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Insulating the RV for Hot Weather

This summer we are going to be spending an unfortunate amount of time in the famous Phoenix, Arizona heat. In order to make things as tolerable as possible, we learned from the examples set by our neighbors.

Last year, before we moved into our RV but when were spending many hot summer days customizing it, we cut pieces of Reflectix foil covered bubble wrap to fit the windows. The added insulation and reflective material made a big difference during the hottest parts of the day, and our electric bill went down about 30%.

This year, we wanted to improve on that. Our space is oriented so the bulk of the day’s sun is directed at our two main slides: our bedroom and our main living space (couch and kitchen table/work desk). Slide walls are thinner than the rest of an RV’s walls, so they have less insulation. When the sun beats down, the heat transfers inside quickly, sometimes making the windows too hot to touch. As we mentioned in previous posts, we added two LGI slide top awnings to shield the roof, which helped a lot, but I wanted to make it even better.

I bought foil-backed 1.5” thick Styrofoam boards and cut them to fit the sidewalls of our slides. (I know some RV parks frown upon using this type of insulation but our park is very understanding.)

An open truck bed, with a piece of foam board strapped in. some milk crates sit on top of the board.

Our slides use a cable system to move in and out, so I was able to use this cable system to help secure the panels in place. Measuring the location of the cables, I carved out a trench in the back of the insulating panel to fit the cables. I set the depth of the trench so the panel stood away from the actual outside wall of the unit. Even in a desert environment, it is important to limit areas where moisture can be trapped and develop mold. I wanted to make sure there was space for air to flow (and water to dry) between the wall and the insulation.

I cut space for the side windows to let some light into our living space, because the cats (and wife) get anxious when they can’t see what’s happening outside. I used foil tape to cover the raw edges of the foam board, connect smaller end-pieces to make full-sized panels, and repair some nicks and scratches in the foam board.

To secure the panels to the unit, I tried a couple different methods: On one slide, I used spring-bar curtain rods between the trim edge of the slide and the RV wall to hold the panels in place. Since I couldn’t find spring bars to fit the second slide, I used mason twine looped around the front of the panel and through the slide cables. I covered the string with foil tape. With Monsoon season coming, I am hoping both methods hold up to the wind and rain. As a bonus, I think the foil tape on the raw cut ends of the panels gives it a more professional look, while preventing the shedding of little bits of Styrofoam in harsh weather, where it could harm wildlife.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “Insulating the RV for Hot Weather”

Roof Care

Have you thought about your RV’s roof lately? So many things can affect the life of your RV, and having a good roof is one of the most important ways to protect your RV. Our Keystone Laredo travel trailer has a single-membrane rubber roof, and rubber roofs need regular maintenance and protecting.

We are currently staying in Arizona, so our roof has to withstand blistering sun, sweltering heat, blowing dust, monsoons, frequent bird visits, and… you get the idea. While we duck inside our RV to escape the sun, our roof is taking the brunt of it, day after day. I try to make regular trips “upstairs” to check for clogged gutters, sticks, leaves, animal nests, and droppings that might break down the membrane material. Thankfully, our unit has a walkable roof, that makes the process much easier.

A tip before we begin: if you plan on cleaning your roof, you should also plan on cleaning the rest of your right immediately after! As they say, what goes up, must come down. And all that dirt you rinse off the roof will stick to your windows and rig, mocking you until you scrub them clean. (Or so we’ve heard.)

This week I spent an hour or so washing the Arizona dust and dirt off our roof with Dicor Rubber Roof Cleaner. I followed the label directions, and worked in 3 foot by 3 foot sections. For each section, I sprayed cleaner and scrubbed it with a soft bristle brush using circular motions and rinsing each section before moving on. The cleaner shouldn’t be left to dry on the roof, so working small sections at a time is important. The cleaner worked much better than water alone, removing dust as well as some dark spots.

Be sure to rinse the dust and dirt out of your gutters and off the sides of your rig before calling it a day! If the dust is allowed to dry in the gutters, it will stick and reduce your gutter’s ability to channel water away from your roof! It’ll also stick to your windows and your roof will look wonderful, but the rest of your rig will not.

While I was up there, I also took the time to wash off the tops of our slides, awnings, and inspected as many seals as I could reach. We use this Camco Slide-Out Lubricant and Protectant because it’s what was at Camping World when we were looking for some, but we haven’t compared it to any other products yet.

Dicor recommends following up a roof cleaning with their UV protectant, but it cannot be applied in direct sunlight, so I waited until the evening to finish the job. I wrapped the end of my soft brush with a couple lint-free rags and worked the same pattern I used to wash the roof, one 3′ x 3′ section at a time.

