Archive for Owner’s Guide

Your next tow vehicle?

The hype is strong with Musk (see the Coyote: Elon Musk Is The Master of Yelling “Squirrel” ). The latest is his tractor. See Tesla Semi: 500-Mile Range, Cheaper Than Diesel, Quick to Charge By Bill Howard. The key item of interest is energy storage and both the Coyote and Howard comment on this.

The Coyote says Here Are the Two Problem With EV’s — energy density and recharge time.

15 gallons of gasoline weighs 90 pounds and takes up 2 cubic feet.  This will carry a 40 mpg car 600 miles. … the Tesla gets  0.22 miles per pound of fuel/battery while the regular car can get 6.7.  That is a difference in energy density of 30x.
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 The problem is that it is MUCH faster to refill a tank of gas than it is to refill a battery with a full charge.

and here is Howard on the tractor:

As for battery capacity, Tesla gave us a hint: Tesla says the Semi uses “less than 2 kilowatt-hours” of energy per mile. Based on vehicle battery packs in use now, we know lithium-ion battery packs of at least 50 kWh weigh about 15 pounds per 1 kilowatt-hour of stored energy. So if the Tesla Semi uses 1.5 kWh per mile and travels 500 miles, that means the battery is 750 kWh and weighs 11,250 pounds. If consumption is closer to 2.0 kWh per mile, the battery at is as much as 1,000 kWh — 1 megawatt-hour — and 15,000 pounds.

Now, if you want to recharge via solar, a typical cargo container has 320 square feet of roof. At 15 watts per square foot, this could accommodate about 4800 watts of solar panels. At 2 kWh/mile, bright sun might get enough energy from the roof of that typical semi-trailer cargo container in an hour to run the vehicle 2 miles.

Another way to look at this is that, at a 60 mph highway speed, the tractor would need a 30 kW power delivery. (60 miles, 2 kWh/mile, 1 hour). A gallon of diesel has about 38 kWh of energy storage. Since the battery and electric motor efficiency is about three times that of a heat engine like the diesel, these calculations indicate the electric tractor running at the equivalent of about 5 miles per gallon. That sounds a bit low but isn’t that far off.

I wonder what an RV park would do if you pulled in for the night to recharge your tow vehicle from a day’s driving. They aren’t geared up for covering a night time use of 400 kWh energy draw (2 kWh/mi and 200 miles). At ten cents per kWh that would be $40 of electricity and most places have more expensive electricity. Compare that to the current headache, A/C on a hot day, where a large RV might pull 30 – 50 kWh. That’s an order of magnitude increase in energy needs.

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The 2018 Calendar For Roadtreking Rv Lifestyle Gatherings describes a philosophy and approach towards the RV community that illustrates how technology has enabled and facilitated new ways of getting together and building friendships.

We don’t call our events “rallies.” We call them gatherings. There’s no membership requirements. Any and all types of RVs are welcomed. Tenters are welcome. Even people who camp in the pack of their car are welcomed.

There are no dues. No nametags. No agenda.

It’s all about the RV Lifestyle. The only requirements we have is that you have fun, are independent enough to plan your days on your own and are a nice person who gets along well with others.

That said, our gatherings have lots of activities you can participate in. Or not participate in. It’s all up to you.
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Most of our gatherings are intentionally kept small – to no more than 30 rigs and 50 people. That way, everybody gets to meet and make friends and, if we agree to go to a local restaurant for dinner, we don’t completely overwhelm the servers and space.

There is much to be learned from an approach such as this. Some of the old, classic style, organizations could learn a lot about matching their identity and purpose to the modern RV experience.

One should note that the website is a part of a growing empire as a journalist found a niche and started a blog, a news site, a Facebook and YouTube presence and other activities to keep him going. See Mike’s Story.

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Notice any changes?

The Roadtreking blog does. 

The one consistent thing we’ve noticed in our Roadtreking travels this year is how many new RVers we are encountering out there. 
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Those campers are younger and younger. In KOA’s 2017 North American Camping Report, the company sayid millennials and Generation Xers now make up 72 percent of the 75 million households in U.S. that are regular campers.

