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Old 10-06-2021, 11:42 AM   #1
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Airstream Basecamp 20X Battery Life

Hi all, as you know AS is putting in electric only fridges in their newlyc onstructed basecamps. My old 2019 basecampX has the gas version still, ,though I am upgrading to an 20X Basecamp which has the fully electric trailer in it now. I am curious for anyone who has the solar package as well, if they had any worse battery life over haveing a gas fridge. I have heard from dealers that the new all electric fridge uses less electricity than the previous propane fridge, electricity wise...anyone out there with experience of the new fridges?
Thanks,
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Old 10-06-2021, 12:03 PM   #2
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Hi

There are multiple types of "electricity". One type is 120V AC shore power. The compressor fridge does pull less running on 120V than the absorption fridge pulled also running on 120V. Normally this is not the part that worries folks.

Running on battery power, the compressor fridges pull a lot more amp hours than the old absorption fridges did. If you have same / same battery and solar, you will get fewer days out and about. How many fewer depends a lot on exactly how much sun you are getting with your trailer at this or that campsite. Some are really horrible (like under 3AH a day). Others can be pretty good ( like 20 or 30 AH a day).

The fridge probably pulls around 50AH a day off of the 12V system. Even best case, a single panel is unlikely to keep up. With the "old" single battery setups, you would not make it through a day.

The only real way to work it out is to have a shunt based battery monitor. That's what will tell you how much battery you have and what you are using. You care very much about your trailer in your campsite on this day. Averages and maybe / maybe not .... not as useful.

Best answer to run for a while : put in a pair of 100AH lithiums ....

There are multiple threads diving into all this if you want to get into all the grubby details.

Bob
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Old 10-06-2021, 12:27 PM   #3
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What the sales people are telling you about electricity use is - at best - grossly misleading.

If you are plugged in (maybe not so likely in a Basecamp X) then the electric only fridge might use a little less electricity. But you are plugged in so it doesn’t matter much.

If you are unplugged, the electric only fridge will use 5-10 times as much electricity as the absorption fridges. This matters a lot. Unplugged camping you are probably only good for a day or two.
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Old 10-07-2021, 05:52 AM   #4
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Corvettes - I have the lithium setup with 2 100AH batteries. The standard 2 panels on the roof. The wife and I generally stay off grid in a field someplace so no hookup. We are minimalists and use some lights at night, the water pump and maybe a USB port to charge a phone. During the day, the fan which draws some power. The only major draw 24/7 would be the fridge. I usually see a low of 70% on the batteries by morning. When its sunny, we get back up to near 100%. We had a day with no sun and made it to the next day with ease but if there was no sun, I would have had to run the generator that night prior to bed to be certain we didn’t run out of power. We haven’t had to do that yet. I am considering another set of Zamp solar panels to pull out on the partially sunny days to help out and/or upping the battery count. No rush there as we have the generator as a backup.
The fridge is usually set at 3.5 or 4 which may make a difference. This is plenty cold and sometimes too cold in the back on the top shelf.
I’m no expert here, just relaying some personal experience.

Have fun whatever you decide but the lithium are SO much easier and more efficient.

Pizzaman

Proiettile d’argento
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Old 10-07-2021, 06:40 AM   #5
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Fridge Ah

Uncle bob is spot on. About 50Ah per day from the fridge running on dc power.
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Old 10-07-2021, 07:38 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rolind View Post
Uncle bob is spot on. About 50Ah per day from the fridge running on dc power.
My 3cu ft Dometic propane fridge pulls about 6 amp hours per day (measured by Victron 712) compared to the expected 50 from the electric only.

Conversion of the trailer to a propane fridge can be done, only because with enough money almost anything can be done. This is not easy however because in addition to running propane to the location you will have to design and construct proper ventilation for the considerable heat generated. This will involve cutting into the body and roof. Due to the front location of the fridge this is a challenge and Airstream failed miserably at this in their attempt: in addition to not getting the heat out their venting let water in.

In my opinion, if you want to camp unplugged, you are better off with a several thousand dollar investment in lithium batteries and maximum solar. A cheaper alternative if you can tolerate the hassles and impacts would be to run a generator daily.
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Old 10-07-2021, 09:37 AM   #7
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All great points...my gut says this is just the tip of the iceberg were seeing. Once these get out there in the wild, in numbers, my guess is we're gonna see a bunch of dismayed boondockers unless they ante up for lithium and solar.

