Flagpoles: They can be useful or a nuisance

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By Greg Illes
Anybody who has been to an Off-Highway-Vehicle (OHV) camp, or to Quartzsite or other big gathering, has seen the tall flagpoles reaching high above some of the RVs. Flagpoles can be useful or a nuisance.

People use flagpoles for a couple of reasons. First, a characteristic pennant, banner or some such object is an easy way to spot your campsite in a vast sea of resident RVs. Second, it can be cool to advertise or display your personal art, be it the U.S. flag, fancy LED lighting or one of the many varieties of streamers.

Pros and cons of different types of flagpole mounts

If you decide to be a flag-flyer, you have a few choices on how to mount the critter. Each has its pros and cons.

Ladder mounts are easy and strong, and they keep the flag away from the body of the RV. You need to pad them so they don’t click and clack as the pole moves with the wind. If you have chairs or bicycles hung on your ladder, there might be a conflict.

Photo: Greg Illes

Awning mounts can work, but the angle of the pole will change with whether the awning is deployed or not. These are best for short flagpoles.

Bumper and hitch mounts are simple and strong, but they might allow the flagpole to hit the RV body. For the hitch, you’ll have to undo any other use of the hitch, or you could install a piggyback hitch sleeve.

Under-tire mounts are steel plates with brackets, and you drive onto the plate to anchor it. Again, caution must be used to make sure the pole doesn’t flex over and bang the RV.

A small caveat: If you decide to fly a U.S. flag, note that “official” flag etiquette says that if you fly it at night, it must be illuminated.

There’s a dark side to flag flying

There is, of course, a dark side to flag flying. In even the slightest of winds, the fluttering fabric and wobbling flagpole make plenty of noise — not so much for the neighbors, but definitely for the occupants of the RV. Many folks (author included) find that sleep is impossible with a random-noise generator ten feet above the roof.

Also, it’s far too easy to drive away from your campsite with a 20-foot pole waving gaily to your neighbors as you pass by. Whether it’s a checklist or something you hang on your steering wheel as a reminder, be sure you don’t take your high-reaching flagpole for a cruise — it won’t survive the experience.

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.

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Anna Marie Warren
18 days ago

To keep the long skinny and flexible flag poles from banging on the side of your rv, I would suggest wrapping one or two pool noodles around them. If the noodles is to loose then just secure the pole and noodle together with some durable tape.

bisonwings
1 month ago

There’s another option that I have used for years. You see promotional flags on apartments, gas stations, etc. Many of those flags utilize an 18″ chrome plated stake with a sealed bearing welded on the side with a short piece of rod protruding from the bearing. This allows those flags to spin 360 degrees in all types of wind. They are available from Amazon or any source that sells to promotional advertisers. I found mine in my front yard 22 years ago.

Randy
1 month ago

This is by far the best ladder mount I’ve come across. (Solid, no rattle & quality built)

https://eezrvproducts.com/shop/ols/products/flag-and-wind-sock-pole-mount-for-rv-ladder-adjustable-set

This is a quality & affordable flagpole that works with this pole mount. (Heavy duty & attractive)

DW/ND
1 month ago

My US flag is mounted on a wooden stick about 18″ tall and fits in a plastic suction cup holder on the windshield. I fly the US flag in the center with the ND state flag and Good Sam Life member flag on 14-15″ sticks. No need to add to my check list and no need to worry about lightning, vibration or noise! I take it down in the evening.

Jim Gierlak
1 month ago

Mr. Illes, I hope that I never think that flying the flag of my country is a means of displaying “personal art.”

And regarding solar lights…I have yet to see one that adequately illuminates the flag of our nation during hours of darkness. When I see one, my first thought is that the owner is trying to be patriotic, but doesn’t want to be bothered raising and lowering the flag on a daily basis.

Charles Frans
1 month ago

I have a 5′ flagpole mounted near the top of my ladder. My flag is 3′ x 5′. Works great, don’t really need to go any higher.

betty danet
1 month ago

We like the ease and looks of a pinbox mounted pole and use a solar light to illuminate it at night. Can’t find where to upload a picture here.

