Browsing "Technical"
Feb 2, 2014 -

RV Fridges in Cold Weather

RV fridges aren’t the same as household fridges. RV fridges are cooled thanks to evaporated ammonia that mixes with hydrogen to absorb the surrounding warm air, hence why they are called absorption refrigerators.

I really like my RV fridge because it runs on propane and very little electricity. It is very economical to run and its size is perfect for me.

The problem with absorption fridges, though, is that they don’t like extreme temperatures. That means that when it’s super hot out, the beer in the fridge is tepid and the freezer can’t make ice cubes.

In winter, in temperatures below about -10C/14F, it gets too cold for absorption fridges to work efficiently. In my case, no matter what temperature setting I use, as deep colds set in, my freezer edges closer and closer to the freezing point and the fridge stays a few degrees below the freezing mark.

This means that I have to manage my food stocks carefully. I had a bit of loss after the first big cold snap caught me by surprise, I can’t stock up on the rare good meat or frozen food deals I find, and anything that goes into the fridge is very likely going to freeze. It’s not a huge deal as I have to go to down at least once a week for propane anyway, but it’s something to keep in mind.

I’ve heard horror stories of fridges being killed by a brutal cold spell, but I like to think these fridges are hardier than that as long as you don’t continually abuse them. My fridge panel is sheltered from direct wind and snow, which does help in making me less twitchy about this. I’d recommend finding a way to shelter your vent if it’s exposed to the elements (do not block it off, though, as that would be a fire hazard!).

As soon as we get a warm up, the fridge and freezer work normally again, so that’s another reason I’m not too concerned. This is just another one of those cold weather RVing challenges and it’s definitely not the worst one I’ve encountered!



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Appliances, Fridge, Technical    6 Comments
Jul 24, 2013 -

Generator Exhaust Repair

L and I went into Assiniboia today to try to find some flexible steel tubing to fix my generator exhaust. I also wanted to buy a 20lb propane tank that was on sale at Peavey Mart and L wanted to have a nice meal out.

Charles suggested we try the farm supply places for the tubing. John Deere had nothing. We went to Young’s Equipment where one of my neighbours works and he sent us to NAPA.

NAPA had exactly what we needed. YAY! L thought we were so lucky that I should ask if they might have an air filter, too. YES! We couldn’t believe it!

Feeling jubilant, we went to Peavey Mart and then across the street to the Co-Op to fill the propane tank. There, L and I both had the same notion that the sales discount hadn’t been applied to the tank. It hadn’t. We went back and it turns out the sale wasn’t till Friday. The cashier didn’t bat an eyelash and refunded me the $4 and tax knowing that that was cheaper than loser a customer. Smart girl.

We then went to Nash’s, a Greek restaurant, and had a good lunch. L had ‘New York cut’ steak and I had the chicken pita with homemade tzatziki sauce. We shared baklava for dessert. It was all very yummy and I would like to go back one evening to try their dinner menu.

It was about 3:00 when we got in and L had almost no difficulty in getting the flexible tubing in. And that’s when the flexible tubing on the other side of the muffler gave. CRAP. L looked at the bit and hemmed and hawed and considered MacGyvering it until I could get to an exhaust repair shop. Finally, he decided that the best course of action was to go back to NAPA and get more pipe and more clamps. So we did.

He’s under the rig now getting this new section in.

I can't believe we found a new air filter! The other one was just about black.

I can’t believe we found a new air filter! The other one was just about black.

This is what we replaced.

This is what we replaced.

Shiny new pipe before the muffler.

Shiny new pipe before the muffler.

This section after the muffler snapped while L was working on the other side.

This section after the muffler snapped while L was working on the other side.

Now, I know what y’all are wondering, how expensive has my generator repair been?

Oil: about $4 for a quart of it (a few weeks ago)

NAPA gave us a ‘preferred customer discount’ after L asked for a senior’s discount, so I am putting the full price in brackets after the price paid:

Flex tubing: $3.41/ft ($4.39) x 3 = $10.23
Clamps: $2.10 ($2.26) x 2 = $4.20
U-Bolts (they were out of clamps on the second trip): $1.46 ($1.46) x 2 = $2.92
Air filter: $7.05 ($15.46!!!)

Total before tax at NAPA: $25.86 ($26.84 with tax).

So counting the oil, I’m at just over $30.

The spark plug is good and there is absolutely no reason to replace it.

The only other issue is that the choke isn’t working automatically. I have to manually close it to start the genny and then release the catch so that it will open. Not a biggie.

L suggests that I run the genny regularly until the winter. If I have no issues with it, then I should look at having the brushes replaced. But he doesn’t want me to spend that money now since the genny has sat so long as it would suck for the motor to throw a rod or whatever a month down the road. Smart man.

Oh, and there is the issue of it not starting from the button in the kitchen, which is an electrical and possible electronic issue. I am not going to worry about that at this time since I don’t have an automatic transfer switch. Therefore, I have to go outside anyway to plug the shore power cable into the genny from the inverter or vice versa.

I am going to continue leaving the cable plugged into the inverter as being the default plug in condition. The genny will just be for charging or giving me a boost in grey weather. I look forward to seeing what its gas consumption is compared to the engine.

I’m still reeling from disbelief that my generator is working.

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Electricity, Generator, Technical    10 Comments
May 14, 2013 -

Technological Improvements

Sitting here in the middle of my field (sorry, that one never gets old), I am enjoying a fast internet connection with sufficient bandwidth that I can watch the new Audi commercial starring dueling Spocks without worrying about overages (Goooooo Bilbooooo!). I can’t help but marvel about how quickly things have changed.

It was about this time five years ago that I really began to research in earnest how I was going to live on the road, and one of the biggest components was getting online. I was chagrined to finally admit defeat. The only way I could get coverage just about anywhere was with a satellite dish, and that was several thousands of dollars to invest just getting set up, never mind the billing costs.

But within only about a year and a half, Bell and Telus joined to update cellular service across Canada. Suddenly, there was service just about everywhere. Mobile bandwidth devices were pricey and the plans outrageously high, but the investment was now only a few hundred dollars. Less than two years after conceding that I would never under the existing circumstances have a mobile internet connection, I got a free mobile internet modem in exchange for taking over a contract. It is not hyperbole to say that this changed my life. Suddenly, I could work freely from the road.

Something similar happened almost exactly two years later, friends gave me an internet modem for use in the U.S., which cost a pretty penny to set up but offered more bandwidth, and suddenly I had internet coverage in almost all of Canada and the U.S.

And just a year after that, I’m sitting in the middle of a field in rural Saskatchewan, a field that just a few months ago didn’t even have cell coverage, with a new Canadian mobile bandwidth device, which only cost me $50 (plus $180 for a booster, still cheap compared to a few years ago) and I am experiencing not only the fastest internet speeds of my life, but also the biggest and most affordable bandwidth allowance I’ve yet seen.

I really think that cellular connectivity is the future of the internet and I am excited to see how the technology will continue to evolve in the coming years. It is likely to get even faster and cheaper.

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Communications & Electronics, Internet, Technical    4 Comments