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Old 02-21-2021, 04:00 PM   #21
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Electric only fridge, an improvement?

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Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
I believe that along with the recent change to the electric-only refrigerators, Airstream eliminated from the body the external venting required by propane refrigerators. Therefore changing to a propane refrigerator is quite complex and will cost many thousands of dollars.
Are we boondockers such a minority in the market that Airstream figures that replacing the dual power fridge with an electric only fridge, thereby eliminating the external venting (meaning that you can't install a dual power fridge) will not impact their sales even though it is a cheaper design?

Given that one of Wally Byam's most famous principles was "Let's not make changes, let's make only improvements" he must be turning in his grave...
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:08 PM   #22
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Many people probably consider the electric refrigerators as an improvement in many ways. Safety and keeping food cold being two advantages. And lithium batteries and solar and cheap good generators may make them practical for boon docking. And yes, I suspect Airstream has some market research that indicates the propane refrigerator may be going the way of the Dodo bird. And glamping may sell more Airstream trailers and more profitable trailers than boodkocking.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:45 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Are we boondockers such a minority in the market that Airstream figures that replacing the dual power fridge with an electric only fridge, thereby eliminating the external venting (meaning that you can't install a dual power fridge) will not impact their sales even though it is a cheaper design?...

I agree, Hermes. I'm thankful that my 2019 has a dual power fridge. I boondocked all spring and summer with 200W of solar.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:49 AM   #24
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The battery monitor is one of the best investments I’ve made in being able to boondock. It will let you see in real-time the actual impact on battery life remaining (state of charge) for every appliance and you can make your own electrical chart. Do this first. You will probably conclude that bringing along an additional suitcase solar panel that can connect to the 90w will be invaluable in winter and probably very helpful in summer.
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Old 02-23-2021, 05:12 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by aep71 View Post
Thanks for the breakdown, Uncle Bob and Coasttocoast. We definitely don’t plan on exclusively boondocking, but having the option to get away for a few days would be nice. We’re also thankful to have access to some areas where we’re likely to be the only people around when we do boondock, so neighbors will be less of a concern usually. Like a lot of newbs I have slowly come around to the idea that a generator will likely be in our future.

I definitely came into this thinking that the equation was about “how much solar do I need” vs “what’s the energy budget required for what we need.” Having no experience with this we are admittedly shooting in the dark, but all these answers are really helpful in framing my thoughts while we wait for our Caravel. The electric fridge does give me pause, but we will figure it out and make it work once she arrives.

So many helpful comments and answers. Thanks to everyone on here!
If you read the Forum, there are posts almost daily about people not understanding the limits of their systems and not doing simple math. My 2016 Interstate is on its third set of batteries. I fell into the "I damaged my batteries" group by boon docking on my first trip. So I got new batteries, added 2 more 100 watt panels (total 300 watts), and bought 2 Yamaha generators. I kept the van plugged in while not in use and did not boon dock. When on the road, I stayed at campgrounds or deployed a generator. In 2019, my batteries lost capacity for unknown reasons and were replaced under warranty. I added another 100 watt panel (total 400 watts) and replaced the controller with an MPPT unit. Then, I freed myself and got the Goal Zero. I can now park wherever I can find a space without needing a plug in or a campground. Eureka! I also bought a 200 watt portable panel (total 600 watts on paper). The AGM's in the van rarely drop below 90%. The Goal Zero handles the load of the fridge and freezer. On my last trip to Quebec and the Maritimes, I managed to spend 22 of 30 something days not parked at yucky campgrounds saving about $1000. There are more details in my previous posts, but being able to park in a small town along side a river, in a park facing the St. Lawrence, or in the center of Charlottetown steps away from food and drink was a game changer.

A lot of people make comments about their experiences boon docking, and I think it comes down to individual usage and capacity. A family of 4 is going to use quite a bit more electricity than one experienced person who has mastered conservation. One 90 watt panel and 2 AGM’s is not enough. If you are going to buy a generator, I would buy the quietest 2000 plus watt inverter (Honda or Yamaha) before I went boon docking. It makes noise, it requires gas and maintenance, and it spews deadly fumes. And with only 2 AGM’s, you will probably be running it all but a few hours of the night. The upside is that an inverter produces reliable energy upon demand. Lithium and solar don’t make noise, but again, it comes down to capacity. You need enough amp hours to cover your usage, and you need enough solar to charge. A Goal Zero 3000x has about 250 amp hours of capacity. Three 200 watt panels will probably make around 375 plus watts when the sun is shining. When the sun comes up, the panels will start to produce a trickle and ramp up during the day. They will continue to produce in lesser amounts almost up until dark. On a cloudy day, you won’t see anywhere near 375 watts. A good scout would not find him or herself off grid without enough capacity, whether that’s a generator or lithium and solar. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:02 AM   #26
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Do your homework and talk to someone who install these Systems on airstream. Also it’s helpful to find someone who has direct experience with a solar package and lithium batteries. I would contact Paul at A&P vintage trailer service as he’s not only an air streamer but he also refurbishes all make some models of airstreams and has done several lithium solar packages. An AGM battery set up will only give you 50% usable of the battery rating. Therefore A 100 amp AGM battery will give you roughly 50 amp hours of service before requiring recharge. Overuse of an AGM may lead to premature failure. Lithium batteries can deep cycle all the way to 5 to 10% remaining charge so the same battery above and lithium would have 85 to 90 amp hours of available battery. Something to consider. Also you should consider the other components that have been installed in your airstream and whether they will meet your Electrical need.
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Old 02-24-2021, 10:11 AM   #27
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Hi

The whole "amp hours" rating on batteries can be confusing. Due to this, some of the people making packaged Lithium batteries have rated them in terms of "usable" amp hours. The label says 100AH and you get to use 100AH.