Basecamp with minimalist is one thing, but a 30 footer designed for families, or a Classic with all that electronic gear inside and out-- without about 400 watts of solar and lithium batteries (and possibly a generator to fall back on)=no bueno.
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Old 10-07-2021, 11:14 AM   #8
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The problem here would be lack of direct sun for solar. On the west coast of BC most of our off grid sites are in the forests, and getting enough solar is difficult. Most government/forest service sites etc are totally no services, they offer pit toilets and a common water tap, and have generator rules. You can only run them for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs once or twice a day at a set time. I couldn't imagine not having a propane option for the fridge.
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Old 10-07-2021, 11:31 AM   #9
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All great points...my gut says this is just the tip of the iceberg were seeing. Once these get out there in the wild, in numbers, my guess is we're gonna see a bunch of dismayed boondockers unless they ante up for lithium and solar.

Basecamp with minimalist is one thing, but a 30 footer designed for families, or a Classic with all that electronic gear inside and out-- without about 400 watts of solar and lithium batteries (and possibly a generator to fall back on)=no bueno.
You can bet that this is the tip of the iceberg. Making it worse is the way Airstream promotes their trailers (especially the Basecamp) and their boasting about the highly efficient refrigerators. If that’s not bad enough, reports here are that their sales agents are telling prospective buyers that it uses less electricity than the propane fridges which is at best a half-truth.
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Old 10-07-2021, 12:49 PM   #10
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My experience with the new fridge:

1. to keep it cold you need to it set to 5 or above, colder is better so I set it higher regardless of battery drain

2. boondocking, went to bed at 12pm, battery reading showed 12.5, woke up in the morning and after running the fans and such w some lights I checked it again at 930am or so, reading showed 13.2. Charged up pretty good in 3.5 hours of direct morning sun. Without this direct sun, it will simply drain and continue to do so, direct sun is the key and if you have it you should be able to run the fridge without having to pull out the generator. This was my experience.

Side note about everyone who has replaced AGM 100AH to Lithium 100AH... What makes you think you have more power? AS far as I know 100AH is 100AH... all you did was replace good AGM batteries that didn't need to be replaced until they are at end of life... I personally am going to beat the hell out of the AGM and not worry about whether they go below 50% because eventually I will replace them with lithium, when the time comes, it is my belief that if you replaced brand new AGM 100AH batteries with Lithium you spent money you didn't need to spend
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Old 10-07-2021, 01:02 PM   #11
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Side note about everyone who has replaced AGM 100AH to Lithium 100AH... What makes you think you have more power? AS far as I know 100AH is 100AH...
We know we have “more power” because the issue is usable amp hours, not rated amp hours. A lead acid battery (including AGM) has about 50% of its rated power usable. In contrast, lithium batteries have about 90% usable. So, a battery for battery swap provides almost twice as much usable power.
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Old 10-07-2021, 01:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
We know we have “more power” because the issue is usable amp hours, not rated amp hours. A lead acid battery (including AGM) has about 50% of its rated power usable. In contrast, lithium batteries have about 90% usable. So, a battery for battery swap provides almost twice as much usable power.
My understanding here is that the '"50% usable capacity" is only recommended for the life of the batteries, but you are stating that the 100AH is only capable of 50% of its total power, meaning that you can't draw any power off it after it uses 50AH.. I haven't read this anywhere, I have only read that its not recommended to go below 50%, not that these batteries only have 1/2 their advertised AH. Which is why I state that if I decide to beat up on them and not be concerned with going below 50% capacity I'll have just as much power, but would end up needing to replace them.

Now, I could be misinterpreting, so correct me if I'm wrong with something of validity that clearly states the AGM only has 1/2 its usable power available, and NOT that's its "recommended to only use 50% before recharging."

Quick edit here: This is a cut and paste from an Article about batteries "The amp hour rating is really cut in half because you don’t want to completely discharge the battery before recharging it." https://koa.com/blog/what-you-need-t...-rv-batteries/
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Old 10-07-2021, 02:01 PM   #13
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My understanding here is that the '"50% usable capacity" is only recommended for the life of the batteries, but you are stating that the 100AH is only capable of 50% of its total power, meaning that you can't draw any power off it after it uses 50AH.. I haven't read this anywhere, I have only read that its not recommended to go below 50%, not that these batteries only have 1/2 their advertised AH. Which is why I state that if I decide to beat up on them and not be concerned with going below 50% capacity I'll have just as much power, but would end up needing to replace them.

Now, I could be misinterpreting, so correct me if I'm wrong with something of validity that clearly states the AGM only has 1/2 its usable power available, and NOT that's its "recommended to only use 50% before recharging."

This is a gray area question. By saying lead acid batteries only have half of their rated power I am guilty of overstatement.

You are correct that going past 50% will affect the life of the lead acid batteries; in contrast going down to 10% will not adversely affect the life of quality lithium batteries. It is a gray area as to how you want to interpret that. Personally, I would not run them below 50%.

In addition, lithium batteries provide the full voltage required by the connected devices all the way down to 10%. With lead acid batteries the voltage starts falling off below 50% (about 12v) to the point that devices will fail to function.

