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Old 09-02-2010, 10:03 PM   #1
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Full-timing in a green Airstream....

We are new to the forum and this is great!! Thanks for all the good information regarding going full-time. We are looking to green the stream and live full-time off the grid as close to 100% of the time as we can. We sold the house, bought a 2003 25 foot Safari and a 1998 dodge ram diesel truck. Is this the thread for green the stream and complete off grid living. It seems like such a huge topic and there is so much to talk about. Here is what we are doing. You can follow us at Our Green RV Life - Conserve, Explore, Inspire - Home.

solar power for the Airstream - 300 watts
composting toilet
rainwater harvesting
gray water filter and reuse
cork flooring, bamboo countertops, green materials inside
yamaha gas generators for back up energy
Diesel truck running on 2nd fuel tank using WVO (filtered waste vegetable oil)

I would love to hear more about how others are greening their rigs and full-timing it. We are set to hit the road full-time in 4/2011.

Cece
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:32 PM   #2
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Pictures please when you get a chance.

Ellen
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:49 PM   #3
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the bees and butterflies thank you

Rawfoodgirl, if you follow the blog link you'll find a few pics.

CeCe and Brenda... very cool. Can't wait to follow your progress. You restore my faith in Earthlings.
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:33 PM   #4
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Thanks.... pictures will come very soon. All the work is being done in the next few months and we will post many pics and videos as we progress!!! It is so exciting thinking about all this and we can't wait to share.
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:43 PM   #5
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So it's come to this - our AS's are becoming the 'VW Bus' of the 21st century?

Gosh, all this time I thought going 'green' was that yucky stuff growing around the seams on the north side of the trailer during the wet season!

....just kidding...good luck on your project...

Ray
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Old 09-04-2010, 11:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greenrvlife View Post
Thanks.... pictures will come very soon. All the work is being done in the next few months and we will post many pics and videos as we progress!!! It is so exciting thinking about all this and we can't wait to share.
Hi, I can't wait to see how you do your rain water system and how you pump and filter your gray into fresh water. And what will you be doing with that recycled fresh water? In our trailer the fresh water tank is for human washing, dish washing, and toilet flushing; We use bottled water for coffee and cooking.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:40 AM   #7
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We welcome another greenstreamer to the fold! Please check out our website at: www.ecodiscoverytour.com !
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:19 PM   #8
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Ecodiscovery tour - we just checked out your site and it's great. We love to see what other people are doing and to see green rv living in action. We will keep following your path as well!! Thanks again.

Cece
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:21 PM   #9
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Hey Bob -

We will be using the recycled water for the shower and back sink... probably not drinking or cooking. Thanks again and pics will be up in the next few months.

Cece
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:47 PM   #10
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If you're new to diesel then you should be aware of the maintenance and known problems of a Dodge (as with any brand). There are several forums of enthusiasts -- each with an alternative fuel subforum -- and it would pay to be forewarned in re the VP-44 (especially). I'm no longer up on what year the "dowel pin fix" applies, or, other items to keep an eye on.

PM me if you like. I specifically chose a Third Generation Dodge Cummins to bypass some problems, and to gain the advances of a newer truck.

Good luck
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Old 09-05-2010, 11:50 PM   #11
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Gray Water

Gray water can be pretty nasty. I am sure there are ways to filter it and re-use it, but whether it takes more time, energy and money than the good it generates is a real question. If you wash dishes it all goes into the gray tank. Coffee grounds, grease, small food particles, fibers from your dish cloth. Unless you scrape and pre-rinse and wipe everything (with old newspapers if you want to recycle those) you're gray tank is chunky and smelly! The standard shower uses white water. I shed hair and quite a bit of body oil. While I'm sure you can wash with a better soap and shampoo than I do, your shower water is going to be smelly!

Many people who live in arid or desert areas use an evaporation tray for their gray water - a shallow metal pan that sits in the sun. Drain gray tank onto it whenever the sun has shown on it for a while. If humidity is low, you can have a dust dry tray in less than a day.

If you really feel the need to reuse your gray water, filtering it isn't going to be sufficient. You might think of filtering it, then using a solar still to distill it.

