Monday, April 10, 2017

Do RVers Really Need A Power Management System?

I see that question all the time on Facebook and most of the Blogs that I read.  For the simple, easy, straightforward answer, YES you do.  There are so many factors involved here that I can not possibility cover them all in a single post but, I would like to cover the basics so that you can better understand why you need a Power Management system of some kind.

1. You need to know what the AC (Shore Power) voltage is inside your rig.  This is the power that indirectly powers lights, water heater, microwave, furnace, charger for the 12-volt battery system, etc.  If the voltage gets below 102 volts and should stay there for a few minutes it would be possible to sustain approximately $1200 of damage or more.

So what do you need?  You will need an AC Line Voltage Monitor.  The unit shown below is plugged into an AC wall outlet that you can see and will monitor what the line voltage is.  If it should go below 105 volts you need to unplug your rig from the outside power pedestal until the voltage goes back to normal.
AC Line Voltage Monitor
So how do you know when the outside power pedestal is back to normal.  You plug the Voltage Monitor into the 125 volts two pin socket in the power pedestal and see what the monitor reads.  It should read 110 volts or higher up to 125 volts.  The same caution goes for over voltage.  You should unplug the rig from the power pedestal if your Voltage Monitor begins to read over 122 Volts.  Plug the Voltage Monitor into the power pedestal and watch for the voltage to drop to below 122 Volts.
Could this monitoring of the voltage be done for less money?  Yes, by using a cheap Digital Volt Meter  pictured below;
 Digital Volt Meter  

Harbor Freight offten offers a cheap digital volt meter for free, with coupon.  Watch their ads and take advantage of the offer.  You could plug the test leads that come with the meter into the meter and then the other ends of the test leads into the slots on the AC wall socket. (Caution do not leave unattended) Or  you could make up a cord from a 6 foot extension cord and the test leads that come with the meter.  See below for an example.
AC Cord With Test Meter Leads

2. Next is  The Polarity Tester .  This is used to be sure that the Neutral wire of the power line is not reversed with the positive lead of the power line.  If that were to happen you could have what is called a hot-skin condition.  Meaning that if you had an aluminum skinned rig you could receive quite a shock from your rig.
 The Polarity Tester
The Polarity Tester can also tell you if the Earth Ground (the bare copper wire) is hooked up properly.  
The Earth Ground is a separate conductor which may seem to be doing nothing but, is, in fact, a protective wire. It is there, ready to take the current away to earth ground, from the body or frame of the electrical device it is connected to, makes contact with any "hot" wire. [the 120 volts mains power is carried in two current carrying conductors called "hot" and "neutral".] 
So, IF one of the "hot" conductors should contact the metal frame of the rig, or housing of an appliance, perhaps because the appliance got damaged by being dropped from a table, or similar accident,  the third wire which is the earth ground wire, which runs directly from the housing to the grounding [or earth ground bus] in the fuse or breaker panel, will in effect cause a short circuit which should blow the fuse or trip the breaker. 
This third wire also guarantees a current path back to the electrical panel where the fuse or circuit breaker protecting that circuit is located, in the event that the hot wire should come in contact with the rig's frame, but the neutral conductor should happen to have been cut or damage and become disconnected, or open. 
The idea is to guarantee that if a part of the rig, device or appliance should become "hot," which could be fatal to anyone who then came into contact with it. That the earth ground would trip/open the circuit protection device [fuse or breaker], and turn off the flow of AC current. 

To help further in checking for unwanted or wanted electricity a good investment is the, Voltage Sensor which is shown below;
 Voltage Sensor
With this probe, you do not need to touch the power line to tell if there is voltage present.  You can use this probe to find power lines behind the wall or under the floor of the Rig as well as the towing vehicle.

3.  Often times you want to know or need to know how much power something uses, especially if you keep popping a breaker or the power pedestal. The solution is Kill-A-Watt .  The unit shown below can be used to show how much power an appliance, tool or piece of electronics is using.
4. Next, let's look at surge protectors for the various pieces of equipment in your Rig.  Surge Protectors protect only what is plugged into them and only for over-voltage surges.  Surge Protectors do not protect for under voltage or high voltages.  Shown below is a pair of good simple surge protectors;
Surge Protectors
There are Appliance Surge Protectors made just for appliances like microwave and coffee makers

AC refrigerators, freezers
Refrigerator/Freezer Surge Protector

These special surge protectors offer extra features like audible alarms, flashing lights, displays, etc and are to be used with just the items listed on the packaging for the one you would buy.

