Thursday, February 06, 2014

New technology shows how much propane you have left

How do you know how much propane is left in your cylinder? Pick it up, give it a shake, guess a bit? Maybe you have one of those interesting "tapes" that falls off about the time you're ready to pour hot water on it? Or are you one of the "scientific" sort who disconnect the cylinder, weight it, subtract the weight of the cylinder and calculate the amount of propane by the remainder?

Here's a sure way to know how much LP you have left. Truma Corporation, a German "gee-whiz" group is now marketing their Truma Level Check here in the U.S. Level check is a clever little electronic gadget, about the size of a hot dog bun. Simply push the tip of the Level Check against the side of your LP cylinder. Within a couple of seconds you'll here a beep, and an indicator LED will light up. If the color is red, there's no propane at the level of your cylinder. Release, move Level Check down a little farther on the cylinder and repeat. When the light flashes green, you've found the exact level of propane in the cylinder.

Level Check uses sonic technology to bounce sound waves around in your cylinder. It can be used on any metal LP cylinder with a diameter of 7.9 to 13.8 inches. For RVers, that puts you right in line to check your 5, 7, or 25 gallon containers.

Truma provided us with a test unit and we've put it through several weeks of testing. Unlike the "guess" method, we know in an instant how close we are to disaster – after all, why refill a cylinder before you have to, right? No more unhappy wife, tapping her foot, while hubby makes a run to whatever LP station is open with two bottles in the back of the truck. We used to use a scale to weigh a bottle, and while it worked, it was a hassle and took several minutes to disconnect the cylinder, weight it, calculate the remaining gas, and hook up the bottle again.

With the Level Check, testing the level in a cylinder takes less than a half minute. Caring for the device is simple: Wipe the tip of the tester with a damp, soft cloth.

Several RV retailers are now carrying Truma Level Check; one Seattle retailer asks $78.99. Check out the retailer list here. As of early February, does NOT carry this great device.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Magellan to unveil new GPS for RVers

Magellan is about to unveil its all new RV GPS unit, the RV9145, at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, according to a company press release.

The new GPS unit will have many features common to Magellan GPS units, as well as the Good Sam Trailer Life RV Parks and Campground Directory built in. Users will be able to search the 11,700 RV parks and campgrounds by their amenities, such as sites for big rigs, internet availability, or being pet friendly. The unit has a large seven-inch high definition display, pre-loaded maps, extension windshield mount, vehicle power adapter, USB cable and AC power adapter.

"Our new RoadMate RV9145 GPS navigator is the ideal RV travel companion that can make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable," commented Stig Pedersen, Associate VP of Product Management, Magellan GPS. "It was designed with safety in mind, as it provides both customized routes based on the size and demands of the RV, Highway Lane Assist, and turn-by-turn spoken directions that let drivers keep their eyes on the road. To make a good thing even better, the device lets users easily find a Good Sam certified campground and enjoy Good Sam member discounts."

The RV9145 will have an MSRP of $349.99.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Surge protection is vital to protect computers, other electronics in an RV

When you install a computer system in your RV it should always be accompanied by a surge protector.

Even with a laptop, a storm can easily fry a system if it's plugged into an outlet or even attached by hard wire to an Internet provider.

Power surges are an increase in voltage above the designated level in a flow of electricity. Voltage is a measure of a difference in electric potential energy. Current travels because there is a greater potential energy on one end of the wire than there is on the other end. This is the same principle that makes water under pressure flow out of a hose -- higher pressure on one end of the hose pushes water toward an area of lower pressure. Think of voltage as a measure of electrical pressure.

If the surge or spike is high enough, it can inflict damage to computer or appliances plugged into REV outlets. Even if increased voltage doesn't immediately burn out electronics, it may put extra strain on the components. Many older RV parks are susceptible to power surges because of their original wiring design. Years ago no one ever considered that future rigs would require 50 amps of service to keep all those fancy electronics running.

A standard surge protector passes the electrical current along from the outlet to  electronic devices plugged into the power strip. If the voltage from the outlet spikes the surge protector diverts the extra electricity into the outlet's grounding wire. Protectors have a component called a metal oxide varistor, or MOV, which diverts the extra voltage. A MOV has a piece of metal oxide joined to the power and grounding line by two semiconductors. When voltage is below a certain level, the electrons in the semiconductors flow in such a way as to create a very high resistance. When the voltage exceeds that level, the electrons behave differently, creating a much lower resistance. When the voltage is correct, an MOV does nothing. When voltage is too high, an MOV can conduct a lot of current to eliminate the extra voltage.

Dependable surge protectors can be found at most big box stores and camping supply outlets such as Camping World.