One spray bottle of both the cleaner and UV protectant was enough for our 33-foot travel trailer.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “Roof Care”

The Racist Origins of One of RVers’ Favorite Words

Content warning: this post contains racial slurs in the context of educating the audience about these slurs. For those already aware of what I’m going to talk about, this could be jarring and upsetting. For those unaware, I hope it will become jarring and upsetting by the end of this post, in order to encourage everyone to remove this word from their vocabularies.

For International Romani Day (April 8), I want to challenge my fellow RVers to remove the following word from your lives:

Gypsy.

We’ve all seen it: Romanticizing what RVers refer to as “gypsy” culture and lifestyle. The idea of traveling wherever the wind blows, an irresistible wanderlust, your home is wherever you park it, the freedom to live life on your own terms.

But here’s the hard truth: the original “gypsies” are the Romani people, and that word is a racial slur loaded with prejudices and bigoted origins. The word was not used by the Roma themselves, it was a word that was coined by Europeans, who mistakenly thought Roma people’s features looked Egyptian (the Romani people actually come from regions in and around India).

Appropriating Romani culture (through ignorance or blatant insensitivity) or being prejudiced against Romani people is specifically called antiziganism. But let’s make it easier and call it something we can all recognize: racism.

Do you remember a time when you got “gypped” by a dishonest salesperson?

Yeah… that’s where that word comes from. Today is the day to stop using it forever.

While RVers romanticize a voluntary nomadic existence, the nomadic nature of the Romani people was not necessarily by choice. The “gypsy lifestyle” was forced upon them, due to bigotry and prejudice making them unwelcome, or making them the victims of violence. The Romani were targeted by Nazis in World War II, and hundreds of thousands perished in concentration camps alongside other people of color, Jews, queers, and the disabled.

The Roma continue to be persecuted to this day:

Romani culture is beautiful, and far richer than what’s been appropriated by RV culture. Take some time to learn about Romani people on Wikipedia, through the Romani Cultural & Arts Company, and the (not recently updated) Gypsy Lore Society.

(Now is a good time to point out that some Romani people have adopted the word gypsy to describe themselves, and that’s their right as members of an oppressed class to reclaim slurs used against them. Unless you have Romani heritage and are also reclaiming these slurs for yourself, it is not your place to embrace this slur, no matter how innocent your intentions.)

Yes, this might inconvenience you. You might need to come up with a new blog name, or a new user name, or register a new domain name. But your brief inconvenience is a small price to pay in order to make the world a better place.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “The Racist Origins of One of RVers’ Favorite Words”

Preserve Tableware: Recycled Eco-Friendly Dishes

For about three years before moving into our RV, we regularly complained about our dishes. We were tired of our ten-year-old, inexpensive, drab gray, and super heavy Ikea set, but we didn’t have a good reason to replace them. They were still doing what they were designed to do, even if we were tired of looking at them. It seemed wasteful to replace dishes just because they weren’t pretty any more.

But after counting the chips and cracks in that old set, and considering the unnecessary added weight, moving into our RV was a doubly exciting time for us: time to get new dishes! (We enjoy our simple pleasures.)

After lots of research, we first decided on Corel because of their designs, weight, and durability, but we weren’t ready to commit to a pattern (or a price tag), so we looked for something inexpensive and environmentally friendly that would last until we were ready to spend the money on something for the long term.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Preserve Everyday Tableware! Preserve makes their products from 100% recycled #5 plastic. That’s polypropylene, and it’s one of the most common plastics that’s not as widely recycled as it could (and should!) be, as its used to package popular things like butter tubs, yogurt containers, and prescription pill bottles.

Preserve dishes are dishwasher safe (if you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher), and have been tested for microwave durability, although the company states, “However, we still believe that the decision of whether or not to microwave your food in any plastic is ultimately a personal one, since there is still debate about the health risks of doing so.”

After 6 months of daily use, our dishes are still holding strong, and have even survived a few incidents with serrated knife when I thoughtlessly cut some cucumbers (I don’t recommend doing this, but the plates will survive if you do). I think these dishes are going to last us a long time. And when we’re finally ready to commit to Corel (or, more likely, when we decide to switch to a different color of the same Preserve dishes), we can give our well-used set back to Preserve (or drop it off at a Whole Foods), to be recycled into new Preserve products!

After 6 months, my only complaint is that they can be hard to get very clean after they’ve been used for an oily food. Even after washing them with copious amounts of concentrated Dawn dish soap (that’s the stuff they use to degrease the animal victims of oil spills), there will sometimes still be a thin film of oil on the dishes, and they need to be rewashed.

