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Old 02-05-2023, 03:55 PM   #1
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Before I pull the trigger, will an AS work for us?

Hello,

Looking at ordering a 25' International RTB to pull behind our 2023 Sierra Denali 1500.

We intend to do a couple of laps around North America; sometimes camping for extended stays at nice commercial campgrounds but plan on mostly using Harvest Hosts (we like getting away from the big cities and meeting people, supporting small businesses, etc).

So, if we do a lot of essentially boon docking will this AS setup work for comfortable living?
- I intend to order the 400 watt solar upgrade.
- Will put 2 lithium batteries in the battery box.
- Carry a small generator in the event we want to run the A/C or in a pinch charge things up.

Question: If we pull into a site, do evening things with some lights, run the fridge, have the furnace on overnight if it's cool, maybe have a quick shower, etc. will we run out of battery power before morning? I'm not an electrical expert and I don't want to be. I just want it to work.

Thanks for your help and opinions!
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:04 PM   #2
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2023 28' International
Mercer County , New Jersey
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When towing an Airstream with a 1/2 ton vehicle, payload is usually the limiting factor. Most 1/2 ton vehicles have a payload of 1500# to 1800# unless special heavy duty payload options and/or minimum accessories and options are ordered. Fully optioned, higher trim levels may have a payload as low as 1200# to 1300#.

Payload is the GVWR minus the curb/empty weight of the vehicle. Payload is used by aftermarket accessories, all occupants, pets, and cargo in the vehicle. The tongue weight of the trailer is considered "payload". For most fully loaded Airstreams 25' or larger, the tongue weight is usually in the 1000# range or more with a heavy weight distribution hitch, leaving only 500# to 800# for everything else.

The best answer it to check all the stickers on your door jam (white for GVWR and yellow for Payload) and go to a scale when fully loaded as you would be when traveling to get your actual weights because it will be close with a 25' or larger trailer.

eTrailer provides an excellent write up on the limits of trailer towing and how to determine if you've met all the various limits and what goes into each.

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-muc...an-I-tow.aspx?
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:06 PM   #3
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You will definitely be ok for one night. Probably ok for 2-3, even with minimal solar recharging. With favorable solar conditions you could go for extended periods of time.

Also, if you plug in at a site you will start each day with a full charge.

Sounds like a great adventure!
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
You will definitely be ok for one night. Probably ok for 2-3, even with minimal solar recharging. With favorable solar conditions you could go for extended periods of time.

Also, if you plug in at a site you will start each day with a full charge.

Sounds like a great adventure!
Whew.... that is a relief. I started reading some threads that contributed to my concern. I'll probably have a batter shunt, etc. so I can understand my current draws, etc. Just wanted to make sure we can dry camp a night or two and run the furnace, lights, etc. and be comfortable.
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb831 View Post
When towing an Airstream with a 1/2 ton vehicle, payload is usually the limiting factor. Most 1/2 ton vehicles have a payload of 1500# to 1800# unless special heavy duty payload options and/or minimum accessories and options are ordered. Fully optioned, higher trim levels may have a payload as low as 1200# to 1300#.

Payload is the GVWR minus the curb/empty weight of the vehicle. Payload is used by aftermarket accessories, all occupants, pets, and cargo in the vehicle. The tongue weight of the trailer is considered "payload". For most fully loaded Airstreams 25' or larger, the tongue weight is usually in the 1000# range or more with a heavy weight distribution hitch, leaving only 500# to 800# for everything else.

The best answer it to check all the stickers on your door jam (white for GVWR and yellow for Payload) and go to a scale when fully loaded as you would be when traveling to get your actual weights because it will be close with a 25' or larger trailer.

eTrailer provides an excellent write up on the limits of trailer towing and how to determine if you've met all the various limits and what goes into each.

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-muc...an-I-tow.aspx?

Thank you. I have run all the numbers, one of the reasons I'm choosing the rear bed model (location of the tanks on the trailer, storage in the bedroom and outside compartments, etc). We aren't pack rats so think everything will be just under the capacity numbers. I appreciate the advice.

