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Smitty77_7

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  1. Solar Energy Questions

    We're at 800AH Bank, and designed for 400AH usage, installing 1200W of 48V high efficiency panels. So the 3:1. However, we try to live off the top 25% of the battery (Also part of the design.) So ~200AH's (+ or - 50A upon occasion), so in reality closer to 4:1. On our 2014 trip to Alaska with many, many hours of sun, and yes the angle of sun subtracts from the pure number of hours - we ran the generator to exercise it! We spent 12 days in Gros Ventre campground in mid September. Partial shading from the trees, and very few days of no cloud cover. I'd say about 65% of the time we had at least a half day of cloud covers. Usually in the afternoon, which was also the best position for the sun in regards to tree shading of the panels. We adopted the habit of waiting for the gang around us to start their generators, then we'd turn ours on too to do the heavy lifting on the charge. Usually back to 90-92% SOC before we turned of the AM generator usage. By the dinner hour, we were usually at 93-95% SOC after the solar of the day. (We have electric fridge, so this meant most days the partial solar power we received, covered our needs and gained a few more percent of SOC.). Every third day, I'd also run the generator with the evening crowd, getting to 100% SOC. On that trip, we next moved for 5 days at the end of Sept to Yellowstone's Madison campground. Heavy tree shading, and a day of snow covered panels too = next to nothing from the 1200W's of Solar:)! So, generator AM and PM crowd, to 90%, except the third day again up to 100% SOC. So many variables... I do like the faster charging of AGM, and stay close to the ongoing maturing and volume of new Lithium battery options. (No rush, as I hope to get 4-5 more years out of our X's 4 L16 Lifeline's:)!) And another real factor, is the reality of costs vs the number of days Boon Docking. I designed and planned for us to be ~40% Boon Docking and 60% Shore Power. The DW prefers something different, so you know that that is what we're doing:)! Probably 15-20% Boon Docking in our current travels... But, we also look at our RV as our extended families Emergency Support Vehicle. (Had to explain to my BIL, that this did not include him borrowing the coach for Tailgating!). Earthquake/Fire/Rolling Brown Out's of Southern California. So fuel topped off, water tank full, other tanks empty, food and fridge stocked with non perishable, month supply of medicines, etc., etc. The Solar is thus also a part of this potential usage too. (Have used it during longer then 2 hour power outages about 4 times over the years. One was a Monday Night Football, with the then San Diego Charger's playing - so we had the coach pulled out, generator feeding some the fringes in the house. DirecTV up - and probably 20 neighbors sitting in the driveway watching the game!!) Pick your budget for now, design for future growth if not doing it all at once - and go get it done:)! Smitty
  2. Still having b attery problems

    Good point about the knowledge trust available here on this forum, as well as 'hand's on' DIY install owner's usually having a good grasp on what they have for solar. (I said usually, as I've seen several DIY installs that provided 'opportunities for improvement':)!). And for those that are not DIY, the importance of finding a good installer/company can definitely pay dividends in the end. Companies like Starlight in Yuma, AM Solar in Oregon, are two examples of companies that very seldom get bad reviews from owners. And of course, others too. For those that want to do DIY, working with these companies to provide total packaged kits, is another way to go. But yes, not just in solar, I find that many times I know more about a product then the 'expert's' I'm dealing with... And reading this forum as I do, know that many of you have much higher knowledge and experience then I do... Best to all, Smitty
  3. First time RV buyer

