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Showing posts with label Projects. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Projects. Show all posts

Monday, April 22, 2019

De-winterizing - 2018 Lexor TS

Spring is finally here and we're ready to de-winterize the fresh water system on our 2018 Lexor TS.

As with any of the information on this blog, we're not professionals so, take what we say with a grain of salt and consult the manuals for your specific RV before proceeding.

The procedure is pretty-much the opposite of the winterizing process we wrote about in this post: Winterizing - 2018 Lexor TS

Supplies we used were a drinking water safe hose, glass measuring cup, bleach, phillips head #2 screwdriver, and an RV Water Filter.

We broke out a new Camco RV water filter for this process.  We use these for a season and replace them annually.

There's great debate over whether to put the filter close to the faucet, or at the tank end of the hose. We fall into the faucet camp thinking that it will keep the hose as clean as possible.

To freshen the water system, we add 1/3 cup of bleach into a gallon of fresh water.

That's all the bleach we use.

It is NOT 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of tank capacity.
Before proceeding, check the valves under the van to insure they are all closed.

Here are the three low point drains in the closed position...
...and the fresh water tank drain valve in the closed position.
Now we are ready to add fresh water.

Open the fresh water door and  put a little filtered water in.

Next, pause to add the gallon of diluted bleach.

Finally, continue filling until the tank is about 2/3 full then replace the cap and close and lock the door.

Moving inside the van, take a look at the plumbing under the galley sink. Check to make sure all the fittings are connected.

We unscrewed the hose just before the water strainer last fall and it hasn't yet been reattached in this photo. It would be easy to miss without looking closely.

After snugging the hose on by hand, the fit now looks good.

Next, turn the pump on and watch for leaks.
With the pump turned on, run the cold water until the pink anti-freeze is out of the line.

Again, check for leaks under the sink around the pump.
Now move the handle to run the hot water line until it runs clear.

Note that it won't get hot yet. We will work on the hot water system later in the process.
Moving to the bathroom, depress the  pedal to flush the pink anti-freeze out of the toilet bowl and lines.
The valve should work freely and the water run clear.

The bathroom sink should be run on cold and again on hot until the pink is gone.

By this time, the smell of bleach should start to replace the smell of anti-freeze.

Don't forget to also run the shower attachment until the anti-freeze is gone from that line.

Ours shower head is an after-market replacement with a metal hose. You may have a plastic hose and shower head.
For those of you that made it this far, here's a bonus. Fellow Pleasure-Way owners Trish and Duane told us about this suction cup soap dispenser. It has held on for over 10,000 miles so far, but can be easily released to clean the counter.

Search Amazon for "Cuisipro 13.2-Ounce Foam Pump, Chrome" if you would like one. They were $12 last time I looked.
Back to de-winterizing, it is time to move outside and run the exterior shower until both the cold and hot water run clear.
With that pink stuff out of the pipes, now we take care of the hot water system. Our unit has a Truma AquaGo Comfort Plus.

Twist the top knob a quarter turn counter-clockwise to open the water heater compartment.
Find the water filter. We tucked ours in the lower right corner last fall when we winterized.

Pull the yellow lever out and down after releasing the black tab right above the word "Caution."
With the yellow lever down, insert the screen end of the filter into this round opening.
Orient the filter so the word "TOP" is on top and the pins drop into the slot on the yellow handle.
Gently return the handle to a closed position. The black tab should click over the top when it is locked in.

Back inside the van, remove the four phillips head #2 screws holding the panel that hides the water valves.
Here you can see the valves in the winter position. This bypasses the hot water heater.
Now that the anti-freeze is out of the system, all four valves can be returned to their summer positions as shown here.

Red is hot, blue is cold, and white is the hot water recirculation line. The valve between the red and blue lines is the water heater bypass.
Now, to test the hot water, turn the "LP GAS" switch on.
And turn the Truma Power to On. It doesn't matter if the switch is up or down, as long as it isn't in the center "off" position.
Back inside, run some hot water to release any air bubbles from the system.