5.  Next is a group of power management items that will protect your entire Rig not just one item or several items in it. First is the Portable Power Management System This type of system looks at High and Low voltage protection, a time delay for air conditioning compressor start up, 3-mode surge protection, reverse polarity protection, open neutral protection, open ground protection, AC frequency protection accidental 220 Volt protection. Includes an Integrated information panel, previous error code display is weather resistant and has a built-in locking bracket so it can be chained to the power pedestal at the campground to prevent theft.  The only thing this unit can not do is flush the black water tank.  The miracle unit we are talking about is shown below.
30 Amp Portable Power Management System
These portable units come in two sizes the one above 30 amp and the one shown below 50 amp.
50 Amp Portable Power Management System
Let's say you were involved in a lightning caused power surge at a campground.  It is estimated you would suffer approximately $3000 worth of damage to the electrical system of your Rig along with the things plugged into it.  The features of the 50 amp unit are the same as the 30 amp unit.
Ah, but there is more!  What happens if you do not want something portable but something more permanent in the Rig? Then you have the permanently installed units which are called Fixed Power Management Systems  These units are not really a DIY type of item but, they can be installed by the DIYer if care is taken during the installation.  The 30 amp models is shown below;
 30 Amp Fixed Power Management Systems
There is also a 50 amp version of the same unit as above and can be found here;  50 Amp Fixed Power Management Systems .  The features of both units are the same and are,  high and low voltage protection, time delay for air conditioning compressor start-up, 3 mode surge protection, surge trip indicator, reverse polarity protection, open neutral protection, open ground protection, AC frequency protection. Accidental 220V protection, with remote information display panel, and unit bypass switch.  Unfortunately, this unit also does not dump the black tank.

I hope that you now have come to the conclusion that some type of power management is needed to protect your Rig, its contents and YOU!

Until Next Time

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fire, Smoke, Gas, Oh MY!!!

Did you know that there is a date code on the smoke detector as well as your carbon monoxide detector in your RV?  Did you know that the propane detector in your RV has an end of life? 

I sure didn't know.  If you are just changing the detector batteries at the beginning of each RV season and removing the batteries at the end of each season you may not be doing everything you need to be safe, there is more to it.  When was the last time you tested all your detectors to be sure that they all worked? (In many cases pushing the test button on the detector does not test the most important part of the detector, the sensor.)  Do you know how to test the detectors?  When is the last time you had a fire drill in your RV? 
Let’s look for some answers.  On the back of every smoke detector, there is a date code.  You may have to hunt for it but it is there.

Beginning in 1999, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) required the manufacturing date code on the back of the device to be printed in plain English. This information may appear on the back of the device, on the face of the horn, in the battery compartment or on the top sensing chamber.
It is widely held in the RV industry that if your detector is more than five years old, or is out of date, it should be replaced. 

Some detectors have permanent batteries built-in and others need to be replaced annually.  Always use alkaline batteries when replacing batteries in detectors.  Alkaline batteries last the longest in low power usage situations, such as detectors.

Now let’s talk turkey.  Most RV manufacturers use the lowest cost, simplest smoke detector they can in their rigs.  So false alarms and the possibility of alarm failures are there.  What can you do, upgrade your standard smoke detector to a combination ionization and Photoelectric smoke particle alarm such as the

These alarms have fewer false alarms and will give you and your family more time to get out if there is an emergency. 

Most fire safety experts agree that you have about 20 seconds to get out of an RV that is on fire before you will be overcome and not be able to get out.

Where should I put the smoke detectors in the RV you ask?  One should be in the Master bedroom and one in the Bunkhouse (if your RV has one).  Another one should be located in the kitchen area of the rig. 

There is a new small size model smoke detector for use in storage bays or in areas where the size of the detector is important.
This type of small space detector is a great idea for storage areas where we may have cleaning chemicals and fire-starting chemicals and other stuff that in the right conditions can ignite and start a fire.

You can test smoke type detectors by using a burning candle near the detector and then blowing it out.  See what happens.  Also, you can push the button located on the detector to test the battery.  

Pushing the button just test the battery and the electronics and does not check the sensor inside the unit.  The candle does that.

