I’m learning as I go and don’t everything about how our Airstream travel trailer works.
Every time I speak to someone who owns at travel trailer or visit a forum or blog, I learn something new about an appliance or a system that I have on my trailer.
Despite my novice knowledge about the appliances and systems, I figured I’d share my beginner observations.
First, we have most of the typical appliances and systems of a house, such as an oven, microwave, and refrigerator, and we also have some of the same power systems, such as electrical and gas.
The two big differences from a typical house are that our appliances are much smaller and we have options to run off different power sources.
The four power sources of our trailer include…
Electrical (shore power).
A 30 amp plug comes out of the back of an RV. It is attached to a breaker box inside the RV similar to the one you would see in a home. When we plug into an electrical hookup, we can run our electric appliances, lights, and our outlets work.
Our campsites don’t always have an electric outlet, so our travel trailer also has a battery system which power our lights, fan, and water pump, all of which are designed to run off a battery. This battery will supposedly last us a couple weeks if we consume conservatively.
We charge the battery through the alternator in the truck when towing the trailer. We don’t have solar panels to charge up our battery, though they are increasingly popular.
The bad news about the battery system is that it won’t power our bigger electric devices, like our air conditioner, microwave, or toaster oven.
Since we want the convenience of air conditioning, an oven, and a microwave even when we can’t plug in, we invested in a generator. The generator burns gas and creates electricity.
The generator doesn’t burn all the time. We only start it to power our big appliances as needed. The battery system mentioned above is still needed with a generator, as it gives us instant power for lights, fans, and water without the need to go outside and pull start the generator.
Liquid Propane (LP) Gas
On the front of our trailer, we have two propane gas cans, just like the ones you would find on your gas grill at home.
The propane gas powers our two gas burners, our refrigerator, and hot water tank. Both the refrigerator and the hot water tank have the option to run on electricity, when we’re plugged in, or on gas, when we are not plugged in.
When we run out of propane gas, we haul that tanks to a store where we can have then refilled.
Which appliances run on which power?
So these are our power sources, and here is a breakdown of our appliances and the systems on which they run or can run.
- Oven, Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Stove top, Gas
- Microwave, Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Refrigerator, Gas, Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Hot water heater, Gas, Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Air conditioner, Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Water pump, Electrical (battery), Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
- Lights, Electrical (battery), Electrical (shore power), Electrical (generator)
Sometimes one or two of the electrical options aren’t available to us. For example, some parks don’t have electrical hookups and don’t allow generators, so in those parks we are not able to use our oven, microwave, or air conditioner, but we can still use our lights, fans, and water pump to move water through the faucets and toilet. We can run our refrigerator off the propane gas.
I’m still learning a lot about these appliances, but these are the basics as I understand them after a week on the road with the trailer.
In another article, I’ll be hitting the highlights of the water and plumbing system in our old Airstream.
Got a question about how our trailer works?
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about how our trailer works.