Now the AquaGo control can be turned on. Here it is shown in the off position. The detent on the knob is tiny and the same black color that makes it difficult to see.
One click up turns it on.

Run the water in the galley sink and listen for the burner to ignite. Keep running the hot water and it shouldn't be long before you feel hot water coming out of the faucet.

A solid green light means all is well. If the light is flashing, consult your Truma manual for troubleshooting advice.
Next, check the water heater exterior and see if there are any leaks.

If everything looks good, close up the cover.
Turn the latch clockwise to lock the cover back in place.

You should now have a working water system.

To complete the freshening of the water tank and lines, close everything up and take a short drive around your neighborhood. That mixes the water bleach combination and sloshes it around the inside of the tank.

We let the bleach solution sit overnight to help sanitize all the lines, then dump and refill the tank and lines with fresh water the next day.

That's it for the water system. Now take out your maps, find a friend (furry or otherwise) and plan your next adventure. We hope to meet you down the road.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave constructive suggestions in the comments. We're always looking for better ways to do things.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Can I leave this on?

New RV owners often ask if they can leave the inverter, the fan, or some other appliance on. We all want to understand how long the power in our batteries will last. Newer Pleasure-Way vans include a tool, the Spyder Control Panel, that helps answer this question. If you don't have lithium batteries and a Spyder Control, check out our post on how to install a Smart Gauge.

The Short Answer

On the Spyder Control Panel home screen, a "Loss/Gain Amperage Meter" shows the current in "Net amps." It is the "-4A" shown in the picture. Net amps means the amount of current going into the batteries less the amount being pulled out of the batteries. The secret to learning how much current an appliance uses, is eliminating any current going into the batteries.  Eliminating any incoming current leaves how much current is being used by appliances showing on the meter.  Here are the steps:

1) Turn off any charge sources

2) Turn on only the appliances you are interested in understanding

3) Read the number of amps (A) from the meter (it will be a negative number)

4) Multiply this number times the number of hours you will use the appliance to get the number of amp hours (Ah) that the appliance(s) will draw.

5) Subtract this from your usable battery capacity (160 Ah in the 200 Ah batteries) and you will know how long the appliances can be run without recharging your batteries.

Example: Refrigerator on DC shows -16A. If we run it 10 hours overnight, it will exhaust the the entire 160 Ah usable capacity of the house batteries. That's why we run the fridge on propane whenever we aren't driving! Here are the calculations.

-16 Amps x 10 hours = -160 Amp hours. 

160 Ah usable capacity -160 Ah used = 0 Ah remaining

6) Now go ahead and turn your usual charge sources back on so you don't run out of power.

The Longer Answer

Insure there is no power going into the batteries. Pleasure-Way gives us lots of power sources, so here are all the sources of charging you need to make sure you aren't using before you can measure appliance power usage.

1) Disconnect shore power
2) Turn off the van engine
3) Turn off the generator
4) Turn off solar panels (use the red key) or wait until after sunset

With these off, you can turn appliances on and look at the reading on the Loss/Gain Amperage Meter to see what each appliance, or combination of appliances, pull from your batteries. Here are some of the readings we found in our 2018 Lexor TS.

Amps       Appliance
    -1          Inverter with no load
    -1          Propane Switch (in the on position)
    -1          Two phones charging via USB
    -1          Valence lights
    -3          All interior lights
    -2          TV with antenna amplifier
    -1          Vent Fan at 20%
    -3          Vent Fan at 100%
    -5          Furnace fan
  -16          Refrigerator on DC
-142          Microwave through inverter

Note that these are rounded to the nearest amp because the meter doesn't read less than 1 amp.

Amps is current used at a single point in time. If we want to know how much is being used over a longer period of time, we calculate Amps (A) x Hours (h) to get Amp Hours (Ah).

For example, using the 2 amp TV for 4 hours would consume 8 amp hours from our battery ( 2A x 4h = 8 Ah).