The composting toilet is fine, but if you're familiar with RV toilets, you'll see they are actually very close to a recycling toilet. It's a straight hole drop for the stuff you flush. There is just enough water to clear any leavings from the bowl, and to assure that it's sealed so any odors go out the vent stack instead of insinuating themselves inside the Airstream. The black tank collects the waste for almost as long as one or two people can stand it. Using enzymes to break down the waste does help control the odor. Again you need a certain amount of water to dissolve the solids and prevent growing a black mountain in the tank. If you're living on a piece of land, a small septic tank could well handle draining the black tank once a month or so.

I would share one comment cousin of mine made. She's saved and reused and bought from thrift stores for her whole life. Then she saw Las Vegas - and realized that they waste more resources in a day putting on shows and lighting up the night than she can save in 1000 lifetimes. (OK, Vegas does have electricity from the Hoover Dam... so it's dirt cheap and nearly endless.... but still those light shows in Vegas?)

I'm not trying to rain on your parade. I feel that I'm "comfortable green". I'm simply not living in a 3000 sq. ft. house and I'm using less electricity, very little propane, taking shorter showers, etc.

Go for it if you want to, but keep in mind that keeping your Airstream leak free will involve using some pretty nasty seam sealing chemicals. There aren't any "green" alternatives that I know about. If you don't reseal you'll start to get leaks and black mould!

Good fortune and good luck, Paula
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Old 09-06-2010, 01:00 AM   #12
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I am very interested in how you handle the water, as that is the trickiest of all...

As Foiled Again mentioned, grey water is nasty... if you can figure it out I will be impressed, and probably copy it

A grey water tank has always seemed like a very arcane idea - if it rains on the ground surely my water can go on the ground, thus, there must be a superior solution to the grey tank. I like the filter idea, as soon as it was mentioned I immediately thought of a physical filter attached to the bottom of the pipe as the water, so it would be a one way water cycle: the white water tank is filled, used for shower and sink, then it goes strait down to the ground through a filter. what kind of filter and how often it would need to be changed, i simply do not know, but I hope someone (me? someone else?) will figure it out because if you dont need a black or grey tank you can have an extra white tank or 2 which can extend your time in between refills significantly.

ohh yea, be sure to take lots of pics during construction - thats the good stuff!
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:16 PM   #13
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Hey REDNAX,

Thanks re: the Dodge brand items to look out for. We welcome any and all advice. We were forwarned about the VP44 fuel injector pump, which made it's appearance in the Dodge Cummins 24 value engines 1998.5-2002. Rest easy..we purchased a 1998 12v and not the 1998.5. As for the Killer Dowel Pin, thanks for the heads up, that is definitely something to fix.

Cheers,
Brenda
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Old 09-06-2010, 06:31 PM   #14
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How about this?

A "pick-up" hose inserted into the drain fitting at the top of the gray tank, going to within an inch of the bottom of the tank. Connect that nose to the input of a demand fresh water pump, just like the one that pumps your fresh water. Connect the output from the pump to the inlet water fitting on the toilet between the shut-off tee from the fresh water tank and the toilet. As soon as you have collected some gray water, turn off the valve from the fresh water tank. When the toilet is flushed, it will draw water from the gray tank to flush the toilet, thereby using gray water rather than fresh. When there is no gray water, the second pump can be shut off, and the valve from the fresh water tank turned back on.

Just a thought.
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:30 PM   #15
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Hey everyone -

RV grey water recycling is a hot topic.... great to have everyone thinking about this and seeing if their is a way to actually do it. Here are our thoughts on how to go about it... but we haven't made any definitive decisions and are continuing to work with professionals in our area to devise the best, most realistic, practical and safe solution possible.

We know that to re-use our shower and rear sink drain water for as 'fresh' water does require a purification process. We don't plan to recycle the front kitchen sink water and will simply let that drain into the grey water tank and that's the end of that. We are only considering the back sink and shower water. We replaced the black water tank with a new fresh water tank. So far it seems like a safe approach is a water distilling process but that takes a very long time to get even a gallon of fresh water and of course uses a lot of energy. Another method, although not as pure, is Reverse Osmosis. It would give us acceptable water quality to re-use for washing hands and taking a shower. Again, this process takes many hours for only a couple gallons and utilizes a fair amount of energy in doing so. Take a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_osmosis ;


You can also use a solid carbon block filter in a large filter unit but again it will take a long time to push enough grey water through it to be able to take a shower and it will be less pure then the Reverse Osmosis.