    OP - Welcome, and salute to doing you're due diligence upfront:)! Agree with the comments about how will this be used, as very important to getting the right unit. And if going with a Class C, agree with the 450 based units for the reasons mentioned. You two determine what is important to you, as far as layout and usability differences between a C and an A. I will jump in with the other's and say driving a Class A, is in many ways easier then driving a Class C. As mentioned, better visibility. But besides the driving, the Class A usually provides a more livable space inside, higher CCC, and larger bay storage, then most Class C's. Another choice point, is new vs used. Suggest you pick a budget range, and then compare what that will provide for a Class C and or Class A. I've been helping a friend thru this process, who will live with his wife in this unit for about 4 months a year (Escaping Montana winters.). As we went thru the pro's/con's, they ended up deciding to look at a Gasser 34-36' Class A's. They're focusing on used units between National Dolphin, Rexhall, Mountain Aire, Triple E as the primary RV's. They're going to also look over the Rexhall and Holiday Rambler's UFO chassis with rear 8.1 GM engine too. This will push them up to 37', but with the super slides of say the Rexhall - they feel it will give them as much livable space as a 42-43' DP:)! With the exception of the UFO chassis based units, they're OK with either the F53 (New enough to have the 5spd transmission, which I believe is around the 2005/2006 model year(?)), or Workhorse with the 8.1. Layout, and condition in relation to price, will be the key decider on this. They plan to add an Extended Warranty. This was a bit of a conversation, as he just wanted to put the funds away each year to cover normal maintenance as well as any 'pop up' surprises. But she wanted the peace of mind of the EW, so he went with he 'Happy Wife, Happy Life!'. Finally, they're retaining a budget fund to cover any catch up maintenance, and or modifications customizations to make it 'their coach'. The catch up maintenance, if needed, is to allow them to start with a solid mechanical baseline. They also decided to only consider what they felt were a bit higher quality Class A's - which of course, is always subjective, vs going for the lower purchase point of say an entry level Class A. I share this info, as this is the process that seems to work for them. They went to a Stadium Super RV sell, and went into several Class C's, and sat in them for along time to get a feel for them. Kitchen galley refrigerator size, ease of getting out of the seats to go back while driving, and some can swivel driver/passenger for seats for extended seating, waste tank size for boon docking, pushed the 'livability decision' to the Class A. They both agreed, that if they felt they thought they'd be boon docking off the beaten path quite a bit, they would have gone with a Class C on the 450 chassis. A few can be found with 4x4. So OP, just more input for you to consider. And no right or wrong about this, just options and choices. Best to you, and as you can see - this forum will provide you with lots of $.02 - so please do come back and ask questions along this journey:)! Smitty
  4. Wifi booster? or antenna? help!

    Ubiquity has quite an arsenal of good devices, and like many companies, a few products that need continued process improvement:)! (To be clear, the products noted above, are a solid option:)! And I do like and have used many Ubiquity products over the decades.) The WiFi Ranger have products that can also support what your looking to do. Probably the SkyProPack would be the easiest and the least expensive options of their products. What plus of the WiFi Ranger products, is they add a feature called Safe Surf, which is like a VPN in behavior, that adds a safer connection for banking, purchases, trading. It can be toggle on and off easily. (Do not believe Ubiquity products listed have such a feature?) Link below. One caution, just because you get a stronger signal from the roof top antenna, and rebroadcast of that signal inside of your coach. Many parks are WiFi systems are still not going to provide you an internet highway of speed:)! If with a strong signal, you'll find many times that the parks infrastructure, or the back haul to the internet, are not up to the task of providing super highway speeds:)! Best to you, Smitty https://www.wifiranger.com/shop/product/60-skypro-pack
  5. Tesla Battery

