• Charge Controller/Inverter-Charger/Monitor Brands
    P.S. I should have offered this fresh video from Jared Gillis, as he discusses in some detail the discharge and charge temp limits for Battleborn batteries. Jared has a number of videos on monitors, RV electrical systems and such. He's also a professional installer of these systems.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfyFXrpwfrk

    Jack
  • Charge Controller/Inverter-Charger/Monitor Brands
    Ed, let me first praise Logan's observations. Many YT channels are being monetized by full-timers who support high computer use and, for them, perhaps a big investment is warranted. Even our good buddy and mentor here, Ray, falls into that category. But do appraise your own needs thoughtfully as what appears to be 'the best' or a 'norm' is simply not needed by most of us. And as one example, we lived for most of 11 years on the hook and off the grid while cruising our sailboat, and while we had a more sophisticated monitor/charger/inverter system than one sees today in RV's, the *only* source of our electricity - just as with all RVs who are away from RV parks - was a house bank, specifically as group of simple wet cell Trojan T-105's. So far we have camped down to single digit (F) temps with our wet cells (note the temp charging limits on Lithium batteries), rarely use our EU2200 because of 290W of solar (small by YT channel standards) and have yet to dip below 85%. Almost every RV has a vented battery compartment (and so exposed to outside temps), so "just" swapping out the batteries can become a "relocating" the batteries and wiring. Never going to be in cold country? If you're buying an RV, it would be a shame to exclude the wanderlust that comes with it. ;)

    Greg is spot-on about the depth and cleverness of the Victron product line. I installed their 712 bluetooth monitor and a Victron controller for the portable panel(s), and really appreciate using the iPhone to observe all the panels' performance. (With this capability, you can ignore how to run the data wire and where to mount the display, which can be an install hassle). However, I don't find Victron (the company) all that easy to work with when seeking info beyond the manuals (which are excellent) so a knowledgeable U.S. reseller might be a good idea vs. Amazon et al.. I also viewed a YT video just a few days ago that featured a very disappointed Victron controller owner who, when switching to Lithium batteries, found them incompatible, so double check that.

    Good luck to you. Just remember that, when it comes to electrical systems, it isn't about a 'best' choice but rather a 'most suitable' one.
  • My new to me home
    Steve, congratulations...on not just the Montana but also the decision in favor of transition & travel. Buying the boat or RV for adventure travel is always much easier than making the leap. How about sharing a few of your improvement projects with us, once they've been completed. I'm sure a lot of us would appreciate hearing how you decided on the details of the mods you will have made. Best wishes!
    Jack Tyler, Bozeman MT
  • Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ
    Appreciate the comments about not having an advance reservation, Ray. Hope to stop there in late March while visiting friends in Mesa, but won't know that timing until a day or three before. Have been told it's a great stop, so here's hoping we won't end up in the parking lot (aka: overflow). Have a great holiday together and best wishes to Ann for a fulfilling 2020.
  • Snow Day! Wind Turbines, Mojave, CA
    That scene struck us a especially stunning when we passed thru this area in October. The U.S. could use many more of these, as well.
  • Exterior Protectorant on New Trailer
    Tim, we too just got a new trailer this year (January....Brrrr!) and my main motivation was not just keeping it clean (lots of blowing dirt here in Montana) but also making it easier to 'de-bug' after a trip. I tried 303 (recommended on the Lance forum) with the same ho-hum results I got when using it sailing. One of my favorite 'RV coaches' is Jared Gillis, who has the All About RV youtube channel. He recommend a new'ish product from Turtlewax - Ice - because of comments he'd been getting about it. Sounded too good to be true but I bought a spray bottle to give it a try. I applied it to the entire carcass of the trailer (only took ~30 mins). We just got back from 2 weeks and 2200 miles around the Southwest and the trailer came back a mess. Some Dawn in a bucket, a soft bristle brush, about 45 mins of squirting, scrubbing and rinsing and the whole trailer was spotless. A total of 4 bugs had to be removed with a doughboy as all the rest of them were released by the Ice and some easy scrubbing. So FWIW I think it's a winner. (If you want to hear Jared's experience, you can find it at about the 4 min. mark here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPZXba-Q8B8 )

    Jack
    Bozeman MT
    Lance 1995
  • Getting Inexpensive Data while visiting Canada
    My thanks to everyone for continuing to beat the bushes on this topic.

    I was coming to the conclusion that, since our stays in Canada would only be a few weeks each time and no more than once or twice per year, the best option is t just suffer with the high data charges that are tacked onto our USA Verizon plan. BUT...we then downloaded a very few web pages the first day we had cell service after crossing the border and were immediately hit with a warning from Verizon we'd racked up $50 in additional charges. Hard to imagine how that happened given the tiny use we made of the internet, but it was a taste of reality. Off to Tim Horton's and wifi!

    InReach is a great service - we pilots love it for "what if" reasons - but it meets other needs. Looked at Google Fi and need to better understand how that would fit for our interim and occasional needs. Very much appreciate the dialogue!

