Posted July 15, 2018
News, information and reviews of great gizmos and gadgets for RVers. Published online once a month by the editors of RVtravel.com. If you are not already subscribed, click here to sign up now.
Get TRUE tank readings with digital gauges
By Greg Illes
Shortly after buying my first motorhome (“Howie”), I discovered the ugly truth about the stock tank gauges. They’re horrible.
They have lousy resolution, and I could not tell within 1/4 tank (or worse) what the actual level was in the tank. With only three indicator lights, it was impossible to know for sure whether we had two more days, or five more days, before needing to refill.
But far worse was the obnoxious tendency of the black tank (and sometimes the gray) to get the sensors crudded up with unspeakable debris. When this happened, the lights would make no sense at all, ranging from full-when-empty indications to empty-when-full. Totally unreliable and useless.
With elaborate cleaning techniques, I managed to minimize the false-reading problem. But the lousy “accuracy” remained.
After a little bit of reading and studying, I bought a SeeLevel™ unit from Garnet Instruments. One of its many models was exactly right for my configuration of Fresh, Gray, Black and Propane tanks.
Installation was pretty much “no worries.” The instructions were clear, and the whole setup worked the first time. I had to get a little creative on the actual display panel, because my Itasca had the three-light panel integrated with the generator controls. But it wasn’t too difficult to cut/trim the old panel, which made room for the new one. (Each RV is going to be a little different.)
Fortunately, the SeeLevel products made use of the existing wiring, and it was not necessary to run wires through dark and inaccessible spaces. All that was needed was to locate good places to attach the sensors (they’re stick-on), and then move the existing wires from the factory probe points to the new sensors.
The gauge sensors work on an electronic-sensing strategy called “capacitance,” where the electronics “see” through the walls of the tanks to detect the inside level. No gunky probes and no readings affected by sticky sewage. The readouts are digital numbers, from 0–100%.
Although the sensors are self-adhesive, I used some duct tape as insurance. You can see one of the (now unused) original probes next to the new sensor.
The SeeLevel sensors come in fixed lengths, and they aren’t necessarily perfectly matched to tank dimensions. Also, the sensors provide a simple linear readout, so if the tank has an odd vertical shape (as mine do), one part of the range might move more quickly than another part of the range.
For the propane tank, there’s no change to the sensor – the gauge uses the existing sensor and simply displays percentage. However, since propane tanks only fill to 80% (or so), the propane reading, after calibration, can sometimes display more than 100% due to variations in fill technique.
Due to all these factors, the 0–100% readings might be a little off of perfect. But for me, it’s all a HUGE improvement over the standard three lights. And after a few uses, it’s easy to learn a little “mental calibration” on the exact relationship between number and true level.
For $200-$300, or more, plus labor, digital gauges might not be for everyone – but for me they’re indispensable for boondocking and overall peace of mind.
For more information, click on Garnet’s website regarding SeeLevel RV Holding Tank Monitors.
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 excellent blog at www.divver-city.com/blog
DID YOU MISS the last RVtravel.com NEWSLETTER? If so, read it here.
Carefree of Colorado Wireless Control for 12V Awnings
Enjoy full control of your 12V awning from as far away as 50 feet with the Carefree Connects™ Awning App. This Bluetooth® enabled system operates via mobile app or remote fob. Functionality includes extension, retraction, LED power and motion sensitivity. Pair with CarefreeMotion™ for maximum peace of mind. Click here for information.
HitchGrip: A clean, easy way to install your trailer hitch
The HitchGrip HG712 Hitch Coupling Tool for RVs and trailers is a clean and easy way to safely carry and install your trailer hitch. Have HitchGrip ready to go before your next open road adventure – you’ll keep the grease off your hands and reduce the risk of straining your back. Learn more.
Sleep like a baby with a new memory foam mattress topper
You may have noticed that the mattress that came with your RV is not as comfy as the one you were accustomed to at home, or it is beginning to lose its support as it ages. However, you can revitalize your aging mattress with a Dreamfoam Bedding 2-Inch Gel Swirl Memory Foam Topper. The soft viscos-elastic memory foam will add comfort and increase the quality of your mattress immediately. Read more.
Telescoping ladder reaches 12.5 feet, compresses for storage
A ladder is an item most RVers find useful – and not just the one installed on the rear of most RVs. A ladder that can be moved around to wash windows, inspect roofs, and anything else that involves the top of an RV is not only convenient but sometimes necessary. Most ladders are cumbersome and bulky and difficult to store, but the WolfWise 12.5 ft. telescoping extension ladder compresses into an easily portable and compact unit. Learn more.
Odors that make special appearances in extreme heat? Say goodbye!