If we run the fantastic fan at 20% and have the propane switch on for eight hours, we'll consume 16 amp hours from our house battery bank ((1A+1A) x 8h = 2A x 8h = 16Ah) .

Boondocking example

Say we want to stay in a park that doesn't allow generator usage or have any plug-in power for three days. Here's how to estimate if there will be enough power. First we estimate how long we will use an appliance each day and calculate how many amp-hours that consumes.

Hrs  Amps    Amp-hrs   Appliance
24     x 1         =  24            Propane Switch
8       x 1         =   8             Inverter
2       x 3         =   6             Fan at 100%
8       x 1         =   8             Fan at 20%
6       x 1         =   6             Lights
                           52            Total

Multiplying hours by amps, then adding up the amp-hours, we get 52 amp hours each day. With no other usage, we would have 3 days worth of power with some to spare 52 x 3 = 156. Subtract that from our 200 amp-hour lithium battery capacity and we have 44 amp hours or a little over twenty percent remaining after three days. Read on to see why that is really closer to zero percent.

Battery Capacity
Although the Lithium batteries in the van have a capacity of 200 amp hours, that isn't the same as usable capacity. Just like cell phones or computer batteries, in order to preserve their life, we shouldn't use more than 80% of the total capacity before recharging. Taking 200 Ah x 80% gives us a usable capacity of 160 Ah.  While it is disappointing that we can't use the total capacity, lithium batteries are considerably better than older wet cell or AGM batteries where only 50% of the capacity is usable. We had a 110 Ah AGM battery in our previous RV that only had 55 Ah of usable capacity. The lithiums in our new Lexor give us almost 3x the usable capacity.

More Input
But wait, don't we have power coming in through the solar panels that can extend our boondocking time?  Yes, if you have solar panels, there is power coming in to offset the appliance consumption. So how much power? Pleasure-Way offers from one to three panels, each rated at 95 watts. Watts doesn't help us much because all our meter shows Amps. To convert watts to amps, we divide by the voltage.  Since our vans run on 12 volt power, divide 95 by 12 to get 7.9 amps. Unfortunately, solar panels aren't 100% efficient, so we need to further reduce this by 35% to get 5.1 amps. Round this to 5 amps and multiply times the number of panels on your van to get the total number of solar amps available. We have three panels so we have (3 x 5 = 15 amps) of solar.

How Much Sun?

If we have 12 hours of daylight, do we get 12 hours x 15 Amps = 180 Ah of charge every day? Unfortunately the answer is no. Solar panels only provide their full output when the sun is close to overhead so they are hit by direct sunlight. A good rule of thumb is to use six hours per day. This gives us 6 hours x 15 amps = 90 Ah added to the batteries every day.

Going back to our boondocking example, if we use 52 Ah each day, but are charging 90 Ah from our solar cells, we won't ever run out of power (90-52 = +38 Ah per day). Note that there are all kinds of things that can reduce solar panel efficiency; heat, shade, clouds, dirty panels etc... so it is good to build a safety margin like the 38 Ah above into your calculations.

How do you know how much solar charge your batteries are getting right now? The Go Power charge controller has a panel that will display that info.

Here the solar panels are adding 4.3 amps to the batteries.  If you don't see this screen, push the "B" button repeatedly to cycle through
Battery Charge %,

(this isn't really an accurate % of charge indicator because it is designed for AGM, not lithium batteries. A shunt based meter would be needed if you really want to monitor power in and out of your battery bank.)

to Amps.

In this case, it was late afternoon and shady, so we weren't seeing the 15 amp maximum our combination of three panels can produce.

If the camping area allows it, you can always start the generator and recharge your batteries, but we prefer the quiet of solar and only use the generator if we really need air conditioning. Note that the air conditioner isn't even wired to the inverter since it would overpower the inverter. Even if the inverter was higher power, the air conditioner would drain the 200 Ah batteries in less than an hour.

The bottom line for us is, with three 95 watt solar panels and the refrigerator running on propane, we run out of water, or fill our holding tanks, long before we run out of electricity.