Most of those younger campers are in tents and towables 
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 across the board for the whole industry, sales of smaller Class B campervans have been seeing double digit growth
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Where we have most seen it is in the places we go boondocking.
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We used to never have a problem finding a spot, let alone have neighbors as we retreated deep into the woods or on Bureau of Land Management properties. Now, we usually always have neighbors and sometimes actually find all the good spots taken.

There’s growth. Growth in population. Growth in wealth. And there’s reductions in costs for the conveniences in modern RV’s and camping equipment. 

 

 

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Lassen Trails

On Project Gutenberg: Lassen Trails by Stephen Halsey Matteson — from the preface

Since most of Lassen Volcanic National Park can best be seen and enjoyed by walking the trails, this booklet is written to help those who wish to know more about the park. Much can be observed from the Lassen Park Road, including some of the best scenery and most interesting geology, but to become thoroughly acquainted with the park and to appreciate fully what it has to offer, there is no better way than walking the trails.

Thirty-four trails are briefly described in this booklet. Rather than give a complete description of each trail, an attempt is made to indicate the highlights of each, giving enough information so that a hiker can decide which trails will interest him most.

Assuming the trails are still active, this is a guide with maps and illustrations that provides information to help you see and notice what is special about the park. If you are taking a tour out of Northeastern California, this ought to be in your eBook reader.

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Urban show and tell

This one gets into different strokes for different folks. The example is something to think about in terms of how culture is changing and why people own an Airstream RV.

What seems to be a new trend is a rally parallel parking on a busy city thoroughfare for a show and tell. See Capi Lynn: Oregon has the third-largest Airstream club in the nation

Twenty members are expected to set up camp on Main Street for Friday and Saturday nights in what they hope will be the first of many urban rallies the club holds in the future in small towns across Oregon.

“Our goal is to bring people to the downtown and spread the joy of camping and Airstreams,” said Kathy Ellis-Kelemen, a club member in Salem.

There is some dissonance here. Bring people downtown to spread the joy of camping? Is a fancy RV the essence of camping or, perhaps, is it the plastic bag a homeless person is using for his downtown camping?

This is group stealth camping disguised as an RV trade show (see the RVIA calendar). It seems more about glamping rather than camping as the idea of putting one’s RV up for display on a public street seems it would create many barriers to actually using that RV for a few days. This is like those shows about prepping houses for sale and how the requirements for a good sales show disrupts using the house for living. The RV does fit right into the modern fad for tiny houses, though.

What seems to be missing here is the social aspect of a WBCCI rally. How can you commune with other ‘birds of a feather’ if most of your rally time is spent guarding your significant investment while strangers parade through it gawking at your possessions? Is the effort inner directed in the hubris of showing off or is it outward directed towards the objectives of the WBCCI (constitution Article III):

to afford opportunities for outdoor fraternization of recreational vehicle owners; to encourage safe driving and assist in improving the general welfare of the recreational vehicle public through assistance and active participation of all its members in building a strong organization for the betterment of good will toward recreational vehicle travel; to coordinate the interest and activities of its Regions and Units; to cooperate with other organizations within its sphere of interest which are seeking to elevate the standards and ethics of the various groups; to disseminate information of an advisory and educational nature which will be of value to its members and the public; to study, advise and recommend legislation in the interest of the recreational vehicle public and to oppose all legislation which is discriminatory and injurious to the recreational vehicle public and to encourage government and private agencies to provide more and better recreational vehicle parks and facilities.

The connections seem weak but then WBCCI members have shown little proclivity in recent years for introspection and discussion about their club behavior, values, and identity.

 

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Tire theory summarized talking about Nitrogen Snake Oil

The AutoExpertTV dude John Cadogan uses some rather ‘colorful’ expressions as is his wont but the YouTube lecture on the Top 10 reasons not to put nitrogen in your tyres (yeah, he’s an Aussie so he can’t spell tires right) has some good stuff about tires. It is interesting that he gathered nearly 10% dislikes but then there are a lot of folks out there that are addicted to their particular snake oil ranging from Agent Orange to the Vegetarian Free Range Natural Chickens. 

Cadogan gets into the actual measure and is good for several examples of the ideal gas law as well as the relevance of precision in tire matters.

Note that here in the U.S. Costco usually fills tires with Nitrogen. The saving grace is that they don’t charge extra for it and their tires and installation services are usually at good prices. Costco also has a note on their warranty information and window sticker to check lug nut torque after 40 miles or so. That is good advice.

