Introducing America’s first truck camper with the N3141 refrigerator from Thetford Europe, and two standard 6-volt AGM batteries. Oh, and there’s something about a half-ton model, and slide-outs.
Let’s announce the big news up front. The Cirrus 920 is not merely a long bed 820. If you’ve seen some of the earlier prototypes of the 920, you haven’t actually seen the 920. While the unit is based on the forward-thinking 820 that precedes it, the production version of the 2018 Cirrus 920 takes things to an entirely new level.
All of this came as a complete shock to us. We had prepared our interview questions based on the understanding that the 920 was a stretched 820 and called Scott Hubble, CEO, and Allen Miller, Director of Research and Development for nuCamp.
As the interview unfolded, Scott and Allen casually mentioned the N3141 refrigerator from Thetford Europe and two standard 6-volt AGM batteries.
After throwing the proverbial papers in the air, we immediately shifted our line of questions. It’s not every day that we get news of industry firsts – and we wanted details.
The surprise announcements kept rolling; all-new in-house cabinetry, more European appliances, a built-in generator option, a really slick slide-out pantry, and much more. It’s as if Scott and Allen knew we were all just expecting a longer 820 and decided to have some fun blowing away our expectations.
Scott concludes the interview by teasing a half-ton Cirrus model to debut later this year, and gives the world’s biggest hint that slide-out Cirrus campers are in the future. Hang on to your hats truck camper fans, Cirrus has some news to break.
2018 Cirrus 920 Specifications:
The Cirrus 920 is a hard side, non-slide, wet bath truck camper for long bed trucks. The interior floor length of the Cirrus 920 is 10’1″ and the interior height is 6’5″. Cirrus is reporting the base dry weight of the Cirrus 920 at 2,905 pounds. It has a 38 gallon fresh water tank, a 32 gallon grey tank, and an 18 gallon black tank. The 920 accommodates two AGM batteries and two twenty-pound propane tanks. The base price MSRP for the Cirrus 920 is $38,467.
TCM: A prototype Cirrus 920 debuted at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky last December. Is the production Cirrus 920 different than that prototype?
Scott: The difference between that initial prototype and the production Cirrus 920 is night and day. The Louisville prototype 920 was really just a demonstration that we were developing a long bed truck camper for 2017.
TCM: So the 920 isn’t simply a stretched 820. What exactly has changed?
Scott: A lot has changed. For starters, the Louisville prototype 920 had Italian cabinetry. For the production 920, we have brought our cabinetry in-house. At first glance you might think it’s the same Italian cabinetry from the 820, but now it’s made right here in Ohio.
Above: All of the cabinetry for the Cirrus 920 is built in-house
TCM: Italian cabinetry was one of the calling cards of the Cirrus 800 and 820. Why are you changing the cabinetry for the 920?
Scott: The Italian cabinetry is truly excellent, but we had to lock-in the design and order the cabinets from Italy six months in advance. By bringing the 920 cabinetry production in-house, we can be much more responsive to consumer and dealer feedback, make changes quickly, and have better control over quality.
Our team of Amish craftsmen have been manufacturing cabinetry for our T@B teardrop trailers for years. The in-house cabinetry at nuCamp is anything but a step back in quality. When our dealers and customers see the new cabinets in person, we are confident they will be very impressed.
Allen: The in-house cabinetry has a more finished look and feel. The quality is as high or higher than the Italian cabinets. And we’re about to buy another CNC machine to further improve our in-house cabinetry quality and capacity.
TCM: How do the new in-house cabinets compare to the Italian cabinets for weight?
Scott: Our in-house cabinets weigh a little more. However, by bringing the cabinetry production in-house, we are able to push forward with design, material, and process improvements to bring that weight down. That effort is ongoing for all nuCamp products.
Allen: Currently we are using a Columbian Core ply which is not as advantageous for weight savings. So, as of now, our cabinets are a little heavier, but we’re constantly working on new processes and with new materials that will make them lighter.
TCM: Have you made changes to the cabinetry design?
Allen: We have made extensive cabinetry changes since the 920 prototype. The production 920 now has a slide-out pantry behind the refrigerator. The pantry features netting so canned goods won’t fall out. The top of the pantry is accessible from either the cabover or the kitchen. It’s another unique feature of the 920.
We also added drawers in the kitchen and dinette area. The additional kitchen cabinetry is also really nice.
Scott: On the passenger’s side, we added a deep storage area between the dinette and the bathroom. We also repositioned the television from the cabover to this area. The television is now a 24-inch model. For a camper this size, it’s a very nice television.
In the dinette, Cirrus 920 customers now have the choice between a full-size table and the smaller but highly versatile Lagun table system (shown above), which features a 20-inch by 25-inch surface area.