Indeed, you can buy raw LiFePO4 cells and weld up your own home made lithium battery. There is a cost savings if you do a *lot* of shopping. You also get to work out the ratings on your lash up ...... For an RV, I would strongly suggest going with pre-packaged devices.

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Old 02-24-2021, 10:58 AM   #28
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We have a 2020 Caravel 20FB and replaced AGM with Lithium because we would be close to dead after one night of camping with only refrigerator running. Plus it is recommended to not let the AGM system go below 50% and that threshold is nearly impossible! 90w solar is not enough to keep the batteries charged when using power everyday.
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Old 02-24-2021, 11:10 AM   #29
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We have a 2021 Caravel 20FB with 180W on top and had no issues keeping the fridge going for a few days while being careful with other electric usage. This was late October in UT with sunny days.
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Old 02-24-2021, 11:39 AM   #30
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90 watt solar panel

In my experience with RV electric refrigerators I would guess 90Watts is to little. I'd try to get 2 of the skinny Zamp 90watt panels on the roof. A secondary 100w suitcase style panel would be a nice addition as you can't always park the RV in direct sun.
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:25 PM   #31
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If you are looking for a generator to only charge your batteries, you could consider the Baja 900W propane generator that Home Depot sells or the fairly new Champion 2500W dual fuel. Using propane allows you to avoid having to carry gas and maintain a gas carburetor, you would likely be able to feed this off of the propane accessory port on your trailer to simplify things. The 900W generator is quite compact and lightweight, but the price difference to the Champion 2500W is relatively minor (compared to that of a Honda, anyway) and would afford you to run your microwave and coffee maker. It is possible that your converter/charger could overdraw the 900W generator and cause it to trip into overload, I am not familiar with your specific converter/charger to assess this.
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:34 PM   #32
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We have a 2021 Caravel 16RB with the solar package (90w solar and 2 AGM batteries) and electric refrigerator. With everything turned off except the refrigerator the batteries run down to the recommended minimum battery capacity of 50% in 12 hours or less. With the heat turned to 65 in 45 degree weather the batteries get down to 50% in four or five hours. I had the batteries tested and they tested out as fine.

I don't know how much benefit I am getting from the solar, but certainly none at night. Driving, between the alternator on my Chevy Silverado and the solar, the batteries stay charged up with the refrigerator on.

I have ordered an upgrade to the Airstream BB lithium batteries and an additional 100w of solar. I am optimistic this will get me through a night with heat and refrigerator. As the AS was delivered, using anything other than the refrigerator (for no more than 12 hours) runs the batteries below 50% and damages them.
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:45 PM   #33
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Having just started lately looking at new Airsreams, it seems to me that it is a forgone conclusion that Airstream is probably going to part ways with LP ammonia absorption fridges in the short term. My guess is safety, cost of build are all factors, however this does pose a bit of a problem for folks like me that are somewhat rabid boondockers.

Get a GoalZero or similar, have my small 1000w LP Yamaha generator with me. I don't go west or south very often, so sunlight exposure as has been indicated is not going to yield me a lot of help. Airstream's solar package isn't cheap, but also, at the never reaching 100% output of 180w, I just don't see how I'd keep the probable electric fridge going without swapping to lithium, but even then, might only provide me a 2-3 days instead of 1, possibly 2.

Seems to reason that if Airstream is gonna put such hogs on the power system, they would have engineered some accessible and removable battery pack that is housed between the frame rails or like a Tesla skateboard underneath. Of course thermal mgmt becomes key if they used the lower cost lithium ion batteries and pretty sure that cost would not be inexpensive either as an add on option or "boondockers" package.

So great 1st world problems to have, but annoying nonetheless. If AS does move to the electric only fridges, what about travel? You take 2-3 days to get to a destination and your batteries are dead, unless they do draw power from the TV in a better manner than they currently do. Seems sort of cart before the horse if you ask me and the solar best case @180w seems woefully inadequate for the needed task. Now maybe if they had 400w or 600w, and worst case you got 100-200w, you could get by, but from what I am reading here, best I can hope for with even a lithium upgrade is 2-3 days at best. Am I far off the mark here?

