Monday, November 30, 2015

Bypassing the Ballast and LED Fluorescent Tubes

RV fluorescent tubes come in two standard sizes, 18" and 12". The TechnoRV 18" tubes have two rows of LED's whereas the 12" tubes have a single row. Installing your LED tubes is a very simple process. First, remove the fixture's plastic cover. This is usually done by pushing on one of the sides until it pops clear of the side of the fixture. Next, remove the fluorescent tubes by gently pulling on them. 
The TechnoRV LED tubes are not polarity dependent so you can install them in either orientation. But first you will need to pull off the little plastic covers that are on the pins at each end. Next, push the tubes into the fixture exactly as the previous tubes were installed. Most fixtures have horizontal slots meaning you simply push the tubes up into the fixture. Some have side facing slots meaning that you have to push the LED tube in and then move it to the side to install it in the slots. If you try this you will notice that the LED's would then be facing the wrong way. The fix is to pull the plastic at each end of the tube and twist the mounting by 90 degrees. Your LED tube will then be orientated the correct way in the fixture. 

Directional Lighting

You don't generally think of fluorescent tubes as being directional. However, because their LED replacements have the LED's all on one side, they do tend to throw the light in that direction. 

The TechnoRV LED tubes allow you to go one step further. Even if you don't need to twist the ends because of your fitting, you can do the same thing to point the tube's LED's in a particular direction. Perhaps there is part of a room that needs more light, or you'd like more light over a table or food preparation area. By twisting the ends you can do just that. Just remember to pull the end as you twist (this feature is only available on the 18" tubes, not the 12"). 

Bypassing the Ballast

Almost all fluorescent tubes require some form of ballast to operate. A ballast is usually nowadays electronic and provides a high frequency AC current to the tube to increase its efficiency while limiting the current flow. 

Most LED replacements require you to bypass the ballast (i.e. remove it from the circuit). You will notice from the instructions above that you do not need to bypass the ballast with the Eco-LED tubes. This is a big advantage for people who are concerned about the ease of installation. 

The down side is that having the ballast in the circuit does reduce the brightness of the LED's by approximately 20%. If you want to get the most performance from your LED's you will need to bypass the ballast. It's not hard and we do sell a bypass kit, but it's pretty straightforward. Here's how you do it. 





Remove the Ballast Cover.

There are many different types of fluorescent fixtures. The more modern variety have a shiny ballast cover which needs to be removed by drilling out two of the rivets (or cutting if you have the right tools). 

The older variety is easier as it has a cover which can be removed just by squeezing it together. 

 
Disconnect the Ballast.

The ballast will generally have 4 wires (two at either end) which need to be disconnected (just snip through them after making sure that the light is turned off!).

Tie each end together.



The connectors at each end of the fitting have 4 wires (one to each slot). All 4 of these at each end need to be tied together using either a twist cap or better still, a terminal block (available from Lowe's or Home Depot).

Run power to each end.

Now all you need to do is to run power to each end. It doesn't really matter which end you take the +ve or -ve to, just choose which ever is easiest. Just remember that at one end the power has to go through the switch first, otherwise your light will be on all the time!

Replace Ballast Cover or Lens

Finally, replace the ballast cover (you don't have to as the LEDs all face downwards, but it does make the installation look "neater" in my opinion. Slide in the LED tubes and replace the lens cover. Switch on and bask in the bright crisp LED light.




For more information on LED Fluorescent lights, visit www.technorv.com or contact us at 866-324-7915.

Friday, November 27, 2015

What is That Smell Coming From my RV Sink?

When I decided to become a fulltime RVer over a year ago, I knew there were things that I was going to have to get used to that I had never had to deal with while living in a house.  Washing dishes to me used to mean loading and unloading them - never actually washing them; the toilets I was used to didn't require me to use my foot to flush them; and I was use to being able to actually walk into my closet instead of barely being able to get my clothes into it.  

