Sunday, 27 August 2017

A bit of trouble

We've been having a bit of trouble with the locals. What started as a very small and obvious issue has been continually escalating for weeks.

I'm sure I mentioned previously how much I hate this place.... We are both fighters and have a long history of it but there comes a point... We have both had and done enough.

Our newest departure date is now Saturday, Sept. 2nd.

6 more sleeps. So much to do.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Departure date change

This post will be short and sweet (just like me!)

Well with a lot going on around here, we have decided to move our departure date up by 9 days. This leaves me with only 15 days to get everything done that needs doing. I shall have to begin a new list as the old one is starting to become hard to read with all the additions and subtractions I have been doing to it for the last few weeks.

We haven't told anyone about this change yet and unless we are in contact with them before Blogger sends out new post alerts, I guess they'll find out via email alert... Oops.

PS Happy Birthday to someone very special to us - you know who you are... xxx

Thursday, 17 August 2017

30 days to go!

This morning marks just 30 days until 'get-outta-dodge' day. This is very exciting for both of us, mostly me but His Lordship is catching up quickly. There has been a lot going on here which provides him incentive to go. (A countdown clock has been added above the blog)

I have begun sorting food stuff into air-tight containers and they are piled up on the kitchen counter (thankfully, we have a large kitchen counter - at home), I have sorted through the various Health Coverage options and we have settled on Blue Cross (C $3G) but have not yet made the arrangements -thats coming up quickly.

We decided that because we do not get much snail mail that we would have our mail sent to Brad's Mum who will then forward to us anything we must have. Because most everything is done online these days it seems ridiculous to pay a small fortune each month to have a mail service, if we find it is necessary we can always set this up from the road. I have a few organization gadgets that I need to set into the rig to assist with shelving, storage and the like.

We have chosen our Solar and Installer but we are waiting until closer to the day before booking the rig in although I think we can likely do this anytime now.

I have to re-organize the tool bag as we've made a mess of it since I did it last and clothing needs to be gone through but first I need to check online for average temps in the areas we hope to be.

Robbie (the dog) has been to the Vet and had all his required pokings so he is good to go. I asked the Vet about his shedding - he loses a Bishon every time we brush him and a Chihuahua falls to the floor everyday we don't. She suggested we get 'the coat blown out' which I didn't know was a thing... obviously I called the Groomer immediately to inquire and it costs C$65 so I was sceptical and googled it to see if it was a gimmick or actually worked.

I am none the wiser unfortunately, while lots of groomers say its great, I haven't found anything from 'average joes' but will look again. Anyone have experience with this? Does it work? Roughly how long does it last? Is it a 2/year or monthly endeavor? THIS is what I want to know before I fork out C$65. Sure would be great not to have to sweep a Chihuahua out of the rig everyday.

I added a map to the bottom of the Blog a week ago and I have used - I think its Halifax as our originating point - though this is inaccurate. This map will allow me to post where we are (at least, where we were the day before). Obviously I do not want the world to know where we are when we are. So I will post the location of the previous stop so that we and others can know where there is appropriate overnighting. Also, I will add to the infamous Apps as required.

Our rig is the same height/width as a 40' but is short so I will try to note at each location details of what the largest vehicle should be. I have found that some RVers detail where they stopped but do not advise if a much larger rig would fit at that location. As we intend to do a lot of Boondocking I anticipate finding a few spots that will add to the various App details especially in Northern Ontario where Campgrounds are rampant and Boondocking frowned upon.

No big surprise that we intend to do another 'hard push' to get across Canada (we've done it in 2.5 days before), likely doing it in a week this time. Turns out we're getting old and these 'hard push' drives are getting harder and harder -even with a bed in the back.

I have a list (its what I do) of everything we need to put into the rig, unfortunately we do not have access to a weigh scale around here so we'll just have to wing it until we get to civilization and we can sort through any weight issue then, although I don't think we'll be over -or at least not by much, but we'll see.

