Komfort SatelLite Pioneers Eco Composite Material

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July 24, 2009 by   5 Comments

Editor’s Note: This is a review written by Jeff Johnston. His Motor Matter column runs in the Washington Times and other newspapers. He also is a contributor to RVBusiness.

komfort-satelliteIt isn’t often that an RV industry development can be called “revolutionary” without bringing to mind “As Seen on TV” hyperbole. In the case of the new SatelLite trailer from Komfort Corp., that description could be right on the money. 

The SatelLite is built using a new plastic-like composite material called Eco Composite (EC), which replaces much of the wood and other materials used in traditional RV construction. Advantages to the use of EC are a lighter RV, translating into fuel savings, greater strength for longer-term durability and a significant reduction of vehicle damage from leaks or other water intrusion. Those features add up to a better long-term investment.

EC has been around for a while and has been used in other products. In a much thicker configuration it’s a type of commercial armor used in assorted bulletproofing security applications. Even in RV use any surface that incorporates EC is highly resistant to punctures and impact damage – and that can save the costly repair of an RV built using standard materials.

Water leaks and the resulting wood rot are the primary causes of RV damage. When wood components, like roof decking or wall backers, are removed and replaced by EC (a completely waterproof material), it reduces the chance that leaks around windows or rooftop components can lead to expensive repairs later on. Chalk up another one for investment value.

We toured a SatelLite at George M. Sutton RV in Eugene, Ore., and salesman Terry Thiesfeld explained the features of the nearly 30-foot SatelLite model 299RB, one of five SatelLite models.

Other than some cabinet framing, there is very little wood used to build the SatelLite. Its roof, walls and floor all feature aluminum frames with polystyrene insulation and vacuum-laminated assembly techniques – but that’s where the similarity to other RVs ends.

The 299RB weighs about 5,100 pounds dry, which is pretty remarkable for a rig that’s just under 30 feet long. The usual EPDM rubber, fiberglass or aluminum roof skin is replaced by EC with no wood underlayment, and the interior ceiling is likewise EC.

RV users should experience minimal maintenance chores with the EC roof, which the manufacturer claims it’s 100-percent UV stable. This should result in no sidewall-staining chalking or black streaking, as can happen with other materials.

Not only is the EC roof UV-resistant, it’s also a single sheet of material so there are no seams to leak. All of the EC in this rig comes from a large roll of material so any component using the EC is seamless, which adds considerable strength – that’s a good idea for a product that sees rugged uses common to RV activities.

An exterior skin of extra-smooth gelcoat fiberglass with a Kevlar-like backing material is laminated to a layer of EC that in turn is adhered to the wall framing. A different composite material with a decorative finish covers the interior wall surfaces.

Due to the concentrated stress of occupants walking inside, a layer of thin lauan plywood is used as a backer for the EC on the floor. This is topped with decorative vinyl flooring. EC is also used on the lower floor frame surface as an underbelly. Not only is the EC waterproof, as are the other materials used for RV underbelly skins, it’s also a structural component, a strong material choice for this application.

Many pieces of interior woodwork, including the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and the trim around the slideout room, are plastic moldings instead of wood. The moldings are much lighter than wood and very durable in addition to looking classy.

This type of construction doesn’t come cheap – the 299RB we toured was stickered at $37,052. That price includes almost no options, as the trailer comes with a long list of standard equipment, including the 27-inch LCD TV, custom aluminum wheels, stabilizer jacks, dark-tinted safety glass, a glass-top range, blackwater tank flush system and other features.

Its floorplan is popular with travel trailer buyers and features a forward island queen bed, aft-end bath, streetside slideout with the kitchen and sofa/bed and a large curbside U-shaped dinette.

Its 5,100-pounds mean the SatelLite can be safely towed by a wide range of half-ton-rated pickups or medium-sized SUVs, meaning many families are already set with a tow vehicle.

As designers become more familiar with the materials, the use of composites is growing among RV manufacturers. The SatelLite is a good early example of what the next generation of RVs may bring.

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5 Responses to “Komfort SatelLite Pioneers Eco Composite Material”

  1. Lori Douglas on April 26th, 2010 12:46 pm

    I would like to hear from someone who has purchased this trailer. How do you like it? Have you had any problems with it?

  2. richard h salter on May 16th, 2010 11:59 pm

    the tariler is easy to pull nice looking do not have a problem with black streaking, a little concerned with the cable system that moves the slideout , so far so good , had problems with the formica seperating, Komfort took care of it the lanoming(floor) bubbleing in spots,They also took care of that, had alot of people marveling at camp grounds.Don’t like Komforts 90 day garantee on sealed parts bought the trailer durring a dry spell bu the time it started raining the gauantee was up hope you can read this spelling not good.they could of used better compartment doors.

  3. E. Pepin on May 24th, 2010 8:19 pm

    I have had my 2010 Komfort Satellite 299RB for about 9 months now and just got back from an extensive road trip that definitely put the new model to the test. I have been compiling notes and so far I have to say I am pretty much in love with it minus a few exceptions. I recently dropped it off at the Komfort Corporation for some warranty work and I am anxiously awaiting its return.

    I agree with the post regarding the outdoor compartment doors. All of mine leaked; Keep in mind much of this trailer is new innovative ideas / concepts. The original doors were made of a heavy black polymer which looked and felt fantastic. But just sucked when it comes right down to it, Mine are all being replaced with tried and true color matched fiber glass doors under warranty and I was pleased that Komfort has stepped up to the matt so far with all of my concerns and is taking care of them, pleasant change compared to previous manufactures I have experienced.

    I can’t say I have seen any problems with my floor, in fact I love my floors! I did have the typical leaky hose, and miscellaneous adjustments but nothing unusual for a new trailer. As for the pully / cable on the slide, I to was worried about it, but its seems bullet proof so far. One thing that did frustrate me a bit was the heating system seemed weak in two of three outlets but I am told they have fixed it now.

    I recently was looking at new trailers helping some friends looking and noticed the new resorts, without a doubt they are based heavily off of the 2010 Komfort Satellite 299RB. That’s a whole other topic to write about as I gave it a good look over and I am excited to see what they are doing with this promising line. One of the things that I have had mixed emotions on is the roof on the 299RB most people don’t know this but it’s somewhat transparent. When the sun is out you can see slightly illuminated square’s through it that are an orange / tan color. Initially this drove me nuts but after a few weeks I got used to it and started to like it. The roof is not a standard rubber roof and its 100% UV protected. Rather than the standard 4 year warranty that comes with rubber roofs this has a 12 year warranty! That is amazing. I also have pros and cons regarding the two roof types and noticed that the new resorts have a rubber roof.

    I have owned 3 trailers and a fifth wheel and can say without a doubt the Komfort is the best. I am awaiting for the return of my trailer and will post my total detailed road trip analysis / experience when I get it. Ithink the new Resort owners will be interested in what I have to say.
    E. Pepin

  4. J. Talcott on October 5th, 2010 2:27 am

    We are buying this trailer … should be picking it up this week. Will keep you posted!!! :)

  5. Marty on January 23rd, 2011 5:29 pm

    We purchased our 299RB in September 2009 and while we have used it less than a dozen times we love it. It tows like a charm and is easy to maintain. Wife loves the large bathroom. The rotating flat screen TV the can face either the living area or bedroom is really nice. Heater works great and so does the AC. It certainly gets lots of looks and good comments from others. The only cons so far are the need for a fan/skylight over the cooking area (we may add that this year) and the lack of a rear bumper which makes hauling bicycles a bit of a challenge.