An electrical engineer could calculate more accurate numbers with an understanding of how capacity is depleted or gained at differing rates of charge, but the above guidelines have been close enough for our purposes.

Some good battery  and charging information is available on-line. One of the best sources is the DIY Instructions area on the AM Solar website --> Click here for link

My reference for all things electrical is the Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual by Nigel Calder. The most current issue, as of March 2019 is the Fourth Edition (2015). There might be an equivalent book that is specific to RV systems, but this is the most understandable, thorough, and best illustrated book I've found. Please leave a comment, if you have a favorite electrical systems book to recommend.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Winterizing - 2018 Lexor TS

Asking owners for their preferred method of winterizing, the most common answer was "stay in Florida."  For most of us, that isn't an option so we need to protect our rigs. Though we could take our Lexor to a dealer for winterizing, we have found that no one cares as much about our rig as we do, so we prefer to do it ourselves.

There are good instructions in the Pleasure-Way Owner's Manual, but for someone who hasn't winterized before, a few more details and additional photos might make it easier.

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional, nor do I play one on TV, so consult your owners manual and follow these instructions at your own risk.

Here's the forecast that had us gathering up our winterizing supplies.

If you have an older model, we did a similar set of instructions for our 2014 Plateau TS. Click on the link to go to that model: The Link.
1) Gather Tools and Supplies

1a) RV Antifreeze
Buy two of the gallon bottles of a non-toxic pink colored RV or Marine antifreeze.

Note: Andy recommended in a comment "buy antifreeze containing propylene glycol instead of of antifreeze with ethyl alcohol in it. It's better for the seals and it doesn't freeze as easily."
1b) Phillips Head Screwdriver #2
Find one of these PH2 heads, hopefully not a rusty one made in China like ours. You will use it to remove the access door to the water heater.
1c) Winterizing Siphon. We made our own with hose and an adapter. Four feet of hose is plenty, but our Lowes only sold it in twenty foot lengths.

This right angle adapter is easy to screw onto the pump inlet. Find one at your local rv dealer or order a Shurflo 244-3926 Elbow Adapter online.

Push the hose onto the barbed end of the adapter and you have made your very own winterizing siphon.

2) Lighten Your Load (Drain your tanks)
Go empty your grey and black waste tanks. You know how to do this and no one wants to look at those pictures. Give the tanks an extra rinse for the last time this season.

3) Drain Your Freshwater Tank

3a) Find the fresh water tank drain on the passenger side just forward of the rear wheel (where the water is dripping out in this photo).
3b) Open the valve by turning the handle 90 degrees.
3c) Let the residual fresh water drain out.

3d) Turn the water pump off.

3e) Open the sink faucets to let the pressure out of both the hot and cold water lines.
4) Bypass Your Water Heater

4a) Open the panel under the fridge with your Phillips #2 screwdriver.

Note: these are about the only screws in the rig that aren't the Robertson square head screws commonplace in Canada.
This is how the valves looked under the access door set for summer use. We should have inspected these earlier. It looks like the dealer never opened the white recirculation line when commissioning our van.
4b) Set the valves to bypass your hot water heater. You are reading along in your manual, right?

From the Pleasure-Way Owner's Manual, page 28:
"Turn the bypass valves on the top red line, bottom blue line and the white center line to the closed position. (The handle is closed when it is turned 90 degrees to the water line.)

Open the valve that is located where the blue line coming up from the bottom and the red line coming down from the top are connected."

This photo shows how we set our valves for winterizing.
5) Drain Your Water Heater

5a) Turn the latch and remove the Truma water heater door. Pull outward from the top. The bottom fits into slots in the frame and can be lifted out.
Here is the interior magic revealed.

5b) Find the power switch in the upper right hand corner.
5c) Turn the switch from on (shown here) to the center off position.
5d) The power should now be off. Confirm this by looking a at the led just above the switch. It should not be illuminated.
5e) Locate the black latch at the top of the easy drain lever.