Next, we have the Carbon Monoxide Detector.  This detector looks for the gas from combustion. CM gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.  This is a very deadly gas.  Every year there are deaths caused by CM gas when people run gasoline generators outside of their trailer. This detector can be located in the hallway to the bedrooms or in the bedroom itself.  Don't forget to put one in the bunkhouse. The CMD should be located off the floor about head high or higher. In my rig, the detector is located on the ceiling. The CM gas is lighter than air and will be found near the ceiling first.  Here is the one that I have  Battery Operated Carbon-Monoxide Detector. 

NOTE: Be sure to replace the batteries at the beginning of the RV season (remove batteries at the end of the season) and keep the surface of the detector clean.

The LP Gas Detector is the last of the required detectors in your RV.  This one usually runs off of the 12-volt battery system of the RV.  It is located very near the floor usually in the hallway to the master bedroom, but not always.  This is the guy that will detect if your stove, oven, furnace, refrigerator or any other LP gas product in the RV is leaking LP into your breathing space.  LP Gas is heavier than air and sinks to the floor and builds up from there.  It has a bad odor that has been added to the gas by the LP Gas provider.  So LP Gas is not odorless, you sure can smell it.  Unless of course, you are sleeping.  If you smell gas get outget out now, do not look for the leak just get out, and get help.

Here is a 12 volt LP Gas detector that has gotten good reviews and could replace what you are currently using if after testing yours does not work or the 5-year replacement date is up.  Remember pushing the test button on a detector does not test the sensor just the electronics and sounder.  Here is a detector that has gotten good reviews 12v LP Gas Detector.

So how do you test one of these?  Remember those BIC lighters and Charcoal Starters?  Well get down near the detector and flick the BIC but do not light it.  Hold the lighter near the detector for a few seconds and you should set the alarm going.  Stop the flow of gas from the BIC and blow on the detector to dissipate the gas and the alarm should stop sounding.
A word of caution here I think is advisable.  I have heard that people are replacing the two gas detectors with one that claims it will do both jobs.  I would not want to bet my family's safety on this all in one detector.  These gasses are not the same weight in the air one gas rises and the other one sinks, now how is one detector going to be in the right place to detect the right gas?  Just say'in.

Now let's talk about firefighting.  Don't do it.  Get Out!!!  If you must fight the fire to give yourself and your family more time to get out, do you have the right fire extinguisher?  Here again, in most cases, the cheapest fire extinguisher was installed in your rig.  When was the last time you check the extinguisher?  Now is a good time before you start off for this season.  If it is a powder type, turn it over a few times to resettle the powder.  If it is a squeeze the trigger type what is the date of manufacture?  You should plan on replacing the trigger type ever six years or sooner if the gauge says so.   RVers die every year from rig fires, use the fire extinguisher to give you and your family time to get OUT not to fight the fire.

You need a fire extinguisher in each bedroom, in the kitchen area, and at the front and back door of the RV and in the storage area.  You could also have one under the driver's seat of the TV or Class A. I recommend using 

as the best, you can get to give you more time.  If the kids are old enough be sure they can operate the Fire Gone and be sure to put one in the bunkhouse.

Because of recent fire events, the following fire suppression device was developed RV Refer Compartment Fire Suppression.

Because of the number of fires that have been caused, (or thought to have been caused) by refrigerators in RVs, an automatic fire suppression system has been developed, shown above.  This system is one the average RVer can install and will activate in the presence of a fire in the refrigerator compartment of an RV.  While you still need to get out as quickly as possible this unit may put the fire out completely or give you more time to get out either way, it is a plus.

PLEASE NOTE: I'd like to emphasize that the auto fire suppression system in this article is a halon system. It starves a fire of oxygen. It can only be used in the compartment the fridge is in. If you can see it, and it goes off, it will starve you of oxygen. So no installing it in bed or living rooms.

OK, the fire drill.  Do you know how to get out of your Rig if the front door is blocked by fire?  In each bedroom area of the rig, as well as other locations you will see a window with a red lever at the bottom.  With the word EMERGENCY EXIT printed on it.  Move the handle in the direction indicated and the window will open and you can climb out.  Of course, it will be a real job because you may have forgotten a few tools that will help make it easier. 