Bottom line: lithium batteries provide more useful power than equally rated lead acid batteries.
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Old 10-07-2021, 07:31 PM   #14
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We have a 2021 Caravel 16FB with lithium batteries and a 100 watt solar panel. We boondock regularly and use the refrigerator. The only issue that we have had was in Washington state where the large trees prevented our solar panel from seeing direct sunlight. We were able to last 4 days before we had to run a generator. We did not run the furnace which I have measured to be the biggest electrical draw in the trailer.
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Old 10-07-2021, 08:07 PM   #15
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We have a 2021 Caravel 16FB with lithium batteries and a 100 watt solar panel. We boondock regularly and use the refrigerator. The only issue that we have had was in Washington state where the large trees prevented our solar panel from seeing direct sunlight. We were able to last 4 days before we had to run a generator. We did not run the furnace which I have measured to be the biggest electrical draw in the trailer.
This is a good data point, thanks for posting this. You said “lithium batteries”, which raises the question: one or two? Another significant question: what were the ambient temperatures?

If you only lasted 4 days with lithium batteries, without running the furnace, then this seems to confirm the approximately 50 amp hours per day draw that others have reported. Significantly, this is the small compressor fridge and the larger ones are rated at almost twice the amps.

Even if you have a single battery it would confirm that trailers with electric only fridges and lead acid batteries are only good for a day or two.
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Old 10-08-2021, 08:56 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by panamerican View Post
All great points...my gut says this is just the tip of the iceberg were seeing. Once these get out there in the wild, in numbers, my guess is we're gonna see a bunch of dismayed boondockers unless they ante up for lithium and solar.

Basecamp with minimalist is one thing, but a 30 footer designed for families, or a Classic with all that electronic gear inside and out-- without about 400 watts of solar and lithium batteries (and possibly a generator to fall back on)=no bueno.
Hi

Well ... dig back into the archives to ..errr ... 2017 and take a look at the threads about the Classic with the first of the "multiplex' systems on it. We all pretty quickly found that the stock battery setup *might* make it 2 days but more likely would fail in just over a day.

Those threads quickly transition to "look at all the lithiums I put in my Classic" ...

Airstreams have been "off grid challenged" for a while. There are lots of examples of this.

Bob
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Old 10-08-2021, 09:15 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
This is a gray area question. By saying lead acid batteries only have half of their rated power I am guilty of overstatement.

You are correct that going past 50% will affect the life of the lead acid batteries; in contrast going down to 10% will not adversely affect the life of quality lithium batteries. It is a gray area as to how you want to interpret that. Personally, I would not run them below 50%.

In addition, lithium batteries provide the full voltage required by the connected devices all the way down to 10%. With lead acid batteries the voltage starts falling off below 50% (about 12v) to the point that devices will fail to function.

Bottom line: lithium batteries provide more useful power than equally rated lead acid batteries.
Hi

It gets even more gray the more you dig into it .....

Battery capacity varies with temperature. If it's hot out, your lead acid's might have 20% more capacity than what the label on them says. If it's cold ... you have a lot less.

Battery capacity on lead acid's varies with current drain. Pull a lot of current and your capacity goes down. If you run and inverter into a big load, you might only get half the capacity you expect.

On lithiums, there are a *lot* of outfits making them. They each get to do it "their way". You have a BMS that supervises the battery. What the BMS calls "cutoff" may or may not be the absolute "nothing left" point on the cells. If some guy named Bob sells his 110A super battery and it goes all the way to zero and some other outfit sells a 100A battery that auto cuts off at 10% .... don't buy the one from Bob

All these batteries we chat about are actually categories of batteries. Modern lead acid's are not pure lead. They alloy the plates with other "stuff". This slightly modifies the magic voltages and their temperature performance. One alloy goes to Alaska, another alloy goes to Arizona. The same thing happens with LiFePO4. The result is that any voltage number will have some qualifier after it.

Batteries are rated in terms of charge cycles. There are tons and tons of data on various lead acid batteries. Discharge them slowly (C/20) and don't discharge very far (50%) ... they last for 800 cycles. Discharge them heavily (C/2) and go to the same point ... they last for 200 cycles. Discharge them to 20% and ... yikes ....

Cycles only tell part of the story. I'm quite sure that if you test lithiums they do make it to 2,000 or 5,000 cycles under this or that set of conditions. They testing is valid. If you run a charge cycle a week and camp out 10 weeks a year ... will your batteries last 20 to 50 years? I don't think anybody believes that.

So lots and lots of gray areas ....

Bob
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Old 10-08-2021, 10:37 AM   #18
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Hi

Well ... dig back into the archives to ..errr ... 2017 and take a look at the threads about the Classic with the first of the "multiplex' systems on it. We all pretty quickly found that the stock battery setup *might* make it 2 days but more likely would fail in just over a day.

