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If your tow vehicle, motorhome or trailer lacks a tire pressure monitoring system, commonly referred to by its initials, TPMS, the safety feature isn’t difficult to add. Adding TPMS is a good idea for RVers.
Losing a tire at speed is nasty business. The sudden loss of pressure—a blowout—can cause a vehicle to swerve or even to roll over. Tires that fail can also shred, and that can cause considerable damage to RV bodywork, especially aluminum bodies.
Losing a tire in the middle of nowhere on a long trip is no picnic, either. Getting a truck to come in and jack up any of your vehicles to change a tire is often far from instantaneous.
TPMS add-on systems basically have two parts—the sensors, which wirelessly send signals reflecting air pressure from each tire, and a wireless receiver, which gathers the information and displays it in any of several ways, depending on the system.
The monitor might display actual pressure in each tire, or it might simply show a message to check a tire, or all your tires. Individual readouts are the better choice.
Original equipment systems have monitors that are integrated into the dashboard. Aftermarket systems can’t do that, of course. They have monitors that attach to the instrument panel, on the surface or on the lower edge, or on a console surface. They’re reasonably attractive, so adding one won’t spoil your view of the instrument panel. Because they use their own batteries, there are no wires to run or connect.
Signals are sent wirelessly. Some sensors are mounted internally, which will cost more to mount because you’ll need a garage or RV center to do it. Then the tires and wheels will have to be balanced. The alternative is sensors that screw onto valve stems as replacements for valve stem caps. Manufacturers say there is no need to rebalance tires after replacing the valve caps with the lightweight sensors.
Some systems, in addition to monitoring tire pressure, monitor tire temperature and send readouts to the same monitor.
TPMS kits come with different numbers of sensors and are priced accordingly. Four would cover your tow vehicle only, and not even that if it has a dually rear axle. Kits usually include a tool to help mount the valve-cap type sensor on the inner wheels.
It’s best to get a set that has enough sensors to read the pressure of each tire on your tow vehicle, your trailer and your spares. If your motorhome tows a dingy, get sensors for that vehicle, too. Look for models that offer, in addition to the sensors in the set, additional individual sensors or supplemental sets of two. That way you can get as many sensors as you need. You also can replace sensors that go bad. Regardless of where your sensors are, they’ll read out on the dash display you install as long as they’re compatible—the same brand and model.
Sensors are water resistant to help them hold up, a must if you’re towing a boat trailer. Screw-on sensors typically must be removed to add air to a tire, then screwed back on.
Sensors last about five years. After two years you should replace the watch-type flat batteries. Better to replace them than have them fail on a trip. Some monitors have rechargeable batteries, which don’t have to be replaced but can be recharged from the power port/lighter.
A nice thing about the screw-on type of TPMS sensors is that you can remove them while your RV is stored. That prolongs the life of the sensor and the batteries, if you remove them too.
Costs vary by make, model and retailer. In general, a set of TPMS and temperature valve stem caps for eight wheels costs $380 to $600, including the display monitor. A set of 8 with internal mounts for wheels adds about $100. A color monitor might also elevate the price by $25 or so, but it’s useful for systems that measure both pressure and temperature.
Photo Credits: technorv.com
More Americans went camping last year, even with many traditional campers giving up on the lifestyle, probably due to advancing age. Campers are getting younger—maybe younger than ever—and coming from more diverse ethnic backgrounds.
The question: Will newer, younger campers embrace RVing as their parents and grandparents did? So far that appears to be happening.
Figures reported by Cairn Consulting Group in the 2018 North American Camping Report, the fourth such survey conducted for Kampgrounds of America, show that between 2014 and 2017, the number of U.S. households that camp a least once a year increased by more than 20 percent. Many campers, especially new and first-time ethnic minority campers, said they intended to camp more often last year, the report shows.
As of 2017, the number of U.S. households that camped at least once a year numbered 38,558,000, up nearly 3.9 percent from the year before. Between 2014 and 2017, the researchers found, the number of households that camped three or more times per year increased 64 percent, from 11 million to 18 million.
The Great Recession in 2009 and 2010 had lingering effects on American camping, as it did on many segments of the economy that involved discretionary spending. Researchers at Statista.com found that the number of American campers increased about 3.1 percent between 2012 and 2017, but that the total number of campers was lower in 2017 than for each year between 2008 and 2011.