I got into some of these issues recently contesting the idea that 20% of trailer owners found that Goodyear Marathons suffered defects and failed. This was while standing next to a trailer whose owner hadn’t checked his tire pressure before heading out and had three at 2/3 proper pressure and one at half that. As Cadogan notes, most blowouts are due to low pressure and high speeds which heat the tire. That is why all cars since about 2008 are required to have tire pressure monitoring as the government gave up on driver responsibility in tire pressure checking.

TireRack.com has a lot of articles about tires including one on the use of Nitrogen. They say the same thing Cadogan does (but with a bit less color).

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Home Power Thinking About Batteries

Justine Sanchez has a good article on Battery Bank Design & Sizing in this month’s Home Power Magazine. The focus is on residential systems and not on RV systems. It includes consideration for “areas with utilities unfriendly to net billing” which is one way of saying areas whose populations don’t like subsidies for energy fantasies. But the subsidies are often forced on utility customers and other modern concerns such as load leveling have become an issue in electrical power systems. 

The battery types discussed here are being mass-produced—there is a formalized testing process in place with material safety handling data sheets, etc.—and are currently available for the U.S. residential storage market.
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No matter what type of system you have, there are some basic pieces of information you will need for sizing. This includes the daily energy the battery bank will need to supply and the DOD recommended for that battery type.
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A primary factor in off-grid battery bank design is “days of autonomy”—the number of days that the bank should meet loads without being recharged due to clouds hampering PV output.

There is a good discussion of considerations that differ between whether the batteries are providing service for off-grid, backup, or load leveling situations. An RV has the potential for much greater variance in energy requirements in most cases. That means that a greater reserve capacity is needed. Weight, maintenance charging, and other factors are much more important in RV systems than they are in Home systems, too.

 

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Crocker, SNU Rally, Heat Wave, Uh-oh

As the weekend approaches, the forecast at the Crocker Campground for afternoon temperatures keeps going up. Saturday is now forecast for a high of 92. That is causing those planning on attending to rethink their weekend as that gets into the very uncomfortable to even health hazardous temperatures for them due to existing health problems and age. The nearby RV parks report being full up for the weekend but Crocker Campground is likely to be short of Airstream RV’s.

Of course, most of the RV’s have air conditioners and the MoHo’s usually have a genset installed. This would make it possible to provide a cool down in the heat of the day. The noise and bother of Air Conditioning and the need to hunker down in the RV all afternoon aren’t reasons why the SNU planned a rally at Crocker, though.

UC Davis says the Elderly need special care in hot weather. “Hot weather can be a big concern for older people says Calvin Hirsch, a geriatrics specialist with UC Davis Health System.”

Hirsch noted there are many factors involved in why seniors are so vulnerable in hot weather. Some individuals have health problems, such as heart disease, that make it more difficult for the body to circulate blood properly and dissipate heat. Others are on medications, like diuretics (water pills), that cause water loss and worsen the dehydrating effects of high temperatures. Obese individuals have an especially hard time keeping cool.

A Place for Mom has 7 Tips for Avoiding Elderly Heat Stroke & Exhaustion. “a recent University of Chicago Medical Center study found that 40% of heat-related fatalities in the U.S. were among people over 65.” … “Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all warning signs that help should be sought immediately.”

There are other concerns. Keeping pets cool and safe is a big one. Travel is going to put a special emphasis on preparation. Make sure that tire pressures are at max sidewall for the trailer and also for the tow vehicle and keep the running speeds down. Check all fluids and systems to make sure they are where they need to be and are working properly. Keep in mind that a trailer is likely to get rather warm going down the road and that there is a lot of stress on the refrigerator. Many of the supplies you carry from batteries to food do not do well in the heat and may need special protection from the heat.

If you do a I’net search for “heatwave health” you’ll likely find a lot of the climate alarmists assuming that the current heat wave is a portent of their vision of doom and gloom. It isn’t. It is normal to get heat waves in the summer. The record set yesterday in Reno was only three degrees above the previous record set in 1940 and just tied the overall June Reno record. In 1940, Reno was a much smaller city and the weather station was not in the middle of a big airport with huge concrete runways. This is called the urban heat island effect.

Be safe. Take care. Avoid unnecessary risks.