    Always enjoy threads like this, especially when it's just so easy to make suggestions and 'Gee, you could do this to...' - with OPM's:)! (And yes, this is Other Peoples Money, or in RV/Derek's (Hey Derek:)!) case - his future Tesla profits:)!). I've been research Stick & Bricks home AC units, and stumbled across this company. It was new to me, since last time I researched over 10-12 years ago now. (And note, just sharing, sure have not looked real close at this yet... But, it's for sure a new twist on feeding AC power, and an optional smaller generation system for the home too...): http://abcosolar.com/products/smart-frog-solar-ac/ Back to Tesla. My neighbor has a the Big Boy Tesla Car, 18 months ago it was the model with options that was the fastest production care in the world. In November, he added one Powerball to his house. He has a solar system from about 5 years ago, that was incorporated with the Powerball. He knows it's not enough to provide all of his power needs, but with the Tesla Electric Car, he gets discounts from local electric utility of which he is in a 'credit mode' at the of the year due feeding power into the grid. He bought the Powerball, well because he could afford it, and also because he likes techie stuff. And is probably up their with Derek and I admit myself, as a fan of all things Elon Musk:)! He also receive both federal and California credits, to help offset the costs of the Powerball install. 4-5 people three vehicles the first day. Then two people and one truck to finish things off the second day. And no, he did not share the costs with me. Sure looks pretty:)! Best to all, Smitty
  6. Safe charge current

