You know how sometimes you KNOW you’re making critical decisions that have to be made…but you ALSO have the sinking sensation you don’t have the information necessary to make informed decisions?
That’s me and our RV. Thank God (literally) that we wound up with an RV in near-perfect condition through a dealership that gave great advice and service with integrity.
I knew nothing about solar panels (because we can boondock
anywhere and not need to worry about using up our power) or what an inverter was (it’s that big rectangular yellow thing allows us to access the power from our coach batteries)…or why we’d need to sink hundreds of dollars into getting a fan installed (so you can save power by cooling the unit on hot days and drawing
humidity out to improve the life of the RV.)
There were a couple of things that just weren’t right about our
RV. I’m not complaining, mind you. But they are both linked to the Boy I Really Didn’t Know Anything days. (Which were just a couple of months ago.)
Here’s a flashback. It’s our first night in the RV. We’ve pulled
over so Sheree can nap and I can do some work. (Also because we can.) I am listening to tunes on the great sound system we’ve installed while Sheree snoozes. It’s a grand experience for an audiophile like me and I listened and worked for nearly three hours.
When Sheree arose, we smiled at each other like people living the dream are supposed to…and I took my place in the captain’s chair, turned the key…and…nada. Just this clicking sound.
Yup. Either I was an idiot...or we bought a lemon. Let me put it this way: we didn't buy a lemon. I murdered our RV on the very first day we had it.
Sheree recorded the incident elsewhere – but the chassis battery
(the one that starts the engine) died because I had the key turned three quarters of the way – and not on Accessory. So we needed to be rescued on our first night.
Flash forward to the next day. I am having a discussion with the
guys who sold us our RV. We were told that we could boost our chassis battery by using the coach batteries. I am assuming that, not being any kind of a tech person, I was missing something
Not so. It was explained to me that this wasn’t installed.
Think about it: If Good Sam hadn’t been able to send a tow truck
angel to save us, we would have been in trouble. Surely there was a way to allow the vehicle to access the power in the coach batteries, right?
So that was the first thing I raised with the guy at “Redneck RV”
– where we took our unit for a few (hopefully) last renovations.
“You got two ways to get it done,” Blain – the owner of Redneck
RV explained to me. “You can get a system installed that will allow your chassis battery to charge once the coach batteries are full. We need to install a control panel…do some rewiring.”
The expected bill is in the $1,000 ballpark. I swallow hard and
ask about the other way.
“We can install a switch. You get into trouble with the chassis
battery, you push a button and the coach batteries can start the engine. Most of the A Class motorhomes have this.”
Bill on this is around $250.00 – which is what I’d expect to pay
for another tow truck if I pull another bonehead prank like I did on our first night.
“Functionally the same thing?” I ask. I am thinking about the
$750 difference and am in the familiar position of wondering if I have missed something.
Blain shrugs. “Yup. Pretty much. It’ll get you back on the
Good enough. I still don't know a LOT about RVs, but I know that being on the road is a good thing. The very notion makes my heart smile. So I decide the button is the perfect solution. Saving seven hundred and fifty bucks doesn't hurt either.
Then there’s that other thing. It seems goofy to me that we can’t
play music through the great sound system in the rig. Why not? Because it draws its power from the chassis battery. While I’m rocking out, there’s a steady drain on the battery we need to get us back on the road when a black bear decides to come calling.
“Can we wire the sound system into the coach batteries?” I
“Yup,” says Blain with a nod. “We do it all the time. Guys wire
the sound system into the chassis batteries because it’s faster, cheaper and easier. But it doesn’t make much sense.”
I agree and ask The Question: “How much?”
Blain shrugs. Again. I think that this is an RV guy thing. Before
answering the “how much” question, one is required to shrug. I make a Mental Note.
“Two fifty to three hundred,” he says.
I tell him that works for me – and a couple of days later I’m
driving away with an even more boondock ready unit. I’m thinking we’re ready for anything. We have solar panels and a built in generator, which can power our two new batteries in the coach – which, in turn, can start the unit.
And I’m seeing myself under the hot Arizona sun listening to Bing
Crosby singing White Christmas without risking a non-starting RV in the process. The total bill was just over six hundred. But who’s complaining? Not me.
In a nutshell: Unless you're plugged in to a powered site, your RV is a closed unit. Turn on a light and it causes a drain on your batteries. Listen to music? Same thing. Run the furnace? You get the idea right?
It's okay to use the coach batteries. They'll recharge from the solar panels or the generator...plus you don't need them to get on the road. From this first night --I realize that the chassis batter is critical. I want that puppy to turn over every time.
I SHOULD have asked where the power for the sound system was coming from. I SHOULD have had them show me how the coach batteries would start the engine...because then I would have known it wasn't done.
These are two of the many things I didn’t know before purchasing
Now you know them.
For free. You’re welcome.
Sheree and I are heading off to our first Sambouree tomorrow. I'm curious to know what we'll find there. And you can bet share it with you.