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Nostalgia: an old highway 66 overview

It’s a one hour YouTube video on the route 66 from Chicago to the Pacific Ocean. Most Amazing Views of Route 66 – An Aerial Documentary. It’s a music video tour, a compression of a long journey, a meditation, and a glimpse about what the ravages of time bring to roads. It isn’t a narrated documentary.

Thousands of miles, fuel, and dollars and over two and a half years of obtaining footage have resulted in never before seen perspectives of Route 66.  I’m proud to show you Route 66 like it has never been seen before.  From Chicago to LA, you’ll get your kicks with this video from 66!

There is some repeated footage but the use of the drone provides more context of the road in its place than you’d get from road level photography. This video shows many of the landmarks along the route, the condition of the road and its bridges, a lot of middle America scenery, and an occasional glimpse of folks, especially motorcyclists it seems, out to enjoy the road. 

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The Great American Eclipse

The PBS Space Time YouTube channel has a short presentation on The Great American Eclipse. It’s a once in 40 year special event and there’s likely to be a lot of folks camping out on its path between Oregon and North Carolina. 

sad to say, being PBS the video is plagued by its sponsor (and some wacked out comments) but that is at the end and in the ‘extra notes.’ The presentation itself is quite good and explains the phenomena and what you might be able to see.

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Wildflowers, Coffee, and Web skimming

Project Gutenberg  has 100 Desert Wildflowers in Natural Color by Natt Noyes Dodge.

When Webster defined a desert as a “dry, barren region, largely treeless and sandy” he was not thinking of the 50,000 square mile Great American Desert of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Most of it is usually dry and parts may be sandy, but as a whole, it is far from barren and treeless. Heavily vegetated with gray-green shrubs, small but robust trees, pygmy forests of grotesque cactuses and stiff-leaved yuccas, and myriads of herbaceous plants, the desert, following rainy periods, covers itself with a blanket of delicate, fragrant wildflowers. Edmund C. Jaegar, author of several books on deserts, reports that the California deserts alone support more than 700 species of flowering plants.

You can either browse the book online – in color! – or download it to read in your eBook device. For this book, you really need a color display.

Skillet is wondering: Is Trader Joe’s Pour-Over Bag the Ultimate in Coffee Convenience? — “The concept is simple: you just twist off the tip of the spout and open the top of the bag, pour hot water in up to the fill line, let it sit for four minutes, and pour the coffee into cups.” Amazon has a pack of six for $18 – that’s about $3 per typical coffee mug. Convenience has its price but this isn’t your every day cuppa’joe, either.

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Texas Davis Mountains and California Gene Autry trail

He says “just keep it between the lines bro …

There is no better sports car loop in the USA– The 75 mile Scenic Loop in far west Texas is a desolate, eye opening…damn I gotta drive.

Then there’s a link to Jennifer Bolande at American Digest: I think that I shall never see / A billboard lovely as a tree. These billboards between I10 and Vista Chino out of Palm Springs – 33°50’41.70”N 116°30’21.02”W – are pictures of what you’d see without the billboards.

Follow the links but don’t stop there. Check out the maps and other resources. Dream. Maybe even put on your bucket list. Places to see. Places to visit. So many. Too many. 

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The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass

For those 62 or older, you can get a discount pass to reduce fees at many recreational areas owned by the Federal Government. See the Senior Pass page. The cost is only $10 or, if you use USGS online store, $20 with the extra ten for ‘document processing.’ This is a lifetime pass. It supercedes the Golden Age Passports that are no longer sold. See America the Beautiful Passes for information about 4th grade, military, and other versions of this discount pass and additional information.

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Diesel versus Petrol

It’s always a challenge trying to fit specifications with popular perceptions when it comes to trailer towing engine choices. An Australian AutoExpert, John Cadogan, has a lecture on YouTube that contains a few hints: Diesel Australia – the Diesel vs Petrol story  — do read the text that goes with the video as it is a bit more complete than many such video explanations.

Diesel vs petrol engines: Comparable petrol engines make more peak power – but diesels deliver huge torque at low revs. That means more low-rpm power from the diesel – maybe three or four times as much down at 2000rpm. That makes diesel feel unfussed and effortless in traffic. Diesel motors are about 30-40 per cent more fuel efficient. That means more cruising range out of a diesel, and less spent every week on transport.

