Thursday, October 27, 2011

Formaldehyde. Fridges. Solar. Trash. Battery. RV Accidents. Fires. Flood Car? Foil. Leaky Slide?

Coping with formaldehyde in your RV

"The specter of that old invisible, dangerous gas, formaldehyde, just keeps coming back. This week the news reports on an RVer who bought a used RV from a dealership a while back. Unknown to the customer, the trailer he purchased was an ex-FEMA trailer, used in some emergency that found its way onto the market. Make no mistake, the dealer knew it was an old FEMA trailer, and contrary to law, sold it without notifying the customer of its origins. FEMA trailers are gifts that just keep on giving."

New or used, your RV may contain formaldehyde, a chemical that some say causes serious health problems. What should you do if you have it? Find out."

RV Savvy Tips by Mark Polk
"RV refrigerators are much different than the one in your house. They don’t have compressors and they work off the principle of absorption. You should turn the RV refrigerator on several hours before putting food in it. It is best to leave it on overnight and put your food in it just prior to leaving. Always keep a small thermometer in your RV refrigerator so you can monitor the temperature. Food can begin to go bad at about 40 degrees. Some things that will affect the inside temperatures of your RV refrigerator are:
Putting warm food in the refrigerator. If at all possible put cold food in the refrigerator and freezer prior to leaving on a trip.
Packing the food to close or putting too much in the refrigerator. Air must be able to circulate around the food for the refrigerator to operate properly. Keep a couple of day’s supply of food in the refrigerator and replenish as necessary.
Put a small battery operated fan in the refrigerator to assist with air circulation.
Continuously opening the refrigerator door and leaving it open for periods of time will affect the efficiency of the refrigerator.
The RV refrigerator must be close to level to operate properly.
The outside temperature will affect the operation of the refrigerator. In hot temperatures try to park the RV in shaded areas, especially on the side of the RV where the refrigerator is located. You can also install a thermostatically controlled refrigerator vent fan that will move the hot air out from behind the refrigerator and make it operate more efficiently. "

Defrost your refrigerator the easy way

"If you are a fulltimer you've no doubt noticed that over time ice builds up on the cooling fins of your refrigerator. And you've probably dreaded having to unload all your food to defrost.
Try this instead. Buy a small, cheap, plastic fan and place it on the top shelf of your refrigerator (move all the food to the lower shelves) and aim it at the fins. Plug it in and close the reefer door.
The air from the fan will defrost the fins in about an hour. After 20 minutes or so, open the door and re-direct the fan at the spots that are still icy. You can also slide sheets of the loosened ice off the fins and discard. Afterward your fridge will work more efficiently, and you won't lose any food in the process."


Run a conventional home refrigerator on solar?
"The typical RV refrigerator differs greatly from the conventional "home" model: The principle operating fuel is propane working under the "absorption" principle. The home-style refrigerator depends on an electrically driven motor compressor. Some RVers consider the compressor style refrigerator "safer," especially after hearing disturbing reports about RV refrigerators being recalled for creating possible fire dangers.

If you were to RV solely at campgrounds with electrical hookups, using a compressor-style refrigerator in your RV wouldn't present a problem. But away from shore power, things get a bit tricky.

The question: Can you use a solar panel array to run a conventional home-style refrigerator in your RV? RV solar enthusiast James Mannett, addresses the question.

James first suggests a comparison of power consumption: A propane fridge consumes about 0.5 amps at 12 volts, roughly 6 watts or 12 amp/hours per day. For comparison, a new Energy Star household refrigerator uses about 1 amp at 120 volts--much more on start up. To use this refrigerator in an RV, an inverter will be needed. Consumption translates to about 13 amps at 12 volts, allowing for inverter efficiency loss. End result: 156 watts or 125 amp/hours per day (assuming a 40% duty cycle). Bottom line: The household unit will consume 20 times the amount electricity than the propane refrigerator, just about 60% of the stored energy in two RV batteries in one 24 hour period.
More at:

Part 2:
"Alternative" RV refrigerator for solar use
"In our last post we talked about whether or not it was feasible to run a conventional home-style shore power refrigerator on solar. Bottom line: It could be done, but just how feasible was clearly in doubt. Readers were quick to respond.