Increasingly, Americans who do camp are using their own RVs. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association reports that manufacturers shipped about 483,700 RVs in 2018. That was a 4.1 percent decrease from 2017, but remember this: 2017 RV shipments were an all-time high, at about 504,600 units. The 2018 figures were still 12.3 percent higher than in 2016.
In 2016, the RVIA said, more than 9 million American households had an RV, the most ever. With sales increasing since then, and more first-time campers, that figure is likely higher in 2019. It’s dramatically improved over recession-level RV shipments, which totaled a mere 165,700 in 2009.
The camping experience on all levels is spreading through the American population as never before, the 2018 North American Camping Report shows:
More young campers: Gen Xers, who make up 27 percent of the population, according to the Census, comprise 36 percent of campers. Millennials, a generation that has shown interest in the environment and physical activity, echo Gen Xers’ involvement. Although Millennials comprise 31 percent of the general population, they make up a larger share of campers—40 percent, the largest group by age. Baby Boomers, who made up 28 percent of campers in 2015, are down to 19 percent. Mature campers—that is, seniors—are down to 5 percent, less than half their share of the general population.
More minorities: More people from ethnic minorities are getting into camping. African Americans, once less enthusiastic about camping, are now participating in numbers more nearly proportionate to their makeup in the general population. Among new U.S. campers in 2017, Statista reports, 14 percent were African American, 17 percent were Latino and 17 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders. Among all U.S. campers in 2017, whites made up 72 percent; African Americans, 8 percent; Latinos, 10 percent; and Asians/Pacific Islanders, 7 percent.
More children: More children are camping because two parent-age groups, Millennials and Gen Xers, together make up three-quarters of all U.S. campers, and many have children, Cairn researchers found. Just over half of all camping families have children who participate.
More RVs: Buyers 35 to 54 years old are the largest segment of RV owners, according to the 2011 University of Michigan study of RV consumers commissioned by the RV Industry Association. Leading-edge Millennials are fast approaching that age group. Historically, senior campers have been the strongest segment for RV ownership, an age group that baby Boomers are beginning to reach. That makes it likely RV sales will continue to rise.
Smaller RVs are becoming more popular as RV ownership hits new heights and attracts younger buyers.
With Millennials and Gen Xers now making up more than half of all RV owners, a trend toward small RVs make sense. Small RVs usually cost less, and younger buyers tend to have smaller bank accounts. Smaller RVs also are easier on the environment, which many progressive Millennials value.
The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association explains that manufacturers have adapted to demands from new camping enthusiasts.
“RV manufacturers are offering innovative new products that offer an optimal mix of size, amenities and price for today’s budget-conscious consumers,” RVIA reports. “Manufacturers are producing lightweight trailers and smaller, fuel-efficient motorhomes.”
RVs of all sizes are becoming more environmentally friendly, RVIA says. “Green technologies such as solar panels and energy-efficient components are appearing on an increasing number of RV models,” RVIA notes.
It doesn’t take a full-size V8 pickup to pull a small trailer. A compact pickup, a midsize SUV, crossover, and some sedans can pull many pop-ups, teardrops and compact trailers. The shift to small SUVs is undeniable—so much so that Ford is phasing out all cars but the Mustang sport coupe, with the rest of its vehicles to be SUVs and trucks of varying sizes.
Small RVs, because of design innovation, aren’t as cramped as they used to be.
A pop-up trailer with tent sides and zippered windows, with a fiberglass roof that lifts up from the body, remains one of the cheapest tickets to trailer camping. For example, the Forest River 206LTD costs less than $7,500. It has central heat but not air, a roomy kitchen with under-counter refrigerator and adequate cabinetry, plus a clever carryout stove for outdoor cooking; foldout double and queen beds under canvas-covered bump-outs, plus a convertible dinette that sleeps two; stand-up headroom; and a 9-foot awning. The shower is on the exterior.
More protective are new “A” frame pop-ups with hard sides. In Forest River’s Flagstaff Hard Side, you see an awful lot of features and livability. At 2,600 pounds or less, it’s 21 feet long. There’s stand-up headroom; a heat pump; kitchen with 3-burner cooktop, sink, midsize refrigerator and cabinetry; sleeping capacity of four; a dining area; speakers inside and out; toilet; choice of inside or outside shower; and an awning.
Compact travel trailers have less floor space than a 35-footer, but they’re easier to tow, surprisingly spacious, and feature-rich, with standup headroom.