Did you have your emergency window prop open stick?  If you said no, you should.  Take an old broom handle, rake handle, hunk of PVC, etc, and cut it to 24" long and paint it red.  Attach two dots of hook and loop to the top and bottom of the stick and to the wall, alongside, or below the window and voila you are ready.  When the emergency occurs, open the window put in your prop stick and pull a blanket or comforter from the bed or a blanket from other area and lay it across the bottom of the window frame covering the exit handle area of the window.  This will stop you from being cut or badly scratched by the window frame as you crawl out.

Have a meeting place well outside of the rig area, that everyone knows and will meet at if there is a fire so you can take a head count and be sure everyone is safe.

Last but not the least.  Do the kids know how to get out?  Each season before you hit the road you should go over the fire safety rules and how to get out.
Rule number,
3. NEVER FIGHT THE FIRE (you have approx 20sec to get out before you can't)

I am sure you get the picture.  Cats and dogs are part of the family for sure, but they are not humans and the kids and grandma are far more important.  Be sure to remind the kids of that.

 Fire Safety Quick Check
1. Test all Fire, LP Gas, and CM detectors
2. Do not fight the fire GET OUT!!!!
3. Know where the emergency exits are located
4. Have an escape plan
5. Have fire drills
6. Be sure the fire extinguishers are up to date

Until next time.

Don't forget to join the Weekend RVers group on Facebook a no DRAMA place with Hints, Tips, Free Stuff, Recipes, for every kind of RVer.

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is It Level??? Is It Stable???

Is It Level??

How many times have I heard that phrase at a campground?  I can't even count them or remember them for that matter.  How do you know when your rig is level and what can you do if your rig is not?
Let's look at some of the possibilities.

The first thing you need to do is eyeball the site that you will back into or pull forward into.
Does the site appear flat?  There could be a drainage crown to the site, meaning that the center is higher than either side so that the rainwater will drain off quickly if it does rain.
Maybe there is a slope in the site toward the right or left.
All of this needs to be taken into consideration when looking at the site.
Ok, you are pulling or backing into the site and you have the support of a ground crew so getting into the site is not the problem.  The door side of the rig appears lower that the street side or is it?   How do you know? Well at some point in the life of your rig someone should have put bubble levels on it.
(For you guys with money we will discuss auto leveling equipment at the end.)

They should look like theses RV Bubble Levels
RV Bubble Levels 
If you have nothing, or what you have is so small as not to be readable then an up-grade is in order.  You should mount one of these in the front of the rig where the level can be easily seen, after taking the rig to a Walmart type parking lot and using a construction level, checking that the rig is sitting truly level before you mount the above levels to the rig.  The second level is mounted on the street side of the rig at the same height that you mounted the front of the rig level.  Be sure you have confirmed that construction level and the RV level agree that the rig is level.
Why you ask?  Because if you are more that 5 degrees out of level your RV refrigerator may not work or will not work efficiently.
But you may not have a TT maybe you have a 5th wheel and need something a bit bigger.  Enter the 5th wheel bubble level.  This is mounted on the pin box so you can see the level from the driver's seat.
Even if you have auto-leveling on your fiver you want to start out as close to level as you can so as to not put to much stress on the self-leveling system.

Ok, you have found that the door side of the rig is low and needs to be raised up to bring that side into level.
Now the fun begins.  You will need to put something under the wheels to raise that side of the rig.  You will need what is called an RV Tire Leveling Block,
RV Tire Leveling Block
RV Tire Leveling Block
These blocks interlock so they will stay put if more than one is used and they are designed not to sink into soft soil or blacktop.  Just how many you will need to level up the low side is often just simple trial and error.
I always start with one above ground level under each tire on the low side and go from there.  Let's say that you needed two under each tire on the low side to get level.

Did you remember to pull up on them and not try to back up on them?
Better for the tires if you pull up on the leveling block rather than backing up on them.

Also, did you make sure all tires were centered on the blocks, not on an edge?
The axle of the tire or the hub in the middle of the tire should be centered on the leveling block.
Why? Because it puts less stress on the tires, that really do not like being off the ground in space.

Here is yet another way to level your Rig.  This one is a bit different that the square block used above, this one is a Ramp Style Leveling System and will help you level your rig from any increment between 1/2 inch and 4 inches.  This ramp style will hold up to 30,000 pounds.  If you have two axles then you will require two ramps per side.

The smaller ramp is used to chock the RV from moving once the RV is level.  The ramp with the holes in it, is the adjusting ramp. 

