A Few Good Tips for the Pennsylvania RV Newbie

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New to RVing? We can help. Everybody has to learn the ins and outs of RVing at some time. Hopefully, your mistakes and accidents will be minimal in the beginning.

I thought I would put together some things to think about as you prepare your new RV and yourself, to experience the RVing lifestyle like a pro!

  1. Take care of your black water tank. This is one of the most important things to learn about. If your RV doesn’t have a black water tank sprayer, dump plenty of water down the toilet to clean it out. Add recommended chemicals regularly to ensure that tank material biodegrades properly. Packets are the fastest and easiest to use and require the least storage space; just toss one down the toilet with a gallon of water. Use RV toilet paper; it biodegrades faster.
  2. Make a maintenance checklist. Make a checklist of things to do before and after each RV trip to ensure that you don’t forget any maintenance procedures while you’re learning. Make notes of anything that you need to keep an eye on so that you can check it consistently. You don’t want any surprises while you’re on the road.
  3. Keep fridge and pantry stocked. Keep non-perishable staples on-board all season so you’re ready for spur-of-the-moment getaways.  Make sure they are foods that will work together to make a meal.  Remember to use food before their expiration date.
  4. Keep clothing, gear on board. Keep a set of toiletries, toothbrushes, clothing, games, leisure gear, pet supplies, etc. on board so that you have minimal packing to do at vacation time.

This is just a very small list to get you started in your quest to become an experienced camper.  Did I miss anything you experienced RVers? Please share more tips in the comments below….

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Pennsylvania RVers Boost Phone and Internet Range with an Antenna

I came across this great post about external antennas for your RV or trailer. I would guess that 99% of all RVers travel with a cell phone to keep in touch, plus they have a laptop computer to get travel info and email. That’s all great and good as long as you stay in the city where the reception is good. But RVers usually don’t spend their vacations in cities, they like to explore the great outdoors in their RVs and trailers. Unfortunately, there may be times when you have to sacrifice the modern-day amenities of mobile phones and internet connections. However, if you get a long-range antenna, that possibility can be reduced.
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This omnidirectional antenna is a good antenna for maximizing your reach when you’re in the middle of nowhere!
Here’s one RVer’s method: This gentleman mounted a roof-mount style satellite dish base on the top of his motor-home, using the appropriate sealant to prevent water leakage. But instead of topping the mount with a satellite dish, he used U-bolts to mount a omnidirectional/tri-band cellular antenna. This one covers frequency ranges for both his cell phone and his wireless broadband/internet card.

He routed the connection cable from the antenna, down through the rig’s gray water holding tank vent line. Inside the rig he bored a hole into the vent line (where it was accessible from in the living area), routed the cable out of the vent line, and then used a sealant to both “keep the stink out,” and to act as a protective grommet to prevent friction between the vent pipe and the antenna coax. The whole shooting match plugs into either the cell phone, or into a jack in his broadband card. If your card doesn’t have a jack for an antenna, there are inductive couplers that attach to broadband cards, allowing you to rig them to an external antenna.

Once on location, it’s a simple job to climb up the RV’s roof access ladder, lift the satellite dish mount into its “working” position, then turn the antenna around to point to the nearest cellular site. With a 24dB gain, this setup will bring signal roaring in that might otherwise be lost in space.[RV Tech Tips]

Take the time this winter to add some accessories like this to your RV. Then in the spring you’ll have some new RV toys to play with!

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Lerch RV Internet Access..How it works

When customers come through our doors, one of the first questions we always ask, is what’s on your must-have list for a new RV? It turns out that when people are considering purchasing an RV in Pennsylvania, internet access is appearing more frequently near the top of those lists. RVing provides singles and families alike an opportunity to explore the open road, enjoy parks, experience all sorts of outdoor adventures. One might argue that having internet access along said journeys will only enhance the experience, and perhaps make traveling more efficient.

Dial-Up, DSL, Cable, WiFi, Wireless (Cellular)

In the past, the most reliable way for campers to enjoy – and I use that term loosely – internet access was to plug-in to a dial-up modem at a campsite. This of course had it’s disadvantages as not all sites had access, or they offered extremely slow speeds in locations on the grounds that required trekking to a main office or some other site not necessarily close to where you were parked.

In some instances, campgrounds offer phone and cable connections at individual sites to RVers. Campers generally have  to activate these connections by calling the phone or cable company in that area. For the RVer who is having an extended stay, this can be a good means of high-speed RV internet access via broadband or DSL connections. For the visitor on the move who only spends a couple of days or weeks in a given spot, this is usually not an effective means for internet access on the road.