The Keystone Bullet Colt, for example, is 20 feet long and weighs about 3,000 pounds. It sleeps three or four in a queen bed and convertible dinette. The kitchen has a generously sized stainless steel fridge, two-burner cooktop, microwave and plenty of cabinet space. The bath is wet or has a curtained shower. Even a slideout is available. All Bullet Colts have pass-through storage. Buyers typically pay less than $20,000.
A staple of the 1930s and 1940s, teardrops never were quipped the way they are today. For campers accustomed to sleeping in tents, a teardrop is a nice step up. You know you’re still roughing it a bit when a teardrop has an exterior shower and a kitchen under a rear tailgate. The 14-foot iCamp Elite, however, is more refined, with a wet bath, full kitchen and dinette inside. It can sleep three. Some teardrops pop up for more headroom, then lower for more streamlined towing, and some have a manual slideout that expands space.
Built on extended gasoline- or diesel-powered work van chassis, Class B motorhomes offer just about everything a Class C offers, except the space. You’ll typically find dedicated beds, full kitchens, a TV, air-conditioning, sleeper dinettes, baths and awnings. Smart design, such as fold-up Murphy beds, expand living space.
A Class B isn’t cheap. A Winnebago Travato built on a Ram Promaster chassis sells for about $100,000 and up. Campers on a Mercedes four-wheel-drive platform may go as high as $250,000. A Class B is easy to drive—it would even get you to work in a pinch. It’s great for weekend getaways, including football games and tailgates.
“RV owners overwhelmingly said in recent surveys that their RVs make it easier to take more frequent weekend getaways or mini-vacations that accommodate busy family schedules,” RVIA noted. Without the need to hitch a trailer, a Class B can be especially attractive to those campers.
Photo Credits: winnebagoind.com, urvusa.com, keystonerv.com, forestriverinc.com
Can you take your RV into a national park and use it to camp?
Yes, you can. And no, you can’t.
Confused? You might be, because every national park and national monument has its own set of rules for RV camping. The rules differ because every park differs.
If you want to take your RV into a park, whether it’s a trailer or a motorhome, the National Park Service cautions that you must check out the rules for the specific park you plan to visit well in advance. You have to make a park campsite reservation well in advance, too, because space is limited—in more ways than one.
Here’s what the National Park Service says about RV camping at national parks and monuments: “RV and towed campers are more than welcome at national parks that can accommodate them.” Note the boldface italics, added for emphasis. The simple facts are that some parks can handle RVs, some parks can’t, and some can handle RVs only if they’re within size limitations or a certain type.
“RV and towed camper sites vary from park to park (i.e., pull-through campsites, back-in campsites), and there could be space issues with slide-outs,” the park service advises.
The need for reservations is quite simple. Campsites for RVs, where they are available, are few in number compared with demand.
At some national parks—there’s that phrase again—RVers can park if they don’t drive into the park. Some have spaces even if RVs can be driven into the park or monument but not camped. But not every park has RV parking spaces, which typically are where buses also are parked.
The park service makes finding RV parking rules for each park convenient online.
Even when spaces are available, they aren’t always adequate for the number of RV-driving visitors. The parks are perennially popular. At Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, for instance, the park service makes a creative suggestion to RV drivers who can’t find a space during the peak months of June and July—that they “drive out on the 5-mile driving tour road to the Reno-Benteen Battlefield and Entrenchment trail.”
Why? “Upon returning,” the service says, “there should be parking available.”
RV hookups are rare at national parks. Where RV campsites are available, expect to boondock. After all, the parks are natural wonders. Preservation and RV hookups don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.
The website Tripsavvy.com does list three national parks with RV hookups:
National parks are tourist magnets. That means there are many nearby RV facilities, some with full service, some without. Look online; it’s not hard to find a privately owned RV park to suit your needs.
We added the italics because that phrase is key to understanding whether or not you can.
Always check with the park you are visiting for size restrictions and the number of sites that can accommodate RVs and towed campers.
Photo Credits: National Park Service
Many standard RV fans are modest performers. Fortunately fans come in standardized sizes, making it easy to upgrade.
Roof vents are 14 x 14 inches in the main living area and possibly in the bedroom, and probably 6 x 6 inches in the bathroom. Even vents without fans are likely to be 14 x 14.