Anyway, the clock is ticktocking now!... WooHoo

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Calculating Solar - Complete

I did a post a week or so ago about calculating your Amp Hour requirements. But what do you do with that information? To reiterate: I am not a Professional!! Double check everything...

AH = Amp Hours
V    = Volts
WH = Watt Hours
Panel V = Panel Volts
Panel A = Panel Amps
Panel AH = Panel Amp Hours

Okay so here are the calculations for Solar and how many panels (of a specific panel you will require). The Solar kit we have chosen for our needs is here.

AH x V = WH
WH /Panel V = Panel AH
Panel AH / Panel Amps = number of panels required for 1 hour of sun.
Number of panels required for 1 hour sun / Number of hours collecting sun (check online for your specific area) = number of panels based on the specs used in calculation (so make sure they are right).

So I will use a few of our own numbers and the panels we have chosen to show you the calculation:

In order to run everything we have at the same time we will use 440 AH (won't likely run it all at the same time)

440AH x 12V(RV system (some are 24V)) = 5280WH
5280WH / 12V = 440AH
440AH / 8.8amps (our particular solar panels) = 50 panels for one hour of sunlight
50 per hour / # hours of sunlight (5 average but check your area online)
= 10 panels

Now we are not putting 10 panels on the roof. In fact, our kit is 3 - 160W panels. We don't expect to be running everything at the same time and we will have to monitor our energy usage for the first while. If we find it is not enough, we can always add more later. However, according to all things Google it seems that the 480W is enough for most full-timers. Our particular RV runs most of its systems off Propane or electric but some newer RVs are coming off the line now strictly electric which will obviously require a lot more solar to operate.

Trouble with getting Solar before you leave is that you really have no idea how you will use the space and what your energy consumption will be. So we are starting at 480W and we'll see where we go from there... I will update as we progress.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Solar, Mail and Health decisions

The past few days I have been wrapped in solar details. Literally like a scarf. However, progress has been made...

As most of you either know or can safely assume Solar (while conceptually simple) is a technical minefield with so many components required to get it working properly. Once you have your Solar needs calculated you then need to find all the necessary components and not all components are compatible with each other. Having spent a fair bit of time sodding about trying to piece together all the different components I finally said 'to hell with it' and began searching for a kit which has everything in it. Sure I could probably piece it together cheaper but whats the point if one or more of them are not compatible in the end and being a layman means I don't know that until I do which would be at the wrong time, of course.

The Go Power Extreme 480w Solar Kit is our saving grace. It has all the components in one very convenient package. So with that resolved I then needed to find an Installer with time available to get it put on. Fortunately, the website lists all the Dealers by province/state with a map making it very easy to find what your looking for and just as well as it turns out.

As we were planning to go south through Windsor I began by searching this route and spoke to a few dealers in the Toronto/London area, but as happens all the time around here the route changed to crossing in Maine and heading south as quickly as possible so my Dealer map focus changed to accommodate this new crossing. However, with family needs brought to our attention on the west coast of Canada, the plan shifted once more to a complete Canada crossing.

You might ask why we wouldn't go across in the U.S. and the answer is simple, because every day spent south counts not only towards the maximum number of days we can be in the U.S this year but also counts as a half of a day next year and a quarter of a day the year after that, essentially shortening the number of days we can donate our coffers to the building of the infamous wall. But thats another story that has no place on this particular Blog.

So with this new information I set about looking for quotes and availability along our path across Canada and I have found 2 (there are likely others but this works for us). One is in Ontario and the other in BC. I have received a formal quote from BC and am still awaiting (likely Tuesday) the other from ON.

The other detail I have been working on is Health Coverage. Canada, as most know, has full Health Coverage for all Canadians (well, mostly full) paid for by the Province in which you reside using your exorbitant tax dollars. However, when a Canadian goes to the U.S where there is no such coverage you have to buy exorbitant Health Coverage over and above paying your exorbitant tax dollars.

