New RV Accessories – Buying for the RV Basement
Continuing our tour of the RV and preparing for our first camping trip we go to the basement. When buying for the basement we see a number of major systems that support the RV. Besides storage, there is the Power System, Water and waste control, on-board power generator, storage and of course the coach power supply also called the engine.
Planning your storage is challenging. In our case where we will be week-ending before full-timing we have opted to use large plastic bins for most of our storage in our Journey basement. We also have a some full-width basement storage that is astride the central frame of the RV. We are still trying to figure out the best way to use this area. There is a big ladder stowed across this and we slid the synthetic grass carpets (a new purchase from Home Depot at a sales price of $20 each) across it, but loose. We have to figure out how to use this storage area and keep things stored here stationary and not sliding around.
One caveat is where to place heavy things. When loading your RV it is important to balance your weight as good as you can. One thing we found was that we had more weight than we should have in the back vs. the front. To balance your RV, load it so it has the same percentage of recommended Gross vehicle weight for the front and back. For example for a total weight of 27,250 lbs according to the Toyo tire weight list I should have 9,610 lbs on the front axle and 17,640 lbs on the rear axle with dual tire setups. If you can, you should also weigh the RV’s corner weights so you know the RV has the same weight on each side. This is more of a challenge because most RV/Truck scales will just weigh by axle not by corner. Larger RV shows and a many RV rallys provides this service. Check out Howard and Linda’s site RV-Dreams for their schedule of doing full RV weighing. For more information about how important RV Corner weighing is see Howard and Linda’s article at RV-Dreams Weighing. For longer tire life it is crucial to have the correct tire pressure for you weight and to have your weight balance front to back and right to left.
I know this is a bit of a segue but for and RV owner weight and storage go hand in hand. Fortunately we had a wide selection of storage bins that fit in our storage compartment. The main focus for us is making sure that our storage is balanced.
The RV has two bays dedicated to the power system (besides the engine itself). The battery compartment hold the house and chassis batteries. In our case both sets of batteries are pretty new, so they will last for a few years at least. When we do we will consider replacing our batteries we will probably go with Lithium Ion or similar technology. See Technomadia’s article – Promise of Lithium #1. and About RVing’s experiences converting to Lithium Ion in their article Lithium Batteries for RV’s. In this article Ron Jones explains his experiences converting to Lithium Ion. I exchanged emails with him a few months ago, and he is still using and excited about his experience using Lithium Ion batteries after 3 years using Lithium Ion batteries in a full-timer environment. Although the cost for the upgrade is substantial, lithium-ion batteries have a longer life, shorter recharge time and are much lighter. Also the technology continues to evolve quickly and prices are going down and reliability and ease of installation continues to improve. We won’t replace our current house batteries until they get older, but more efficient, lighter technology will be an important consideration.
A second bay in the basement is where the coach connects to shore power. For our RV it’s a 50 amp system, so we use “dog bones” (See RV Geeks video here) to hook up to 30 amp power pedestals that are typical in older RV parks and even 20 amp converters that connect to typical house circuits. These three connectors allow the RV to connect to just about any available “shore” power situation. Our RV came with a dog bone for 30 to 20 amp connections and a 20 amp converter. However just because we can connect to any power does not mean that we should. Power quality can vary from park to park and even by hour. This means that your RV could be subjected to brown-out (where a 110 volt circuit falls below 115 volts) or voltage spikes such as lighting strikes. If you take a look at this RV-Travel article Do you need s surge protector, you will read of about having both low voltage and voltage spike protection.
Now that we have decided that we need some protection the question is how much? Prices for a 50 amp protection varies from $100 to $500 or more. That’s fodder for another article as we are still mulling over our decision there. Needless to say, at a minimum we have dog bones and connectors to make a basic connection, secondly we need to decide on whether and how much protection we need for low and high voltage conditions.
Our RV came with the basic dog bone for 30-50 amp hookup so we were good as far as getting power to the RV.
Water/Sewage service center area
Our RV came with a sewer hose and a new fresh water hose. During the walk-through the right-angle connector was also shown, but somehow it was forgotten. Fortunately before we left for the dump station on our first trip I checked the hoses & connectors before leaving and saw that it was missing, so after a quick trip to the Thousand Trails Trading Post we had the connector and clamp.
We added a spray bottle of Lysol to clean the fresh water connector as well as a few old car towels for general cleanup. After our first camping trip we got a Dual-Flush connector from Amazon that allows us to merge our two grey water tanks since we are usually not concerned about dumping grey water on the ground. Grey water with food waste such as from the kitchen sink is often considered sewage, and can attract varmints such as rats where grey water from the shower should only contain water and soap and in some locations you can dump this on the ground. Always check the local regulations before dumping any waste water on the ground.
Generator – Air Compressor
In the front of our Journey is the 8000 watt Cummins Onan generator and an air compressor connector. We already had one 50′ air compressor hose and added another 50′ high capacity hose with the proper quick connect coupler. We also added a truck style inflator. See the Tire Pressure Monitoring system article for more information on air compressor accessories. Other than the hose and tire inflator this area did not need any additional purchases.