After doing that research, my next concern was to have enough battery and power to COMFORTABLY boondocks a night or two at HH locations. If I don't ge this right I'll have a VERY unhappy wife!!
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Old 02-05-2023, 04:15 PM   #6
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2023 28' International
Mercer County , New Jersey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riskinator View Post
Whew.... that is a relief. I started reading some threads that contributed to my concern. I'll probably have a batter shunt, etc. so I can understand my current draws, etc. Just wanted to make sure we can dry camp a night or two and run the furnace, lights, etc. and be comfortable.
You also may want to invest in a DC-DC charger installation so that any time driving from location to location is used to charge the batteries.
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Old 02-05-2023, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb831 View Post
You also may want to invest in a DC-DC charger installation so that any time driving from location to location is used to charge the batteries.
Thank you.

The solar panels will also charge as I drive, correct?

If it a bit cloudy, when I get to the next boon docking location, can I use a generator and plug into the trailer via smartplug to top up the batteries? Does it take a generator long to top up lithium batteries? I presume the trailer batteries are automatically charged if the unit is plugged into power? At what rate?

Thanks again for all the questions. Learning so much.
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Old 02-05-2023, 07:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffb831 View Post
When towing an Airstream with a 1/2 ton vehicle, payload is usually the limiting factor. Most 1/2 ton vehicles have a payload of 1500# to 1800# unless special heavy duty payload options and/or minimum accessories and options are ordered. Fully optioned, higher trim levels may have a payload as low as 1200# to 1300#.

Payload is the GVWR minus the curb/empty weight of the vehicle. Payload is used by aftermarket accessories, all occupants, pets, and cargo in the vehicle. The tongue weight of the trailer is considered "payload". For most fully loaded Airstreams 25' or larger, the tongue weight is usually in the 1000# range or more with a heavy weight distribution hitch, leaving only 500# to 800# for everything else.

The best answer it to check all the stickers on your door jam (white for GVWR and yellow for Payload) and go to a scale when fully loaded as you would be when traveling to get your actual weights because it will be close with a 25' or larger trailer.

eTrailer provides an excellent write up on the limits of trailer towing and how to determine if you've met all the various limits and what goes into each.

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-how-muc...an-I-tow.aspx?
Hey Jeff,

I need to thank you again. Just for fun I reran the numbers, and went to my truck and got the actual yellow sticker number (not the number off the GM website). Wow! If I am truthful I think my payload will be a couple of hundred pounds over!! I know many think that's within tolerance but I'm not so sure. Should I look at a 23 foot? The extra two feet make such a nice difference but I'm over on my payload a few hundred pounds most likely!
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Old 02-06-2023, 12:07 AM   #9
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Our 23 foot Airstream had 360W of rooftop solar and two AGM batteries. This combination provided plenty of power for us to stay off the grid for multiple days. In the summer months, we would be fully charged by the end of the day. The limiting factors for us were grey tank capacity, and the need to run the air conditioner. We carried a generator when we thought that air conditioning would be necessary.

I pulled my 23FB with a GMC Sierra Denali 1500. It was a great match from a towing standpoint. My payload rating is 1,489 lbs., which worked very well with the lighter tongue weight of the 23FB.

I think the challenge with the 23FB is that it’s quite small inside compared to the 25 foot trailers. We loved ours for recreational camping trips (usually one week or less). Personally, I think the 23FB is a little tight for extended trips. Obviously everyone has individual preferences, but if I were you, I’d spend a little time in a 23FB at a dealership and decide if this size will work for you.
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Old 02-06-2023, 09:25 AM   #10
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Jeff,

I see by your posts your are a worrier. Please get your partner to read this reply.
You have done the work, Airstreamers have replied. Pull the trigger. The best part is that you will have problems, but you are going to find that you are a part of a community that cares and loves to help. The Big Red Numbers on your rig tell the world that you are having an adventure and that a wonderful community supports you.

GO!

George
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Old 02-06-2023, 09:27 AM   #11
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2019 25' Flying Cloud
Greeneville , Tennessee
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Ample Power

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riskinator View Post
Hello,

Looking at ordering a 25' International RTB to pull behind our 2023 Sierra Denali 1500.