I've adjusted to everything and then some, and I absolutely love the RV life, but time and time again, there was one thing about it that I just could not get used to...the odors coming from my sink when I turned my water on!  When you live in such a small place, any smell is pretty serious, and we kept having odors coming from the sink for no reason at all.  We would turn the water on to wash dishes or just to fill Lincoln's water bowl and a horrid smell would come up from the drain that was disgusting.  No woman wants to make effort cleaning her home only to have it stink when the water is turned on!  I started googling and searching for answers because I couldn't take the thought of my home stinking every time I turned the water on.  Something had to give.  I had no experience with the idea of carrying my sink/shower water waste with me everywhere, so I wasn't sure just what I should expect.  Was I wanting too much when I didn't want to smell anything when I turned my water on?

Needless to say, we tried everything.  We bought many grey tank treatments and tried the GEO method when we moved.  The cleaners wouldn't take care of the odor, and although the GEO method  cleaned the tank well (and I love it for cleaning the black tank), it never removed the odor once I started using the sink again. Enter my new favorite product -- Elemonate!   It is not only a grey tank deodorizer but also freshens sink/drain lines, and dissolves grease and organic sludge. Organic sludge is all of the food that comes from plants or animals that is biodegradeable.  As much as we try to keep these things from our sink drains, we all know some ends up there, and boy do they stink once they get in there -- especially in the heat! Even though I know bettter, I am definitely guilty of the lazy move of shoving a corn kernel or spaghetti noodle down the drain after a dish washing session!

Elemonate is a quick-dissolving tablet that smells like fresh lemon. One tablet is good for a 60-gallon grey tank and works for a kitchen sink or a shower drain, though we haven't tried it in the shower drain yet.  From the first time we used it, we have had NO odors coming from the sink drain, and I cook/clean in my kitchen daily.  After emptying the tanks, I just drop one in the sink and spray some water on it and it dissolves in less than a minute (and smells great while dissolving!).  From empty to full, my tank is odor-free!  It may seem like a small thing, but I love to know that the tank has something in it working against all the food and grease that might end up in it while I'm washing dishes.  

If you have been having any issues with odors from your grey tanks, you should give Elemonate a try.  If you are like me, you love to fill your RV with wonderful scents like candles, cleaners (yes, I like the smell of a good cleaner), yummy food, and more.  With Elemonator, you no longer have to work against the not-so-wonderful scent coming from your sink!

Try Elemonate today at TechnoRV.  You won't be disappointed!  While you are there, check out our other tank treatments and cleaners.  We test the majority of our products to be sure we are selling products that work!  If you have a product that you'd like us to consider, please let us know.  For more information, contact us at support@technorv.com or 866-324-7915.  




~ Tami Johnson

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to Install the Different Types of RV LED Lights

Plug and Play
Almost all of TechnoRV's LED lights are what we call plug-and-play. By that we mean that to install them, you simply take out the old bulb and replace it with the new LED bulb. This even applies to our replacement fluorescent tubes which don't need the ballast bypassing (more on this later).

Polarity
The only bulb that you have to watch out for is the 921-CW/WW (stick style) bulbs. They are polarity dependent which means that they only work one way around in the light fitting. Unfortunately the 921 wedge style fitting is a bit useless in that it allows you to insert the bulb in either orientation. The good news is that you can't damage it that way. If it doesn't work, just take it out and swap it around. 
Sometimes the wires on the bottom of the bulb can get moved during transit. If your bulb still won't work, look at the end to see if they are in the right place. Also, I know it sounds a little tacky, but you can also try wiggling it a little in the fitting. Sometimes that will do it.



Halogen Installation
To install your halogen LED replacements, first of all you'll have to remove the cover to the fixture. Sometimes they can be a little stiff which can make it more of a challenge. The two main types of fitting have either a plastic or metal ring around the outside, or are all glass (sometimes frosted). Both types are removed by turning the ring or glass a quarter turn to the left.   

Once you've removed the cover, simply pull out the halogen bulb and insert the LED. It's a little tricky getting the prongs in the holes; sometimes you have to wiggle the LED bulb from side to side a little and then you will feel it slide into place. Don't worry about touching the surface of the LED diodes, you won't damage them. TechnoRV has an 
installation video if you'd like to watch that first. 