WiFi is a major improvement and allows RVers the ability to enjoy the luxuries of the internet in the comfort of their own RV. Most laptop computers come equipped with built-in 802.11 capability suitable for RV internet access via WiFi. More and more parks are installing WiFi networks creating hotspots much like those found in airports, coffee shops, and restaurants all over the country. While the speeds are much improved over dial-up, access may not be available in all areas on a campground and many campgrounds also charge fees for use.

Many full-time RVers are looking for 24/7 access to the internet if possible. Most major cellular companies offer wireless access via smart phones that can be used to surf the web and check email. These cellular connections can also be used as a wireless modem and many providers also offer wireless air cards that are connected to the computer to tap into the network.

If internet access is near the top of your list of RV needs, consider these items:

What type of access do you need, intermittent or 24/7?

Does your laptop or computer have the capability to access the internet wirelessly?

Does the campground offer WiFi service and if so, is it available on the entire grounds or just a designated area? Are there any fees associated with using the campgrounds WiFi?

Does your cell phone provider offer wireless service or cards that can keep you connected, regardless of where your RV vacations take you?

Now that we’ve covered internet, what else is on your list when looking for a New or Used RV Pennsylvania?

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Open Range RV dicontinues the Rolling Thunder Toy Hauler 5th wheel camper

Put out to Pasture; the Rolling Thunder by Open Range RV

Open Range RV dicontinues the Rolling Thunder Toy Hauler 5th wheel camper

The Rolling Thunder Toy Hauler by Open Range RV has been put out to pasture.

I would like to inform my readers of the end of a great run.  At the time of this blog posting, the Open Range Rolling Thunder Toy Hauler product line is no more. The Rolling Thunder, with its stampeding herd of horses logo, has been put out to pasture by the Shipshewana, Indiana RV manufacturer.  The Rolling Thunder has been part of Open Range RV’s stable for about two and a half years.  Slow sales and subtle shifts of interest by RV consumers were believed to be several of the determining factors in the discontinuation of the toy hauler product line.

The Rolling Thunder was introduced to the public in 2009 as a toy hauler designed to be more comfy and utilitarian in design than its competition.  The Rolling Thunder was the fifth wheel toy hauler that was ‘not on steroids’ as owner Randy Graber noted.  The Rolling Thunder product line did not feature over the top interior designs in decor or graphics, but gave the owner of the toy hauler more comforts of home.  The four season unit was light weight by industry standards.  As of the time of writing this, there has been no news of a replacement toy hauler product from the manufacturer.

Here at Lerch RV, we currently have one Rolling Thunder H345 MPR left in inventory, having sold over twenty-five Rolling Thunders in previous years.  Come visit our Milroy, Pennsylvania location and see why we are the largest Open Range dealership in the commonwealth.  And maybe you will leave here with a great deal on a great trailer.

Happy Trails Rolling Thunder…

Open Range RV's Rolling Thunder toy hauler out to pasture

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Wiring 6 & 12 Volt RV Batteries Properly

In my last post I wanted to offer my readers some insight on RV Batteries.  Specifically 6 volt batteries vs a 12 volt battery.  Here is the follow-up article to that post. If you decided that 6 volt batteries are the way you are going to go on your camper. Here is the way to do it properly;

If you are going to buy new 12 Volt or 6 Volt batteries for your RV, it is important to know how to wire them properly so that you do not damage your RVs electrical system. Although this is an easy concept to understand, many people tend to get this wrong. Basically, there are two ways to wire your batteries: in series or in parallel. In RVs where 6 Volt batteries are used, you may need to use a combination of both these methods to get 12 Volt output and increase the amount of total Amp Hours simultaneously. Let’s discuss this further and provide some examples:

Batteries wired in series:

  • With batteries wired in series, the Voltage increases but the Amperage remains the same.
    • Example:  If you take two 6 Volt batteries that have a capacity rating of 220 Amp Hours each and you wire them in series, you will get a total of 12 Volts of power; however, the total Amp Hours will remain the same at a total of 220 Amp Hours.
  • With batteries wired in series, the positive (+) from one battery is connected to the negative (-) terminal of the other.  The remaining free positive (+) terminal and negative (-) terminal are used to connect to your RV.
  • This is how you create 12 Volts from two 6 Volt batteries.