We intend to do a couple of laps around North America; sometimes camping for extended stays at nice commercial campgrounds but plan on mostly using Harvest Hosts (we like getting away from the big cities and meeting people, supporting small businesses, etc).

So, if we do a lot of essentially boon docking will this AS setup work for comfortable living?
- I intend to order the 400 watt solar upgrade.
- Will put 2 lithium batteries in the battery box.
- Carry a small generator in the event we want to run the A/C or in a pinch charge things up.

Question: If we pull into a site, do evening things with some lights, run the fridge, have the furnace on overnight if it's cool, maybe have a quick shower, etc. will we run out of battery power before morning? I'm not an electrical expert and I don't want to be. I just want it to work.

Thanks for your help and opinions!
You should be fine. You are right on with the 25'. If you have reasonable sun, you will not have trouble, especially with a generator. We've done similar travels without solar. We have AGM batteries and a Honda generator. Trouble free. Happy Camping.
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Old 02-06-2023, 09:51 AM   #12
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2022 Interstate 24X
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riskinator View Post
Thank you.

The solar panels will also charge as I drive, correct?

If it a bit cloudy, when I get to the next boon docking location, can I use a generator and plug into the trailer via smartplug to top up the batteries? Does it take a generator long to top up lithium batteries? I presume the trailer batteries are automatically charged if the unit is plugged into power? At what rate?

Thanks again for all the questions. Learning so much.
Hi

Solar will charge as you drive. If it's cloudy or you are driving in the shade, the amount of charge may not be much. Our 400W setup might give us 120AH in a day, it also might not make it to 10AH on another day.

By far the most simple answer is a DC/DC converter. It weights next to nothing. Does not need fuel like a generator. If it's properly set up and installed it "just works".

If you are driving each day, power will go to the trailer via the stock 7 pin connector. You will get 10 to 15A of charge current without any crazy mods to anything. If you drive 4 hours, that's 40 to 60 AH into the batteries.

How much will you use in a day?

Your trailer will have a compressor fridge on it. Depending on this or that it could average anywhere in the 2 to 4A range. At 2A, you use 48AH a day. Double that if it goes up to 4A. Best case you need at least 50AH into the batteries each day, just for the fridge.

It's a good guess that other stuff in the trailer will get used. Is that 20AH or is it more? It could be a lot more depending on exactly what you use. Without something like a shunt, there is no way at all to know how you are doing. If you worry about stuff, you'll get a shunt.

Generator charge time depends on what converter / charger you have in your trailer. The stock versions change a bit year to year. Best guess (and it's only a guess) is that 20A out of the charger is reasonable to expect. If you have run down 60AH, you would run the generator for 4 hours. Three to get the batteries up to near full and another hour to complete the process.

Fun !!!

Bob
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Old 02-06-2023, 09:58 AM   #13
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Hello Riskinator,

400 watts of solar and 2 lithium batteries (plus a generator) will get you through a winter in the south no problem and be more than enough for summer camping. We have been boondocking in the southwest since November 1. We have 400 watts of solar on the roof and 4 AGM batteries (NO generator). Yes, we had to conserve during December (no hair dryer or electric coffee percolator), when the sun was at its lowest, but we still ran the furnace, tv, and electronics. By mid-January, we could run our coffee machine and hair dryer, tv, furnace, electronics, etc. If we had lithium, I'm sure we could have done all of that even during December. You'll be fine! Also, get the gas stove rather than the convection microwave.

Consider getting a 2000 watt inverter and also consider placing the batteries inside or place a battery warmer on them if they are in the battery box. Also, leave room for expansion to get more batteries, if needed.

The 25 RBT is a great layout. Twins will give you lots of room for changing, accessing storage, and sleeping. Also, the RB model has a large bathroom. You'll love it.

