Friday, 30 January 2015

Life on the road: RV Living

Battery Charger

To recharge our three 12V 120 amp/hr Lifeline batteries properly, we have a 35amp/hr battery charger that runs off the generators or off power if we are connected. We also charge our batteries off the car electrical system by using a Redarc DC to DC battery charger that gets hook up to our trailer every time we take off. The system that comes with all trucks doesn't work, so don't believe what the sales people tell you.

When charging from an external power supply like 110v or your generator, you may notice that it takes a long time to charge your batteries. The modern Smart Converters are not all that smart. They take the incoming power and distribute the power to the inside of your RV or Trailer first and the residual power then goes to charging your batteries at a rate no greater than 7 amps. So if your batteries are well down it may take several days to bring them back to a full charge. Even an overnight stop being hooked up may not solve your battery issues. Therefore to fix this problem we use a Singerex 35 amphr charger and a Redarc 40 amphr DC – DC charger so that we are not relying on the internal unit.

Fantastic Fans

We have two of these fans in our 5th Wheel. The main use of course is for extracting cooking smells  out of the kitchen and shower steam and other nasties out of the bathroom. When dry camping they are indeed fantastic. When the temperature starts to cool down outside. Open up a few windows and then put these fans on high and they draw in the cool air faster than an air conditioner can cool the place down. We usually put our ceiling fan on at the same time. If you have them set to automatic, they will close if it starts raining.


We were very lucky to have a propane central heating and an electric fireplace in our 5th Wheel when we bought it.

The downside of the central heating is that it is very expensive to run, even just using them for a few hours a day, a 20lb tank will only last 3 days.

An electric fireplace is wonderful if you are in an RV park, just hit the remote control from the bed and wait until the place is warmed up before getting up! Not usable if you are dry camping.

So, we had to find an alternative. Catalytic heaters use very little propane. The downside is that you have to have two windows open as they use up the oxygen, but they warm the RV up a treat. We have run a gas line to our main propane tanks. Campingworld have a number of models.


We ordered an inverter from one of the car stores, 2400W so that if I need it, I can use my hairdryer when we aren't hooked up! This also allows us to use our laptops or watch TV (aka digital files, not always actual TV) when we are off the grid.


Some of the lights in our RV are already LED. Those that weren't we replaced with LED's to reduce the electricity load for when we are dry camping. Choose between bright light and warm light.

Solar or Generator?

People who have solar swear by them and we use them in Australia (camping and on our house), it's just a lot of money when we don't live here permanently. Having them mounted on the roof of your RV isn't the most efficient use of them, they need to be tilted towards the sun and not be under trees. Solar works best in low heat, full sun, in the middle of the day.

We went for two 2kva Honda generators. Honda and Yamaha are the most quiet - we have a 1 kva Yamaha at home. The idea behind these are that we can hook two together to run one of our air conditioners or the microwave if we need to, or one generator to recharge the batteries. When we leave we won't have a problem re-selling them.

Storing your RV in a cold place?

  • You need to have the capacity to recharge the batteries regularly. They discharge quicker in cold weather. 
  • We got a de-humidifier for when we stored our trailer in cold weather and it collected a fair amount of water. I sit it in a glass bowl as well, as water collects here too.
  • Leave all the cupboards open so your mould doesn't collect on your clothes.

Washer & Dryer

We opted not to have a washer and drying in our 5th wheel. They are very small (you would be doing load after load) and most of the time we are not on full hook up, so it just wasn't worth it.

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