Following is a graphic that represents two 6 Volt batteries wired in series.

six volt batteries wired in series

Take a look at the diagram above. Here we have two 6 Volt batteries wired in series. With the positive from one battery connected to the negative of the other battery you have in essence created one 12 Volt battery out of two 6 Volt batteries. As I stated before, when you wire batteries in series, the Voltage increases and the Amperage stays the same. That is why in this scenario we have 12 Volts output; however, even though each battery is rated at 220 Amp Hours, we are still only receiving a total of 220 Amp Hours. The only thing that has increased here is the Voltage. If in this scenario each battery was a 12 Volt battery, you would have a total of 24 Volts output (which would not be good for your RV).

Batteries wired in parallel:

  • With batteries wired in parallel, the Voltage remains the same but the amperage increases.
    • Example: If you take two 12 Volt batteries that have a capacity of 210 Amp Hours each and you wire them in parallel, the Voltage will remain the same at 12 Volts; however, the total Amp Hours will increase to 420 Amp Hours.
  • With batteries wired in parallel, the positive terminal connects to the positive terminal of the next battery and the negative terminal connects to the negative terminal of the next battery.
  • This is how you increase the total amount of Amp Hours you can get out of your battery bank.

Following is a graphic that represents two 12 Volt batteries wired in parallel.

two 12 volt batteries wired in parallel

In this scenario we have wired two 12 Volt batteries in parallel. As a result, the Voltage has remained the same (at 12 Volts) however the total Amp Hours increases to 420 Amp Hours, which is the total of the two batteries added together.

In my 5th wheel, I used a combination of series and parallel wiring. By taking six – 6 Volt batteries and wiring pairs of batteries in series, I can basically create three 12 Volt batteries that I can then wire in parallel to increase the amount of total Amp Hours that are available. Let’s take a look at how this works:

2 six volt batteries wired in series with a volmeter attached

Take a look at the diagram above. Since this scenario gets confusing for some people I am going to try to make it as simple as possible. This diagram consists of two 6 Volt batteries wired in series.  If you were to take a digital Voltmeter and measure the Voltage from the combination of these two batteries (holding one probe at the free positive (+) terminal and one at the free negative (-) terminal) you would get a reading of 12 Volts. For all intents and purposes, you can now think of this as one 12 Volt battery.  In this scenario the Voltage has increased but the amperage has remained the same.

Now if I want to ensure that I have more total Amp Hours for all my toys, all I have to do is take several of these 6 Volt battery combinations (that are wired in series to give me 12 Volts) and wire them in parallel. Take a look at the diagram below.

six volt batteries wired in series and paralled

In this scenario we have taken six – 6 Volt batteries and wired them in series and parallel to give us 12 Volts and 660 Amp Hours of battery capacity. How did we end up with 660 Amp hours? Remember that each 6 Volt pair of batteries wired in series gives us 220 Amp hours. We have now wired the three pairs of batteries in parallel and when batteries are wired in parallel, the amperage increases. So since each pair produces 220 Amp Hours x 3 pairs = 660 Amp Hours total.

*Don’t mix batteries. If you are going to install new or improved batteries, make sure they are all of the same type (AGM, gel or flooded) and make sure that they are all purchased at the same time and are of the same age. Mixing older batteries with newer ones will most likely limit the longevity of the newer batteries and cause them to degrade or fail sooner.

*Use true deep cycle batteries. Don’t get sold on marine batteries as they are not a true deep cycle battery and are constructed to be somewhere in between a starting battery and a deep cycle battery.

*Before you connect your batteries to your RV or inverter, use a digital voltmeter to ensure that you have wired your batteries properly to output 12 Volts. The last thing you want to do is pump 24 Volts or more through your RVs 12 Volt electrical system accidentally and ruin all of your electronics.

*When installing or working on your batteries make sure you use insulated tools. There is a lot of power stored in a battery. If you accidentally touch both battery posts with your wrench or touch the RV chassis, you could get shocked, burned or even short the battery out and cause it to explode.

*When working on your batteries use protective clothing, safety glasses, and rubber gloves to protect yourself from shocks.

If you have any questions on how to properly wire your 6 volt battery configuration or would rather allow an RV professional do it for you, give your Central PA RV Service Center a call at 800-722-1236.

The RV Battery Dilemma..

RV battery, RV batteries, PA RV Service Center, Lerch RV, PA RV Dealer

In this corner, the well-known 12 volt battery. In the opposite corner, the challenger, the 6 volt battery….