This Coverage is NOT CHEAP (almost $200CAD/ Month each, at least for us). But it is certainly cheaper than paying a hospital bill in the U.S. So it is necessary. As an example, Brad's 20something niece was south recently and had a situation for which she required minor day surgery while down there. When the bill arrived (covered by the Insurance) it had been $90,000 CAD. Which could have ruined her life had she not had the Coverage.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I have been to the U.S many many many times and have never bought Insurance and fortunately have never had a problem, but if you did.... Yowsers! Frankly, as a Canadian this is not a topic that even comes to mind, its just always been there and so is not something I think about - Like when you flip the light switch.

We are going prepared for this trip, well I am doing everything possible to ensure that we are covered 3 ways to Sunday on everything from RV Repairs, Road Side Assistance, Health Care, etc. Trying anyway.
One RoadSide Assistance Plan

Think I may have forgotten or are unaware of something? Please let me know in the comments section below.

About the mail... As we will be away for a fair while, we obviously will not be able to get our mail at home. Escapees offers mail services to RVers whereby they provide you with a U.S mailing address and upon request will send your mail anywhere you may be passing through or stopping as you travel along. You simply advise them that you will be at Aunt Mable's RV Park on Tuesday and they send everything they have to you. Fantastic Service! When you put in a temporary mail forward with Canada Post they send your mail to your new location as it comes in. Great!

Problem for us is we will be in Canada for an unknown time before going south. Solution: Put a hold on the mail for a couple of weeks prior to the forwarding start. If your mail is held prior then upon the beginning of the forward Canada Post will forward everything currently held as well as new mail. Without the hold any mail prior to the forward will be stuck in the mailbox until we return in May.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Changed our minds 2

Okay so a couple of things...

I have spent today contacting Solar salespeople trying to get us sorted out for departure October 1st, booking the Dr for a pre-departure check-up, booking the dog in at the Vet, researching the best internet options while south and generally pulling my hair out.

THEN... himself decided to change our departure date.

We are now departing Sept 16th, 2017....

I swear you can't make this stuff up. Such is our life. We are incredibly lucky to have such a flexible schedule at our age and we know and are grateful for same.

For anyone who read my blogpost yesterday.... I made at least one significant error on the wattage calculation (decimal too far right) and today calculate our needs at 4 - 100w Mono panels (minimum) though we will likely get at least 120w Mono panels and actually I am awaiting a quote currently on 265w Poly panels... (I had originally wanted Mono panels - and might still).

Still unsure if we will get the solar in Canada or in the USA but will update as things become clearer. Given that I just lost 2 weeks in my get-out-of-dodge timeline, I will really need to buckle down and get some things organized around here. Start loading the rig with fishing gear and life jackets, dog toys and coffee (you'll find out if we meet on the road), not to mention sort through the clothing and figure out what to take and what to leave behind. We also have to make a plan for mail, and figure out what to do with our 'prized' possessions. We have some delicates that we don't won't broken on the road and I personally don't want to leave them unattended either.

Health coverage needs to be arranged, we want to join FMCA and our Credit Card will expire before we expect to return so I have to contact them also. Lots of little details - you know those ones that testosterone blocks from some thought processes. Girls: you know what I mean. Guys: look an obvious distraction...🙋

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Calculating Solar Needs - me thinks.

Okay as promised I am writing today about how to calculate your solar needs. Now lets be clear, I am not an expert!!! In fact, I am a blonde, so please do verify everything that I am about to tell you.

I have been studying solar and its required pre-calculations for almost a year. Brad uses a CPAP when he is sleeping for his Sleep Apnea and so having power is a requirement for us - Every Night! We are leaving in 60 days to go RVing for the winter in our new-to-us RV and so it is imperative that I get this Solar issue finalized. I have written on this topic before and someone (I forget who) asked me for the details of the calculations... again, I am not 'the man' and the following may require tweeking but this is what I learned...

