RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 856

RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 856

Issue 856 • February 27, 2018
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RVing Tip of the Day

Is an AGM or lithium RV battery in your future?
 
By Greg Illes 
If you thought you knew a lot about batteries, be prepared to go back to school in the near future. The world is changing.
photo: Claus Ableiter / wikimedia

Once upon a time, RV batteries came from familiar factory names such as Lifeline, Trojan, Interstate and the like. They were 12V or, better yet, 6V “golf cart” styles, made with 19th-century lead-acid technology. They had a great deal of energy storage, considerable weight and some obnoxious idiosyncrasies associated with their chemical technology.
 
Around 1980, AGM batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat) were developed, initially for aviation and military use. Still of lead-acid construction, AGM soaked up the acid in a fiberglass mat. Then the whole affair was sealed up tight. Presto, no more leakage, no more water maintenance, no more dry cells. Still pretty heavy, and a bit less energy storage per pound.
 
Sitting on the sidelines, gel-cells and variations on sealed-lead-acid were lesser players in the battery market.
 
Then, electric cars started to become a reality. Almost overnight, vehicle battery needs to be changed from a few hundred amp-hours of capacity to a few thousand amp-hours. Lead batteries having that capacity made up more than half the weight of early electric vehicles. Something else was needed, and lithium was the answer.
 
But lithium started out with a black eye. Laptop battery fires poisoned the market’s enthusiasm for years due to the very real fears of a major vehicle fire. But eventually, a fireproof lithium technology was developed, and today lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) is the choice for any kind of vehicle battery.
 
AFTER STUDYING THIS FIELD for some time and working my way through wet-cells and then AGMs, I recently bought a set of LFP batteries to run in my motorhome. While my “jury is still out” on what constitutes the perfect battery configuration, I’ll summarize what I know for now.
 
Flooded-cell – This is the common wet-cell battery that everybody loves and hates. It’s cheap, messy, widely available. They have to be mounted in a well-ventilated area and must be kept right-side-up at all times. They can accept up to about 20% of their rated capacity when charging. High discharge rates will quickly drain them and shorten battery life. Normal life span is about 4–5 years or 500–1000 charging cycles.
 
AGM – About 50% more expensive than wet-cell, there’s never an acid mess or need to replenish water. They can be mounted in a closed compartment and in any orientation. Charge acceptance, discharge, and lifespan are like wet-cell.
 
LFP – Nearly four times the cost of wet-cell, but lifespan makes up for it: easily 8–10 years and 3000–5000 charging cycles. Fully sealed, any orientation, and about 1/3 the weight of wet-cell or AGM. Perhaps most importantly for RV/solar applications, LFP will accept 3X its capacity in charge rate, which allows the use of full solar capacity at all charge levels. They also can be discharged at very high rates without any penalty (I run my microwave on battery power). LFP batteries have been full-custom applications until recently, but there are now drop-in replacement LFP products for lead-acid batteries.
 
There is a great deal more to say about all these batteries, but space is too limited here. Clearly, AGMs are worth the expense if you want a cleaner, lower-maintenance setup. But LFP batteries are a total game-changer. Lighter, faster, higher charge/discharge rates. And lots more money up front. LFPs aren’t for everybody. But they do have some compelling advantages.
 
Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. You can follow his blog at www.divver-city.com/blog.

Read yesterday’s tipDump your RV’s holding tanks uphill? Here’s a way. . .

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

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slide-out-covers-655slide-out-guards-655Protect yourself and others from sharp edges of RV slideouts!
Cut your head just once on a sharp RV slideout and you’ll race out to buy a set of these so it never happens again! Camco’s Black RV Slide-Out Corner Guards offer a simple solution to the danger posed by sharp corners on RV slideouts (think about kids running by!). Simply place them on each corner of the slide to provide a cushion. Easy to install, no tools required. Learn more or order.


QUICK TIPS

Handy leveling tools
Got levels? Having bubble levels on the side and front or rear of your rig makes it easier to level up when you’re setting up. Or use a small “torpedo” level. With your rig known to be level, see if your storage bay trim or windows are also level. If they are, you can use a torpedo level lined up on the trim anywhere it’s convenient.