Writes Mike, "But what about an Engel fridge? These use a 12-volt swing compressor rather than a 120-volt rotary compressor found on a home fridge. The advantage is that an Engle compressor does not have the big surge current on start-up typical of a 120-volt home fridge. Plus running efficiency is much better with the Engel compared to a typical home fridge."
What about an Engel refrigerator, indeed? We pulled the specs for an Engel "in cabinet" style refrigerator and found the info quite interesting: The Engel is indeed a pretty high efficiency device, and depending on your lifestyle and travel plans, might work out for an alternative to hooking up the typical LP fired RV refrigerator.

Here's the breakdown:
The Galley Queen in our family likes to keep her refrigerator COLD, as in, really cold. We travel in weather that's all over the map, if you will. We're most comfortable when we're somewhere where we don't need to run the air conditioning, so we'll pick Engel's specs for operating their SR70F unit in an ambient air temperature of 77 degrees (all figures Fahrenheit) and keeping the inside of the box a chilly 36 degrees. At that rate, the Engel would run a 40% duty cycle and consume a seemingly modest 1.3 amp/hour. Head out to a little warmer zone, say 95 degree ambient, keeping that same chill on runs the Engel's swing compressor 95% of the time for a draw of 2.9 amps/hour.

For us this would translate to 374 watts of power per day in the cooler zone, and a whopping 835 if we headed into warmer climates. Other RVers might be happy with keeping their beer cool at 41 degrees. In the cooler area you'd be talking about 288 watts per day, and in the higher heat zone, 576 watts consumed. All in all, if you have the solar panel capacity, it could work for you.

As my mentor used to say, "But on the other hand . . ." The other hand is, the Engel built-in SR70F model we mention is a 60 quart unit, that is when translated, a 2 cubic foot model. If you're RVing solo and keep a little bit on hand, this could be OK for cold storage capacity, but if our lifestyle is any indicator, two people grabbing a cold one and keeping vittles on hand for more than a day or two, there could be a problem.
Engle does build larger capacity coolers; these aren't "built in" rigs, but rather portable chest type affairs. The larger the box, the greater the power consumption applies. Thanks to all who gave us feedback!
For more information on the Engel line, visit their web site." From:

 Pick up trash and feel good.
Boondocking tips with Bob Difley    
"If it irritates you when you find a nice wooded boondocking campsite littered with trash, grit your teeth and walk the site to pick up all the plastic bags and soda cans before you set up camp. You will feel better and enjoy the site more.
When you leave, the last thing to do is walk the site again and pick up what escaped you (I know you wouldn't leave trash intentionally). Don't forget to clean out un-burnables from the fire pit. Maybe the next boondocker will appreciate finding a clean campsite and take the hint."

"Always put your campfire totally out before leaving your campsite. Stir up the ashes with water until they're like mud. A fire is totally out if you can touch a piece of paper to the ashes or charred wood without any visible heat effect to the paper."

Advice about checking your battery's condition.
"When you check the condition of your battery using the monitor panel make sure the RV is not plugged in to shore power.
If it is, you will get a false reading (fully charged). To get a more accurate reading of the battery's condition check the monitor panel when the unit is not plugged in and turn a couple of overhead lights on to place a small load on the battery."  Tech Tips from Mark Polk.

Getting more life from your batteries
"You can get more life -- and boondocking days -- out of your batteries if you replace the factory-installed 12-volt deep cycle battery/ies with two six-volt golf cart batteries.
They will take a deeper discharge without degrading, which allows you to go longer without having to recharge, and the higher density will also produce more total amp hours. Wired in series (rather than parallel) they will last five years and longer -- commonly seven years or more with proper care and maintenance."

Fire Safety Tip from Mac McCoy
"If you have a quick-disconnect fitting on your water hookup, these hoses can be unhooked instantly to fight a fire. If a nearby coach is burning and you cannot move your coach but can safely stay close enough to keep it hosed down, you may be able to save it."
Learn more about Mac and fire safety.

