Saturday, July 11, 2015

How Can I Stay Connected to Younger Family Members While I Travel?

Okay, I have to admit.  Although I try, I know I am not completely up with the times.  My kids often think I am getting old and out of touch, and I am okay with that; however I still want to have a great relationship with them and keep up with what they are doing. For that reason, I decided to try to stay as up-to-date with their technology as I can in order to stay connected with them. In order to do this, I got an Instagram account – one of the most popular social media apps for today’s younger generation. 

Instagram
Instagram is designed to share photos and videos with others that follow you.  It also allows you to see the pictures and videos of those you choose to follow, which is why I originally got the app.  I was able to keep up with my kids’, nieces’, and nephews’ activities through what they posted.  When my nephew posted a picture of his Friday night football game win, I could “like” it or even make a comment to congratulate him.  When our son posted a picture of him at a college function, we could see how his weekend was going without having to ask.  What better way to keep up with your kids’ and grandkids’ activities when you can’t be there! After a while of just having an Instagram to follow others, I began to post my activities as well to keep my family connected to what was happening at home while they were away, which most of the time was our dog’s antics that they missed while at college.  Now that we travel, it is a way to show where we are and what we are doing to those back home.

Using Instagram is really simple.  Once you install the free app from the App Store, you create your account.  Once you have an account, you can begin following people by searching for them using the search bar.  Once you find the person you want to follow, you can select "Follow" on their profile.  If they are private, they must accept your request, but if they are public, you will be able to see their posts in your daily feed immediately.  In order for you to post something for others to see, you simply take a picture or video and add an optional caption. You can even post pictures or videos that are already in the gallery of your phone.  You have the option to post your pictures or videos where everyone following you can see them or send them directly to one person. Another great thing about Instagram is that although you can only post photos to Instagram using your phone, you can always look at others' posts using your computer. Check out what Instagram looks like on a computer by checking out our profile

Traveling can be fun, but the one drawback is always being away from family.  I find that Instagram allows us to really stay in touch with our younger family members since it is one of the most popular apps used by this generation.  It isn't difficult to use, and it is based around photos and videos, which we travelers have plenty around to capture and share!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Few Things You May Not Know About LED Lights for Your RV


The History
Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way. History was never my favorite subject, but here it goes. The LED, or Light Emitting Diode, was invented as far back as 1927 by a Russian with the illustrious name of Oleg Vladimirovich Losev. However, it wasn't until 1962 that Nick Holonyak (an equally impressive name) working at General Electric Corporation produced the first practical LED. With advances in technology, the efficiency and light output continued to increase, together with the ability to produce light in a wide variety of colors.

How do they work?
The LED produces light “directly” by utilizing semiconductor technology. As electricity (electrons) move through the semiconductor, they move from one energy level to another and release energy in the form of light (a photon). This compared to incandescent lights which 
produce light by passing current through a filament. As the filament heats up, the hot filament releases energy (heat). Only 10% of this heat energy is what we see as light. (RVers do not like things that create heat inside!)


What is with the different colors to choose from?
Have you ever noticed that the world looks different at sunset than it does at midday? That's because the “color” of the light changes during the day and causes the color of the light reflecting off objects around us to change (this is why people say you should photograph the Grand Canyon at sunset as it enhances the colors). At sunset, things look richer and more orange; at midday, they look whiter. People refer to the color of light as it's “color temperature” using the Kelvin scale. A lower number (e.g. 2,000) is more orange (such as at sunset), and a higher number (e.g. 5,000) would be noon daylight.



When considering LED bulbs, it is therefore very important to think about what color temperature you require as most LED bulbs are available in “warm white” (a lower Kelvin) or “cool white” (a higher Kelvin). Most people prefer cool white in areas requiring more light as they perceive these to be brighter and easier to read by. Warm white LEDs are closer in color to incandescent bulbs and offer a cozier and more “homey” feel. You do not have to have all the same color throughout your RV; it is all up to you. 

What is the attraction of LEDs for your RV?
For starters, LED bulbs are about 10 times more efficient than a standard incandescent bulb. This means that the draw on your battery power is drastically reduced. This means more time between charging the batteries, and less strain on your batteries. It really does make a difference.

The heat output of an LED is almost non-existent. An incandescent bulb can reach 500 degrees in some cases, which is enough to ignite material. The LED bulbs just do not put off much heat.  In fact, I can touch my LED bulbs while they are on; do not try that with an incandescent bulb. Obviously in the summer time we are all trying to reduce heat sources in our RV’s. This is one of the best ways to do it.
LEDs can last as much as 25 times longer than a standard incandescent bulb. While they cost a bit more on the front end, once you have them they are actually cheaper over the long haul. For the accountants out there, an incandescent bulb depreciates at a much faster pace than a LED, making the LED more valuable.