You have checked the levels on both the front and side of the rig right?  So now what?  You need to check that the fridge is level. On way to do that is to use a Torpedo Level
 Torpedo Level
This small 8" level can be used inside the fridge or on the nearest counter next to the fridge to check to be sure that the fridge is level. (Level - not more that five degrees out of level, is very important to the good, safe, and efficient operation of an RV fridge)

You are now level so what is next? Unhooking and stabilizing the rig.
Once you are unhooked you need to put down the corner stabilizer jacks.  Most travel trailers use Scissor Jacks
Scissor Jacks
This type of jack is NOT for leveling your rig.  It is to keep the rig from moving back and forth as you move around inside.  If one of the jacks does not meet the ground you can use one or more of the tire leveling blocks to help stabilize that corner of the rig.  As shown in the above photo a hand crank is the normal method of deploying this type of jack and can be a real pain.  There are two fixes for the hand crank used on these jacks.  One is the Stabilize Scissor Jack Socket for an electric or battery operated drill.
stabilizing Scissor Jack Socket
The second but more expensive way is to motorize RV scissor stabilizing jacks
Bearing Protectors-1.78" Hub Diameter, Stainless S
motorized RV scissor stabilizing jack
This jack is remote controlled and is powered off the rig so it makes the stabilizing fast and easy.

Many of the newer 5th wheels will have will have powered corner jacks and landing jacks.  Some will have auto leveling that will level and stabilize the fiver.  But what happens when you are still getting sea sick from someone walking inside the fifth wheel or travel trailer?
For the 5th wheel, there are several things that can be used and have had success.
First is the Stabilizer Jack
I use these back at the bumper, where the bumper joins the frame of the fifth wheel.  The use of these has really made a difference in the movement of the trailer.

Next is the expandable wheel chock or X-chock.
This chock does double duty if you use a paddle lock to lock the chock from being removed it will stop someone from being able to steal your RV with-out a lot of work.

Your rig is now level and corner supported but, when someone walks around the inside of the rig it still does the shimmy, shimmy, shake.  Now what?  There are many suggested solutions out there to solve this problem but here is the simplest one that works.  The RV Stabilizer         

RV Stabilizer   
One of these can be added to the rear of the rig to stop side to side motion and or one can be added to the side of the rig to stop the front to back motion.  This looks simple and it is but, it does work.

The X-Chock from above will also work on Travel Trailers to help stop motion and help to prevent theft as well.

OK, now for the guys with money.  If you would like to add remote control automatic power leveling jacks to your TT or 5er, the following is a company that has received good reviews for their lift systems; Big Foot Leveling System
Big Foot Flip Down Leveling Jack for TT

The type of DIY that is required to install this system is not in the scope of this blog.  But this type of wireless remote control system is out there and for those who would like to add automatic power leveling to their rig here is a place to start.

Until Next Time

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sleep Better In Your RV

I am sure a bad nights sleep in our RV has happened to all of us at one time or another. While some of us may have just moved to a new site location, others of us have had to stay where we were and suffered or NOT.  Let's look at some things we might do to get a good nights sleep in our RV even if outside forces are working on us to keep us awake.

First we will start at the top and work our way down in the comfort area.
1. Do you have comfortable pillows?
Gel-Fiber Filled
Here are some of the features of this type of pillow.
  • Set of 2 standard-size hypoallergenic down-alternative pillows
  • Polyester gel fiber fill with great loft recovery and no-shift construction
  • Provides comfortable support for back, side, and stomach sleepers
  • 370-thread-count, 100-percent mercerized cotton shell with jacquard pattern
  • Machine wash and dry for easy care; backed by 1-year limited warranty

Many people have found that if you have to fight every night with your pillow to get comfortable that you may never have a restful sleep.

2. You need comfortable sheets that fit the bed and don't drift around as you sleep.  Most RV beds are not the same size as their sticks and bricks cousins. So when you buy a Queen size sheet set for your RV the bottom sheet will not fit.  What is a person to do?  Well check out the Bed Bands these clips.

The clips hold the bottom fitted sheet in place and keep the bottom sheet from moving around while you sleep. 

Ok we have solved the pillow problem and the sheet problem whats next?

3. The mattress of course.  I am not suggesting that you go out and replace the mattress, but you might want to add a Mattress Topper.

The topper sits on the RV mattress and gives you that memory foam feel.  "It's like floating on a cloud", and is very comfortable.  You can cut the foam to fit your RV bed by using a very sharp knife or an electric carving knife.