There are quite a few reasons to replace a fan, even if it’s working properly:
The best way to choose a fan upgrade is to answer some questions before buying:
Standard-grade roof vent/fan replacements cost about $60 to $110 for manual models. Installation would be extra, but many RV owners can install a fan themselves. They are powered by 12V wiring.
Adding features raises the price, but significant upgrades don’t cost much individually.
A model with remote controller, electric lift, built-in rain hood plus temperature sensor costs about $240 to $300. Aftermarket rain hoods range from $25 to $75. Prices vary by as much as 50 percent for the same model, so shop around, and remember that there’s never a need to pay list price.
Inside, just about every fan is colored white or off-white. The most common color choices for lids are white and smoke. The smoke lids allow a bit of extra light to enter your RV. Some fans have clear blades, admitting even more light.
Rain hoods are available in a variety of colors, but most common are white, beige, grey and black.
Some see this as unnecessary, but remote control eliminates having to reach up to turn the unit on or off, get up from your seat to change a setting, or run wiring to a wall switch. Remote control is a boon for short RVers and those with disabilities. It will add maybe $35 to the price of an otherwise similar unit.
Most fans shouldn’t run in the rain, but after you open manual fans and turn them on, they keep running, even if it pours. Not only would rain enter the RV, but it also would damage the fan motor. Consider a model with a rain sensor, such as the Fantastic Fan 803350. It will turn off and close when rain hits. The one problem on any fan of this type is a rain sensor may stay wet, preventing the vent from reopening and the fan from coming back on—potentially deadly for pets.
If you want to exhaust air in the rain, avoid the rain sensor but get a model with a rain hood, such as the Dometic EZ-Breeze Vent Fan, about $90. It allows use 24/7, rain or not. The MaxxFan Model 00-07000k, about $300, pops open under a built-in rain hood but closes almost flat and has a temperature sensor, plus remote control. An alternative is to find a fan you like and add an aftermarket rain hood, such as the Maxxair 933067, about $50. Less expensive hoods are available. Make sure the hood you buy won’t significantly reduce airflow. The more venting the hood has on its rear surface, the better.
You have to care for your pet, even if you’re not physically in your RV. The right roof fan helps.
Just as important as leaving food and water is maintaining a safe temperature—ideally below 76F, and definitely below 80F. The best way to do that is to have a vent fan running. In addition to buying a model with a hood to allow use in the rain, or installing an aftermarket fan hood, get a fan with a temperature sensor, such as the Maxx Fan Model 00-07000k. In addition to shedding rain with its built-in hood, it cycles on and off to maintain the temperature, even if you’re not there.
Even if you don’t have a pet, you might want this feature. The fan will automatically cycle on and off if the interior temperature reaches certain levels. That kind of comfort and convenience is nice to have for the few dollars a thermostat adds. It’s available on many fans in the $125-to-$150 range.
During the spring or fall, or in the evening or morning, you may want to bring air in. This would be true especially if you have limited screened windows. To do so, you’ll need a vent/fan that can reverse its blades.
This might be especially useful to know in bathroom fans. You can’t easily increase the size of a bath fan to improve airflow, but you can increase airflow with a better motor and more efficient fan blades. Look at the CFM rating.
Unfortunately, many manufacturers don’t provide noise figures, measured in decibels (dB). If the product description doesn’t include the information, call the manufacturer or email to find out. There’s no guarantee, but a better-quality, more expensive motor and a higher number of blades typically increase air movement while lowering noise.
The “Walking Dead” TV show, all of Tyler Perry’s productions, the next Avengers movie and a reboot of the classic American TV soap opera “Dynasty” all have something in common: They are filmed either partly or entirely in Georgia.
You’d be amazed at how many productions are created in the Peach State—enough that you’d have a hard time missing the final product on your TV screen or in a movie theater. Since 2016, more feature films have been made in Georgia than in California, so move over, Hollywood.
Take a look at a list of scheduled releases filmed in Georgia. And that list grows continually.
For one thing, the state encourages the production of TV shows and movies. It does so pretty much the same way other industries are encouraged all around the country: through tax incentives.
Film and Video producers can save money by producing in Georgia. They pay no sales and use tax. They get a 20 percent income tax credit on up to $500,000 in expenses, and another 10 percent if they use the Georgia Entertainment promotional logo onscreen toward the end of their film. Within their first decade, the claimed credits increased about 50 times the original claims in 2005. That means a lot of companies are producing here, and they’re spending considerable amounts of money in the state.
