RV Electrical System: History

I started RVing in the mid-80’s with nothing more than one battery, that could keep the fridge running, was a backup for my trailer emergency brake and supply some light for nighttime reading.
trailerThings have changed since then, in a major way! In fact, the battery system’s main purpose was to enable to move from campground to campground. Few people knew about battery maintenance and boondocking was limited to an overnight stay, unless you wanted to go without the conveniences of modern life. Continue reading RV Electrical System: History

Solo RV Living: Rules To Live By!

Solo RV living or solo travel is more popular now, than it’s ever been. It follows the same route as the Tiny House movement, where people want to scale down, live smaller, have less impact on the environment and be closer to nature.

Yet traveling around solo in a recreational vehicle brings with it some specific issues, that need to be addressed. While you have the opportunity to make all the decisions and go where you want to go, you also lack the support of a partner. Nothing is as devastating as facing a disastrous event, while parked alone in the boondocks, without any lines of communication and far away from the nearest help.

Before getting on the road, we have to anticipate the difficulties we may face during our explorations, so we can avoid worrying about all bad things that can happen. Be prepared, realistic and have fun! Continue reading Solo RV Living: Rules To Live By!

Insulating Your RV: Thermal Insulation

PREVIOUS: Passive Cooling

This discussion here is not about the solution to the great insulation debate among RV’rs, but my personal view of the many topics involved when insulating an RV. The decisions I take are based on my preferences, my budget, my location(s) and how I’m going to use the van, thus your selection will definitely be different.
I’ll focus primarily on boondocking, where temperatures are mostly unregulated; if you’re spending most of your time on campgrounds, you may opt for more or less insulation materials.

A highly contested subject is the use of vapor barriers in an RV. I regard the outside metal skin of the van as the main vapor barrier, others would like to add a separate layer. The skin of the van will always sweat and some airflow is needed, for this condensation and the existing moisture inside the van, to escape, otherwise it will lead to moisture, mold and rust problems. An extra vapor barrier doesn’t make sense. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Thermal Insulation

Insulating Your RV: Passive Cooling

PREVIOUS: Acoustic Insulation

Insulating is only one approach to avoid heat gain/loss. Passive cooling techniques were developed for the home, yet also apply to recreational vehicles.

Cooling is enhanced through natural breezes or by fans that move the air; improved evaporation exposes the skin to dryer air as long as the humidity is not too high. Rising warm air flows out out the vehicle through the roof-mounted vent and that pulls in cooler air from lower ventilation openings.

fantastic-4000rTo boost air movement, exit locations in the form of roof vents can be found in most RV’s, yet low placed entryways are virtually non-existent. Windows and doors take their place, but doors are often closed and windows are located fairly high in the walls of the van. A better solution may be to introduce a floor vent at the opposing end of the vehicle and away from the roof vent. Relatively cooler air from the permanently shaded area below the vehicle would be able to enter the vehicle here, move through the interior to the other end of the van, to exit at the roof vent location, either naturally or mechanically. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Passive Cooling

Insulating Your RV: Acoustic, Thermal & Passive Cooling

Insulating an RV is a controversial subject among RV owners. With such a great variety of products and even more opinions about the ones to use, it’s unavoidable that individual choices will lead to multiple solutions, customized to local climates and personal convictions. But in the end, if it works for you, then it works great!

Cooling the RV starts with minimizing heat gain by using lighter colored vehicles to reflect as much heat as possible. Parking in the shade will reduce direct solar radiation and insulation limits any radiated and conducted heat gains.

insulationTo me, insulating an RV or Cargo Van involves more than just applying a layer of fiberglass insulation; attention should be given to both sound & temperature insulation. Several of the new European style vans are already equipped with some sound-deadening materials and combining them with temperature regulating insulation that has good sound vibration limiting properties is the ultimate goal. Continue reading Insulating Your RV: Acoustic, Thermal & Passive Cooling

Ford Transit: 2015 Model Now Or Wait For The 2016 Line-Up?

Those planning to buy a new Transit cargo van have to make up their mind: purchase the van now or wait a little and go for the new 2016 model.

Ford just announced the changes for the 2016 Transit cargo vans:

  • The all-new Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system is a complete upgrade from the SYNC 2 system, with better menu browsing, voice recognition, a smartphone-like main menu and easier-to-understand graphical interface.
  • More standard equipment includes a backup camera for easier parking and trailer hitch assist technology that automatically kicks in when the vehicle is shifted into reverse. The screen helps drivers to line up the hitch with the trailer.
  • Dual sliding side cargo doors will be available on Ford Transit medium- and high-roof vans.
  • Four new paint colors are introduced: Shadow Black, Caribou, Magnetic and Race Red.
  • Heavy-duty alternators are optional on wagons.
  • The USB jack moves above the cupholder in the center console.
  • Optional auxiliary fuse panels.
  • An AGM battery is optional on all gas engines. For drivers that need to power more equipment.
  • Standard front dome lamps with map lights and theater dimming.

No major improvements, except the move to the SYNC3 information system. Next year’s model may have a better resale value, if you plan to hold the vehicle only for a few years, but likely at a cost, though retail prices haven’t been set yet.
The on-line configurator will be available starting August 11th, 2015 and the 2016 Ford Transit cargo vans will arrive at the dealership in September 2015.

RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

RV fridges come in all sizes, and more importantly as a single 12V or three-way unit.

For years, the three-way fridge has been the traditional unit for use in RV’s, yet it had two major drawbacks:

  • The absorption type fridge requires leveling of the vehicle.
  • It has complicated power source requirements: 12V + 120V wiring and propane tanks.

That all changed with the advent of the Danfoss compressor. Refrigerators equipped with these compressors are energy efficient, highly reliable and compact. Connected to batteries, as a 12V power source, these fridges can run for days and indefinitely when connected to solar panels. No more restrictions when traveling through tunnels (propane) and more opportunities to build a propane-free conversion van. Continue reading RV Fridge Checklist: How To Store Your Food On The Road

Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

There are many similarities between a solar installation in an RV and a regular single-family home. OK, some differences are quite fundamental, like the total number of available PV panels and their orientation, yet with respect to the system wiring, differences are less apparent.

The RV and the Marine environment have accumulated heaps of solar technical knowhow, that is directly applicable to home construction. And the major increases in efficiency of Photovoltaic panels in recent years, Continue reading Is The RV At The Forefront Of Low Voltage Home Wiring?

“Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

Long before I install solar in my RV, I have to think about power use of my electronics, that is the amps and type of voltage (12V/110V). Computer use in a RV has become easier since laptops became available. Battery use is always an issue in a recreational vehicle and certainly with computers that may use little, but are in use a lot. Trying to keep electrical demand to a minimum is always a priority, since it directly translates into a longer boondocking experience.

Intel developed the low energy Atom chip line used in the NUC’s (Next Unit of Computing) small form factor PC’s with a similar technology as what’s used in the so popular tablets. Continue reading “Intel: Little Stick, Big Surprise.” How To Successfully Integrate A Computer In Your RV

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