    Jack
  • Getting Inexpensive Data while visiting Canada
    Someone on another forum just sent me this reply to my Q. Perhaps some of you might be able to comment on it?

    "We just signed up for the amazing AT&T pre-paid deal which gives you unlimited texts, unlimited phone calls and 8 GB per month per phone for $25 a month per phone, if you pay a year in advance. Data coverage is for both Mexico and Canada. You can get the same deal paying monthly for $40 with Autopay set up. Otherwise it's $50. Oh, and hot-spots (tethering) are permitted for all of the data."

    Jack
  • How to back up a trailer MADE SIMPLE
    A slight modification to Loraine's description - favoring the road side with the open space to be backed into - is referred to by some as the Scoop. Here's a simple video on using the Scoop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLtfrBWzNCw We're new to towing and we've found the Scoop very helpful. As for 'stress', as I look at it that's a choice and not a preordained consequence. But I gained that understanding only after struggling for a year when maneuvering our 42' ketch in small marina fairways usually with wind and some current, while cruising. I'm not yet proficient in backing our 24' trailer but that hardly means I have to get worked up about it. The old saying: 'Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.'

    Jack
  • Shunt Location
    Travis, looks like you're getting lots of good advice. Here's one other (different) suggestion: Be sure to consider possible future DC loads and charging sources - where they might be located and the negative wire run needed to reach the 'load' side of the shunt - before you finalize the location of the shunt. E.g. if you plan to enclose the shunt, allow for 'growth' at a later date. If a later added solar panel will be coming into the front bay from the passenger's side or you want to add an externally accessed connector e.g. to run a water pump on the driver's side, consider how that might affect the orientation of the shunt. Ray's block diagram is indeed a helpful (and for most of us, coveted) reference to have on hand. But I've found that it's when you start wrangling with wire, breakers, fuses and gaining the access you need to work them all - both now and in the future - that DC wiring can become a lot more challenging that one would think. Good luck with the project!

    Jack
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
    Goodson, I don't know how much panel 'real estate' you have up front, and so how helpful it would be to use one of the systems with a well-developed app that can display everything on your cell phone. I know that would be my preference. If you haven't already viewed it, I'd suggest you watch Jared Gillis' new All About RVs video on the product choice he made (a Tire Minder system).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXBzXAGkBnY
    Good luck on your decision and install.

    Jack
  • Prescott National Forest Closures
    The area being closed is apparently not in the Sedona area but rather the stretch along Hwy 260, predominantly between Camp Verde and Cottonwood. Here is a local county interview done with two of the PNF Rangers describing the circumstances: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzl4tZ6OwJE

    The dates of the closure are from this past January until Jan 7th, 2021 as detailed here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/prescott/alerts-notices/?aid=50683 Still...lots of camping options remain in the PNF: https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/prescott/recreation/camping-cabins
  • Stop slide room topper flapping
    Steve (Colibabas), thanks for posting this! We intentionally ordered our Lance without a slide topper for just that (flapping) reason, only to have it arrive with one (but no solar panel we ordered, so there you go!) I've heard the 'flapping' report from others and was hoping to avoid it...so your clever dodge at least mitigates things for a while. Full-timing can be the ultimate test of these things, so for many of us these tweaks (which we tend to hear more about from full-timers, I notice) are probably not 'essential'. OTOH you're helping me anticipate what is down the same alley you've already traveled, so I surely do appreciate the post. (Seems like a wee bit of bunny cord in the tie-down line would be helpful).

    Best wishes,

    Jack in Bozeman MT, which is taking F-A-R too long to turn into a true 'Spring' this year!
  • Northern Alberta
    RVsolar that is more motivating than 10 ‘RV Travel’ YouTube videos. Simply extraordinary. Where in N AB? Many thanks.
  • DC compressor refrigerator
    Gordy, we've had experience with several 12V refrigeration systems in past "RV's" (sailboats which we lived on for years at a time), including a component system made by NovaKool. Offering summary comments about the practicality of 12V refrigeration for an RV is difficult as a unit's performance is dependent on many variables including box size, whether you're trying to include a freezer section (which usually requires a holding plate), amount of insulation, ventilation of the compressor unit and, not the least important factor, whether the unit offers a water cooling option using a loop to/from the water tank. I can assure you the more battery charging sources you have, the better. A careful energy management study, with multiple 'what ifs' considered, would I think be essential. Personally, I think having the absorption refrigeration option is liberating in that it makes refrigeration available with a lesser penalty of 12V energy management and avoids the weight & expense of the additional electrical support a 12V system requires. But there are advantages with a 12V system, as well. It should be less trouble prone mechanically, and it doesn't care how level your RV is. Another advantage is that small, well engineered 12V units are available off the shelf with a well balanced blend of box size, cooling capacity and insulation. But we're talking shoe box refrigeration choices when compared to the typical RV refrigerator in most travel trailers and campers. As for the 'dorm refrigerator' products (like one shown in the NK webpage you linked), they will be energy hogs and ill-suited for an RV unless it is permanently connected to 120V AC.