TCM: In 2015, nuCamp rocked the truck camper marketplace with the introduction of the Alde Compact 3010 hydronic heating system. Now it appears that you’re going to rock the marketplace again with an all-new refrigerator.
Allen: For the Cirrus 920, we have installed a Thetford N3141. The N3141 is a slimline, 5 cubic foot, three-way, absorption refrigerator and freezer.
NuCamp is the first company in the United States to actually use this refrigerator. It is currently used a lot in Europe, and Thetford has it certified for the US market. You won’t see this Thetford in any other RVs at the moment.
The pull-out drawer at the bottom is not a freezer. It is actually part of the refrigerator. The freezer is in the upper portion with .5 cubic foot of storage.
Above: Thetford’s video showcasing the N3141 refrigerator
TCM: What is so compelling about the Thetford N3141 that you decided to change from the 5-cubic foot refrigerator in the 820?
Scott: First and foremost, the design of of the N3141 was very appealing. By virtually running from floor to ceiling, the new refrigerator provided space for valuable features including a new slide-out pantry and increased kitchen counter space.
The N3141 was designed to offer the most volume with the least amount of required interior space. It was also optimized to provide the best storage organization including a pull-out bottle drawer and clever storage bins.
Being a three-way model, one can choose to operate the refrigerator on AC, DC or LP. What makes the N3141 great is the automatic power source feature. This means the refrigerator will flip over to a different power source on its own.
TCM: You also changed the standard battery bank to two 6-volt AGMs for the 920.
Allen: Yes, we did. For the 920, two Discovery brand 6-volt AGM batteries with 220-amp hours are standard.
TCM: Why 6-volt AGMs and not two 12-volt Group-27 or Group-31 AGMs?
Scott: Ed Kauffman in Research and Development did a battery investigation based on the footprint of the Cirrus 920 camper. With his research, we studied the pros and cons between 6-volt and 12-volt battery options and decided on 6-volt batteries for the 920.
Allen: Two 6-volt batteries offered the best amp hours with less weight and cost compared to 12-volt batteries. Those were the deciding factors.
TCM: Are Cirrus 920 owners limited to 6-volt batteries?
Scott: No, they are not limited to 6-volt batteries if that’s not their preference.
Cirrus 920 customers can delete the 6-volt batteries and put in their own 12-volt AGM batteries if they prefer. Presently, the 920 battery compartment is 14 3/4” x 13 3/4” x 10 ½” but we are looking to make it a little larger. You can fit fairly large 12-volt AGM batteries in that compartment.
TCM: Do the batteries in the 920 need to be AGM?
Scott: Yes, they need to be sealed AGM batteries since the compartment is on the interior of the camper.
TCM: Tell us about the new two-burner cooktop and oven.
Allen: The cooktop is another Thetford product made in Europe. We evaluated the equivalent Atwood unit, but found it lacking in quality and safety features compared to the Thetford. The Thetford is a much higher quality range.
The optional oven is also a Thetford product and it mounts to the cooktop. If a customer doesn’t order the optional oven, they get two large pull-out drawers under the cooktop. These drawers are big enough for pots and pans.
TCM: It appears the microwave in the 920 has also changed from the 820.
Scott: We originally used the same Samsung microwave found in the 820. However, with dealer and consumer feedback, we took out the standard microwave and changed it to a HighPoint 1.1 cubic foot convection microwave. Some customers also want a real oven, so we offer both.
TCM: What material is the new kitchen backsplash?
Allen: It’s a metal-brushed, stainless applied tile. It’s got a substrate behind it. It is laid with the brush marks going vertical and horizontal giving it a nice aesthetic look.
Above: Note the LED chandelier with backlighting on the ceiling
TCM: The centrally located multi-LED ceiling light is another interesting touch.
Allen: We wanted to incorporate more lights in the 920 so we designed an LED chandelier. It features LED backlighting adding yet another light source.
Above: The storage compartment is an addition from the 820’s wet bath design
TCM: Compared to the 820, are there any changes to the 920’s wet bath?
Allen: Very little has changed. It’s the same size and has the same features as the 820. The biggest thing in the 920 wet bath design is that there is additional storage to the left of the fold down sink for toiletries, dry towels, and/or cleaning products. Everything else is the same.
TCM: One of the stand out features of the new 920 that was missing from the 820 is the option for a built-in generator. Which generator did you select for the 920?
Scott: We talked at length with our dealers and customers and were advised that the Cummins Onan QG 2500 LP was the way to go for a built-in generator. It’s the most reliable and highest quality built-in generator for a truck camper.
Cirrus owners can also use a portable Honda eu2000i to power the air conditioner, microwave, 110 appliances – and charge the batteries. The built-in Onan is more convenient, but the Honda is quieter and more versatile. Cirrus 920 customers have two good generator options.