The Unique Tank Odor Eliminator is the leader in hot weather odor elimination. If you’re tired of those disgusting smells coming from your RV bathroom in hot weather, or when you’re off the grid, say no more! These drop-in tablets work in both gray and black tanks, and will completely remove, not just mask, odors. Perfect for dry-campers who are worried about using too much water. Drop in a tablet, and flush! Learn more or order here.
Bamboo charcoal-filled bag absorbs odors, moisture, pollutants
The Moso Bag is an easy and convenient way to maintain a fresh, dry and odorless environment. Made of just one incredibly powerful natural ingredient, moso bamboo charcoal, the Moso Bag is continuously working to absorb and remove odors, allergens and harmful pollutants. It is also excellent for use in damp, musty environments, where it will absorb excess moisture to prevent mold, mildew and bacteria from forming. The Moso Bag is chemical-free, fragrance-free and non-toxic, and is reusable for up to two years. Read more.
Acrylic trays: The fast, easy way to organize your fridge
If you’re like most RVers, your refrigerator is packed with milk, eggs, fruit and all the cooking essentials necessary to keep your camping crew well-fed and happy. Unfortunately, those messy, overcrowded shelves often mean you can’t find the food you’re looking for when you need it. With a 6-piece Refrigerator Organizer Set by Kitchen Shaq, food is properly arranged, stays in place while traveling, and is easy to find. Learn more.
RV Screen Door Bar: Makes for easier exit, screen door protection
The Camco RV Screen Door Cross Bar allows for easier exit and protection of the RV screen door. It adds a sturdy feel to the door and saves repair to screens. This bar adjusts from 21-5/8″ – 28-5/8″. It is easy to install and includes hardware. Read more.
Ask Yourself: Are you Ready for the Road?!
Prepare for your next big adventure with Road & Home’s Ready for the Road checklist. This simple, easy-to-use guide of must-have repair and replacement products will keep you moving while on the road! Equip yourself with peace of mind and ensure safety and convenience when you head out. Shop the entire collection here.
Gizmos and Gadgets at RVtravel.com
For years, in each of our weekly issues of the RVtravel.com newsletter we’ve reviewed or told you about hundreds of useful, interesting or unusual gizmos and gadgets for your RV, or to enhance your RV travels. Click here to browse through all those products.
Waterless trap for your RV plumbing system
Make foul smelling odors a thing of the past!
Already used by major RV manufacturers, the revolutionary HepvO waterless trap is a fantastic alternative to a conventional ‘P’ trap and it won’t fail due to evaporation, movement, freezing or leakage. Its unique membrane prevents foul air from the grey water tank entering your RV and its in-line design helps create extra storage space! Learn more.
Products you might need for your RV at Amazon.com
•RV parts and accessories
•RV hitches and tow products
•RV holding tank treatments
•RV books and directories
Or search at:
•Dyers RV Parts and Accessories
•Road and Home
Your RV is generally your second largest physical asset. Protect it!
Home Electrical Box: 50-30-20 amp surface mount box • Breakers & receptacles included • Outdoor rated • UL listed • Pedestals also available. 30 & 50 Amp Surge Protector & Reverse Polarity: Continuously monitors & displays voltage & amp draw (RMS). Tests for & indicates: Reverse polarity • Exclusive open neutral inside the RV • Miswired pedestal • High neutral currents • Surge protector. Contact us at 800-500-2320 or RVpowerOutlet.com.
Check out these RV accessories that were featured recently in the RV Travel Newsletter
• Tailgate table perfect for tailgate parties and camping.
• Unlock these futuristic padlocks with your fingerprint.
• Articulating wall mount for 12- to 39-inch flat screen TV.
• Mobileye Collision Avoidance System prevents accidents.
• Improve your vehicle’s response with Pedal Commander.
New & interesting finds at Amazon.com
See what really cool stuff Amazon is featuring today. It’s a whole lot of fun just browsing through all these great items. The selection changes every day, so check back often. You never know what you will find, which is part of the fun of visiting here. Check it out.
Mail us at 9792 Edmonds Way #265, Edmonds, WA 98020. Email: Emily (at) rvtravel.com .
This website utilizes some advertising services. Sometimes we are paid if you click one of those links and purchase a product or service. Regardless of this potential revenue, unless stated otherwise, we only recommend products or services we believe provide value to our readers. RVtravel.com is a participant in the Walmart and Camping World Affiliate Programs which are designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by referrals to their websites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. RVtravel.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I’ve had a HitchGrip since they were first introduced, and and think it’s a great tool. However, at 82 with a bad back, the hitch head is more weight than I can handle. It would be great if there was a cross bar that would attach to the grip to allow two people to carry. Any suggestions?
Please do an article on “rock guards” for motorcoaches, the factory inits are horrible and damage easily, 2 times for me. The slightest pot holes do serious damage, I think they are more for advertising than functional any suggestions should be appreciated. Chris French, Thor Aria owner thanks