As for your truck, we tow a 30ft with a GMC 1/2 ton, max tow 6.2L engine. We are in BC and have pulled across the Rockies many times without difficulty.
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Old 02-06-2023, 11:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riskinator View Post
Hey Jeff,

I need to thank you again. Just for fun I reran the numbers, and went to my truck and got the actual yellow sticker number (not the number off the GM website). Wow! If I am truthful I think my payload will be a couple of hundred pounds over!! I know many think that's within tolerance but I'm not so sure. Should I look at a 23 foot? The extra two feet make such a nice difference but I'm over on my payload a few hundred pounds most likely!
We have a 2019 Flying Cloud RBT and tow it with a current gen Lincoln Navigator that has 1,552 payload. There are only two of us and a medium dog. Based on Catscale weighs, we are within all our numbers. We have about 20K miles on the combo now and never have had any towing issues. Tanks in a 23 are smaller which was a big factor in us going to a 25.
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Old 02-06-2023, 01:42 PM   #15
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2018 30' Flying Cloud
New Hudson , Michigan
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On another note....

You mention small generator for running the A/C, just note that a 2000W generator will not run the A/C unless you have a soft start installed to take the load of the compressor kicking on, I carry two Honda suitcase generators but have to run them in parallel to get the 30amps to run my A/C unit. As far as the other items you should be good with the solar and lithium packages to run several nights with ease. I've towed my 30ft FBB with a 1500 and a yukon, it's really about ensuring the right hitch and watching your loads.
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Old 02-06-2023, 02:07 PM   #16
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Exceeding your "payload" numbers on your TV is not recommended. I would agree with earlier comments that the 25' is a great size vs the 23'. Not sure where your payload comes in at, but if a "new" TV is not in the cards, I would suggest you give Andy a call at CANAM in Ontario, CAN for advice/help with beefing your TV...thats what I would do if I lived where you are and don't want to spend a bunch on a new TV. https://www.airstreamontario.com/ Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old 02-06-2023, 02:13 PM   #17
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It would not be a big deal to go ahead and add 1 or 2 more lithium batteries right up front.

Airstream uses parts from the general RV market so Airstreams do not use much more or less power than other RVs over a short period. The furnace can really suck power in cold weather and sometimes the sun does not come out for days.

I would also add a DC to DC charger to get some charge while you are pulling between sites.

We run our AC equipped with a micro soft easy start and a Honda 2000 generator.
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Old 02-12-2023, 09:41 AM   #18
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Go for it

Get the trailer you love, hook it up to the truck you love. Weigh it, load it, weigh it, each axle each time. THEN YOU will know what you setup will handle. If you aren't comfortable buy a new truck, but get the trailer you love.
As far as electrical power goes, my wife and I boondock a few nights a year during May-October, 230w portable panels, two 100ah lithiums, 8 days straight no issues. We run out of black tank before power.
Just added a second 230w portable panel and a smart shunt for this season. We run whatever we want except ac or any device over 1000w. Going to N Idaho and Canada this August September boondocking several places, wife is no longer worried.
Enjoy the adventure
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Old 02-12-2023, 09:48 AM   #19
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Murfreesboro , Tennessee
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Towing with a 1500

I have a 25í 2018 AS FC FB. Iíve been across the US several times without any issues towing with my 2016 F-150 with the 3.5 Eco Boost MAX tow package. Keep in mind however all 2500 or 250ís are not created equally. Neither are the rear end gearing ratio. My truck is not a 4X4 either. You can pick another 200 pounds of payload with a 2X2 by getting rid of the 4 wheel drive transfer case. I have the locking rear axle when I need it and itís always been enough. Two things I recommend is the towing mirrors and do your research on your hitch system. Donít take the word of your AS dealer. He is going to sell you on what ever the brand he has in stock or make the most money on. You want to pick a hitch that is easy to hook up and takes the sway out of the big trucks coming around your rig and the Midwest wind blowing across Kansas. I have the Resse Straightline with the 1,200 bars and it works well with my F-150 and the 25 Ď trailer. GOOD LUCK ON YOU FUTURE TRAVELS.
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Old 02-12-2023, 09:57 AM   #20
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Other responded but I just wanted to also confirm 400watts of Solar and 2 lithium batteries works great. I boondock with that config all the time with my 25’ and have yet to need my generator to top off power. I’ve gone 4 days in a row. If you are parked in shade or it is cloudy you will probably need the genny to top off.
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