You would think that after 3 years of Airstream Renovation, and short trips, we would have thoroughly tested all of our Gear we were bringing with us as we embark on this Full Time Nomadic Idea. So we decided to test ALL of our gear before we go.
Our 6 night 7 day full time test was to see how well we could run on solar, and test our heat limits without air conditioning. We also wanted to test, the same gear, but with full hookups including, Electric, water, and sewer. And this is why you should ALWAYS TEST YOUR GEAR!
Our first test was how long we could run power off our 12 volt batteries? We have a total of 450 amp hours with 600 total watts of solar on the Airstream. Another 200 watts on our Van. We spent a small fortune investing in Solar thinking that we could run most of our energy needs off of 800 watts of pure sun. The problem is, we didn’t choose a campsite in the sun, we chose one in complete shade in a National Forest. Thus 450 amp hours didn’t last long. AND we only had one hour of direct sunlight at best to recharge. No matter how big your solar array is, you have to be in direct sunlight most of the time.
First Gear Test Lesson: Gonna need a 30 amp Generator to supply a charge for our 12 volt batteries if we want to boondock and play in the woods.
Our second test was to see how well we did working as a team with navigation. Ariane being the navigator, Scott being the driver. All went pretty well except for one wrong turn. That wrong turn put us going down a mountain road of switchback hell.
Second Gear Test Lesson: A good Trip Planning App or Website is the key. We will use RV Trip Wizard to map all of our routes. Not getting angry (although not a piece of gear) will help in a relationship.
Our third gear test was all about full hook ups and living the good life. Electric, Water, and Sewer. We just bought a Hughs Surge Protector (super important) and testing out our RV Lifestyle in all it’s glory including our 40 year old Coleman Air Conditioner that we never really got a change to test fully.
Our Final Gear Test Lesson: Our Air Conditioner stopped working after 20 minutes of blissfulness cold air coming out on a 94 degree day. Good thing we tested it. We also found a water leak in our outdoor shower connection where we saw dripping water coming down from below our Airstream. Our Hughs Surge Protector by the way saved us from blowing a breaker on the circuit the Air Conditioner was on because we could monitor the amps using the IOS app they provide.
Overall testing our Airstream Gear was probably a very smart move. Considering we did all of this ourselves. The good news is that the minor things that did go wrong, we knew how to fix. Hec! We built it. (well, not the whole thing) But most of it. We learned most of all that nothing will go as you planned and take mishaps and failures as part of the journey. But seriously, test your gear before you go.