I haven’t posted a Q&A in a while, but I have been getting lots of questions! I post these to help others who may have the same questions, and I hope you find my answers helpful. If you have a better answer, please post it in the comments at the bottom of this article. Thanks!
The answers below are my opinions only. Follow my advice at your own risk, and always consult a professional.
Can I purify lake water for RV use?
Question: Hi Rich, my camper is on a lake that has no electricity. we do have a 3100 watts inverter generator. is there a way to clean the water? the water is a copper color. We do not want our pipes to clog up. Do you know if this can be done and how? Thank you. – Christine
Answer: Hi Christine – I’d use a 6-stage Reverse Osmosis Kit with UV sterilization like this iSpring setup. (pictured here).
I might even add an extra 1 micron particle filtration filter before the GAC carbon filter (2nd stage). I haven’t used this system myself, but I’ve read about them on lake house forums and this setup is used by many to get drinking water from a lake.
This might be overkill depending on the actual quality of your lake water, and there are cheaper/less effective options – but better safe than sick when purifying lake water. Make sure to test the water after filtering and before drinking.
Slide Seal Issues in High Wind Area
Question: Hi Rich, I Hope your travels are going well. I’m curious if you’ve had any slide issues?
We were in a high wind area and camping and wind whistling through slide concerned me that if wind comes in rain might too. Have you experienced any issues like this?
Also, do you use solar and what wireless service is best for on the road? Thanks – David
Answer: Hi David – It sounds like your slide seals may need to be replaced. We haven’t had any issues with rain or wind coming through any of our 3 slides. We do also have slide awnings over all of our slides (highly recommended) and those help to protect the seals and keep out rain.
In severe weather, like torrential rain and very high winds, it’s a good idea to retract the slides, as wind can damage slide toppers and dramatically rock the RV, and force water through the slide seals.
RV seals are technically DIY replaceable, but the strong adhesive required can make a mess if you’re not careful. If you’re not comfortable with this kind of project, definitely hire it done. It’s better to pay for the seals just once and to save yourself a day if you know what I mean.
We use some solar, but just this portable 100W suitcase model by Renogy. We don’t have solar on the roof at this time, but I have plans…
For phone/data service we recommend Verizon. I’ve heard that AT&T is significantly better than it was a year or two ago, but Verizon still has the best signal in the most places. We improve the signal with this WeBoost Signal Booster. I’ve had 1 – 2 bars of 3G turn into 2-3 bars of 4G with just this booster. It works well in most places. It’s rare that AT&T has cell service and Verizon doesn’t – but you often get Verizon where there’s no ATT service available.
Can I use my RV’s air conditioner while plugged in at home?
Question: Hi Rich, I’ve heard mixed information about using my RV’s A/C unit while plugged in to a 15-amp outlet outside my house. Some people say it can damage the RV air conditioner, and others say it will trip circuits in the house or RV.
I’d really like to be able to use my RV as a guest room of sorts, but it gets very warm in the summer here (Virginia). Is there any way I can use the A/C?
I noticed that you parked at your Mom’s house on Facebook, and I know you have a pet cat. Do you run your A/C during the summer while at your families to keep your cat cool, or do you move her into the house? Thanks! -Janet
Answer: Hi Janet – we do use our A/C unit while parked at my mothers without issue. Here are the keys to making it work:
- Make sure you’ve got as few things plugged in/turned on as possible. Most outside plugs are only 15amps – which means that you can only draw a maximum of 15amps before you trip the house circuit breaker. It’s also bad for the outlet and the wiring to run it continuously at over 80% of rated capacity, so ideally you’ll pull 12.5 amps or less.
I switch our refrigerator to propane (vs electric) and keep everything else off when I use the A/C.
I also have a Progressive Industries 30amp EMS that allows me to see how much power I’m drawing (recommended). It will also shut down power to the RV if voltage drops below 104volts to prevent damage to electronics and the A/C.
- If your RV’s cord doesn’t reach the house, make sure to use a 30amp extension cord like this 25-foot Camco unit. Most extension cords are rated at 10amps or less, and the longer the cord, the more the voltage will drop between the house and your RV.
A 30-amp extension cord will maintain higher voltage – using this extension, I have 111-volts as shown – and it can easily handle the amperage.
As an added bonus, this gives you parking flexibility at the RV park. There have been times I’ve wanted to park the RV the other way around and I didn’t have enough power cord – but now I do. Flexibility ftw!
- Last thing, you’ll need this 30amp -> 15amp dogbone adapter to plug in at home.
Important: – Do not try to run your microwave, a hairdryer, a coffeemaker, etc.. at the same time as the A/C.
Also, check your exterior outlets to see if they’re all on the same circuit or not. If they are, you may be running lights or running electric mowers or clippers on the same circuit as your RV. This will put you over the 15amp limit pretty quickly.
Class C vs. 5th Wheel
Question: Really enjoying reading your site and responses to questions! What were your determining factors in deciding between a motorhome and a 5th wheel? We are anxious to start our full time adventure (while still working full time for a software company).
AnswerHi Lori – great question! We were actually this close to buying a Truck + 5th Wheel due to the amazing space 5th wheels offer. There were a few things that pushed us to buy our Class-C Aspect instead.
#1 – On travel days, the person who isn’t driving can get up, use the restroom, grab a snack, lay down in bed, sit on the couch and read, etc.. This is especially great for kids as you can buckle them in at the dinette and let them watch TV or play games.
#2 – 5th Wheels require large, expensive trucks that usually get poor fuel economy. These trucks are great for pulling 5th wheels, but they’re not so great for taking day trips (in our opinion). Also, most big diesel trucks get between 12 – 15 MPGs whether you’re towing or not. Our RV gets around 8.5mpg, but our tow car gets 35 MPG to make up for it and it’s much easier to maneuver, explore, and park in most situations than a truck.
I still think a 5th wheel is a good way to go too. The floorplans are very tempting. Good luck!
Hi! What are the rules for running your generator and or using the propane while going down the road? keeping your fridge cold, etc. Also you mentioned your kids watching tv while moving, how can we do this? We have a Class C. Thank you! Crystal
Hi Crystal – sorry for the delay. In general, you can run your generator while driving, and this will allow you to have TVs on, microwave, etc.. Of course everyone should be seated and have a seatbelt while driving, but most RVs have seat belts tucked inside the sofas. In other words, it’s not a great idea to cook over propane while driving as whatever you’re cooking can easily get thrown. If you’re not running the generator, you can run TVs with an inverter. An inverter takes 12V battery power from your house batteries and turns it into 120V A/C power that then runs your TV and VCR, etc… In most cases RV fridges are designed to run on propane when on the road. if you have a residential fridge, then your RV should have come with an inverter to keep the fridge cold while driving. You’ll probably need to manually turn on your inverter when you want to use it – assuming you have one. I hope this is helpful – good luck!