Georgia is attractive as a production destination because, quite simply, it has the looks—a great deal of diversity in its readymade scenery—and a temperate climate. Atlanta alone offers skyscrapers, historical buildings and a variety of neighborhood types for street scenes, from upscale to less than savory. (Just about any major city does.) There’s an industrial side, railroads, bridges, sports arenas, parks—you name it.
Nature didn’t short Georgia with interesting places. It has mountains, a coastline, a countryside, farms, rivers and whitewater. It also has a wealth of small towns, picturesque college campuses and some old cemeteries that are downright eerie.
Production centers in Atlanta, but there’s also a good deal of activity in Norcross, as well as in other locations.
Turner Studios, part of TimeWarner, has been in Atlanta since its inception. It has produced both TV programs and movies in Atlanta. Perhaps its highest profile TV property is CNN, the 24-hour cable news network. Turner also owns truTV, TNT, Turner Cassic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and other properties.
EUE/Screen Gems has renovated and expanded buildings at the Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta under a 50-year lease with the city, signed in 2010. Added was a 37,500-square-foot soundstage. Feature films, TV shows and commercials are recorded at the facility.
Tyler Perry Studios was founded by the actor/writer/director in 2006 in Atlanta. Perry films all of his movies there, including those in the highly successful Madea comedy franchise. Part of the “Walking Dead” TV episodes are filmed there, too.
Marvel Studios, a spinoff of the famed comic books, also films in Georgia. Among its Georgia-shot films are “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Ant Man and the Wasp” and the megahit “Black Panther.”
Other filmmakers find Georgia just peachy, too. Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood, whose film-acting career took off when he acted in Italian and Spanish Westerns, has filmed several movies in Georgia. Among them are “Tully,” “American Sniper,” “Trouble with the Curve” and “The Mule.”
If you want to get closer to Georgia movie productions, you can actually take tours of locations where films and TV shows have been made.
For example, you can visit sites where the zombies have tread while making the wildly popular “Walking Dead” TV series. If you’re a fan of the show you’re bound to recognize some of the places. There are scads of other sites that have appeared on film and the small screen—the minor league ballpark from “42,” about Jackie Robinson; President Snow’s mansion from the “Hunger Games” films; and the Blue Ridge TreeHouse, built by The TreeHouse Guys for an upcoming series—and available for overnight stays.
You can also tour studios, just as visitors do in Hollywood, but with Southern hospitality thrown in. The link lists studio hours and contacts.
If you’d like to actually be in a production—maybe as a passenger at an airport, a sporting event spectator, a body in a morgue, or a zombie—click here and we’ll tell you how to go about it.
Image Credits: Steadicam
The Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa blog isn’t likely to make you a star, even though we do our best to treat you like one. But we can help you go about trying to land a part as an extra in one of the many productions that are filmed in Georgia.
Opportunities to appear on film or the small screen are more plentiful than you might know, with Atlanta being the Hollywood of the Southeast. Or maybe we should say that Hollywood is the Atlanta of the West Coast, since more films are shot in Georgia than in California the past three years.
Don’t get us wrong: There’s always a ton of competition for movie parts, even for non-speaking roles in the background of movie scenes. Getting into a movie in a nonspeaking role isn’t a cinch, but it’s not impossible, by any means.
Film extras are needed to play many types of roles.
You don’t need to have movie star looks to get a role as an extra. You don’t even need a movie star smile. Sometimes it helps, but the fact is that all types of people are needed as extras, depending on the part. Sometimes your serious look is all you’ll be asked to show.
Old people, young adults, male or female, children, skinny or rotund, buttoned-down or right off the Harley, fit or totally out of shape, babies—all are likely to be in need from time to time, depending on the film. Extras may be needed to fill a ballpark, a lobby, an airport terminal or a crowded street.
Online recently, for example, was a call for extras to play downtrodden street people in the cop buddy film “Bad Boys For Life,” now in production, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Looking perfect didn’t appear to be a priority. The “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel starring The Rock was looking for college students and “upscale types.”
Sometimes there are certain conditions for extras. For example, when Clint Eastwood was in Georgia filming his movie “The Mule,” about a 90-year-old veteran who became a drug runner for a Mexican cartel, he sought real veterans for a party scene inside a VFW post. The extras had to have their own cars. And the cars had to be certain colors. White, red or custom-color cars disqualified you. Hey, you never know when they’ll want an RV with a dent exactly where there’s damage on your Class C.