Insurance company lists most common RV "accidents"

"If lizards could RV, perhaps they could tell us a thing or two. Wait! Maybe they do! Geico Insurance, the company with the cool, reptilian mascot, says they've boiled down the seven most common causes of RV "accidents." Listen up, maybe we can learn something from the lizard guy.
1. Fire!: The chief cause, LP gas leaks.
2. Blown tires: Of these, the most common causes are under-inflation or overloading.
3. Awning and step losses: Apparently we'd be surprised at the number of RVers who pull out of camp before retracting the steps or rolling in the awning.
4. Low bridge! Not knowing (or properly observing) how tall an RV is leads to plenty of claims for clobbering bridges and gas station canopies.
5. Brake and steering problems: Again, mechanical issues aren't necessarily the blame, but rather, not loading the rig evenly leading to drivability problems.
6. Slide out slaughter: Not unlike #3, driving off with the slide out deployed can lead to serious claims consequences.
7. Infest-a-pest: Bugs, rats, mice, a squirrels, all of them find stored RVs irresistible, especially wires and plastic lines."

 Gray Tank Odors.
"Over time grease and residue builds up in the gray tank and it causes a foul odor, not to mention how it is affecting the tank and valve assembly.
Periodically treat the gray tank with environmentally safe holding tank chemicals to avoid odors from the tank.
When the tank is empty you can also add some dishwashing liquid down the drains to help break down grease and residue build up."

Don't buy a flood damaged car or RV.
Many will be for sale after the northwest floods.
FREE:  Check for a flood car here:     Just enter the VIN.

Generator Exhaust.
"When you camp in the close proximity to other RVs and plan to use your generator, be sure to position your rig so it's exhaust points away from other RVs.
If you cannot move your RV, place a big box, or something solid to deflect the fumes.
If it were to enter another RV, the results could be deadly."

Foil Tips:

Leaky Slide?
"Described by Texas Innovators LLC as “a virtually maintenance free cure for leaky slide-outs,” both the full-boot and quarter-boot have been well received by both customers and RV dealers who cite the product's ease of use and superior performance when compared to alternative product solutions such as seals, drip rails, water troughs and slide-out toppers. The custom manufactured slide-out kit – which was previously sold through the Texas Innovators slide-out boot website – includes the made-to-measure slide-out boot, radius molding, Sikaflex 221 sealant, and hardware. The product - which is available in 12 colors - takes approximately one hour to install.

Rv slide out fix and replace your awing with the slide out boot. Made by Texas Innovators\ "


Jay needed a haircut, and so as it was Wednesday we went into town.  I didn't really need anything, and toyed with the idea of getting my hair cut, too.   But there was only one beautician, and she took such a long time tending the lady in front of Jay, I knew I just didn't want to stay there.

We stopped at a couple of thrift shops and I bought Misty a ceramic food dish with paw prints on it.  Now, all my animals have ceramic bowls, as plastic is not good for them.  Especially cats, as they can get 'chin acne' from plastic dishes.

I also bought an unusual Corelle plate, I'd like to have more of these.
After searching through Corelle sites, current and discontinued, I still can't find the pattern's name.  Anyone know?
Not many have a pattern in the middle and have scalloped edges.

After stops at O'Reilly's to get some new gas props for the van's back hatch, Kroger's to find more grocery bargains, and Petsmart for more canned cat food, we came home.

Talk about high gas prices, but have you priced a quart of oil at an auto parts store lately?  I'll wait until the next time I go to Walmart and buy a big 5 qt. jug of Valvoline!  It's nearly $3 a quart cheaper.

Still no rain, and so warm and humid that we had to run the AC.  But the night time temperature is going down to 40° on Saturday.


Judy and Emma said...

Interesting batch of RV tips today. Since I've been stuck at so many places along the road, I need a haircut too. It's been almost two months, and it's beginning to bug me. :)

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Judy.

I think if you look at my post again, you will find that I added some about residential fridges.
I was thinking of you when I added it!
Surely hope that you can find a different brand, or some solution to your residential fridge problem.

I prefer them myself, but I have never had a Samsung.

My hair has got so long that I put it up in a bun, or pony tail!!

Happy Tails to Emma, and Happy Trails to you. Penny.

Sandra said...

Is it Blue Velvet? Check out this link.,.20.&dropXSL=html

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Oh, Thank you so much, Sandra.
That's the one.
You must have seen it before to find it so quickly. I didn't look at all the pictures on Replacements last night, there are so many. One really needs to know the name first!
Happy Trails, Penny

Dizzy-Dick said...

Poney tail? What's wrong with ponel tails? I have one.