. The light switches are battery powered and can easily be relocated.
This vehicle also needs another lock switch by the sliding door as opposed to only having one on the dash.
There are probably a few other similar items, but this is my list for the moment. ...
Your list of removal items is very personalized. Most owners have no issues with many of the items on your list to remove. Some of the things listed above make it sound like you can special order deleting things like the toilet paper holder or adding more 120VAC outlets. I'm not aware that Airstream will do such customizations. If they do it will just increase the cost. Certainly one can remove as many things as you want after you own the van. I removed several items, but only after using the van for a year or more. Such custom changes should be done after you know what works for you personally.
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Old 07-24-2017, 10:45 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coasttocoast View Post
I would not even think about going on battery power overnight; the vehicle requires shore power or a generator.


I recently returned from 8 days of boondocking in my '17 Lounge and it does NOT require shore power or a genny over night. If the house batteries in someone's coach won't run the fridge, lights, water pump, and even a few hours on the Fantastic fan and still have 60% or more left in the morning, there is a problem with the batteries.

To the OP, feel free to check out my "8 days of boondocking" post and don't let these nay sayers scare you away from using the coach off the grid for a night. It's totally do-able.
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Old 07-24-2017, 10:57 PM   #17
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And don't forget to leave the galley sink faucet in the Cold (I think) position before closing the lid to prevent turning the water on and draining your tank.
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:58 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AI927 View Post
TayaraTravel,

Thanks for the response and information. Getting to or below 50% battery charge for just one night is not good as you state. We do like to go to some areas without shore power so that sounds like it may be an issue. Is your refrigerator/freezer the one with a larger refrigerator on the top and drawer freezer on the bottom? If so is that a NovaKool or some other brand.

Thanks for the other information also.
It is NovaKool. The model # in my manual does not match anything on the NovaKool website. It has a larger refrig part (with hinged door) and a smaller freezer part below (pull-out drawer). I'm happy with it except for the power drain.

We are planning to upgrade our solar + batteries, so that should solve the power problem. As an interim term trick we are going to try using the blue ice blocks and turning off the refrigerator overnight when we camp in cool weather. That should get us through one night then drive or use generator next day to fully recharge.

If you buy a 2018 it comes with 300w of solar. That may give you enough margin to sustain one night without power, even with no other electric upgrades.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishinRVr View Post
... If the house batteries in someone's coach won't run the fridge, lights, water pump, and even a few hours on the Fantastic fan and still have 60% or more left in the morning, there is a problem with the batteries....
How are you measuring %charge? My recent experience was that the Atkinson reported in the range of 60% remaining after overnight, but the voltage was down to 12.0v on the Atkinson and Magnum. The depletion curves for the LifeLine show 12.0v corresponds to 50% discharged at an 8 hour rate, or 60% discharged (40% remaining) at the 20hr rate. So I took the voltage reading to be more meaningful, and assumed I was at or even a bit beyond the safe discharge limit. I'm still learning all this stuff, so if I misunderstand the theory, please correct me.

FYI, outside temps were in the 50-60F, we were conserving our use of power except for the refrigerator. No inverter usage. We failed to turn off the LPG switch, and I'd do that if I were trying again.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:25 AM   #20
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FlyFishinRVr,

Thanks for the response and all your contributions to this forum. I had read your "8 days of boondocking" before and reread it again this morning. You provided a lot of great information there. Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't your unit (lounge) have a smaller refrigerator/freezer than the GT model? From what I could find out it appears to me some GT models have a large refrigerator and separate large freezer that are really 2 separate units and 2 separate compressors.

It appears to me the newer (late 2017 and 2018) GT models are supplied with a smaller drawer freezer. TayaraTravel's post seems to confirm this.

With all of this said if the Lounge units get down to 50% charge or less overnight I would think the GT models would even get lower due to the size of the refrigerator/freezer.

Thanks again for your response and contributions.
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