Now that you are warm and comfortable but still not sleeping we can begin to look around for what else is keeping you awake.  If you have a exit door in your bedroom you will need to block out light that maybe getting in from your neighbors yard lights or fire pit.  You will need a Reflective Door Window Cover shown below. This cover is removable and eliminates the light and reduces the heat getting into the bedroom.

But you still can not get to sleep.  Maybe a Sleep Mask  would help. It sure will be dark in there.

Still having trouble getting to sleep?  What else is there, NOISE lots and lots of it in some parks. So lets take a look at what you could do to reduce the noise so you can sleep.  I suppose you could move to a different site or even a different campground, but that may not be possible.
Ear Plugs are a possibility, but here is where I get concerned about safety.  Many of the safety alarms in an RV[Smoke;Gas] depend on you hearing them to be effective.  If your ears are plugged and you can not hear the alarm that is not a good thing.  Here are some typical ear plugs .

You could turn on the RV furnace fan to create some background noise. 
This friendly background noise is call White Noise and is supposed to cover up the outside noise that is keeping you awake.  While this is a method that I have used in the past, the furnace fan solution could cause an early furnace fan failure or maybe shorten the fan's motor overall life causing it to die an earlier death than one would normal expect.  This method of generating white noise is not really a good one even if it works.  You could buy a cheap fan and have it running in the bedroom to generate some white noise.  While a better idea, you now have moving air which may not be what you want blowing across you while you are sleeping.   
The best method of white noise generation for your RV is a Sleep Machine.  You can go with the following deluxe model of Sleep Machine
  • Incredibly small device only 2.5 inches tall
  • Nomad can be operated with two AA batteries or the supplied AC adapter
  • In Nomad External Mode you can listen to your mp3 player, movie soundtracks, etc
  • Six (6) relaxing soundStories to promote deeper sleep, relaxation and renewal: Waterfall, ocean, meadow, rainfall, brook and noises (white, brown, pink and fan)
  • ASTI Adaptive Sound technology listens and responds to each users environment for disrupting sound

Or you can go a bit cheaper on a Sound Machine
  • Natural sounds help you relax while you read, work, study or sleep
  • Six sounds: ocean, summer night, rain, thunder, white noise and brook
  • 15, 30 and 60 minute auto-off timer
  • Compact and lightweight for travel
  • Battery or adapter operated (adapter included, 4?AA? batteries not included)

The idea is the same either way.  To substitute a friendly sound that will cover up the bad sounds preventing you from getting the sleep you need to enjoy your camping time.
I am sure there are other things you could do to help yourself get to sleep, a nice glass of warm milk maybe a good idea, if you like milk.  Maybe a nice glass of wine just before going to bed would help or reading a dull book or RV column might help. When ever it takes get a good nights sleep you will thank me in the morning.

Until next time.

And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How To Stay Warm Inside The RV When It Is Cold Outside

There is a group of us RVers that like to camp all year long and we live where that is possible.  Some of us Cold Weather RVers have little choice and must be in our RV all year long.  So how can you stay warm inside the RV when the world around you is just too cold?

Let's be clear on one point. If you have a rig that can take the cold it can only take it if the main furnace is set to keep the inside of the rig above freezing.  Most all weather rigs must have the furnace running to keep water pipes that run inside the rig from freezing.  That includes the black tank and grey water tanks as well. So you will need to keep the rig furnace going but you do not need it running at 72 degrees.

Let's talk about keeping you warm and comfortable.  I suppose we could all dress like Eskimos, but that seems a bit much for just reading a book inside our rig or maybe eating dinner.
You could wrap yourself in an electric throw blanket and be comfortable, like this one.

If you added these to your feet you would be warm as toast.

These Footies or Snoozies and the electric throw you should be able to sit around and enjoy TV or read a good book.
But what about sleeping in bed?  That is a good question, so let's take a look at that.
You could put one of these Mattress Heating Pads on your bed and plug into electric and sleep warm as toast all night.  These heated pads come in all the popular sizes King, Queen, and Twin.  I have shown the queen size below;

Mattress Heating Pads
Because heat rises this mattress type heating pad is much better than a heating blanket and will use less power to keep you toasty warm during the cold night.  That might be good for the sleeping time but what about being up and moving around the rig?