Last edited 1 month ago by betty danet
Wayne
1 month ago

I use a hitch mount for my American flag. I have also recently experimented with a collapsible satellite dish stand which works well as long as it is properly secured. This also gets it away from direct contact with both TV or camper. I take special care that the light is “NON INVASIVE” to fellow campers delicate eyes. There are lights specifically made for flag illumination to minimize or eliminate excess light.

Brian Holmes
1 month ago

did you ever noticed it doesn’t matter what you do in camping there is always somebody that will complain about it. In other words if you are not doing what “they” think you should be doing you are doing it wrong and should stop. Life really is short, stop complaining you’ll live a little longer.

Wayne
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Holmes

Totally agree with Brian. Way too many purist trying to mold everyone to their standard. They should get a grip, read a good book or take a walk.

WEB
1 month ago
Reply to  Brian Holmes

Is not complaining about complainers still complaining? (Mine is a question, NOT a complaint.) 🙂

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse
1 month ago

What about mounting to the pinbox on a fifth wheel Use the lock to secure to the pin.

Ran
1 month ago

I use a flag pole which is fiberglass (no lights). I use a rubber shim on the pole as well, no noise. The flag keeps seagulls off your roof at the beach. However, The irritating part for me is the ones who use in areas not in the desert. They use lights, flashing and/or colors in LED that irritate those of us in areas that shouldn’t be allowed. Even with curtains closed, they glare in the windows. While trying to Star-Gaze and enjoy the great outdoors, the lights are blinding.
I understand the desert areas, when trying to find your rv in mass clusters of RV’s, when coming home after dark. However, why can’t they turn the light off when retiring for bed at night?!….There’s numerous of those that use the Pole iights in numbered campsites, that can easily find without the lights. Being courteous of others is a big part of the great outdoors, along with reducing noise, trash and destruction of it.

John M
1 month ago
Reply to  Ran

If you use a pole with no lights I hope if you are flying the American Flag you take it down at night. It is real easy to ask your next door neighbor if the light bothers them at night or not. Most cases the curtains in a bedroom are dark enough to stop any light. I use a 20 ft pole and do not hear it flapping when the wind is blowing.

Ran
1 month ago
Reply to  John M

Hi John. Yes, I do take it down at night. We live on the west coast where it’s pretty much warm at night and like to have windows open. Occasionally we do shut them (shaded). My pole is 22′ and hear no flapping. Most use a lightweight nylon rip-stop flag that doesn’t make noise. I don’t think I’ve seen a light yet, that shines up at the flag. Most have been strobe lights or LED’s flashing down. When we ask neighbors to please consider turning off at night, they get pretty much abrupt! ….Try to get more with sugar than salt!

John
1 month ago

I’ve used both a hitch mount and under-the-tire mount (currently). Neither pole contacted my TV and as long as my flag light doesn’t shine into anyone’s RV windows, there’s no sleep deprivation.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
4 months ago

I’m in the middle of doing an RV lightning study for SnapPad, and my initial reaction is that a metal flagpole is a conductive rod taller than anything around it and will attract a bolt of lightning directly to your RV and destroy your electronics and maybe injure you. If it’s a fiberglass flag pole than that would probably be okay. But mounting a 20′ metal lightning rod on your RV without a complex grounding system is asking for a direct hit. Don’t become part of my experimental data sample.

John M
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Mike does that include aluminum flag poles?

dnCook
1 month ago
Reply to  John M

Aluminum is an excellent conductor of electricity, yes.

Member
Mike Sokol (@mike)
1 month ago
Reply to  John M

Absolutely yes. In fact, aluminum wiring is still used in a lot of electrical distribution systems. It’s right up there in electrical conductivity with copper and gold, but I’m pretty sure nobody will be using a solid gold flagpole. Lightning will tend to strike the tallest conductive structure in an area, which is why lightning rods are mounted so high up. But a properly installed lightning rod has a bunch of grounding rods bonded to it. Your RV does not, so it would take the full force of a lightning strike on an aluminum flagpole.

Hazel Owens
4 months ago

It’s great that you talk about how people use flagpoles for a characteristic penner or banner. However, your point about how it can be cool to advertise or display art is great. I’ve always wanted to be able to display a US flag on my vehicle. Based on your article, a hitch mount is strong and simple which may be a great option for my vehicle. I will look into purchasing a flag pole hitch.