I decided to start the new year off with a post about batteries. The things that allow us to switch on that light in the middle of the night to find the bathroom.  I recently came across this excellent article comparing 6 volt batteries to 12 volt batteries.  I have several customers that swear by the 6 volt set up. And after reading this article, I might be moved to agree with them.  Let me know your thoughts after you read it…

When I was deciding what batteries to use for my 5th wheel, the first decision that I had to make was 6 Volt vs. 12 Volt batteries. Based on my research, I found that many avid RVers swore by 6 Volt batteries as being superior to 12 Volt batteries. I know that some people may be a little confused by this as they ask, “Don’t most RVs rely on 12 Volts?” The answer is yes, however, you can use 6 Volt batteries if you wire them properly to output 12 Volts. So the next question that many people ask is, “Why would you use 6 Volt batteries instead of 12 Volt batteries? Why not just use 12 Volt batteries?”  If you do some research on the web, you will find endless debates surrounding this topic. In reality, the most important thing to consider is the total Amp Hours you will receive from the batteries in relation to what you can fit into your RV in terms of weight and space. However, there may be some truth to the idea that 6 Volt batteries are superior.

If for instance you use two Group 27 12-Volt batteries that are rated at 105 amp hours each and you wire them in parallel (we will discuss parallel vs. series wiring below), then you will receive a total of 210 amp hours out of your batteries. However, if you use two 6-Volt batteries that are roughly the same size and weight that are rated at 210 amp hours each and you wire them in series for 12 Volts, you will also receive 210 amp hours out of them. So in both situations you are using two batteries and in both situations you are getting roughly the same amount of Amp Hours. So the question remains why choose the 6 Volt batteries over the 12 Volt? The reason is simple when you consider the batteries construction.

Remember from our discussion earlier that a 12 Volt battery is actually made up of six individual battery cells that each output approximately 2.12-2.15 Volts each. Each one of these cells is made up of a lead plate that is surrounded by an acid solution. Generally speaking, the heavier these plates are, the longer they will last and the better suited they are for deep cycle discharges and recharges. Since 6 Volt batteries only contain three cells per battery as opposed to six cells for a 12 Volt battery and since comparable batteries (in terms of amp hours) are roughly the same size (dimensions and weight will vary), the 6 Volt battery is usually constructed with larger plates and therefore tends to last longer in deep discharge situations. Similarly, you may even find that 6 Volt batteries are slightly cheaper than 12 Volt batteries. As a result of the 6 Volt batteries being constructed better and being slightly cheaper, most avid RVers will choose the 6 Volt batteries if they have the space to mount them. If you do some additional research on the web, you can even find people who have tested 12 Volt and 6 Volt batteries side by side. In all of these tests, the results seem to confirm that 6 Volt batteries are superior.

So what are your thoughts? Your choice in batteries is a person choice, both accomplish the job. Regardless if it is a 6 volt or a 12 volt battery,  the lights will be own at the flip of the switch. If not give PA’s RV service department a call…800-722-1236

Safe travels and Happy RVing in the New Year.

Stay warm on those cold RV nights

With the weather starting to get colder, and the days shorter, you are probably experiencing a bit of a chill at night now. This is also the time of year where you are still RVing in cooler climates before either heading south for the winter or storing your RV until next season. Staying warm and comfortable in your RV is a key to have a great trip this time of year. No one likes sleepless nights shivering the whole time, so how should you stay warm? The easy answer is your RV furnace, but you may be out at a camp site when that breaks down, so what are you back up options?
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The two most popular choices are heating strips and portable heaters. Like all things, there are pros and cons that go with both, and it is more of a preferential choice. Let’s look at portable heaters first. The great thing about these are that they do a good job heating a small space. At night, shut the door to your room and turn one of these on and you will stay warm through out the night. They are also quiet, which is key to falling asleep. The problem with them is that they tend to break down easily over time. If you buy one you can expect to buy another after a few years. Also, there is always to risk of fire with these heaters, due to the exposed heating coils. If you use one, be sure to put it in a safe place out of contact with combustibles.

Another option is a heating strip. A heating strip is installed in the air conditioner and it is a 1500 watt heater. This option is good because it is generally more reliable than the portable heater, and it doesn’t take up any extra space in the RV. The not so great part about them is that you have to run your A/C fan through the night, and it doesn’t heat your rig nearly as well as the portable heater. You won’t freeze to death with one, but you won’t be toasty.

If all else fails, keep extra quilts and blankets in your RV and bundle up for warmth. If you are looking for a new RV ta stay warm in, be sure to come into Lerch RV.