Those threads quickly transition to "look at all the lithiums I put in my Classic" ...

Airstreams have been "off grid challenged" for a while. There are lots of examples of this.

Bob
That's true. I didn't really pay much attention to the classic's power problems back then, mostly because whatever problem they had with the Classic, was not an issue for the entire lineup. Today, that's not the case and so all new trailers are now impacted...Classic may be more than the rest given the heavy electronics they pack in there.

Just so hard to fathom how these decisions are made. Don't misunderstand, I do believe that the compressor fridges may very well be far superior overall, ***BUT*** a decision to put in all the electrical devices and 12v fridges should have caused a parallel conversation about, ok, how do we maintain or come close to maintaining what we had moving forward with these decisions.

From an outsider looking in, it seems to me, few, if any of those conversations took place, and from what you shared, since 2017, it's been a growing problem that would seem that Airstream collectively stuck their heads in the sand. Sure they boosted the solar on the Classic line for 2022 (nearly FOUR YEARS after they started packing in all the electronics), but even that was nothing more than a token gesture. 270 watts, even under full sun isn't gonna keep those Classics running for more than a few days, and even Lewster who has been an RV tech for a long time outright said, he can install 400 watts for what the factory was charging for 180 watts.

Dunno. I am in hover mode on any new(er) Airstream purchases until I see some demonstrable proof I can last more than 2 days off grid without having to shell out $5k on top of the insane MSRP they are asking today or run a generator every other day. Once a week? Ok, but two days, sorry, at least for me, ain't happenin.
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Old 10-08-2021, 01:37 PM   #19
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That's true. I didn't really pay much attention to the classic's power problems back then, mostly because whatever problem they had with the Classic, was not an issue for the entire lineup. Today, that's not the case and so all new trailers are now impacted...Classic may be more than the rest given the heavy electronics they pack in there.

Just so hard to fathom how these decisions are made. Don't misunderstand, I do believe that the compressor fridges may very well be far superior overall, ***BUT*** a decision to put in all the electrical devices and 12v fridges should have caused a parallel conversation about, ok, how do we maintain or come close to maintaining what we had moving forward with these decisions.

From an outsider looking in, it seems to me, few, if any of those conversations took place, and from what you shared, since 2017, it's been a growing problem that would seem that Airstream collectively stuck their heads in the sand. Sure they boosted the solar on the Classic line for 2022 (nearly FOUR YEARS after they started packing in all the electronics), but even that was nothing more than a token gesture. 270 watts, even under full sun isn't gonna keep those Classics running for more than a few days, and even Lewster who has been an RV tech for a long time outright said, he can install 400 watts for what the factory was charging for 180 watts.

Dunno. I am in hover mode on any new(er) Airstream purchases until I see some demonstrable proof I can last more than 2 days off grid without having to shell out $5k on top of the insane MSRP they are asking today or run a generator every other day. Once a week? Ok, but two days, sorry, at least for me, ain't happenin.
Hi

Four panels on the roof of a 2017 Classic and 400AH of lithium will run you down the road for a couple weeks without any "help". If you are really careful / not much shade, you could go pretty much forever. We run up around 100AH a day on a typical day. On a good day, the panels will do better than that.

The simple fact is that the vast majority of the folks who buy a Classic aren't heading out into the wilds. They are headed to campsites with electric hookups. Yes there are a few insane types (often named Bob) who do head out ... most don't.

Even with smaller trailers, you see a *lot* more Airstreams at full hookup / electric campgrounds than you do at more "primitive" locations. We often get told "that's the first one of those we've ever seen here" as we pull into this or that campground. Usually this is followed by "do they still make those" and "I'll bet those are real expensive .. maybe over $30K ...".

It's always nice to talk to the campground host and other personnel. You never know what they might be able to tell you ...... (like about the bear that lives behind that site over there .... )

Bob
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Old 10-11-2021, 01:08 PM   #20
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This is a good data point, thanks for posting this. You said “lithium batteries”, which raises the question: one or two? Another significant question: what were the ambient temperatures?

If you only lasted 4 days with lithium batteries, without running the furnace, then this seems to confirm the approximately 50 amp hours per day draw that others have reported. Significantly, this is the small compressor fridge and the larger ones are rated at almost twice the amps.

Even if you have a single battery it would confirm that trailers with electric only fridges and lead acid batteries are only good for a day or two.
We have two 100 amp-hr Battleborn batteries that were installed by the dealer.

Our refrigerator is smaller. It is a Nova Cool R3100. I have measured the amperage when it is running at 2.25 amps. The ambient temperature during our trip was highs in the 70s and low 80s and lows in the 60s.
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