5f) Double check that you released the pressure in both hot and cold water lines by opening sink faucets before proceeding (remember 3e?). You do not want to get sprayed with water from a pressurized system.

5g) Okay, now go ahead and push up on the latch until it releases the yellow drain handle.

There is a video at the bottom of this post if that would help. Go ahead, scroll down, watch it now, and then come back to this step.
5h) Now pull down on the drain handle until it pops the water filter out of the heater. It takes a little bit of a push to get the tightly fitting filter to release.
5i) You will be rewarded with a contained waterfall as the small accumulator tank on the water heater drains out.
5j) Here's what the filter looks like once removed. It is more of a screen than a filter. Go ahead and inspect the "O" rings and wash any sediment out of the screen. Refer to the Truma manual for more information. Ours was perfectly clean upon removal.
5k) The helpful Truma technician that spoke to us at the November 2018 Sarasota Pleasure-Way Rally recommended leaving the filter out over the winter. He also said to put it somewhere in the water heater compartment so it wouldn't get lost. We found that it fit in the lower right corner.

5l) Close up the "easy drain lever"

5m) Put the exterior cover back on the compartment and turn the latch to secure it.
7) Anti-Freeze Time

7a) Disconnect the water line from the inlet side of your pump, just before the water strainer.

We put a towel and a small bowl there to collect any water that might spill.

7b) Attach the siphon hose to your pump screen inlet.

7c) Put the other end into a gallon jug of RV/Marine non-toxic antifreeze.
7d) Close any faucets you opened earlier.

7e) Turn your water pump on.
8) Make All Your Water Pink

8a) Run your sink faucet turned to hot until it runs pink, then again turned to cold until that runs pink.
8b) Depress the foot pedal on your toilet until pink water comes into the bowl.
8c) Run cold water in the bathroom sink until it comes out pink.

8d) Repeat for the hot water.

8e) Run the shower until the water comes out pink.
Don't forget the outside shower!

8f) Run the cold water in the outside shower until that comes out pink.

8g) Repeat for the hot water.
This isn't in the manual, but other owners mentioned getting water out of the city water fitting so it doesn't crack.

8h) Gently pull out the screen from the city water connection.
8i) Standing to the side, depress the small white button in the middle and you should get a little water and pink stuff to spray out.
8j) Put the screen back in and close up the City Water inlet.

8k) It is also a good time to check that your propane switch is turned off.

8l) Turn off the water pump and disconnect the siphon hose.

8m) Reattach the original fresh water supply hose fitting and clean-up any spills.

Save some anti-freeze for step 9c.
9) Drain the Recirculation Line

9a) Locate the low point drains under the van, forward of the fresh water tank.
9b) Open the valve on the white water line by turning it 90 degrees.
9c) Pour 1/2 cup of anti-freeze into the drain in the galley sink.

9d) Pour 1/2 cup of anti-freeze into the drain in the bathroom sink.
9e) Pour 1/2 cup of anti-freeze into the shower-drain.

9) Disconnect Your Batteries

Now that your plumbing is protected, it is time to insure your expensive batteries are safe from freezing. These batteries can be damaged if charged during freezing temperatures. Read more about this in your manual, especially when it comes time to exercise your generator.

9a) Open the back doors and find the Red Key Charge Line Disconnect on the left side, under the couch, just above the batteries.
9b) Turn the key 90 degrees and remove it to prevent charging from the coach alternator or the solar panels.

9c) Turn the 12 Volt Battery Disconnect Switch  off under the control panel by the sliding door. Different from the Red Key Charge Line Disconnect, this switch prevents charging from shore power or the generator.  Note: Look up the directions for exercising the generator in your Lexor manual to insure you do it safely if you run the generator when your batteries are cold.

9c) Remove any small batteries from flashlights, remote controls, or other items in your van so they don't leak over the winter.

10) Go reward yourself with the beverage of your choice.

11) Please leave a comment if this was helpful or if you notice anything that could be improved.

Video: Draining the Truma AquaGo Plus Water Heater

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