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Old 11-15-2011, 09:13 AM   #1
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Dallas , Texas
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All Electric/ All Solar/ or just in the kitchen?

Hi guys, I am in the planning stages of completely renovating a 1970ís Airstream (not yet acquired)
Right now I am trying to figure out if a large enough solar system (and making the home completely electric Ėno LP gas) is doable with the items this airstream will have. This question will be posted in the correct area I am guessing that is the Solar-Electric part of this forum? From what I have seen I could save money on the appliances going all electric Ė at least in the kitchen???
When boon docking, I can and have no problem using a generator. The Airstream will be plugged into hookups at a campsite most of the time I imagine anyway. But in theory would a few solar panels be able to charge the battery while the trailer is in tow while the battery powers the fridge and keeps cool. Is this a possible/feasible set up. And if it is what else could be powered through solar panels. How do I calculate the energy usage of appliances pulling from the battery and then account for that with solar power pushing to the battery
Thanks again guys and girls.
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Old 11-15-2011, 09:36 AM   #2
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Heating you water will take almost 15 Amps. That's 150+ Amps on the batteries and a very large inverter. How are you going to cook your food? Microwave? Once again around 1000 Watts, about 8.5 Amps or 85 amps on the batteries.

Are you afraid of Gas?
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:21 AM   #3
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Going all electric is certainly possible. Powering some things from solar charged batteries, is not at all practical.

If you were plugged in to AC power all the time, it would work, but an Airstream is a Travel Trailer, and so then would not be practical to travel with.

Do you ever intend to sell this trailer? How many buyers would there be for a travel trailer that had to be plugged in all the time to function?
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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No Im not afriad of gas, I guess I was just thinking outside the

Okay so traditional LP system is the way to go for the kitchen. I intend to have a stove/cooktop, small fridge, and microwave. Im guessing the everything but microwave needs to be able to run on LP gas and electricy? What other components are working of the gas. I know there are water heaters that are gas/electric and what about the furnace?
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:26 AM   #5
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If you are looking for a fridge to run off solar this is a really good choice ...

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Old 11-15-2011, 10:27 AM   #6
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The amount of amps used in the 110 is 10 times the amps pulled from the batteries. Not counting the ineffiency of the inverter. You would need a lot of battery storage and more solar than you can fit on the limited roof space on the AS. LP is more economical a power source for refrigeration and heating.

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Old 11-15-2011, 10:30 AM   #7
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No I do not plan on selling the trailer. What are the bennefits of all or mostly electric? If any? Im guessing the benefits of LP gas, is travelabilty and resell value...I intend for the camper to be a mobile home office (i know high expectations lol) so I intend to have some form of electriciy all of the time...
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:32 AM   #8
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Some rules of thumb that might be useful:

figure about 12 usable watt hours per pound of battery (typical RV batteries run 60 to 70 pounds) - this is at the 50% discharge point commonly used for optimum cost efficiency for a battery bank (see for an analysis)

plan on 1 watt of solar panel for each pound of battery as a minimum

A good goal for a battery bank is sufficient usable energy capacity to last 3 days in moderate weather.

A modern refrigerator uses about 1 kWh per day

Most batteries are rated at about a watt per pound power drain. Running at higher power levels than that, such as for a full AC circuit load, will cause the battery to show less available energy (research Peukert for more on this). This means the typical TT battery bank is 'happiest' only with loads up to a couple hundred watts.

The normal household AC circuit is for 15 amps at 120v or 1800 watts. A 2 kw inverter can be useful but only to handle peak loads that shouldn't run more than just a few minutes for best battery performance.

The residual loads for alarms and control boards in an RV can run at 10 to 20 watts.

The average home power consumption of electricity runs from 30 to 60 kWh (kilowatt hours) per day, which is an order of magnitude bigger than can normally be managed in an RV without a genset or grid connection.

As Michelle noted, it is usually better to keep the heating part of things on gas unless grid connected. This includes the furnace, water heater, and range.

It is quite possible these days to use a residential EnergyStar refrigerator on an RV solar power system but that can start pushing margins for allowable battery bank weight and available roof for solar power collection in a TT.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:35 AM   #9
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Okay so from the responses I am seeing so far. I am thinking of some kind of combination...Let me know if I am on the same page with you guys?

LP Gas/electric appliances will have benefits in certain places but so will all electric elsewhere (other parts of Airstream)

As far as gennerators are concerned, what are some soundproofing options. I used to go camping with the family in an airstream very similar to the ones I am looking to renovate...the gennerator was extremly load, mind you this is 10 years ago. Have they gotten any quieter?

Again Thanks for all of the information guys.
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Old 11-22-2011, 03:29 PM   #10
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Keep in mind that not all days are bright and sunny. Propane is readily available, and using a gas stove (which the unit likely has) and a gas/electric fridge makes sense. For hot water, there are gas/electric water heaters.
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