TCM: Are there any significant changes to the exterior compared to the 820?
Allen: The only other important difference on the exterior is the addition of a slide-out tray for the propane tanks. The original Cirrus 800 only had one 20-pound vertical propane tank. For the 820, we increased that to two 20-pound propane tanks. When we designed the 920, we had enough room in the propane compartment for a slide-out tray.
Above: The Cirrus 920 is wood-free, all-aluminum and composite, and fully laminated
TCM: Have there been any changes to the wood-free, all-aluminum and composite, fully laminated structure of Cirrus truck campers?
Scott: While we have refined every aspect of the manufacturing process since introducing the Cirrus line, there have been no changes to the core construction.
The Cirrus structure has been wood-free, all-aluminum and composite, and fully laminated since day one. The side walls, insulated windows, and aluminum roof are all the same.
The rear bumper is also the same from the 820 model. We are working on a new entry door, but that’s still months away from introduction.
Above: The Cirrus 920 has an Alde heating system
TCM: Are there any changes to the holding tank sizes for the 920?
Scott: The holding tanks are the same sizes; 38 fresh, 32 grey, and 18 black. We believe these capacities are a good balance for both the 820 and 920 models.
Allen: The additional basement space in the 920 allows better flow for the Alde’s heating components. And we still have the removable underbelly panels for maintenance access.
Above: The rear awning, Maggie rack, and rear back-up camera are all options for the Cirrus 920
TCM: Are there any new options that are available for the 2018 Cirrus 920?
Scott: You start with the same options as the 820; a rear awning, Maggie rack, rear camera, 160-watt solar kit, swing out brackets, pass-through window, and the bunk mattress.
The 920 adds four additional options; Thetford oven, Onan generator, Lagun table, and a second television in the cabover. As a long bed model, dually extension brackets are also optional.
TCM: The Cirrus 820 has a floor length of 8’6”. What is the floor length of the 920?
Scott: The Cirrus 920 floor length is 10’1”. That’s 19-inches longer than the 820.
TCM: How was that length determined?
Allen: To properly fit long bed trucks and allow for the built-in generator option, the 920 needed to be about a foot and a half longer. At 10’1”, the 920 is also perfect for towing applications.
TCM: Is the interior height and rear overhang length the same as the 820?
TCM: What is the dry weight of the 2018 Cirrus 920 with standard build features?
Scott: The Cirrus 920 is 2,905 pounds without any options.
Keep in mind that the standard feature list for both the Cirrus 820 and Cirrus 920 is extensive. The Cirrus 920 comes standard with a Fiamma motorized awning and ladder, electric jacks, keyless entry, air conditioner, Alde central heat and hot water system, Froli bed support system, HighPoint convection microwave oven, overhead bunk, HDTV television, entertainment center, Sensar IV HD antenna, and SeeLevel holding tank gauges.
Allen: We added an additional Fantastic Fan on the 920. That is also standard.
TCM: Where is the center of gravity on the 2018 Cirrus 920?
Scott: The center of gravity on the 920 is 43-inches from the front wall.
TCM: Is the center of gravity marked on the side of the camper?
Scott: Yes, it is.
TCM: What is the MSRP for the 2018 Cirrus 920 with standard build features?
Scott: $38,467 is the base price of the Cirrus 920. If you want a Cirrus 920 with all available options, it is $47,282. This includes all the Cirrus 820 options as well as the Onan generator, oven, and second television.
TCM: What is the warranty for the 2018 Cirrus 920?
Scott: The warranty is one year on everything. The individual components like the stove, oven, and refrigerator have their own warranties.
TCM: When will the 2018 Cirrus 920 be available?
Scott: Production units will be arriving at Cirrus dealerships starting in July 2017.
TCM: Now that Cirrus has a short bed and a long bed hard-side, non-slide truck camper, should we expecting further expansion of the Cirrus truck camper line? Maybe a slide-out model?
Scott: The first thing we’re going to do is embark on a half-ton Cirrus model. The second thing will be to look at a slide-out model.
We are fortunate to have a corporate partner who holds patents for slide-out mechanisms. In fact, his slide-out systems are being used in the RV industry now. With his involvement, we will have a huge leg-up when we launch into slide-out models.
TCM: You just got a lot of people very excited. When might we see a slide-out Cirrus truck camper?
Scott: We will be exploring a slide-out truck camper model for next calendar year.
TCM: Late in 2016, nuCamp significantly expanded its manufacturing plant and moved the Cirrus truck camper production line to the new addition. What has the new plant and production line meant for Cirrus truck campers?
Scott: It’s essentially done! We’re crossing T-s and dotting I’s with things like exterior sidewalks and grass, but everything is completed inside the plant. We’re feeling really good about the expansion.