Double-check your 30-amp receptacles for correct wiring
With electricity expert, Mike Sokol
While most 20-amp and 50-amp pedestal receptacles are correctly wired, any “new-looking” 30-amp receptacles should be viewed with suspicion and their voltage double-checked before plugging in your shore power plug. Since a 120-volt TT-30 plug looks similar to a 240-volt dryer plug, some residential electricians get confused and wire it for 240 volts rather than 120 volts – and that can blow up your RV electrical system and appliances within a few seconds.

Putting in a dishwasher?
Thinking about installing an RV dishwasher? Before you go out and lay down money, check out the specifications. Not only do you need enough physical space, but also consider the electrical and plumbing requirements – your rig must be able to provide for all.

HOT TOPIC AT RV TRAVEL.COM
Really? RV industry survey doesn’t even suggest improving quality.


mice-653Keep rodents out of your RV!
The positive reviews on this make it a best bet for keeping your RV rodent-free. This is the only plant-based rodent repellent registered for inside use by the EPA. It effectively repels rodents up to 100 days with a “woodsy” scent that’s pleasant to humans but offensive to rodents. It’s safe around kids and pets so no safety warning is required. 98% biodegradable. Used effectively by the RV Travel staff. Learn more or order.


WEBSITES OF THE DAY

Workers on Wheels
Work for RVers and campers: employment, campground jobs, volunteer positions and RV businesses. Frequent newsletters with newest job postings, articles, tips, and much more – even assistance with your job resume!

National Parks to visit this spring
Ready to hit the road? These ten National Parks are most beautiful in the spring and are well-deserving of a road trip. Don’t wait too long to make campground reservations though – you know they fill up fast!

Pixel of Ink
Here you’ll find free and bargain Kindle books updated daily. You can thank us later. Happy reading!

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

Why weighing each wheel of your RV is important
Andy Pargh, The Gadget Guru, talks with Jeff Gaston of My RV School about how his company works with customers to determine how their RV’s weight is distributed and how to adjust if necessary for safe driving. They discuss the most common reasons for tire failure and more. Good stuff!

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

2018 Large Scale Road Atlas now available
This 2018 Rand McNally Large Scale Road Atlas has maps of every U.S. state that are 35% larger than the standard atlas version plus over 350 city inset & national park maps & a comprehensive index. Road construction & conditions contact info is located above maps. Mileage chart shows distances & drive time between 77 North American cities & national parks. Tough spiral binding allows the atlas to lay open easily. Learn more.


MORE QUICK TIPS

Use windshield “shades” for your RV skylight
RV skylight giving off too much heat or light? Hit the auto parts store and buy some windshield “shades.” Attach them to the ceiling under the offending skylight using double stick Velcro tape.

Secure your RV awning while traveling
Here’s another tip to securing your RV awning. (There was a suggestion in this newsletter last week.) Reader Mark Walsh says he gets peace of mind regarding his RV awning while traveling. How? “I use a large piece of Velcro wound several times around each arm of the awning up near the top. I have to use a picnic table or ladder to get it there but it takes away the worry.” —Thanks, Mark.
 
Do you have a tip? Send it to diane (at) rvtravel.com .

radio-764

COSTS LESS THAN $16!
Don’t get caught 
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The Midland HH50 Pocket Weather Alert Radio receives NOAA weather alert broadcasts and searches for the weather frequency for the area when powered up. Its automatic alert system turns it on in event of dangerous weather or civil emergency, so you don’t miss anything crucial. Requires 3 AAA batteries. Learn more or order.


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Betty: “I don’t. I just want the money.”

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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.

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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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Related

4 thoughts on “RV Daily Tips Newsletter Issue 856

  1. Ron

    Regarding securing your awning. Securing the arms will not stop the awning from unraveling. If the tension spring inside the roller breaks or becomes disconnected, the awning will unfurl whether or not the arms are secure. Don’t ask me how I know..

  2. Larry

    I have heard that Lithium batteries need a different charging system, that you can’t just swap them out in a RV. I don’t have any solid info, this is just what was being said on a different forum.
    Were you able to just swap them out ?

  3. Hatty

    I would like more info on lithium batteries by Greg.
    How many and how much did it cost?
    How many watts of solar?
    What modifications are required?
    Are you happy with them?
    Thanks,
    Harry

  4. Bill

    Good article on the lithium batteries. But I still haven’t found out where you can buy them in Canada.

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