Friday, January 31, 2020
Welcome to another edition of RV Travel’s Daily Tips newsletter. Here you’ll find helpful RV-related and living tips from the pros, travel advice, a handy website of the day, tips on our favorite RVing-related products and, of course, a good laugh. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate you. Please tell your friends about us.
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“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” ―
Need an excuse to celebrate? !Day Backward National is Today
Tip of the Day
Size your solar system for the real world
By Greg Illes
So you’ve decided to “go solar.” Congratulations! No doubt you’ve read a lot about panel types, inverter technologies, and maybe gotten a few quotes. You probably have gotten familiar with the basic arithmetic of energy management by now too.
The advice you’ll typically see is to size your panels according to how much power you use each day and, of course this makes eminent sense. If you’re using 40 amp-hours a day, then you need panel output adequate to recharge those 40 amp-hours. If you figure five hours of good sunshine in the middle of the day, then your panels will have to produce 8 amps, or about 100 watts.
8 amps x 5 hrs. = 40 amp-hours
So that’s it, right? A 100W panel and you’re good to go? Not really.
There are several reasons why the calculation, while entirely valid, is not so simple. Let’s review:
Sunshine availability – If you’re in the shade or it’s overcast, you’ll get less output from your panels. Even my shade-tolerant amorphous panels drop by 50% or more with heavy shade.
Panel angle – All panels have their power ratings at 90 degrees to the sun. This is never achieved in real practice, even with panels that can be tilted. Even if you get them aimed perfectly at 10 a.m., the sun keeps moving. At a 45-degree angle, you’ll get about 30% less power output.
Charge acceptance – Batteries will not necessarily accept all the available power. As they become more fully charged, acceptance declines. So not all the panels’ power will be absorbed. This physical limitation can only be compensated by more aggressive charging (more power) when the batteries are in a discharged state.
The bottom line is that a typical solar application might need two or three times as much power rating (and sunshine) as is actually used by the rig. This is because all the inefficiencies add up to only getting 1/3 or 1/2 of the rated panel power actually into the batteries.
To be safe, be conservative. Figure an efficiency factor of no more than 50% for how much panel power you’ll need. If you’re still uncertain, make sure your system is designed for expansion so that you can add a panel or two if needed. The photo shows my motorhome, using flex panels of 68W each. After going through the learning curve, I ended up going from two, to four, to eventually the six panels shown.
Don’t despair. Despite the uncertainties, you’ll love your solar system and won’t ever want to be without one again.
Do you have a tip? Submit it here.
RV too long for that site? Maybe not
When a national park’s or forest service’s campground designates a maximum length limitation, what does that mean? You’ve seen it in campground guides and on entry kiosks: “Maximum size 27 feet,” for instance. So, driving a 28-foot Class C, or towing a 28-foot fiver, you crossed it off as a potential camping location. Unfortunately, that would likely be making a mistake. Find out why.
Yesterday’s featured article: “Norse god” shows off many defects in new RV
LAST DAY to save on Overnight RV Parking membership
A one-year membership in the most comprehensive directory of free and inexpensive places for RVers to stay is going up from $24.95 a year to $29.99 on February 1. RVtravel.com readers also get bonus months. It’s hard to imagine an RVer not saving many times the price of a membership on camping fees. Learn more or sign up for a membership.
You may have missed these recent popular stories…
- First-of-its-kind self-service RV park. The wave of the future?
- RV shipments continue to decline
- RV travels down icy highway with slideouts extended
- We do not want to own this RV. Nope.
- Camco Water Bandit connects standard water hose to various water sources. Click.
- Camco 90-Degree Hose Elbow eliminates stress/strain on RV water intake hose fittings. Click.
- Camco Plastic Water Pressure Regulator prevents damage to RV water hoses and pumps. Click.
It’s very important to keep your RV sealants fresh
The most frequent cause of damaging RV water leaks isn’t the roof itself – rather, it’s the sealants around vents, trim, windows, etc. Sealant doesn’t last forever, and your RV warranty requires you to keep sealants fresh.
Random RV Thought
If you bring along a dog or cat on a trip, there is a 99 percent chance that it will prefer your favorite easy chair to all other places in your RV.
Don’t blow out your plumbing!
Sooner or later, usually “sooner,” every RVer comes upon an RV park water hookup with pressure so high it could blow out the plumbing. None of us want that because it causes a lot of damage and is expensive to fix. The simple solution is to be sure when you hook up to use a water pressure regulator, like this one that features a lead-free design to prevent lead contamination. Learn more or order.
Website of the day
RV Education 101
If you’re not familiar with our friend Mark Polk, who runs RV Education 101, make yourself. These amazing video and e-book training packages will tell you everything you need to know about RVing, including how to drive your new rig. It’s all good stuff. Keep it bookmarked.
Clubs and useful organizations
PLEASE NOTE: We may receive an affiliate commission if you join any of these.
• Harvest Hosts: Stay free at farms, wineries and other scenic and peaceful locations for free. Save 15% on membership.
• AllStays: The best website for RVers! Your membership will become your RV-bible.
• Overnight RV parking. Directory of more than 14,000 locations where you can stay for free or nearly free with your RV. Modest membership fee.
• Boondockers Welcome. Stay at homes of RVers who welcome you in their driveways, yards, farmland or other space on their private property. Modest membership fee.
• Escapees. Best Club for RVers: All RVers welcome, no matter what type of RV, make or model.
Mini finger hot pads great for RV
Ouch, don’t burn yourself! These clever silicone pot holders are just right to grab a heated dish out of the microwave or a hot pan handle off the stove or out of the oven. And being small, they’re easy to store. Grab a set of these “pinch grips” on Amazon for about $8.
A cat’s ear has 32 muscles. A dog’s ear has 18 muscles, and a human ear only has two muscles.
Leave here with a laugh
A museum in town displays quilts from around the country. When an elderly man visited the museum he asked the woman at the front desk about a senior discount. It wasn’t to be. “Sir,” she said, “this is a quilt museum. We give discounts to teenagers.”
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RV Daily Tips Staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Emily Woodbury. Senior editor: Diane McGovern. Advertising director: Jessica Sarvis. Financial affairs director: Gail Meyring. IT wrangler: Kim Christiansen.
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Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of RVtravel.com or this newsletter.
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