This doesn’t help the confusion. There is a clue given in the video that does provide some help. The first item to consider is a proper definition of terms. It is the power that determines how fast you can get up the hill and the engine torque that determines the gear you need to use. Torque is a force whereas power is the rate of energy flow. So torque needs to have both distance and time figured in to be able to compare it to power. That is one problem with the quote. Another is that comparisons such as “maybe three or four times as much” are useless without a proper referent. The key item is that a diesel is a low speed engines while petrol (gas) engines produce best at higher rotational speeds (RPMs). The power range in a diesel covers only about half the RPM of a gas engine. That means that the transition from cruising on the flat to climbing a hill is going to cause the diesel to speed up much less than a gas engine and that means that the gas engine is more likely to need a shift of gears. 

It all comes back to the transmission. Big rigs need a lot of gears despite being diesels because they need all the power they can get and the gears help optimize the narrow torque curve. Choosing the best engine for long haul means it’s likely a bit small for grades and start stop traffic and the transmission compensates. The typical RV isn’t as heavy and can use an engine that has a better power to vehicle weight ratio to handle mixed traffic situations with fewer gears.

That’s just one example. John covers a lot of ground in 12 minutes so you need to listen carefully to catch things a bit different than you think. It’s not as simple a debate and there is a lot of nuance to catch.

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Pet Peeves: Email for club business

Business communications includes club and association communications and doing it right is stepping up to effectiveness. Business Email Etiquette – 5 Simple Rules For Managing Email Without Being An Ignoramus hits the main points.

There are a few simple business email etiquette rules that you can follow to make your life a whole lot easier and save yourself from being an email ignoramus.

Sure, business email is a necessity, but I think we can all agree that email is a colossal pain in the a$$. A lot of that pain is caused by ignoramus’ rampant misuse of email.

TechTerms defines Netiquette as

Netiquette, or net etiquette, refers to etiquette on the Internet. Good netiquette involves respecting others’ privacy and not doing anything online that will annoy or frustrate other people. Three areas where good netiquette is highly stressed are e-mail, online chat, and newsgroups. For example, people that spam other users with unwanted e-mails or flood them with messages have very bad netiquette. You don’t want to be one of those people. If you’re new to a newsgroup or online chat room, it may help to observe how people communicate with each other before jumping in.

This is really one of those ‘no excuses’ things. It used to be something taught in school typing classes. It’s still a popular topic for Secretary Handbooks (Amazon Affiliate Link). You’ll even find it buried in the links on our website pages (communications etiquette). The link on that page to RFC 1855 appears to be suffering link rot. A search shows the source document can be found at The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF®) from October 1995

This document provides a minimum set of guidelines for Network Etiquette (Netiquette) which organizations may take and adapt for their own use.  As such, it is liberately written in a bulleted format to make adaptation easier and to make any particular item easy (or easier) to find.  It also functions as a minimum set of guidelines for individuals, both users and administrators.  This memo is the product of the Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) Working Group of the IETF.

It is abuse of etiquette that prompted the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 (Wilkipedia). That was aimed at businesses and wasn’t very effective but it did clarify what was bothering people in I’net communications. As such, the law can provide a good guideline for proper practice.

What is amazing is the hostility often encountered when trying to suggest avoiding some of the more gross etiquette breaches. It’s not just about looking good, it is about a consideration for others. It is how a club actually demonstrates what it thinks of its members and other people. Your communications show what you think of your correspondents. Make it good!

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Outside Missing

At MetaFilter the story linked was How 1,600 People Went Missing from Our Public Lands Without a Trace — That lead to an Outside story centered on the case of 18-year-old Joe Keller who vanished from a dude ranch in Colorado’s Rio Grande National Forest.

The MetaFilter page is worth a look for the comments. The Outside story is rather long but contains a lot of information.