Ah, but you need to heat the Rig so you need more power, I mean heat.  Then you want a Ceramic Space Heater  This type of heater generates a lot of heat for very little electricity used.  The one pictured below is what I use.  I use two of the Ceramic Heaters. One blowing toward the bedroom and one in the living room blowing toward the kitchen.  These heaters will cook you out of the Rig, they can generate so much heat.  I winter camp in North Texas and it can get below freezing, as we all found out in the winter of 2013/2014.  But even though my water hose froze outside, inside we were as warm as toast.  Shown below is the  Space Heater I have;

Ceramic Space Heater
I have listed some of the features of this unit below;
  • Ceramic heater technology uses up to 33% less energy than the typical space heater to save you money
  • LCD digital controls
  • Digital thermostat
  • 2 heat settings - 1500 watt max
  • Safety Features: Overheat Protection, Manual user reset, Cool touch plastic housing, Auto shut-off

    If you have a four-legged friend (Furkid) traveling with you, please take note: this unit comes with Auto Shut-Off.  If the Ceramic Heater is tipped over the heater shuts off automatically.  This is a very important feature if you are traveling with four-footed friends.  There are some clumsy two-legged friends out there as well.

    There are other options to keep warm in the RV you could also use one or more of these oil filled heaters.

    The simple controls allow users to customize their heat with an adjustable thermostat and three temperature settings, and the ComforTemp setting maintains an optimal room temperature while conserving energy. The heater never requires refilling, and the anti-freeze technology automatically turns the unit on when the temperature drops below 42 degrees.
    Oil heaters are quite and run about 10.5 cents an hour to operate which can be a money saver compared to other types of heaters. 

     I know from experience that these hints and tips will work. They keep the family warm during our cold weather camping, which we enjoy most of the time. 

    Until next time.

    And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. 
    Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.

    Saturday, October 15, 2016

    Living In Your RV In The Winter Tips

    We have talked about staying warm in your RV during the cold winter months. First by moving South to warmer weather but, for many that is not an option. If you have to say in the cold for whatever reason what should you do to help your RV not to freeze. Let's look at the different areas of the RV and what can be done to keep that area from freezing.

    First the outside perimeter.  Ok, let's get it on the table, do not use bales of hay to surround the rig.

    Why, they're are cheap and easy to stack?
    Because of  FIRE, rodents, and bugs. If for some unknown reason the hay should catch fire there would be little chance of survival.  And don't forget that many outdoor creatures would love to come inside your RV and spend the cold winter months.

    What can be used?  You can use skirting for your specific RV. Which is shown below;
    While this is expensive it is a good solution to the problem of cold air getting under your RV.  There is another solution for the DIYer and that is 

    Foil-Faced Foam Sheathing board is rigid polyisocyanurate foam sheathing that provides exceptional heat, moisture, and air control.
    • 4'x8' sheet (9' and 10' available via special order)
    • 3/4" thick
    • R-4.4
    • One side has a reflective foil face typically installed toward the warm air surface to reflect energy back toward the dwelling and the other side has a white non-reflective foil face typically installed toward the exterior.
    • Can be used in residential construction as insulated sheathing in above grade exterior walls, above and below grade interior walls crawl spaces attic, sand cathedral ceilings as well as Type I-V commercial applications
    • Highest R-value per inch of any rigid board insulation.
    • Does not melt when exposed to flame versus other types of rigid foam board (ASTM E84)
    • Reflective aluminum foil face blocks radiant heat and prevents penetration of air and intrusion of moisture

    Dimensions: 3/4" x 4ft x 8ft Cost as little as $9.25 per sheet

    This type of foil backed foam board can be cut to fit and close-in around the RV to protect the underbelly of the RV from freezing. This type of insulation is available at Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc.
    You would secure the foam to the RV and to itself by using aluminum heating duct tape.
    The area under the RV that you create by enclosing the area needs to be heated with a low heat generator such as this mini heater.

    This heater uses about 200 watts of AC power and I would use two of them for a 40ft trailer.  The heater should be placed off the ground several inches in case of water flow.

