RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 871

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Issue 871 • March 26, 2018
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RVing Tip of the Day

Keep your RV alive – Feed it the right voltage
 
By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
We were camped and our Progressive Power Management system cut off the power to our rig. When I went outside to check the box, the system provided me a readable code that told me why: The voltage to our camper was too low. What does that mean and why is it important? I’m glad you asked.
 
Everything in your camper that runs on electricity is designed to operate within a certain voltage range. Although it may vary by a few volts depending on the appliance, generally speaking the range is about 105 volts on the low side to 130 volts on the high side. When the voltage coming into your RV is not within those limits, things start to get hot. When they get hot long enough, they go to heaven. If things go to heaven, you have to pay for new ones and have them installed.
 
If you think of the power supply in your campground like a water system – with water taking the place of electricity and pipes taking the place of wires – you can think of it this way. So much water is available to the campground from the utility company and coming into a main. From there it goes down the pipes to the pedestal at your campsite where you plug in. When the campground is not full, not many people need water so there is no problem. You have all the water pressure (voltage) you need.
 
Now what about when the campground is full? If those pipes are not large enough to meet everyone’s need for water, there is a problem. The problem is low water pressure, or in the case of inadequate wiring, low voltage.
 
At our campsite, then, those wires were too small and our power management system was killing the power to protect the equipment in our camper. The voltage, varying greatly, was running between 118 volts and 105 volts in an unpredictable manner. I would guess it was pretty much in sync with compressors kicking off and on in our neighbors’ RVs. Should that happen? Absolutely not! It happens because the wiring system in the campground couldn’t carry enough electricity (current) to meet the needs of the equipment that depends on it.
 
So, if you get an idea of what is happening, shouldn’t the circuit breakers tripped or my air conditioner shut off? Unfortunately not. Breakers respond well to rapid heat rises, but will allow everything to continue merrily on its way when voltage is running low. Although low voltage is not good for any equipment, it most commonly destroys the relays in the air conditioner which feed power to the compressor as that compressor is a power pig, even when it’s working at its best.
 
When relays get hot for prolonged periods of time, the contacts literally weld themselves together. If you or a friend has ever had an air conditioner that did not shut off, after the fan had stopped running (you heard a continual hum unless you tripped the circuit breaker to the AC), that is most likely what has happened. If you have noticed the circuit breaker box (more correctly called the “power distribution panel”) has gotten hot or smelled like melting plastic, bingo, low voltage again. When I went outside our camper, the breakers and wires in my neighbor’s power pedestal smelled like they were melting. Same thing: low voltage.
 
So what could I do to deal with the situation? Not a whole lot. I guess I could have sneaked around and unplugged all my neighbors’ shorelines and killed their power so I have more. That would have likely brought me more grief than what I already had. There is no likelihood the campground was suddenly going to be updated (though I was told it is in the planning stages). Other than that, I stopped using my power management system and monitored the voltage with my multimeter. If my power dropped to 104 volts, I would have killed my air conditioner and made do with just the fan until temperatures and hopefully power usage dropped that night.
 
Of course, if I had known there was a power issue in this campground, I would not have reserved a site. It is a given that we will not be back next year as even at my wholesale rates, we still have to pay for parts like everyone else.
 
In the event you are new to the issue of low voltage and its effect on RV’s components, what should you do? The need for a power management system (not just a surge protector) is a given. If you don’t want to invest in that, buy one of the power monitors you plug into the receptacle on the wall of your RV and see what it reads around dinner time when power usage in campgrounds normally peaks. A monitor costs a great deal less than circuit boards or compressors.
 
A final thought about the dangers of low voltage has to do with the life of your companion animal. If you are using a power management system that shuts down the power to your rig in the event of low voltage (they all do), if you have a companion animal and left the air on to keep it cool, low voltage creates a life or death situation without sounding a warning. Just something to keep in mind, if you are concerned about whoever is in your RV when you are not there.
 