In some infrequent cases, the halogen fixtures have the holes at the back of the fitting rather than at the side (back facing as opposed to side facing). If you find that you have this variety, don't worry. The pins in the Eco-LED halogen replacement bulbs are designed to be bent. Using some pliers, just gently bend them back and trim them with scissors if they are too long. Alternatively we can exchange the bulbs for the back facing variety. 


Dimmers
If you have dimmers on your halogen bulbs you will need to make sure that you have the right bulb (the regular halogen replacement LED bulbs will dim, but flicker on most dimmers). Unfortunately there are different types of dimmers installed in RV's. The two most common are the variable type which allow a smooth dimming, and the two stage (high / low) dimmers. 

If you have the variable type you'll need the 
GG4-PWM style which have special circuity to provide a smooth dimming while minimizing radio and TV interference (common on the cheaper varieties). The two stage dimmers are common on Newmar's and Alpines, utilize a 6v / 12v switch and require the GG4-ANA bulbs. 

If you find that you've purchased the wrong type, not a problem, just keep the packaging, let us know and we'll work with you to upgrade to the dimmable bulbs. 


Super-Brights


Although most LED bulbs are brighter than their incandescent counter-parts, sometimes when you're doing an installation you find that you'd like even more light. Perhaps the light is over a reading chair, or a diner table or food preparation area. For that reason we have a range of what we call our Super-Brights. They offer 3x the light output of our regular LED bulbs and are available in the halogen (G4), Wedge (921) and Bayonet (BA15) base. If you think that you'd like some of these, let us know and we'll help find you the right bulb.

TechnoRV also sells LED fluorescent tubes, and we will be writing a post on how to install those soon.  You can visit us at www.technorv.com to see our entire line of RV LED lights.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

TST Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems FAQ

TST TPMS system

TechnoRV sells the TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and we have received a lot of questions about different aspects of this system. TST systems are the best tire pressure monitoring systems available on the market. This system has won multiple awards and since it was originally designed for the demands of the trucking industry, the RV version is tough, durable, and completely accurate. Here are some frequently asked questions to assist you as you determine what system is right for you, or if you already own a system this may help as well.

How does the TST system work?
In short, high quality sensors are screwed onto your wheel’s valve stem, and the sensors then transmit psi and temperature data to a monitor that sits in your RV or vehicle so that you will be notified should there be any issues with your tires relating to psi and temperature.  The monitor continuously scrolls the psi and temperature of each tire so that at a quick glance you can stay up to date on your tires data. The monitor sits nicely on your dash or comes with a window mount.

How often does the monitor display updated information?
The monitor continuously scrolls and gives the user data at a non-stop pace, however new data is updated from the sensors to the monitor every 2 minutes. The exception to this would be if there was a rapid pressure loss, gradual pressure loss or increased temperature, and in this case an immediate alarm would sound. In this scenario, the sensors would report new data in real time until the data comes back to within the range of acceptance. This unit is accurate to .73 +/- psi.

Do the sensors operate in extreme weather conditions?
Yes, and as you know tire pressure sensors are in some pretty harsh conditions even on a good day.  The sensors are operational in temperatures ranging from -40o to +257 o. The sensors work well in rain, snow, icy conditions, or whatever the weather may bring.  The sensors are sealed with double insulated caps and washers to seal the unit. There are no sensors on the market that can handle nasty conditions like the TST sensors.

Do the 510 sensors work with the 507 systems, or vice versa?
No. The programming algorithms are different, and therefore are not compatible with a different system.

How long do the batteries last?
All battery life is based on full-time usage:
The 510 system has a 5 year battery and reports show that 5-7 years is expected. The 510 system batteries are not user-replaceable.  To replace the batteries you would send the sensor to TST and they would replace the battery, replace the cap and overall service the sensor, then you get it back and are good for another 5-7 years. The cost of this service is $19.95 per sensor.