    The 'safe' answer, is to look at the spec's/guidance provided by the 'specific' battery manufacturer you've chosen. Different AGM manufactures, have different guidance on the values for Bulk/Absorb/Float/Equalize(Condition). And if your current charger does not include a battery temperature sensor and compensation to charging values. Add a temp sensor if available, and or, replace the exiting charger with a unit sophisticated enough to include battery temperature compensation... This is a worthwhile investment, if missing in your current setup. $.02... Best of luck to you, Smitty
  7. Special Needs BIL, a lovely soul who very low functioning down syndrome, mid 40's now. Single Mom who provided 7/24 care. We built a home for her next door, where she and her son lived, for about a decade. This allowed us to always be available if needed, and to also observe more closely how 'Mom' was doing herself, from our almost daily interaction. I was sort of the 'outsider', who finally got my wife and other BIL together to start reviewing some longer range planning. Both for Mom, and BIL. The first thing my wife and other BIL and his wife had to decide - was if they were going to take on the life changing responsibilities of their Special Needs Brother, when the time came the Mom could no longer do so. That was lots of soul searching, myself included. Of course we love our Brother, but we all had to accept the reality that he really would be a 'life changing' force within our homes. As part of this, I volunteered (My schedule was more flexible.) to do alternative options research. Our Special Needs Brother was fortunate to be in The ARC program. Where he seemed to thrive. I worked with one of their councilors as I started about a 3 month review of options. I'll cut to the end of this. Where we had a sit down session, minus Mom, and reviewed the options I'd come up with. We all agreed on a option. And then I was nominated to approach Mom on reviewing what we felt was the right thing for her, and our Special Needs Brother. (In the previous 18 months, we'd had two occurrence of our Special Needs Brother having leg injuries requiring casts. Mom could not handle him by herself during these recoveries, she's not in great health herself, and then was in hear early 70's.) We all knew from previous conversations with Mom, that she was convinced that her Special Needs Son would only be safe with her. She had no 'long term exit' strategy in place. So that was the the 'climate/mood/sentiment' of what I would be approaching when I brought this needed conversation up with her. The term Tough Love comes to mind. Less then a 45 min discussion, with denial, tears, shouting, and absolute terror/compassion love for her Special Needs Son reflected in this time. These three main items helped turn the tide with her: 1) Explained that we all loved our Special Needs Brother, and all four of us (His other brother, and sister, and us two spouses.) had all agreed that between the four of us, we'd always have someone in town to look out for his best interests. But, that none of us would have him living with us 7/24. (Which Mom had just always assumed we'd do... stated this during our discussion.) 2) That it was a matter of safety not just for him, but also for her. That as she was aging, she was not able to continue to do what she'd always done. 3) That we all felt it was time for him to transition to a Group Home. Doing so while he still had her for this time period. Explaining that she needed to think about him not losing a home that he'd known (Adapts quickly, as they had moved several times thru the years. With the decade next to us being their nicest and longest home together.), but also possibly a Mother at the same time. (This got to her the most... And days later, when she'd again talk to me without spitting fire my way, she said she had thought about her Son losing his home, and her, at the same time. And agreed that it would be an easier adjustment for him to do so while she was still able to be with him along this transition.) This is in California, and as mentioned above, for now, California did/does seem to have more options then many other states. My research had actually resulted in one of The ARC programs Group Homes as being the best for him. We got him on the waiting list, and actually turned down spots that opened in other ARC homes that were too far away for Mom to comfortably (Well, our comfort:)!). drive to. And in 2013, opening came up, and he was two months from moving in - when Mom blew out her lower intestines. We almost lost her. 29 days in ICU, with us having our Special Needs Brother move into our home during this time. As luck would have it, I retired early 2013, and the DW was retiring in May. We had planned our Retirement Victory Tour of Alaska for 2013. So I was able to get John to his day ARC program, and pick him up every afternoon, and in between become Mom's Advocate working with the staff at the hospital she was in. Here extended recovery, over a year of her now becoming the person we were all doing things for (Well deserved, such a lady she be!!). As she was still in the Hospital on the day of the move for our Special Needs Brother into the Group Home. My Wife, BIL, SIL and myself all were heavily involved in the few weeks of pre/post transition of this move. The funny part, is he adjusted to this easier then all of us!!! Many of the clients are members of the same ARC Day Program he goest to. (5 out of the 16 from this home (Large 12 bedroom specialty made Duplex (6BR)) are driven form staff members to the Day program each day. And, we go grab this still very much a family member of ours for the weekend visits, and all family functions. (He does love the food of the Holiday's:)!) And as a bonus, a now non 7/24 caregiving Mom, in better health now too, is getting to now go do things she's never been able to do. (Though, she claims she still feels guilty she is not taking care of him - even though she now also admits it's much better for him:)!) ==== OK. I tell this story not just for the OP. But for others who may read it too. As my DW and BIL allowed me to get more involved in helping with things, and finally Mom too - we found these short comings in place: -Mom never got Legal Authority of a now adult child. Had not rights to spend his funds (SSI, as well as his Father's Military Pension and been left to him, vs Mom, due to Special Needs retained 100% of the retirement, where as Mom would have received the 50% Survivors Benefit.) No medical directive rights either. So Mom, DW and Other Brother all now legally able to represent him. (And with the change in laws about three ears ago. We now have his Retirement Funds going into a Special Needs Trusts, shielded from Medical factoring. The first few years, his 'Share of Costs' consumed all of his Father's Military Retirement Pension...) -Mom still had never created either a Will, or a Trust. And her Daughter and other Son, were not authorized to legally help her if needed. So Trusts established, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical, etc. were all established. (The also shared a lock box with us of US Treasury Bills, that were so old and of the type - that they are not receiving interest. So, she allowed us to 'assist' in her financial planning for the future too. (At early 70's, this was really too late.). For almost 20 years, Husband lost to Cancer most likely caused by Agent Orange from the rivers of Vietnam tours, she had spent her Special Needs Sons income to cover both of their living expenses. She worked part time too, but the pension remained the bulk of their living support. Well, as mentioned above, when the Special Needs Son moved into the Group Home, his Share of Costs consumed all of this. So her financial well being took a hit too. (She now lives with us in our home, which is great. She is well enough for us to be gone for months at a time as we travel in the RV. And we're also able to let her live rent free with us.) I want to be clear on this, long winded as it is. Nothing is meant as a criticism to how Mom handled things. She did what she new how to do. But, I share this as a warning and suggestion to others with Special Needs adults in their lives - to be sure you have all of the legal aspects covered. And think longer term and have mid term, and well as longer term, contingencies in place for not 'if' but 'when' your Special Needs individual will need to be on their own. OP. You mentioned the long wait in NM. You say AZ has not such long waits. You could possibly look into some of the Escapees Coops in AZ for yourselves, Benson is within driving distance of Tucson. Casa Grande is within driving distance to Phoenix. Benson is a bit further form larger cities, but also worth checking too. If your Son can be placed in an appropriate Group Home in one of these larger cities, you'd still be close enough to go grab him for weekends. You could also look into California too, as two parks are within reasonable driving systems to larger cities too. (Park of The Sierras has Fresno. Aquanga(SP?) had Temecula and region. And yes, they are expensive COOP's too:)!). But, you might find his SSI, an Medical (Californias Medicare) might work well for him here too... Or perhaps Benson in AZ for you, and California's El Centro for him? My salute to you both, and warm good thoughts as you all three work your way thru this process. And for sure, traveling with your Son is a valid option... Exist strategy in mind:)! Smitty (And my apology for being so long winded on this story. As I've become more involved with The ARC - I now am sometimes called on by other parents, siblings as they work their way thru the process. I've found that just talking to them about what we've all gone thru, and our thought process, has helped them. So while a bad writer, I tried to share more here then was probably needed - as it might help someone else too.)
  8. Yeah, but what RV did not say - is the new Apple Replacement Batteries are from Tesla!!! :)! ;)! -/:)! (Just to be clear... I'm smiling as I type!!!) Best to RV, and all, Smitty
  9. Flying Js and other truck stops