Extras—also referred to as Background people, or BG—in Atlanta typically are paid about $8 to $9 an hour. That would include the time you spend waiting, listening to direction—likely in a group—and acting. Sometimes film companies will pay extras by the 8-hour day, but it still comes out to about the same hourly pay. If you run into overtime, you’re paid for those hours at time-and-a-half. Plan on a 12-hour day, typical on the set.
If somehow you end up in a speaking part—not likely if you have no experience or training—pay may go to $500 a day or more.
Advertisements for actors are referred to as casting calls. They are advertised online. You can find casting calls by doing a search such as casting calls Atlanta, movie rolls Atlanta or casting calls Georgia. Some of the national sites have an option to search for casting calls close to where you live, but they also have listings for other locations. Occasionally, if a huge number of people are needed, an open casting call is posted.
You really should register with casting agencies, which can be done online or in person. The usual registration includes a one-page resume and brief listing of experience, if you have any. You also must include age and basic body measurements, including height, weight and dress/coat size.
Photos for most agencies seeking extras don’t have to be professional. Selfies or cell phone shots by someone else usually work fine; they let agents and directors see how you really look. In addition to your face, a clothed body shot from the knees up is helpful. If you have the clothes, dress in outfits appropriate for different characters: a business suit, casual clothes, exercise clothes, formal attire, outdoor active wear, a period costume if you have one. You don’t need all of them, just some.
Once you’re registered, update your files periodically—annually will suffice.
Agencies operating in Atlanta include:
All of the agents listed here are on Facebook. Once you’re registered, follow the site and submit to calls on the agents’ Facebook pages.
It helps to have a Facebook page of your own containing your name and describing you and your skills for agents to see. Once the call is put out on Facebook, just write a comment saying “submitted.” You’ll be notified on the agent’s page only if you’re invited to come in for a role.
Break a leg!
Coming home to—or waking up to—a comfortable RV is fairly easy to accomplish, and quite affordable. All it takes is a digital, programmable thermostat. Let’s face it: If you can program your coffeemaker to percolate before you’re out of bed, you ought to be able to program your heating and air-conditioning to be ready when you are. A programmable thermostat lets you do that.
Most RVs are equipped with old-fashioned nonprogrammable thermostats, which are analog, minimally adjustable, not very accurate and, quite frankly, cheap.
Installing analog thermostats at the factory is just one way manufacturers keep the suggested retail price of their RVs low. When you consider how much comfort and convenience a digital, programmable thermostat offers, and how low the price is in the grand scheme of things, leaving one off the standard equipment list ought to be a little embarrassing. But combine it with low costs for such things as standard plumbing fixtures, vents and cabinetry, and that sticker price really comes down.
It’s not prohibitively expensive to upgrade a thermostat, although installation of some units is best left to a professional. Even so, figure on $75-$150 for a DIY upgrade, or $300-$400 if you have the work done for you. For the year-round comfort the thermostat will supply, it’s a worthwhile investment either way.
A programmable thermostat makes life in an RV much more livable.
First, the settings are more refined. It’s possible to set temperate changes ahead of time, such as an hour before you return to your RV from a day out and about, or in the morning, just before you routinely rise. Some models let you change settings at any time by Internet or by cell phone.
Then there’s the accuracy of the settings. Digital thermostats are much more accurate than analog examples. Analog settings are often off by 10 degrees—sometimes even more—creating a “freeze-or-fry” situation. Digital settings are more typically accurate to within 2 degrees, and often a single degree.
Programmable, digital thermostats are more likely to control both air conditioning and heat, rather than heat alone. Carefully read the specs on any unit you’re considering to make sure, however, because many less expensive digital models also control heat only. And remember: Just because a thermostat is digital doesn’t mean it’s programmable; check to be certain.
Naturally, as the number of features increases, so do prices.
RV digital thermostats are available from quite a few sources, as an Internet search will quickly show. There’s Amazon.com, ubiquitous in any search; chain RV dealers, such as Camping World; and local, independently owned RV dealers.
RV dealers or shops may require you to purchase from them if you want installation service, so check ahead of time. Pro installation is sometimes required to preserve the thermostat warranty.
Not all thermostats work with all models of heaters and air-conditioners. Sometimes units made by a manufacturer aren’t even compatible with all of its own HVAC models. For instance, a good-performing programmable, digital thermostat, the Dometic 3109228.001, is not compatible with the company’s Penguin products, but it works with Penguin II. Sometimes substitute boards are available to make otherwise incompatible products work together.
