Tag Archives: RV A/C

A Heat Wave and an Airstream

And the Dometic A/C has been on all day

And the Dometic A/C has been on all day

Like the record low temperatures experienced in January 2013, the high temps of June 2013 are something to learn from during my first year full-timing in an Airstream.

These past couple of days have been unusually warm for northern Nevada. Well, what would you expect for being in the throes of climate change? And isn’t it interesting to be aware of climate change, and to see it unfold? OK, anyway, it’s hot.

It was 100 degrees an hour ago and now it’s 99. The humidity, for your folks east and south of the Rockies, is 16%. Yesterday: 100; tomorrow: 101; Tuesday: 102. You get the idea. It’s hot!

Because I’m not so fortunate as to have a job where I can just work from home, I’m not on my way to the coast. I have an office to show up in tomorrow so here I am, but at least it will have a proper air conditioner and insulation. Not so in an Airstream.

It’s probably much like being a foil-wrapped baked potato, but with electricity and a bathroom. The aluminum walls are classic looking, but boy do they suck in whatever temperature you don’t want outside to the inside.

During the frigid winter, while the air inside was warm due to the heater being on, the walls had frost on them. Well, the summer is worse and it would likely be unbearable with the slightest wisp of humidity.

For the past two days, the Dometic 13.5k A/C has been running non-stop from 8:00AM to 8:00PM. The aluminum walls, when checked with my handy Raytek MT6 laser thermometer came out like this:

  • Next to the door, in shade – Exterior 101.5 — Interior 89.0 degrees
  • Interior ceiling, between the skylight and ceiling fan, no shade – 102.0 degrees
  • Floor – 77.0 degrees
  • A/C duct – 52.5 degrees
  • Next to bedroom window, in shade – Exterior 101.0 — Interior 92.5 degrees.

From these numbers, we see the interior walls are 9 to 12 degrees cooler than the outside temperature with the A/C running all day. Yes, all day. The temperature of the air inside ranges between 85 and 89 degrees when the outside temperature is (still) 99.

The A/C has been on (again, all day) and there’s almost no humidity, but just 10 degrees cooler? I expected better.

I’ve come to find the single biggest problem with Airstreams: a modern insulation system is non-existent. My model is a 2012 25′ Flying Cloud FB. It still has the pink fiberglass insulation which was tossed in Model Year 2013 for some more environmentally friendly insulation. My guess would be it likely performs about the same as any improvement would¬†should have been heralded by Jackson Center.

Starting in January when I moved in, I’ve used to good success 24″ x 10′ sheets of foil-backed bubble wrap branded Reflectix. I use it primarily in the windows and ceiling openings where it really makes a difference.

Interior wall next to the window (in sun)

Interior wall next to the window (in sun)6" to the left behind Reflectix and the curtain

6″ to the left behind Reflectix and curtain

The temperature at the interior wall (12″ from my head) is 98 degrees. With the Dometic 13.5k A/C running since 8:00AM. Yeah, I know.

The sun is low in the sky and it’s 99 degrees according to NOAA. The wall, on the inside where it has been cooled since 8:00AM, and being signed off as insulated by the Airstream factory, is 1 degree cooler. Yikes.

Move the temperature gauge 6″ to the left and it hits the curtain by the panorama window which, like the wall, is in direct sun. The difference is the window has little insulation factor, but there’s a sheet of Reflectix between the window and the curtain. The temperature reading is now 86 degrees. That’s 12 degrees cooler for Russ’ Relectix and only 1 degree for Airstream’s system.

It it wouldn’t look so silly, I’d be tempted to cover the entire inside of the trailer in Reflectix!

I wish I could order a Flying Cloud with that bubble wrap instead of the factory solution. That would be slick.

And I have a plan for the factory Dometic 13.5k A/C that’s only been used for 30 hours…