I had discounted the factory solar package completely, but that fridge gives me pause. Maybe get it and then upgrade the panels with higher output later as prices drop? I see this as a real problem for boondockers, witout adding significant expense.
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:27 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panamerican View Post
Having just started lately looking at new Airsreams, it seems to me that it is a forgone conclusion that Airstream is probably going to part ways with LP ammonia absorption fridges in the short term. My guess is safety, cost of build are all factors, however this does pose a bit of a problem for folks like me that are somewhat rabid boondockers.
As a fellow “somewhat rabid boondocker”, I agree with all of your comments. This decision of Airstream’s will be detrimental to folks who want to be off-grid until the efficiency of solar panels doubles, the storage capacity of batteries doubles, and the cost of both is half.

Meanwhile there is a good alternative to spending thousands trying to work around the problems: save thousands by buying a used Airstream that is not cursed with this “improvement “.
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:35 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
As a fellow “somewhat rabid boondocker”, I agree with all of your comments. This decision of Airstream’s will be detrimental to folks who want to be off-grid until the efficiency of solar panels doubles, the storage capacity of batteries doubles, and the cost of both is half.

Meanwhile there is a good alternative to spending thousands trying to work around the problems: save thousands by buying a used Airstream that is not cursed with this “improvement “.

Well, I've been considering a change for a while.....got my units when I was single, now with a family, there are clearly better floorplans than there were when I got into RVing.....plus, that composite floor, not having that is a deal breaker for me as we ALL know (or should) these do leak...if not now, eventually. So yes, I might get lucky and find a gently used version of the model I'm looking for, and those odds do increase if the 2022s all don't get tagged, but I look at that water heater and all Flying Clouds have that on demand heater...but then I think for a minute, a person buying a family friendly 30' RV, is putting a 12v fridge in such a beast rational without modest power upgrades, and as it is now, the factory solar option seems woefully under rated for to deal with these realities. Guess we'll find out in about 4-5 months when the 2022s get announced.

Since my last post I have done a fair amount of reading about these types of fridges in RVs and every single one agrees the greater interior space it allows, less prone to fire and more even cooling are for sure pros....the one con though is that it basically makes it a non-boondocker without hauling a bunch of gear with me and a daily routing of running a generator for several hours a day, consuming the very LP I'd be saving by going to a 12v fridge as the general consensus is that these will chew up about 25-30 amps a day, on average- depending on several factors (ambient temps, how many times you open and close, temp of things being put in).....
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Old 02-24-2021, 02:51 PM   #36
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panamerican : The composite floor is a clear (and overdue) improvement. From my reading I have come to think the 12v fridge might use more like 50 amp hours per day, certainly the larger ones will. If only they had made the choice of propane or all-electric an option until the technology advances.......
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Old 02-24-2021, 03:38 PM   #37
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Seems to reason that if Airstream is gonna put such hogs on the power system, they would have engineered some accessible and removable battery pack that is housed between the frame rails or like a Tesla skateboard underneath.
Thank you for the idea!💡This will be my next big project after I put in my kitchen and grey tanks. Also will factor this in as I mount my tanks. Will report back in a few months

I rely on my Honda generator when boondocking, but there are some choice spots near Silverton Colorado that do not allow generator usage. Sadly, I had to pass on one when I was in the area in 2019. My CPAP is a power hungry beast and my sleep doc won't endorse any of the portable CPAPs for my condition.

Had to give up extended backpacking and chose the Airstream life because packing a CPAP, 100AH battery, solar, and a generator is not feasible and I can't find an affordable crew of Sherpas outside of Tibet.
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:25 PM   #38
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It's a well known fact that Airstream charges significant $$$$ on their solar/lithium upgrades. How do I know???? I also do the same thing, but my systems are usually much larger with more battery capacity and solar panels for the same amount of $$$$$.

I would definitely think long and hard bout getting a solar/lithium system from Airstream!
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Old 02-24-2021, 04:35 PM   #39
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I have 1-100w panel and 2 lifeline agm 24t batteries. My Airstream Interstate Lounge loves to eat up the power from the batteries. The 12v fridge and master switch on the batteries will last about 8 hours if you are lucky. I am in Texas and when camping during the summer I always look for a nice shady site. So the solar becomes rather useless. Same thing with cloudy conditions. When boon docking I run my 2500w on board onan for about 1 hour before quite time. The on board charger allows enough time to charge the battery's to make it through the nights. If you do consider a generator a dual fuel generator allows you to not have to carry a highly flammable gas can in your tow vehicle. However propane is sometimes harder to find than gas. Good luck with you decision and HAPPY CAMPING!
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Old 02-24-2021, 07:34 PM   #40
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180W solar with stock batteries

I have a 2020 19CB Caravel with the stock lead acid batteries, 180W of solar, and a Victron controller. A sunny day keeps my batteries topped off with fridge on, furnace at night, and lights. Cloudy weather forces me to run a generator every couple of days as the state of charge runs down. I do have the Victron battery monitor installed to help keep more precise track of battery use.
The electric-only fridge works for me and I have only used my trailer at undeveloped campsites so far. I do pre-freeze some small water bottles and use them to fill the fridge and act as a thermal reservoir of sorts. While I have not quantified the benefit they add, it makes sense they reduce the cooling load placed on the fridge as they thaw.
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