“The first 24 hours are key,” says Robert Koester, a.k.a. Professor Rescue, author of the search and rescue guidebook Lost Person Behavior. Koester was consulted on the Keller case and noted that, like most missing runners, Joe wasn’t dressed for a night outside.
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There was nothing to go on. In that first week, the search engaged about 15 dogs and 200 people on foot, horseback, and ATV. An infrared-equipped airplane from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control flew over the area. Collin’s brother Tanner set up a GoFundMe site that paid for a helicopter to search for five hours, and a volunteer flew his fixed-wing aircraft in the canyon multiple times. A guy with a drone buzzed the steep embankments along Highway 17, the closest paved road, and the rock formation Faith, which has a cross on top. A $10,000 reward was posted for information. How far could a shirtless kid in running shoes get? 
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Joe Keller had just joined the foggy stratum of the hundreds or maybe thousands of people who’ve gone missing on our federal public lands. Thing is, nobody knows how many.
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It’s hard to put your hunches and suspicions to rest. We’ll never know for certain what happened to Joe Keller. We’ll know even less about what happened to a lot of other people missing in the wild. 

 

One question I had early on was, Are you better or worse off going missing in a national forest than from a Walmart parking lot? I thought I knew the answer. You can see an aerial view of my firewood pile from space on your smartphone. I thought that in the wild, someone would send in the National Guard, the Army Rangers, the A-Team, and that they wouldn’t rest until they found you. Now I’m not so sure.

In Joe’s case, it looks like he was injured in a fall. Even being only a short ways from the ranch, finding him was extremely difficult. It may be low odds of getting lost and the idea of something happening on only a short walk near the campsite seems not worth considering. What is worth considering is that things happen, the wilderness is indeed wild even very close to campgrounds and civilization, and the risk cannot be ignored. 

 

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Batteries slowly moving to a new era

The previous post referred to a battery upgrade that included a switch from a lead acid to a lithium battery. It appears (good data on this is sketchy) that this produced four times the capacity for size and weight versus a ten times increase in capital outlay. Lithionics is one company that is pushing lithium batteries and its website has some useful information.

Battery life is always one issue. Their FAQ page on this provides a graph of cycles versus depth of discharge but does not mention any other age factors. With 90% DoD, 2400 cycles can be expected while at 10% DoD you might get 35,000 cycles. These are at a 1C discharge rate which is a one hour rate. The usual rating for a lead acid battery is a 20 hour rate and they may provide a range of 500 to 2000 cycles for a similar DoD range.

Lead acid batteries are popular because they are cheap and will take a lot of abuse. Not so lithium. This is why Lithonics pushes its NeverDie® Battery Management System (BMS) to protect the battery from common abuse scenarios. One of the issues it handles is cell equalizing. For RV’s with lead acid batteries that is usually handled by overcharging. Storage will do this with a good battery maintainer but some go for the old style bulk charge while monitoring specific gravity style described on Trojan Battery’s website. The BMS is using modern technology for balance charging cells using cell by cell voltage monitoring as lithium batteries don’t use a liquid electrolyte. This type of charging is also popular for those into remote control hobbies like drones and scale model vehicles that run on lithium batteries.

As for cost, BattleBorn lists an LiFePO4 100 ah 12v LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery for $899.00 – Powerstream has a 12v 22AH for $295 so 100 AH of these would cost nearly $1500 – for comparison, Walmart sells a group 29 lead acid RV battery with about this 100 AH 12v capacity at around $100. This is the 1000 watt hour battery capacity level. 

The Journal of the Electrochemical Society has a paper on Calendar Aging of Lithium-Ion Batteries. The abstract concludes “To maximize battery life, high storage SoCs corresponding to low anode potential should be avoided.” Here are some other highlights:

Calendar aging comprises all aging processes that lead to a degradation of a battery cell independent of charge-discharge cycling. It is an important factor in many applications of lithium-ion batteries where the operation periods are substantially shorter than the idle intervals, such as in electric vehicles. Furthermore, the degradation owing to calendar aging can also be predominant in cycle aging studies, especially when cycle depths and current rates are low.

This is particularly important in RV’s and is why cycle life isn’t even much of an issue with lead acid batteries.

Basically, both the evolution of passivation layers and transition-metal dissolution are promoted by a high state of charge (SoC) and temperature

This is similar to what happens in lead acid batteries where the passivation layers is called sulfation. The difference is that lead acid batteries do better with a full state of charge (SoC) while lithium batteries suffer if stored this way.

Battery University has a page on how to Prolong Lithium Based Batteries

Lithium-ion has not yet fully matured and is still improving. Notable advancements have been made in longevity and safety while the capacity is increasing incrementally. Today, Li-ion meets the expectations of most consumer devices but applications for the EV need further development before this power source will become the accepted norm.