Every electrical item be it CPAP or coffee maker has the electrical requirements stamped on it somewhere (except the desktop computers for which I have learned 300w should be typical). Now these numbers are not always in the same configuration. What I mean by this is that some are written in Watts (w) some in AC Amps (A) and some in DC Amps (A). The only way to know if the amps are AC or DC is to check the cord. If it plugs into your home outlet it is AC Amps. If it plugs into your cigarette lighter it is DC Amps.
North American AC outlet (yes I know they are upside down- thats another story) European sockets look different but they are still AC so the same rules should apply.

What you need to do is convert all these numbers to DC Amps. Sounds complicated and I got really frustrated at first until Pippi Peterson saved the day... (Incidentally and for the record, Pippi is not a professional either and the same 'don't hold her to it' rule applies).

Here are the conversion rules:
AC Amps to DC Amps = multiply by 10.
Watts to DC Amps = divide by 12.

For example:
Brad's CPAP plugs into the house outlet and states 1.43 Amps therefore the calculation must be: 1.43 x 10 = 14.3 DC Amps
My CrockPot plugs into the house outlet and states 275 Watts therefore the calculation must be: 275/ 12 = 22.91 DC Amps

The appropriate conversion must be done for all appliances you require to power, once complete you will have to ask yourself how much you will use each item while 'boondocking' ie. not plugged into shore power.

While Brad almost never sleeps 8 solid hours I am calculating the power requirement for his CPAP as 8 hours. The CrockPot will only be on approximately 1.5 hours a day if at all and that is what I am calculating its power requirements on.

For example:
We now know that the CPAP uses 14.3 DC Amps per hour and assuming 8 hours of sleep the power requirement for the CPAP alone is 14.3 x 8 = 114.4 Amp Hours
The CrockPot uses 22.91 DC Amps per hour but will be used approximately 1.5 hours/day 22.91 x 1.5 = 34.36 Amp Hours

Let me remind you to consider your rig itself. Now for us the whole rig runs on Gas/Elec/Propane options except for the lights and plugs, which is not necessarily the same for you. Newer rigs are coming off the line fully dependent on electric ie. Fridge, Hot water heater, water pump, etc. So your calculations may not only be about the items you wish to bring but also the function of the rig itself.

Once you have completed this calculation for all of your required items add the Amp Hours (A.H.) together. This number is your required Amp Hours. Now the trick is that you can't just say I need 400 AH and ensure your batteries cover that. Oh no, not that simple Chuck!

In our case, we have 2 - 160AH batteries for the coach itself which of course is 320 AH and our total requirements are 450AH but its not about just getting one more battery and your good. It is 'prohibited' to allow your batteries to run below 50% so for a 450AH consumption we will require 900AH of batteries. Again, this is just my understanding from a lot of research but I will update you as we progress as to exactly what happens when 'the big boys' install what we actually need. Suffice it to say for a power requirement of 100AH/day a minimum of 200AH battery storage will be required.

Oh yes, we are getting this done professionally. Neither of us is electrically minded and this stuff is complicated and expensive. I will be having everything verified especially since I just realized I did not include the lights or the Fantastic Fan in the rig- told you I was blonde. Now we will be switching all of our lights to LED which use very little power (1Amp) and the fan I believe is 1.5Amps. Minimal but it all adds up and we don't want to drop our battery levels to a point where they will need to be replaced as Deep Cycle batteries (which we have) are expensive.

The panels are not the only item you need in order to get Solar working on your rig, there is also a Charge Controller, an Inverter, specific gauge wiring and a Monitor. I have also learned that you should buy your Charge Controller and then get the Panels dependent on the Controller. What this is about is beyond me but we will figure it out as we go.

Nothing money can't fix, hey Brad?!? LOL (private joke from our recent house build)

So I hope this helps. The biggest take away from this is the conversion calculations themselves which i had a great deal of trouble finding, I'm sure its out there and I just wasn't looking properly but regardless if this helps anyone it is worth it. Good luck with your Solar install and/or follow along on this Blog to learn with us as we travel through this maze.