How common is low voltage? In older campgrounds, it is extremely common because they were often built before 45-foot motorhomes and 40-foot fifth wheels became commonplace. If by chance you write a review of a campground and experience a problem with low voltage, be sure to note it in your review. I intend to do the same when I write a review about the campground where we camped.

Read the most recent tipDon’t let your tow bar take you (or someone else) out

Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.

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Click here to see the last issue of RV Travel Reader Pets.


water-filter-677It’s Spring: Time to change your water filter!
Camco TastePURE Water Filter with Flexible Hose Protector
This best-selling product reduces bad taste, odor, chlorine and sediment in drinking water with a 100 micron fiber filter. Its durable in-line, exterior mount filter has a wider body to increase flow. Use it at your campsite to keep sediment out of your RV water tank and to improve the taste and smell of your drinking water for a whole season. Many RVers consider this essential equipment. Learn more or order at a big discount.


QUICK TIPS

Dated your detectors lately?
No, we’re not talking about flowers and a nice dinner. Pull your smoke, LP and carbon monoxide detectors down and check their labels. Detectors are “good” within a certain date, and even if they seem to be “working” after the expiry, don’t risk it – replace them.

Keep that VIN handy
With electricity expert, Mike Sokol
Keep a photo of your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) stored in your phone. Many times when you call the order desk for repair parts the first thing they’ll do is ask you for the VIN. Save yourself a trip out to the driveway or storage facility and keep a copy close to you. This one tip alone has saved me a LOT of steps.

Don’t let bees buzz you

Put a layer of window screen over the vent holes on your bumper plugs. Still lets the drain hose air out, but keeps the bugs away.

HOT TOPIC AT RV TRAVEL.COM
RV park owner laments crowding, rookie RVers


faucet-755

SUPER HANDY!
Add an outdoor water faucet to your RV!
This lead-free outdoor faucet is really handy. If you don’t have one, here’s a super inexpensive way to add one. No tools required and it installs in a minute (just screw it on). Brass T included with the plastic faucet, just as it’s shown in the product photo. Learn more or order.


WEBSITES OF THE DAY 

Hipcamp
Book a campsite … anywhere! Hipcamp searches thousands of listings of campsites on public land. Camp at a winery, on a farm, or on a nature preserve! 

How to keep ticks away 
It’s almost tick season again (ugh.) Read these tips on how to keep these nasty guys away from you (and from Fido)!

Volunteer.gov
See all available Forest Service volunteer positions. Updated daily, find a position that suits you and your lifestyle! 

Check out the long list of great RVing-related websites from RVtravel.com.


slideout-seal656Protect your RV’s slideout
with this rubber seal lubricant
If you don’t take care of your slideout you’re asking for problems including dangerous, costly water damage. This rubber seal lubricant from Thetford prevents fading, cracking and deterioration. It cleans, conditions and shines, keeping seals flexible and protected from sunlight destruction. It is also useful on door seals and window seals. It’s a mineral oil product and also acts as a lubricant. Learn more or order


VIDEO OF THE DAY

Sad, see what happens when a motorhome is righted after toppling on its side
This video is only about 50 seconds long. A Class C motorhome has crashed, landing on its side, and a tow truck is pulling it back up on its wheels. You don’t want this happen to your RV. Don’t miss this!

CLICK THE VIDEO TO SEE THE TIP.
See all of our videos on our YouTube Channel.


vac-square-755vac-long-755Lightweight vacuum perfect for RVs
This Dirt Devil Simpli-Stick Lightweight Bagless Stick Vacuum is compact and it works great. Plus it converts to a hand vacuum in a snap! It’s the vacuum of choice in the RV Travel motorhome. Weighs less than 4 pounds. Learn more or order for about $20.


MORE QUICK TIPS

Prop up your slideout
Slideout on your motorhome not feel real stable? Some RVers use a screw-type “stacking jack” with a small chunk of plywood on top of the jack to add stability. Slide the jack and plywood under the outside corner of the extended slideout and snug it up.