The 507 systems have user replaceable batteries, and they are good for 10-12 months. When the battery dies you just replace it yourself. These sensors use a 1632 battery, and replacement is very easy.

Which system you decide on is all about customer preference. The only variable is that the 507 system offers both a cap sensor and flow-thru sensor that allow the user to air up tires without taking the sensor off of the valve stem.

How long does the monitor battery last?
A full charge and the monitor is good for a week or two of normal usage. The monitor can be plugged into a 12 volt outlet, or it can be hardwired into power with the provided hardwired kit. I like the fact that the monitor battery is good for a long period and I can mount it for usage with no power cord attached to it.

Does the TST monitor show up good at night time?
The TST monitor has a two staged light system. First, the obvious: when it gets dark the back light comes on automatically. This provides the perfect amount of light for you to view the monitor screen. The second stage is a sensor that senses the vibration of driving and if you are not driving the light will not come on in the dark.

What is a repeater and do I need a repeater?
First, a repeater is a unit that receives data from the sensors, then strengthens the signal and sends it on to the monitor. There is no programming to make the repeater work; it is already set up to communicate with the sensors and monitor. Now for the, “Do you need one?” question. It is not an exact science on whether you need one or not. The general rule of thumb is that if you have a 5th wheel or travel trailer 37 feet or longer then you will likely need a repeater. Also, if you have a motorhome 38 feet or longer, or if you have sensors on a tow vehicle then you will likely need a repeater. It is not just about length though, it is about interference too. There are examples of trailers that have needed repeaters that are shorter than 37 feet because of the materials of the RV, or other interferences. If you are within the limits of the general guidelines, then you can always try the unit without a repeaterand then if you need one you can add it.

How do I install a repeater?
The repeater direct wires to a 12 volt battery source. You can direct connect to a battery, or you can splice it into a 12 volt source. If you are in a diesel pusher with a tow vehicle then you could install the repeater in your engine bay. If you have a 5th wheel, you could install it in the front of the 5th wheel. The repeater is fully sealed and weather proof so you can get creative on where you install it. The goal is for the repeater to be about half way from the monitor to the farthest sensor. We can always help with suggestions if you need assistance.

How much do the sensors weigh and do I need special valve stems?

The 510 sensors weigh about 0.8 of an ounce, and the 507 sensors weigh about 0.45 of an ounce. The weight is not an issue, however it is recommended that you use a metal valve stem. Using any sensor on a rubber valve stem could create issues for that valve stem over time.

If you have any more questions about the TST Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, contact us at TechnoRV by email at support@technorv.com or by calling us at 866-324-7915.  

Monday, November 16, 2015

Don't Forget About Preventative Maintenance for Your RV

I recently performed some preventative maintenance on my RV and thought I would just briefly share this with you in case you need a reminder to do the same. Performing preventative maintenance on your RV can certainly get away from you if you don’t make a list and stick to it. As you know, driving down the road with your house can cause some issue, and routinely checking your RV systems can save you a headache down the road. 

TechnoRV is going to be offering maintenance products soon like lubricants, sealants, battery cleaners and protectors, tank maintenance solutions, and much more.  As I perform maintenance on my RV, I try different products to see which works best in my opinion, and these will be the ones I eventually share with you for your RV. Here are some items I took care of recently:

1)   I cleaned and conditioned my RV roof. I was testing several products here, and there were clear differences in performance. As soon as I reach a conclusion on recommendations I will write an update.
2)   I changed my RV water Filter. I am doing some research on this as well as the filter I was using did not do a great job. I had ordered several different types and brands and this may take some time to test these and come to a conclusion.
3)   I inspected, cleaned and protected my battery terminals -- again, more product testing on this as well.