In all cases, it seems that it would be a process that would need to be running 100% of the time 'cleaning' the water as it is put back into your secondary (rear) almost fresh water tank. Then when it's time for a shower, you should heave enough almost fresh water there for the showers.

We are carefully reading up on the gallons per minute that each approach can produce so we can calculate the best solution for your situation.


Most grey water recycling products seem to be based on using the grey water, after being filtered, for flushing your toilet not for re-contact with human skin. Since this is not our need we are still in the research phase.

Thanks again for everyone's comments.

Cece and Brenda

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Old 09-09-2010, 03:02 PM   #16
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http://www.tstproducts.com/dowelpinr...tfor94-98.aspx
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:13 PM   #17
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Very cool! I'll be following both blogs!
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:58 PM   #18
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Reverse osmosis filters and charcoal filters are poorly suited to filtering water that contains body oils. They tend to clog up quickly. It was a surprise to me that the charcoal filters I used became ineffective in less than a week.

I use reverse osmosis filtering, and many people don't realize that RO systems bypass a lot of water. You can take advantage of this!

If you have an RO system to provide drinking water, you can use the RO bypass water in a secondary fresh tank for showering/flushing with no further treatment.

If you plan to recycle the water too much, you create another problem - not enough water for your septic system/drain to work properly in a worst case.

If you do basic rainwater filtering, then have that feed into an RO system, which provides drinking/kitchen water, and then have the bypass of that run into a secondary fresh tank for the bathroom, and use the gray and black tanks as normal feeding into the septic system, you get a weird and happy balance of filtering the cleanest water and processing the harder to treat water.

Also, you avoid bottled water and the environmental impact that entails.
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Old 09-12-2010, 01:34 PM   #19
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If the aluminum that your Airstream is constructed of comes from Alcoa, they are ranked as one of the top 10 polluters in the U.S. In 2006 alone they were sited with over 2000 enviormental violations and fined 9.2 millon dollars, and they still continue to pollute. Each tire an Airstream rolls on consume about 7 gallons of petroleum in their manufacture.The sealants used to watreproof them are toxic so You may practice "Green" living in an Airstream, like living in an abandoned Coal fired power plant, but there is nothing "Green" about an Airstream.
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Old 09-12-2010, 04:46 PM   #20
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Reality check

IMO, replacing most (usable) seven-year old counter-tops, flooring, and upholstery isn't really green, even if so-called "green" materials are used. Your trailer, your call.

You probably won't be considered very green by the campground owners who kick you out or have you arrested for emptying your alleged "compost" on the ground or in the trash. Doing this on your own property is one thing--on someone else's it's risky--not everyone thinks about sewage the way you do. Removing the code-approved black water system that could be acceptably emptied throughout the country is the biggest mistake you've made so far, again, IMO. You still need a black tank for the composting toilet overflow.

Reusing gray water for the few gallons it takes to flush a toilet for a week is one thing. Making and maintaining it sanitary enough to breath as you shower, much less to rinse on your hair and skin, well that's quite another. And where do you think all the air pollution goes during a rain? Saving pennies on fresh water isn't worth the health risks to me.

Airstreams are built the way they are based on experience. Their wall and ceiling R value of approximately five, and window R value of approximately zero, can hardly be called green--but it's practical for their intended use. Use one in a hot, sunny location (where solar panels work) and you may be wondering if you should install 50 amp power and a second air-conditioner. Of course, moving to the shade helps with that.

Use them in a cold winter and discover you'd need more solar panels than you have roof space just to power the furnace and keep all that water in the belly from freezing--much less that you need an extra pair of full propane tanks in the truck to swap out every few days as both the furnace and generators eat through it. Follow the mild weather and you should be okay. But at least put some awnings on that thing!

Good luck with the WVO thing out on the road... and with your dreams.
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