LEDs are shock resistant. Don’t you get mad when you see the little filament inside your bulb dangling and hanging on for dear life? Those filaments are very delicate and are prone to break when the bumps of the road set in. LEDs have no filaments to break, and therefore are more RV friendly.

Why buy LED lights from TechnoRV?
Okay, I hope you learned something about LEDs and now for the good stuff, buying them.  So why from us? Aside from the obvious, that we are nice people and we love giving you the products and service that you deserve! If you need more convincing, we sell LED lights that are designed for RVs. Eco-LED is an industry leader 
in LEDs for RVs. The components are high quality and the warranty is exceptional. Cheap LEDs cannot withstand voltage swings that RVs can often get. The Eco-LEDs have a large voltage tolerances and this allows the bulb to burn consistently even when the voltage is not consistent. 


Where to begin?
We have spent a lot of time putting together an easy to read conversion chart for your current bulbs. So you can download our buyers guide to learn more about LEDs, or if you do not need any more convincing you can go straight to the conversion chart below and start figuring out what LEDs you need to replace your out of date, inefficient and hot bulbs. If you need any assistance determining which LED is right for you then email us at info@technorv.com. It helps to send a picture of the fixture and a picture of the bulb.

Good luck with your LED conversion!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Should I Download the New Windows 10?

            If you’ve been using a Windows 7 or 8 PC lately, you may have noticed a new icon on the taskbar in the bottom-right. Microsoft is releasing the new Windows 10, and you can go ahead and sign-up for a free download when it releases! Just click the Windows logo on the taskbar and follow the simple instructions, and Windows 10 will download to your device once it’s released on July 29th. You can then install it whenever it is convenient for you.


            Only industry insiders have seen Windows 10, but Microsoft promises that it will be familiar and easy-to-use, and that it will be compatible with all current hardware and software. Even documents and files will be preserved in the upgrade. Once it’s here, we’ll be sure to let you know how it is, and whether or not it’s worth upgrading. There’s no harm in going ahead and signing up though - the free download is a limited time offer!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

How can I Save Data While Still Streaming Videos?


You probably know that higher quality video uses more data to stream, but did you know that your favorite video services may be set to stream the highest quality by default (and use up the most data)? Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube all have quality options, and automatically select the highest quality that your connection speed can currently handle. This is great for getting high quality video, but not so great for your data limit each month! You can lower these by clicking on the gear icon on the video player for YouTube and Hulu. In Netflix, just go to Your Account, then Your Profile, and look under Playback Settings. 


Netflix Step 1: (found in the top right corner of your computer screen)  Click "Your                                       Account" once you log in to your account.



Netflix Step 2: Click "Playback Settings" 



Netflix Step 3: Choose the level of playback you would like for your videos.




         
As a default, these services could be streaming video quality to the tune of up to 7 GB per hour, and you can get that as low as 0.3 GB per hour. You could cut your data usage from streaming video by up to 95%!  Now, if you live in a house and you are connected to unlimited WiFi, decreasing the quality of a video may make no sense to you, but when you travel in an RV and pay for every GB of data you use, sacrificing a little video quality can save you a lot of money in the long run.  Your picture quality won’t be quite as nice, but you’ll appreciate not having to shell out for extra data at the end of the month! 


Can I Connect my 50 Amp RV to a 30 Amp Service?

Can I connect my 50A RV to a 30A Service?


The short answer is yes, however there are some issues that you need to consider when you do this. The first thing to know is that if you are in a 50 Amp RV and there is 50 Amp service available then you should go to the site that is dedicated to 50 Amp service. Some people will try to save a few dollars by going to a 30 Amp site, and while you may get away with it, in the long run you could be opening yourself up to potential RV issues. So rule number one: only use a 30 Amp if 50 Amp is not available.

Now let’s get into the electrical considerations. If your 50 Amp RV is plugged into a 30 Amp service, you will not be able to use everything in your RV. You cannot count on the campground breakers to protect your RV from an overload situation. Let’s look at the numbers. A 30 Amp service will provide you with 3600 watts of availability. I arrive at this number because a 30 Amp service is run by one 120 volt line, so 30 Amps times 120 volts = 3600 watts (Amps X Volts=Watts).  Generally the breakers used in an RV park are not going to have a tight tolerance for when the breaker trips, maybe 10-20% over or under the 3600 watts. So doing some rough math, the breaker could reach its limit anywhere from around 2850 to 4300 watts. This won’t be a problem for a RV that is made to run on 30 Amps because they are built to run well within the limits, but for a 50 Amp RV, this wattage limitation can quickly become an issue.

