Images provided by Aliner.

Aliner Adds Serious CleanTech Chops To An Already Super-Efficient Camper

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One of the biggest problems with RVs today is efficiency. I mean, we all love the great outdoors, but at the same time, we also love having interior space in an RV. When you go to move all of that interior space from place to place, you figure out pretty quickly that it comes at a great cost. Pulling an RV down the road can cut an ICE vehicle’s gas mileage in half, which isn’t a giant problem, because there are gas stations everywhere. But, with an EV, losing half of your range can mean not making it to the next charging station, or having to spend a lot more time at them.

While weight certainly is a factor, studies, tests by manufacturers, and even tests by YouTubers have shown that aerodynamic efficiency is a much bigger deal. At highway speeds, a loaded but flat trailer will get far better range than an empty and light trailer that’s tall and doesn’t cut through the wind well. So, for an EV tow vehicle, it’s definitely better to haul something that’s short. But, people aren’t usually two feet tall, so every inch of room for us and our belongings inside comes at the expense of range.

The RV industry is responding to this problem in various ways. Small and light pop-up campers have been a thing for as long as travel trailers, and their ability to fold down when you’re going down the road makes for much greater efficiency. The downside to that is that you’re now sleeping in a tent instead of a hard-sided camper. Noise goes right through a canvas wall, and you get a lot less protection from cold and hot air. Even worse, you can’t camp for free at places like Walmart and Cracker Barrel with a soft-sided travel trailer, both because it’s against their rules and because you’re not as safe from the people that tend to lurk in parking lots.

Decades ago, one RV manufacturer came up with a unique solution to this dilemma: hard-sided A-frame popup campers. Instead of having a tent that pops up to make a small trailer have big space, they designed it so that the roof could pop up in an “A” shape, and then hard panels flip up to seal the sides. The result doesn’t give as much room as a tent camper, but the privacy and comfort is vastly improved while smaller vehicles could still tow them.

The company didn’t stop there. After pioneering the A-frame design, the company figured out how to give people more space with yet more folding parts to create “dormers.” When folded out, these areas make for a travel trailer that’s almost rectangular in shape, just like a non-folding camper. Most recently, they improved the design even further, by incorporating a full shower into the unit that folds down under one of the beds.

Here’s a video showing how the latest version of the folding design works (article continues after video):

That alone is a great design for people who want better fuel efficiency or better electric range, but Aliner recently announced that it is taking the environmental friendliness of this design to the next level with the Aliner Amp.

The first thing Aliner did was redesign the tops of the dormers, seamlessly integrating a 400-watt solar panel into both ends. This not only gives the trailer 800 watts of solar (a big feat for a camper that’s only 18 feet long), but integrating them into the design both saves weight and reduces the drag. You could bolt solar panels onto a used Aliner like any RV, but they’d stick up further and reduce your range more.

All of this power goes into an EcoFlow 5 kWh battery pack, which in turn powers the whole camper’s systems, but if you want even more storage, they can equip it with two more packs, for a total of 15 kWh of battery storage. Its lithium-iron-phosphate (aka LiFePO4, or LFP) battery packs also help keep the battery pack(s) from degrading in bad conditions or suffering from sitting at 100%.

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Finally, the camper comes equipped with almost everything ready to rely on the battery pack instead of propane. An efficient air conditioner with built-in heat pump keeps the interior comfortable without having to burn fossil fuels, but there’s a backup propane heater for extreme conditions or long stays in cold weather. The fridge and microwave obviously both can run on battery power. There’s also an induction cooktop (per social media posts) that runs on the pack, too.

The end result is a tightly-integrated portable shelter that can run completely on solar power, fold compact for better towing efficiency, and weighs only about 2600 pounds (with 5 kWh of storage and none of your belongings). Despite the small size, it’s still got room for a queen bed and a twin bed, and there are some online comments by the company that indicate it may be looking for ways to integrate a folding bunk bed of some kind in the future, too.

“We continue to be dedicated to helping our customers get the best camping experience possible,” says Aliner President and CEO Brett Randall. “Part of our company vision is to create products made with sustainable components for the long-term benefit of the planet. Getting our clients fully off the grid with our camping trailers was a natural next step, and we are happy to be leading the way with the solar powered Amp.”

About the only thing I think they could do better here is team up with Trelino to offer a composting toilet instead of a chemical cassette toilet. But, even with the cassette unit, it’s possible to avoid the need for dump stations in many circumstances, as it can be dumped into a toilet.

Full specifications for the Amp can be found at the company’s website here, but if you want to see it in person, they’re going to be presenting it at the Hershey RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, from September 13-17. YouTubers are likely to shoot some great videos of the unit there in the coming days, and it will probably start appearing at RV dealers in the coming months.

Images provided by Aliner.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1994 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba