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.
• NATIONAL TRAFFIC AND ROAD CLOSURE INFORMATION.
• ROAD AND TRAFFIC CONDITIONS ACROSS THE NATION.
• WEATHER ALERTS FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.
• CURRENT WILDFIRE REPORT.
• LATEST RV RECALLS.
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.”
Today’s Daily Deals at Amazon.com
Best-selling RV products and Accessories at Amazon.com. UPDATED HOURLY!
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So, RVTravel, you want me to share my fav campsite, ha, no way Jose.
I’m keeping that tiny little secret, the peace and solitude all to myself and a few others who’ve discovered it.
Besides 90% of the people I know wouldn’t like the place anyway, no awning to awning parking, no TV service, no internet, dogs can’t run free, nothing for kids to climb on so few kids, seems every time we’ve been there no booze hounds, just a bunch of old fogies who like to sit all day chat and watch nature at its best, then at night soak up the heavens for entertainment.
Oh, sure there’s a few ATV racket makers but for the most part they’re a pretty respectful lot.
That’s the way I feel for rv park reviews also. We have been fulltiming since 2007 and used to post on the majority of parks we stayed at. No longer.To many rvers now and if I post on parks we stayed at and liked, 99% chance there wouldn’t be a site for us when we are in the neighborhood. To many rigs out there now with to few spaces for everybody. Sent a note to rv park reviews stating this and, of course, didn’t get a reply back.
“Size your solar system for the real world”
Another problem with the solar calculation is that when the batteries are full, there is no more charge going into the batteries. Therefore, you have oversized your panel system.
And if you are undercharged from the previous 24 hours, your panels will be undersized to get your system recharged.
There is also something to be said about the time of day you use your watts.
If money is not an object, double the size of your system particulary if you full time (especially the battery bank). You never know when it will be cloudy or a low solstice due to fall, winter and spring sky conditions.
You also have to factor in shade from trees, or objects on roof such as the A/C. Are you in the mountains? That limits your available sun as well. Which direction will your panels face? It won’t always be south.
For full timers, it is also a benefit to have a generator. There are appliances that don’t like inverters. The surge is too high and will trip an improperly sized inverter and battery bank.
We’ve tripped our 1500 Watt panel/2800 Pure Sine Wave Inverter by drawing to many amps at one time. With our system (even as big as it is), will only provide a total output of 30 Amps. Not 100 Amps like shore power can provide (50 Amps on each leg).
We’ve installed an Onan 6500 watt generator as well. Remember that you will loose watts due to altitude and temperature changes. Size accordingly.
And don’t even think you can run an A/C unit. Even if your inverter can handle the surge, you will be out of battery power in about 3 hours on a 400 amp-hour bank.
On a good sunny day, we don’t hold back too much during the day. But a night, we watch what we use. We also keep a close eye on the forecast.
There is a lot more to consider than just the calculated amps in order to size a system properly.
Have it your way ya,ll, We’ll stick with our candles on the picnic table then when the time is right blow them out and watch the stars. No expense, no wonderment, no replacing burnt out things, no problem.
I realize the importance of having a water pressure regulator but I have never spoken to anyone
that has had their plumbing blown out by excessive pressure. I use it when the campground
staff recommends it but that has only been 2-3 times in seven years.
We drive a Class B; we didn’t bother to calculate electrical needs when installing solar panels. We just filled up as much space as was available. That amounted to two panels, about 200 watts. Works well most of the time.
My understanding is that ear muscles are proportional to the location in the food chain of the animal. The higher it is in the food chain, the less need for muscles needed to swivel the ears to detect possible danger.
And my understanding is that humans have no muscles in the ear, it is pure cartilage. It is the muscles around the ear that move the skin, giving the ear an appearance that it moves.
Something to consider in parks with the shorter advertised maximum lengths, some of the turns/corners might be too tight for longer rigs.
Not only are some of the turns/corners too tight for larger rv’s, the trees/bushes lining the roads can really raise havoc with nice paint jobs.
We’ve experienced both conditions. It’s hairy to back up a 42′ rig around a bunch of twists and turns.
An older and wiser man with an Airstream advised me to just fill up my water tank by holding the hose an inch away from the water inlet.
What a water waste.
That man was not wiser. He was extremely stupid.
Todays poll got me thinking,would rv travel work before computers? Cant see C.Woodbury personally mailing of tens of thousands of newsletters everyday……oh brother.
haha! no this is a website blog, or web log. Don’t know when he started this ( I think I read it’s 20 years old now) but it’s just titled “newsletter”. If it were a true mailer, you’d have to pay per publication I’m sure. A lot of manpower would go into it, fer sure! But your thoughts should go under the “Random RV Thought” section.
In our 4 year FT odyssey we’ve encountered one park with high (90psi) water pressure. I was already using a regulator. The remarkable part is that I’ve had 2 of the Camco regulators (that you pictured) leak at the plastic cap. They were in use on systems with normal pressure. Go figure.
We keep breaking the flimsy plastic covers and that in turn, ruins the gauge. But the regulator still works. They come preset at 40 psi but I normally change the setting up to 50 psi. We’ve never had a problem at that setting in 4 to 5 years.
This one lasts many years: https://www.rvwaterfilterstore.com/Fixed.htm
I was just reading the article “RV too long for that site? Maybe not”. While I agree with the author’s statement that there may campsites to fit your rig, there is a consideration he failed to mention. Most of the times, these campgrounds are on a reservation system, and you have to know beforehand what site you want. So showing up at the campground and hunting for a site your size is out of the question. You’d have to scout out the campground before you make camping plans or reservations. That could mean planning out 6 months at the more popular areas. We’ve done that for local campgrounds, but for sites farther away, you’ll have to depend on such sites as Google maps and the satellite view to guesstimate the site size. It can be done, but fingers crossed.
I don’t want to oversimplify the solar thing, but buy as many panels as you can afford and fit as many on your roof as there is room for. Problem solved. Invest in an MPPT controller and charge your golf cart batteries. Lithium-Ion batts are still a bit pricey for my taste.
Depending how willing you are to buy Chinese batteries, dropin 100AH 12V LiFE with onboard BMS can be had for $400ish making them very competitive with lead acid. I just replaced my lead bank, but next replacement i’m jumping…
(4) Battleborne 100A Lithium Batteries – $1000 Each or $4000 total (+ tax).
Keep in mind that although the tax credit is less for 2020, you will still get a 26% tax credit when you file your 2020 tax return (in 2021). So that $1000 battery is really only $740 (+ tax) or $2960 for all 4.
I read RV Travel on a lKindle
What is an IKindle? Never heard of a Kindle being made by Apple. :-/
I got one of those mini finger hot pads at Walmart for $1.