So does a 50 Amp RV only require about 60% more wattage than a 30 Amp RV? After all, 50 is only about 60% more than 30. Not so in this case, because a 50 amp service runs on two 120 volt lines instead of the one 120 volt line that a 30 Amp RV uses, and therefore the equation is 50 Amps times 240 volts which equals 12,000 Watts of availability. WOW! That is nearly 3 times the amount of power for a 50 Amp RV than a 30 Amp RV. Again, some rough math, and I can possibly only use a third of what I may normally run on a normal 50 Amp service.  Now this is still doable if you need to. You will certainly be limited to one AC unit, and I wouldn’t be cranking out a 1200 Watt 
hair dryer while I am staying there. There are charts online that you can look at how many watts an average appliance uses, and this could be helpful. Keep in mind, an air conditioner may run on 1000 watts, but it could take double that to start it.

Now, there are 50 Amp RVs that are being run on 30 Amp service in parks every day, so don’t be afraid to do this if that is all that is available. Just take the advice of this article and be about 2/3’s more frugal on what you normally run in your RV. There will be times that you pull into a park after a long day of driving and find that a 30 Amp is all that is available. Just pull out your adapter plug, and make sure you do not exceed the wattage availability. You can always refer back to this article if you forget the calculations.

Visit TechnoRV.com for more information on Electrical Safety.


If you have more questions about this article, please feel free to post the question in our forum at forum@technorv.com. Your question will likely help others too, and we will be sure to post an answer back to you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

So What's up With the Smartwatches?

You may have seen a smartwatch by now. Major tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Motorola have all started to produce these devices, and they are set to become the next big gadget in the public eye. Other than being hip, what do they really bring to the table? Is it worth looking like you have a Casio calculator strapped to your wrist? Is a smartwatch right for you?

Advertisements will show off all the fancy voice controls and heartbeat sensors in their shiny new device, but the fact is that a smartwatch isn’t much use if it doesn’t work well as a watch. So does it operate fine as a watch? Yes, they keep time, but that’s easy. They have well-lit digital screens, like a phone or tablet,that can easily be read in any light - but remain completely dim when you’re not using them. The usual timekeeping conveniences found in digital watches are all there: timer, stopwatch, and 
alarm functions are all built-in, and without the confusing button schemes of old digital watches. Everything uses 
the touchscreen, and so is simple and easy to use. A full calendar view is available, even. It can be very handy to have so many of your daily reminders and schedules strapped to your wrist, instead of on a tablet, or written down somewhere.

Smartwatches aren’t just fancy watches, though. They have a lot of functionalities that are unique for a wearable device, like making and receiving phone calls, texts, and emails. It’s not always easy to do these things on such a tiny screen, which is why most smartwatches are expected to be used as a companion device to your smartphone. Your phone will manage all of the data, and your watch acts as an accessory to it - like another screen. Even if you can’t see yourself pecking away at a tiny screen to send a text, everyone can think of a time that they’d rather check their wrist to see who’s calling (and even silence the call) rather than fumble with their phone. Newer models will allow you to take the call from your watch, and hear and speak to the other caller through the watch.

So what’s the downside, other than looking straight out of Back to the Future? For one, these devices run on a rechargeable battery, and they use significantly more power than a standard watch, even a digital one. You’ll need to recharge your watch at least once a week, maybe more depending on the model. It’s a simple USB charger, likely the same one as your phone, so it’s not too much of a hassle, except for remembering to do it.  You’ll feel like a total goof if your watch battery dies partway through a day and you’re stuck with a useless brick on your wrist though, which is strong reinforcement. The watches also run on Bluetooth, which requires your phone’s Bluetooth to be active, which will drain the battery quicker. Lastly, some of them really don’t look great. Some are simply small tablets with a rubber strap attached. Some of the newer models have adopted round faces, and premium cloth or metal bands, although the screens still need to maintain their size to be usable, and they can dwarf smaller wrists.

All in all, smartwatches are very versatile devices that are still having the kinks ironed out - not in the technology, but in the concept. They work well, but aren’t always as good of a lifestyle device as something like a watch needs to be. There’s no doubt that we’ll all be babbling away into our wrist computers someday, but that day may not be here just yet. Unless you’re the kind of person who loves trying out new gadgets, this is one bandwagon you can probably avoid for a few more years. If you love testing new gizmos (and maybe being a bit of a guinea pig), and like the idea of everyone asking you if “that’s one of those new watchphones,” then a smartwatch just might be for you.