Find out ahead of time if the thermostat you’re buying will work with your setup. That may be easier if you buy from a dealer or bricks-and mortar retailer with knowledgeable sales people. You can also send a question to the manufacturer or, if it makes the number available, telephone with your question. A Google search for manufacturer model number customer service telephone should help you find the number. Some e-tailers also answer questions with live chat or by phone.
Caution: Don’t depend too much on a community FAQ board. One we encountered posted a question about compatibility between the thermostat being sold and a certain air-conditioner. The first answer, simply, was “Yes.” The second answer, just as cryptically, was “No.” No help whatsoever!
Some things you may need to know and should ask before buying:
Here are some digital, programmable thermostats to consider and their approximate cost:
Photo credits: airxcel.com
If your RV interior is starting to show its age, especially but not necessarily only underfoot, consider new floor covering to make it look—and feel—newer.
Chances are, your RV has carpeting that shows its age where foot traffic is heaviest—definitely by the entry door, probably near the bathroom, and possibly where traffic routinely flows.
And then there’s the color. Color analysts from different industries actually sit down every year and decide not only what colors will be the “it” shades for the coming years, but even what the colors will be called. That’s right: There are people actively planning to make your carpet, draperies and furniture obsolete simply because of the colors they are.
You can always say, “No, I’m not getting rid of perfectly good carpet.” After all, who’s going to enter your RV here at Crossing Creeks RV Resort & Spa and say, “Your colors are so outdated.” What they’ll say is, “Oh, Charlie, look. Remember when we had carpet that color?”
If carpet is worn from lots of boondocking or trips to the shore, you have choices in recovering your floor tastefully.
Look for short-pile, closed-loop carpeting because it cleans up well, but you certainly don’t have to. You’ll save hundreds of dollars if you can find a remnant, often avalable at carpet store, discount stores and odd-lot bargain outlets.
You’ll have ample choices in color, whether you go with solid or a heather that gives the look of a solid but shows a little more life. If you’re having movie stars over, choose red. (OK. Just kidding.) When keeping your furniture, keep in mind the fabric on them. Get carpet swatches if you can and lay them on the fabric to make sure there’s no clash. If your furniture is solid, a pattern carpet might work. But be careful, since RV floor space is, all things considered, small enough to be overwhelmed by too busy a print.
Then choose between roll carpet, which must be stretched tightly before it’s stapled subfloor, or self-adhering carpet squares, also called carpet tiles. Laying roll carpet can be trying, including physically, but it’s possible to do it yourself. The fewer seams, the better looking the results. Make sure to snug seams so they disappear. Sometimes taping seams underneath with carpet tape helps.
Installing carpet tiles is easier. They’re often used in offices and sometimes in below-grade family rooms. You’ll have to scrape off the remnants of any previous floorcovering and pull staples so the subfloor surface is smooth and clean. You’ll also have to find the center of the floor and strike perpendicular chalk lines, starting at the center and working toward walls and furniture. That way, carpet squares in the center of the floor, where they are most obvious, will be full. Cutoff carpet tiles will be near walls or cabinets.
Short-pile carpet cleans up well. Spills, mud and sand come up easier than with plush carpet. Wet spots will dry faster.
Laminate floors have been round for about 35 years. They are laid over a thin foam pad but are not nailed down. The rectangular slats, which are high-density fiberboard with laminate coverings resembling wood or grouted stone, snap together to become one giant slab. Seams are barely visible. Laminate floors must have about a quarter-inch of play at the edges so they can float with temperature and humidity changes. Edges get moldings to cover the gap.
Installation isn’t particularly hard. You will need a chop saw to shorten some pieces and a jigsaw to cut around wall protrusions and cabinets.
When you’re done you have a wood-look floor that’s water- and mud-resistant but not waterproof. It cleans up easily from spills and tracked mud, and salt and sand don’t soak in. Dogs may need a little time to get used to its lack of traction for their claws, but they will, and claws won’t scratch it—not even after a decade of use.
For a little more color, warmth and cushion, you can spread an area rug over top, with a nonslip layer in between.
Vinyl plank flooring comes in two types. Both, after installation, appear similar to a laminate floor, with a wood grain look.