That means you need to be careful when evaluating lithium battery specifications and advertising claims. There isn’t a history, things are changing rapidly, and effective measurement standards are not well established.

Environmental conditions, not cycling alone, govern the longevity of lithium-ion batteries. The worst situation is keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures. Battery packs do not die suddenly, but the runtime gradually shortens as the capacity fades.

Batteries are electrochemical devices and suffer much the same issues no matter the chemistry. Lithium batteries have advantages in terms of cycle life, high discharge rates, and short charge times. This might get you a 4x capability improvement for a 10x price premium. Here’s where that might be worth considering.

  • If you want to run your RV air conditioner for a few hours or other heavy loads for more than a few minutes, 
  • If your lifestyle frequently cycles battery charge in a consistent pattern that doesn’t show significant variation or have need for deep reserves.
  • If you have an ability to charge the battery at 1C rates (100 amps for 100 AH battery)
  • If weight is a significant factor for your battery bank.
  • If you don’t have to worry about temperature extremes (below 40F or above 90F)

Otherwise?

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Fit RV blog – check it out.

A fitness educator and an aerospace engineer whose starter RV was to avoid the Porta-Potty line at the start of bicycle races. They are currently in a Winnebago Travato class B built on a ProMaster van. They run a YouTube channel and a website with the major headers being BLOG, FIT TIPS, WORKOUTS, RECIPES, 5K CHALLENGE!, RV TIPS, RV REVIEWS, RV PARK REVIEWS, and ABOUT US.

One item of current interest is the description of how they dumped the genset and went to a big (420 AH) LiFe battery, auxiliary engine alternator, upgraded solar system, and 3 kW inverter.  The battery looks to be an 8D sized at 125 pounds for 5 kwH energy capacity and an internal battery management system. The source, Lithionics, talks about Lithium Ion but the voltages specified make it clear that it is Lithium Iron. A lead acid 8D weighs about 130 lb and stores about 2200 Wh. The company’s assertion that its Lithium batteries provide a 4:1 capacity weight advantage does sound about right.

The ideas about fitness are also a good source for feeling healthy on the road. 

It is Well written and produced with good information and an interesting presentation. Check it out: both the YouTube channel and the website.

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Spring breakout rally: Lahontan 23-26 March

It’s time to get that rig road ready! 

No doubt about it, it’s going to be a great weekend for the first SNU rally of 2017. Looks like the weather is going to be typical for March in Northern Nevada. Dealing with a little rain, a little sun, a little wind or whatever won’t inhibit us from enjoying our rally. Weatherwise, be prepared for anything and everything, Plan to join us at the campground at Beach 7 at Lahontan. If you can’t come for the whole rally, come for a day or come for a visit, whatever fits your schedule. 

The rally will be a good, low risk, test of all systems so you can gain confidence that your rig is ready for any trips you plan for this year and that you have it stocked with what you need to be able to enjoy the experience. Sanitize, flush, then fill the water system. Check the tire pressures and the TPMS sensors. Check the supplies inventory. Inspect for winter damage and make sure all the wear parts are wearing properly have the proper preventive maintenance.Keep in mind batteries and tires are good for 5 to 7 years but only if properly maintained. If they are getting up in age pay particular attention in looking for potential problems. Are your propane tanks filled? Is everything outside, like the awning, well secured for road travel? 

Some links: USGS water level reportsstate park Facebook page – Wikipedia on the dam and the reservoirNSP Lahontan home pageDepartment of WildlifeSierra Nevada Airstreams Lahontan page

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What a wet winter means for western deserts

There’s likely to be a lot of color in the desert this spring: This desert in the Southwest is experiencing a wildflower ‘superbloom’

A wildflower superbloom is underway in the desert Southwest in March after seven inches of winter rain. Anza-Borrego State Park in California hasn’t experienced a bloom so prolific since at least 1999 according to park officials.

The Washington Post story has a lot of pictures, too. Maybe it’s time to get out there, grab your walking shoes and a camera, and go see for yourself!

Also keep in mind that there’s going to be water in places you might not expect. This means a possibility of soft ground in some campgrounds that might present problems for a heavy RV or reduced access to some areas due to flooding. Erosion and washouts, like the SNU encountered at Sweetwater Summit last year might also be a problem. Then there’s the bugs and critters …

take care.

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