It is the little things that we do that keep our RVs running great for years and years. Some suggestions to put on your maintenance list are:

1)   Clean your RV! We pick up a great deal of road grime and bugs as we travel and these are not good for the finish or decals on your RV. In additions, moving parts get exposed to the dirt and this can cause problems over time.
2)   Grab a screwdriver and wrench and walk around your RV, inside and outside, and tighten screws and bolts. When I first started doing this I was surprised at the number of loose screws and bolts I had.
3)   Lubricate moving parts. Moving parts need lubrication, enough said.
4)   Check the seals and seams for cracking and leaks.
5)   Look on the underside of your RV to see if anything is breaking loose or not set properly. The other day I found a piece of molding under one of my slides that was about to come off, and I reset it and tightened it down, otherwise it would have come off after a few more trips.
6)   Batteries – clean, protect, and check fluid levels.
7)   Clean and condition your roof.
8)   Take a look at your electrical systems routinely.

These are all things that we can most likely do on our own. I am stunned at the price that RV dealers charge to do these type of preventative maintenance procedures. There will usually be package deals and some can run in the thousands of dollars. Take care of the items that you can take care of and save the trip to the dealer for the things you can’t do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Changes in the Alabama Gulf State Park Reservation System

If you are planning a trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast soon, you should know about the changes they have made in their reservation system.  Both the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores and Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort have both transitioned to site-specific reservations as of October 2015 and it is being met with mixed reviews.


We are currently staying at Meaher State Park, as we did last year this time.  The view of the water, large lots, great fishing opportunities on the Mobile Delta and Mobile Bay, plus tons of wonderful nearby restaurants keep us coming back every year.  When we asked for a reservation when we arrived the week before November, we were given the number of a site in the back just off the water.  Since we were traveling back from a long trip late on a Friday night, we really weren't thinking much about it since we had stayed before and knew we could actually select any available spot when we arrived regardless of what spot they gave us.  Last year, we stayed here for 3 months and stayed the entire time on the water, as long as we moved every 2 weeks.  


Meaher Park in Spanish Fort, Alabama

The evening we arrived, it was actually very strange when we pulled in and headed towards our site (it was after hours) because we passed 15-20 sites that were on the water and were just sitting there empty.  We were so confused as to why they didn't place us there when we called for a reservation. I asked the camp host if we could park in an available water site and she said something about a new system and said we would have to ask the office. We were exhausted and ready for sleep so we pulled into our back site and decided we would ask to move come Monday.

Come Monday, we went to the office and asked to be moved to a water site and they told us they were all reserved.  When we pointed out that we had been there for a couple of days and the same 20 sites were still open, they told us of the new policy: visitors could reserve specific sites and since we had asked to stay for a month and no one site was available for a solid month, they had to place us in the back.  We offered to move every couple of weeks like we did the previous year, but they again said the sites were reserved for one day here, two days there, and no site was available for any real length of time.  The two women in the office were wonderful and started looking into it and realized that they indeed had almost all of their water sites open, and if they rearranged a couple of reservations by only one site location, we could have one site for the entire month of November.  

It was during this time we learned that the Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores was doing the same reservation system this year.  RVers can make reservations for specific streets instead of a first-come, first-serve system like they had in previous years.  For some, this will be wonderful.  You can reserve your favorite spot, come in for two nights or two months, enjoy the park, and leave - without having to worry about what might be available when you arrive.  For others, it is proving to be less enjoyable.  Groups that have traveled together for years are unable to stay in spots near each other, RVers who did not reserve a specific spot in advance are having to pass primo empty spots that sit for weeks as they are directed to sites in the back of the park due to other reservations, and family members are being separated although available adjoining spots appear to be available. This system also eliminates the ability to move to better sites if they become available or to move from sites if you are having issues with neighbors during your stay.  


Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama
Some of the benefits to the system are when RVers do make a reservation, they will be guaranteed the spot they request for the season without having to arrive extremely early on November 1st to grab the spot on a first-come, first-serve basis, which is what has happened in previous years.  Groups that travel together can make reservations together and families can schedule trips without worrying about sites being available together.  (November 1st is when the parks begin their monthly rates.)

One more change in the Gulf State Park that you need to be aware of is the amount of deposit required for a reservation.  Previously, one night's rate was required, but the park said too many reservations were canceled and increased the deposit.  They now require a $200 deposit for a reservation and then they apply it to the first month's rent.  