Don’t forget to check for size restrictions at campground
Check ahead before checking in at the campground: Make sure the campground or park doesn’t have size restrictions that your rig exceeds.
 
Do you have a tip? Send it to diane (at) rvtravel.com .


Camco Wheel Chocks. Two Packwheel-chalks-757
Wheel chocks are one of those “must have” basic items for all RVers. Hey, who wants to go rolling outta their campsite at 3 a.m.? For trailer owners, the chocks are designed to keep your RV in place so that you can re-hitch with confidence. The chocks are constructed of durable hard plastic with UV inhibitors and are easy to use. Learn more or order.

Join us: On RVillageFacebookTwitterYouTube.

LEAVE HERE WITH A LAUGH
Delighted by the gift she had received, the lady spoke warmly to the boy. “At church tomorrow, I’ll thank your mother for this lovely pie.” The boy replied nervously, “If you don’t mind, would you thank her for two pies?”

Today’s Daily Deals at Amazon.com
Best-selling RV products and Accessories at Amazon.com. UPDATED HOURLY.



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RV Daily Tips Staff

Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Deanna Tolliver, Mike Sokol, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring.

ADVERTISE on RVtravel.com and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at)RVtravel.com .

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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Mike
Guest
Mike

In regards to the survey about pets… Does the wife count?

Bob Wohlrab
Guest
Bob Wohlrab

A comment on your #871 Electric low voltage. I have found a wonderful product called a Hughes Autoformer Voltage booster and Surge protector. I have monitored my power at all parks I’ve been to and this works great.

Bob
Guest
Bob

Regarding the class C on its side video , what was the tip?

Booneyrat
Guest
Booneyrat

Good article about low voltage at many campgrounds.After experiencing this very problem at an RV Park in Wallowa,Oregon two years ago,I spoke to the owner about it as it had melted my amp cord end at the pedestal.He admitted the RV Park had electrical problems and claimed he would have it all “fixed”…by the next season…well…no “fixing” and he raise the monthly rent 25%. So no more of that place for me.RV’er beware of the electrical problems at many RV parks and the owners “claim” that all is hunky dory…many times it is not.

Tina McK
Guest
Tina McK

Propping up your slide is the worst thing you can do! Plus it is not recommended by any manufacturer!

PnPSmith
Guest
PnPSmith

Solve the problem with a Hughs Autoformer. If shore voltage drops too low it will “boost” the voltage being supplied to you RV. Especially useful in older parks.

Sherry
Guest
Sherry

$595 on Amazon. . .I’ll have to manually monitor for awhile. . .

Rob
Guest
Rob

can you recommend a simple power voltage monitor that can display the voltage continuously. An alarm for low voltage alert would be cool.

Richard
Guest
Richard
Jim
Guest
Jim

This has been a really inexpensive yet effective voltage monitor for me:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017AVBIVG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Bob
Guest
Bob

Regarding the article on “Propping up your slide-out”. As an ex RV salesman we did not recommend ever propping up the slide-out. In the event of a leaking or flat tire on the RV the RV will settle putting too much pressure and strain on the slide-out causing potential damage. If the RV is built correctly the slide-out will support itself adequately.

Kevin Kelly
Guest
Kevin Kelly

Hi Mike. Do you know if Mike of the “No Shock Zone” will answer electricity questions if I email him?
Thanks. Kevin

Dr4Film ----- Richard
Guest
Dr4Film ----- Richard

In response to the main article of Low Voltage at older campgrounds and RV Parks, I purchased a Power Master VC-50 Voltage Booster to use in those situations to eliminate having no A/C when it is most needed. My Progressive Industries HW-50C no longer drops out when it encounters any Low Voltage situation. Unfortunately they are no longer available but you could use a 50 amp Hughes Autoformer Voltage Booster instead.

Bill Tucker
Guest
Bill Tucker

Hi Chuck. That video of the C Class on its side. Do you know what caused the accident? It would be good to know, if it was something that could be prevented. Thanks