This is the exact set we bought: Preserve Everyday Tableware Set: Four Plates, Four Bowls and Four Cups, Midnight Blue

And look how cute they fit in our drawer!

An open drawer, with a stack of plates, bowls, and cups inside, as well as a long-handled lighter, and a small stack of stainless steele ramekins.

You can also check out Preserve’s website to see all the cool products they offer!

[Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, but we were not compensated in any way for this post.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “Preserve Tableware: Recycled Eco-Friendly Dishes”

Our Maxxair 7500K Fan Install

The following walk-through and review were not sponsored by any of the manufacturers mentioned. This review is based purely on my research and experiences, in the hopes that it might be interesting or helpful to you.

Like most off-the-shelf travel trailers, ours came with a tiny little bathroom exhaust fan. It was fine when we wanted to vent steam from the shower but that is about it. The original fan had a few big drawbacks: the air draw rate was poor for assisting with ventilation, the vent cap needed to be cranked open with a crank that was mounted flush with the ceiling, the vent cap allowed rain to enter when open, and the vent cap could be torn off in a strong wind.

The crank-height was a serious ergonomic issue that needed to be rectified soon after we moved into the trailer. I was able to make the crank handle more accessible by adding a couple sets of extensions to it.

But after spending most of the Arizona summer in our trailer, it was clear we needed something to increase the airflow.

We watched YouTube videos, researched different models, talked to other RVers, and finally narrowed our choices down to two good choices: a Maxxair Fan or a Fantastic Fan. We weighed the options available and went with the Maxxair 7500K fan with the translucent smoke-colored vent cover. Either of the fans would fit within the space of the existing fan, and the electrical circuit for the old fan was capable of running either.

I decided to get the Maxxair fan because it has a 900 cubic feet per minute draw, which would cycle the air in the entire trailer in under a minute. It also has 10 speed settings, a reversible fan, an automatic thermostat option, a remote control to eliminate crank extensions and switch wiring, and a vent cover that is rainproof even when open. And since our bathroom has a vent fan along with a sunroof over the shower, the light can get pretty overwhelming, so the darker cover was a nice bonus.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the install process, but it was a fairly smooth process. The hardest part was removing the sealer from the old fan. The trailer was less than a year old, so the sealer was still fairly workable. Working slowly with a plastic scraper, I managed to remove almost all of the sealer and exposed the mounting screws for the old fan.

The rooftop view of a white bathroom fan without the sealant around it.

As you can see from the picture, the old fan housing came out without a lot of prying.

A bathroom fan sitting on a picnic table.

The Maxxair fan housing and cover are separate, and screw together after the fan housing is fully sealed in place. This made the install a bit easier.

I applied a couple strips of butyl tape to the bottom of the new fan housing and dropped it into the opening.

Before I screwed the fan into position, I connected the electrical circuit and tested the fan operation. Once I was sure the fan would operate correctly I screwed the housing to the roof, and used a whole tube of Dicor self-leveling sealer around the housing.… [ Click here to read the rest of this post. ] “Our Maxxair 7500K Fan Install”

Vegan Chocolate Bark

A DIY Valentine’s Day treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup any combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit

Instructions

Line a baking sheet, plate, or cutting board with parchment paper.

In a double boiler (or a makeshift double boiler), melt the chocolate. Mix in the nuts/seeds/fruit, and then pour onto the parchment, spreading the mixture out to a thickness of 1/2″ or less.

Allow to cool somewhere undisturbed, and break into pieces. Store leftovers in a sealed container someplace cool.

chocolate melting in a glass dish, precariously balanced on a disposable tin container inside a pot of simmering water.

a container of broken pieces of chocolate bark.

Chocolate “Magic Shell” Ice Cream Topping

A super easy chocolate sauce that hardens on cold ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

In a microwave-safe dish (like a glass measuring cup, or a half-pint or pint-sized mason jar), microwave the chocolate and coconut oil in 20-second bursts, stirring very well in between, until sauce is smooth (about 2 minutes).

Notes

  • Works well with any kind of chocolate chip– white chocolate is awesome, and if you’re looking for vegan or dairy-free white chocolate, we love No Whey White Polar Dream Bars. Enjoy Life makes allergy-friendly chocolate chips, too.
  • Try peanut butter or sun butter instead of or in addition to the chocolate chips.
  • Leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge for a week or two. Microwave in 20-second bursts to reheat, stirring between each burst.
  • Be patient! Chocolate will burn or seize up very quickly, especially in the microwave where hot spots can build up in the mixture. The chocolate should melt in 2-3 minutes, depending on your microwave and the temperature of the starting ingredients. Don’t rush it!