    Second is the water and control compartment.
    Yours may look different,  but the issue is that it needs heat.  This area should be kept warm by a Mini Heater or 60 watt light bulb.  The concern is the water hookup to the trailer and the ability to release the black and grey water tanks valves.
    For the fresh water lines, you will need to use the shortest hose you can to go between your rig and the fresh water source. 
    • Provides constant source of water in freezing temperatures
    • Thermostatically controlled
    • Turns on when temperatures are below 45 degrees
    • Turns off when temperatures are above 50 degrees
    • Made from drink-safe PVC
    • Keeps water from freezing down to minus 42-Degrees Fahrenheit
    • Tougher thermostat
    Do not let the hose lay on the ground.  You can do this by wrapping the water hose in pipe insulation. You can get some from Home Depot, Lowes Menards etc.
    Use some of the Aluminum Tape to seal the pipe insulation and do not forget to wrap the water source with pipe insulation to help keep it flowing.  Some people even build a box out of the foil foam board to cover the water source to further insulate.
    Next the sewer and sewer hose. "DO NOT LEAVE THE DRAIN VALVES OPEN" Open as needed to dump the gray or black tank.  Use the shortest sewer pipe you can and you need to support it off the ground.  Wrap the sewer hose with heat tape first.
    Next wrap the sewer hose and heat tape in a blanket made from a Hot Water Heater Insulation blanket
    You want to wrap it tight and then tape it very well to hold it together.  Leave an overlap at both ends to go over the sewer connection and the sewer pipe that comes out of the ground and be sure the heater tape is wrapped around the end of the pipe that is attached to the RV as well as the water heater insulation blanket.
    To keep the sewer hose off the ground and well supported you can use rain gutter pipe or you can use,
    Some RVers even put a gallon of RV antifreeze down the black tank after dumping the tank to help ensure that nothing gets frozen between dumps.
    I have not tried this myself, but there is no reason it would not be a good idea.  It is an added expense that would need to be considered.

    I believe that covers the outside of the rig now let's move inside and see what can be done to keep out the cold and keep in the warm.
    You need to check all doors that you go in and out of the rig with.  If you can see daylight around the edge of the door with the door closed. You will have cold air coming into the rig.  You need to put door weather seal around the door to seal the door better.
    What about the windows you say.  You are right if your rig windows are single pane, as most of them are, you will need to winterize them as well.  The easiest way is to us the small bubble pack wrapping material that you can find almost anywhere.

      • Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.
      • Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.
      • Spray a film of water on the bubble side of the bubble wrap using a spray bottle.
      • Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.
      • The bubble side goes toward the glass.
      • To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner.
    Next let's look at the vents in the rig. All of the vents through the roof allow warm air to rise into a cold space and chill the air.  We need to block the upward movement of the air but still be able to use the vent when needed.  A vent pillow is just the thing.  You can make them if you are handy or buy some cheap pillows you can stuff into the vent opening or you can get these.

    Fits standard 14" RV vents

    Reflective surface blocks the sun's damaging rays
    Full 2.75" of foam to help stop heat transfer
    Durable and easy to store
    Keep your RV cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter

    Now that we have sealed the rig against the cold air we have now trapped water vapor from cooking, propane heating, showers, and human breathing inside the rig.  You will begin to see water or moisture on the walls of the rig and anything that is colder than the inside air.  This is not good and can cause mold.  To get rid of the moisture and reduce the humidity we need a dehumidifier.  Several ideas come to mind.

    Quiet Small-Size Dehumidifier with No Moving Parts

    Removable 16-oz. Water Tank & Washable Air Filter

    Features 'Tank Full' Indicator Light

    Auto-Shuts When Water Reservoir is Full

    Measures Just 5.75" x 5.32" x 8.78" in

    You might need two of these in a large 40ft rig.  They do work and keep the air drier but not completely dry.

    Next is the Goldenrod Heaters.  You also will need several of these in larger rigs but they are smaller and you do not need to dump them, like the one above.

    This unit comes in different sizes up to 36 inches in length.  It consumes about 1 watt per inch and is mounted along the wall at the floor level.  You will need several in a large rig as they can dehumidify approximately 200 cube feet of air. So if you have a bunkhouse then that room would have its own unit. The main living area would have one and the master bedroom would have one.

    Something I have used is DampRid in closets and drawers where moisture is not wanted and maybe harmful to the contents of the surrounding area.

    That should do it.  You have done your best to get the rig ready for winter and now the daily grind begins.  In a separate blog post, we cover how to keep you and the kids warm when it is cold outside.

    Until next time.

    And finally, please remember that this blog is an Amazon affiliate. When you order something through any of the Amazon links, it doesn’t add anything to your cost, but I do earn a small commission on everything you buy. Just click on an Amazon link, then shop as usual.