One style of vinyl plank is a floating floor that’s installed over a thin foam pad. Floating vinyl planks adhere to one another, but not to the pad. The second type installs more like traditional vinyl tiles, with a peel-off back that exposes an adhesive that sticks directly to the plywood subfloor.
Vinyl planks are easier to work with than laminate. They cut with a utility knife. No saw is needed.
Vinyl planks are waterproof and impervious to mud, sand and salt. They won’t stain easily and wipe clean with a sponge mop or, after a spill, with a paper towel. They hold up well against claws.
Photo Credits: ciker.com
When water gets inside an RV, the problems it causes are a lot bigger than each of those tiny drops.
Some water damage is easy to see because it marks interior surfaces.
Other water damage is harder to see because it’s inside walls, ceilings and floors. Framing can rot. Sidewalls can delaminate. The hidden damage may be the most sinister because it may include unhealthful mold.
Water can enter an RV anyplace the outer shell is breached—and an RV has many breaches, some intentional, others not.
Here are the places leaks are likely to occur:
Every four to six months, check any Dicor coatings over seams and around equipment mounts. Look for cracks, both large and small.
Also make it a habit every four to six months, during prolonged good weather, to pull a few screws. Many screws are under decorative covers, which you’ll have to pry off gingerly to avoid breaking. (The older non-metal covers are, the more likely the sun has baked them into a brittle state. If you break a cover, replace it.)
On campers with corrugated siding, be sure to check some screws on corner moldings.
Look over the backed out screws. If the threads are rusty, water is entering.
You also should check your EDPM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofing. You don’t need to re-seal the roof surface, but you should clean it with a medium brush and mild detergent that does not contain petroleum distillates every six months. Keeping it clean will allow you to better identify any breaks or weak spots.
The most obvious sign of a leak is a water stain on an interior wall or ceiling, or delamination of cabinetry where water soaked it. Mildew or mold also may appear. Unfortunately many leaks simply don’t show on a surface.
Water migrates inside walls and ceilings, so the leak may be in front of, behind or beside the damage. For that reason, try to detect leaks on the exterior. One method is a pressure test. You can pay to have this done by a dealer or shop, usually for $200-$250, plus a labor charge if the shop does the repairs.
During a pressure test, compressed air is pumped into the RV. Soapy water is sprayed onto seams—around windows, doors, roof-mounted equipment, essentially all the areas listed above. If air is escaping, the soapy water will bubble. The same gaps, though quite small, that let air out probably let water in.
You can perform an air test yourself, even without specialty equipment. Make a hard cover for a small exterior opening, such as to a storage area, and cut a hole to accept the end of a shop vacuum hose or leaf blower outlet. Insert the hose and duct tape the connection, log with the edges of the patch, turn on the pressure and spray the soapy water, then look for leak-indicating bubbles.
Another method is to spray canned smoke inside where you suspect a leak, and have another person outside to look for escaping smoke.
Frequently, all that needs to be done where Dicor is cracked is to plug the cracks with more Dicor, applied with a caulking gun. Clean the surface first with a rag dampened—not soaked—with mineral spirits so the new Dicor will adhere. Dicor, which is self-leveling, seeps into the cracks after it is applied.
Warning: Mineral spirits can harm EDPM roofing, so apply sparingly. The best thing to do is wipe areas where mineral spirits were applied with a cleaner that does not contain petroleum distillates.
If there’s a crack in the EDPM, Dicor is compatible and can be applied to seal the breach. Use the same procedure as for cracked Dicor.
Also look for loose Dicor. It would probably cause a major leak around mounts or large breaches, such as for vents or skylights. Remove loose Dicor and the item it’s sealing, then reinstall and reseal the accessory. If there’s evidence of water damage in the ceiling or in sidewalls, spray with a disinfectant, then dry everything out with heat and lots of airflow before reassembling and installing a new bead of Dicor and screws. Dicor is compatible not only with EDPM, but also with wood, fiberglass, plastic, steel and aluminum.
Replace rusty screws in the proper size. Coated screws will be less prone to rust.
If you’re sealing corners, consider a tape such as Seal-Tite. Once you’ve removed the insert trim, which hides screws, remove the screws, molding and old sealant, such as tape or putty. Stretch the pressure-sensitive side of the flexible tape over the opening, being sure to close gaps due to the irregular surface of siding. Then replace the cleaned molding coated with underside beads of sealant along the two edges, and new screws. You may want to add new insert trim in the molding for better looks.