    So if your refrigeration needs are modest (and exclude a freezer section), you are adept at designing and building up ayour own top-loading box (which I had success with after some research) that fits the space your RV has to offer, and your RV has more than the typical 2 x 12V 100AH batteries plus multiple charging methods, then it could be a viable (if somewhat expensive) option. OTOH I don't think the effort and expense is remotely warranted if you're just trying to avoid turning the LPG on & off when driving.

    Hope that's of some help. Good luck with the research and best wishes,

    Jack
    Bozeman MT
  • Micro-Air Easy Start
    Nicely done, Greg. Thank you.

    I've now seen many reports on the Micro-Air product and I notice almost all of them tend to talk about the device making it possible to start an A/C unit with a generator when it was not previously possible, as tho' a single test tells the tale. It's not very common to read an acknowledgment that the generator engine's power is a function of where it's used, which turns out to be pretty relevant as we all travel around the country. An example: We're making a reservation in Idaho Falls right now for this coming August. It will most likely be in the 80's at that time of year (or ~30C) when the A/C is desired, and the campground's elevation is ~5700'. For those of you familiar with flying, you'll quickly recognize the problem here: a density altitude, due to that altitude and temperature, that will subtract substantial horsepower from the generator's engine. Given an approximate horsepower loss of 3% per 1000' DA, that Idaho Falls location will have an elevation the generator's engine see of ~8600' DA which will remove about 25% of the generator engine's 'oomph'. That's a lot!

    Just thought I'd toss this into the discussion so we all remember this important if inconvenient detail.
  • Back home now the work begins
    RV, your 'status report' reminds me of the definition we used when long-distance sailing: Cruising is fixing a boat in exotic locations.
  • Recent upgrades
    Logan, we are kindred souls. We also are new RV'ers...and like you, have taken a brand new Lance trailer we supposedly liked enough to purchase and then began modifying it from Day 1! EMS install? Check. Anderson 'levelers'? Check. Endurance tires? Fortunately in our case, they were standard. And due primarily to boondocking aspirations, it went further. A cell booster with a 'roaming' interior antenna. A not big/not small inverter that makes the electric mixer available for blueberry muffins. Shelving where big open lockers yearned to hold lots of individual items. We 'newbies' really have to contain ourselves!

    The challenge of course - for those of us new to RV'ing - is which purchasing decisions to make from the infinite number of choices beckoning to us. Similarly, another puzzle is how to install each new 'system' so it's operationally functional...even tho' we lack 'operational' experience. To say there is a wide mix of opinion out there in Internet Land about each of these decisions is an understatement. Fortunately, there are two antidotes to being overwhelmed by all this. The first is the monetized internet which allows needy souls like us to find savvy, helpful tutors like Ray and others. Blogs, newsletters, websites, YouTube channels, special subscriptions - we certainly don't lack for advice! And the second is access to each other (such as here), since stumbling down the same trail together makes the journey, at the least, more entertaining. So here's hoping your first year is fulfilling, that the lessons learned aren't too severe, and that we share a campfire at some point down the trail to share our experiences.

    Jack
    Bozeman MT
  • RV Extended Warranty Pros and Cons
    I can understand someone having a personal preference to generally avoid extended warranty offers, as obviously each policy's carrier makes a profit over that combined policy holder group. Still, an RV is a unique product - a 'system of systems', some of which new owners know little about, assembled in part or in whole by manual labor in high-paced production facilities. It isn't a Toyota or a new air conditioner. IMO Greg's suggestion to look at your own skills and tools, comparing them to the RV you are considering, should be a major consideration. Also, like Ray, our lack of RV experience means we're not sure if we'll keep the trailer for a long period, so we thought a transferable policy would be an incentive to a buyer if we chose not to keep the trailer.

    We opted for the extended warranty when buying a new trailer simply because it had no cancellation penalty for the first 60 days, we hadn't researched them prior to the purchase (so good for you to be doing so!) and thus there was no downside to buying the 'new trailer' policy. (Our policy cost was $2,100 for Years 2 thru 7). The main positive for our policy was that it was a 'full coverage minus exclusions' policy, meaning the policy language had to specify what was NOT covered and, otherwise, everything was presumed by the policy language to be covered. This is the preferred language as, except for those stated exclusions, you aren't arguing at a later date doubt coverage you *thought* you had purchased.

    FWIW in the end, I requested and received the refund. This is our first RV but not our first rodeo, if you know what I mean. There already have been two minor issues that were simply easier for me to fix than to haul the trailer to the dealer and leave it for two weeks. And I'm already adding systems on my own, which I'm willing to assume responsibility for. And also relevant: We're willing to research a problem when possible as we hate to be hostage to unexpected circumstances and vendor backlogs, even if we won't be able to fix everything that eventually fails. So did we make the right decision for us? We'll have to wait and see. Good luck on your own research and let us know what you ended up deciding and why.

    Jack
  • Plumbing a Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater into your RV propane system
    Completely agree, Randy. It's about the utility of feeding the heater off the main RV supply. Selling the idea because it's "safer" isn't IMO a compelling argument.