Gulf State Park rates are as follows and they range depending on the site you select:
RV Sites: $37 - $49 per weekday night
Weekend Rate: $40 - $52 per weekend night
Weekly Rate: $221 - $293
Monthly Rate: $565 - $715 

Meaher State Park rates are as follows, regardless of the site you select:
RV Sites: $35 per night
Weekly Rate: $182
Monthly Rate: $623

Regardless of the changes, the Alabama State Parks on the Gulf Coast are beautiful and worth any effort you have to make to reserve a spot!  

Alabama's Gulf State Park Campground

Alabama's Meaher State Park Campground

Meaher State Park sunsets are the perfect way to end the day!






Sunday, November 1, 2015

Taking Care of Your RV's Tires (Part 2)

In a previous post, I discussed how to determine the proper tire inflation for your tires and the importance of getting your RV weighed. In part two of that post, we will discuss properly inspecting your tires and what gross vehicle weight rating is.

Inspecting your RV’s Tires
  

RVers should do a visual inspection of your tires before each trip. You should also plan on a recurring schedule of inspection, rotating, balancing and alignment service from a professional. An inspection from the RV owner should involve visually looking for nails, cuts, bulges, cracks and weathering, and if you have duals, look for objects that may have become lodged in between the tires. The part that is not fun here is that you need to make sure you visually check out the inside sidewall and not just the part of the tire you can see by standing next to the tire. This may require you to get a little dirty to see the other side of the tire.  There are many conditions that you should look out for on the tread as well. Here are some visual indications that you should be aware of:

If you see any of these signs of wear you should take it to a tire professional and have them inspect it and give recommendations. If you see a slight indication, and you catch it early, then you may be able to correct the problem before it becomes severe, and thus saving yourself money and ensuring a safe ride. The visual inspection may seem a little repetitive, and it is, but RVers that skip this process and then have issues down the road always wish they had taken a few minutes to do this. Put this process on your pre-trip planning list and make it a priority.

Gross Vehicle Weight
To get an accurate vehicle weight rating, you must weigh your vehicle at the weight you would be driving down the road. This means all your food, clothing, supplies, dog, people, and whatever else you put in your RV. Weighing your RV like this will give you your gross vehicle weight (GVW). Each vehicle has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and it is crucial that you do not exceed the GVWR with the GVW. The chassis manufacturer has established the maximum amount of weight that the chassis can safely support. If your GVW exceeds your GVWR then guess what? That’s right. You have to start taking items out to make sure you are safely within the chassis ratings. You can find your GVWR in the owner’s manual of your RV.

There are different types of scales that you will encounter; the first is a platform scale. This scale should be big enough to pull your entire RV onto and give you a total weight. Remember, ideally you need to get a weight at each tire, or at least a weight per axle. So with a platform scale you can pull onto it with just your front axle and record the weight, then pull the entire vehicle on for the gross vehicle weight, then pull forward so only the back axle is on the scale. Now this does not give you an individual tire reading unless the platform has space around it to pull one tire on at a time.  The second type scale is a segmented platform. This allows you to pull onto the scale, and it will give you an individual reading for each axle. This is a little easier than the platform scale, but still creates issues with weighing at each tire. The third type is a single axle scale, and basically this allows for one axle to be weighed at a time. Once you have weighed your front axle then you pull forward to weigh the back axle, but the entire vehicle is never on the scale at once. To get to total vehicle weight you would add the two axle weights together.

There are some companies that have pads that you pull on that give the weight at each tire, and this would be the easiest of them all. In any event, getting weighed routinely is crucial to ensuring a safe weight as you barrel down the road.

Well that does it for now. Taking care of those tires and maintaining proper weights is crucial to safe RVing, so make sure you are taking all of the precautions necessary to give you and your family a safe trip. 


At TechnoRV we sell TST Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems to help you monitor your tire psi and temperature as you drive.  Check them out today!