    Welcome to the gang!! And yes, it is not the 'norm' for us either. That being said, if we're going from point A to point B, and it requires a night or two along the way. I consider if 'on the road Boon Docking'. It's not about the money, as much as it is about the convince of where we're going, and getting in/out of a location quickly to get to 'point B'. If a convent RV park is also available, and we expect to be off the road by say 5:00-6:00PM - we'll pull into an RV park too... And OK if you don't feel it's appropriate for you, as it leaves more space for those who may want too... No skin off my back, and likewise 'no worries' on your thoughts:)! Welcome again, travel safe, Smitty
  10. Flying Js and other truck stops

    We've actually had more looks and comments by other RV'er's, then trucker's, as we travel:)! We will sometimes stop at a Truck Stop - only if we feel we were not taking a space that a Trucker might need. As others have mentioned, this is their lively hood, and new regulations too... We look for stops with lots of open room, and do our best to move out of the truckers. When in doubt, we'll move on. We've had luck at a few Costco's along out travels, and of course we have found Cabelas's and Walmart's to also often not have town ordinances to restrict overnight parking. If we need to, we'll keep going and pay someplace for overnight, to avoid taking a space for a Trucker... Best to all, Smitty
  11. Battery tester

    Hi Gary - Glad you like your device. Can you be a bit more specific on what it is? Is the unit below, the one you referred to, or another? TIA, Smitty OEMTOOLS 24369 Digital Battery Analyzer
  12. We have Crossfires, and it was my decision after a few days of research. A side benefit, a bit contrary from Jack's accurate observation that you can retain individual tire PSI TPMS readings - is, that you don't need individual tire PSI readings:)! Which, of course, offsets the cost some... Tireman9? I've had personal email help from Tireman9, due to some pothole impact caused tire bubbles on my Outside Dual, and Tag. (One was a broken cord, the other was a slipped cord.). I personally like his site, and appreciate all he does to promote tire safety. Best to all, Smitty
  13. Battery questions

    Hi Kirk, I won't bother 'documenting' this, as I should not have too:)! I will share that I frequent Costco's in multiple states during the yearly travels. And many products, not just batteries, are unique to a region. Specially on batteries, I've seen 8D wet and 8D AGM's in Costco's in some states, but never seen them in San Diego. GC2's will vary in product, as well as price, in different Costco's too. I don't have a Sam's membership, but suspect the buyer's for a region go out for bids of XXXX amounts, and the purchase orders can be repetitive to the same supplier, or not:)! So my personal experience I suppose is my informal documentation:)! Anyways, sure passes my filter... Best to you, and all, Smitty
  14. Howdy folks

    Welcome!!! And enjoy the journey. All of it, even the planning can be fun:)! Go slow, be ready for 'learning opportunities' - and keep a smile on... Best, Smitty
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