Our youngest daughter, Raquel, was always a good student. I don’t know if it was because she was smart or just liked school. Elementary to junior high. Junior high to high school. And finally, high school to college. When she decided on a Television Production college major, I was a little disappointed. I though for sure she was going to be a doctor or lawyer. But, in the end, she was committed to her dream, so we supported her 100%. It’s been a long 4 years, but in 6 weeks she will be graduating college and will soon begin her new career in the entertainment industry. We are so proud if her! What’s this story got to do with RV’s?
A few months ago, a friend of Raquel’s gave (as in free) her a ticket to the 2014 Coachella music festival. Wow! Raquel was so excited. Every young person, and a few old ones, would give anything to attend “Coachella”. The only problem was, most of the hotels were booked solid and the ones with vacancy really jacked up the prices to ridiculous levels. RV to the rescue! Long story short, Leticia and offered to camp at a Coachella RV park and let Raquel and one of her girlfriend from school stay with us. There were no objections, so I booked 4 nights at the Indian Waters RV park in Coachella, CA for April 10-14.
A few days before we left, Leticia reminded me that we needed to move the Jensen 12v 26″ TV from the Timber Ridges living room to the bedroom and get a new 32″ TV for the living room. At first I argued for a new 12v TV, but then later decided on a 120v. Why? First, a 12v 32″ LED TV is about twice price of a comparable 120v TV. The downside of a 120v TV is that we’d either have to plug in to shore power at an RV park or power the unit through a 12v to 120v inverter if boondocking. I didn’t factor a generator into our decision making process because we don’t normally take one with us. I read somewhere that the Jensen 12v RV TV has conformal coated electronics. Conformal coating is a clear liquid that is sprayed or brushed onto the circuit board mounted electronics components. When cured, conformal coating creates a clear plastic coating over the electronics to prevent warm moist air from condensing into water when it hits the cold components. RVs are known to have condensation issues, so conformal coating makes sense. However, with this said, I don’t know for sure if Jensens have this coating or that regular TVs for homes don’t. For have the price, I can afford to buy another TV later if it fails. TVs generally last a long time, so I’m going to take a chance on the 120v model.
Mounting the new TV in the living room was a snap. Measure twice and drill once. That’s my advise for mounting your own TV in your RV. I also measured the existing mounting screws and got the same size for the new TV mounting bracket. The interior walls of RVs are only a few inches thick or less, so drilling through into the next room is likely, so be careful with that drill!
Moving the existing 12v TV into the bedroom was a little more challenging and ultimately was a failure. Why? The 12v TV socket in the bedroom ceiling keeps over heating when the TV is plugged in and running for a short time. I first noticed something wrong when the TV suddenly turned off in the middle of a show we were watching. I unplugged the 12v TV plug and noticed it was very warm. I then stuck my finger into the ceiling socket and WHOA! It burned the tip of my finger! NOT GOOD! I figured the 12v plug was defective, so bought a more heavy duty version (I bought a $15 spotlight and cutoff the plug and spliced it to the TV power cord). My fix didn’t fix the problem. I now suspect either a loose connection in the socket above the ceiling or some kind of high resistance short occurring when the plug and socket are mated. I don’t think the existing 12v TV is drawing too much current. Regardless, we can’t use the 12v TV in the bedroom until this issue is resolved. I believe the heat was such that a fire would occur in time. Oh the thought of our new RV bursting into flames in the middle if the night!
Ok, time for a little RV electrical theory. The power (P) of a given device, measured in watts, equals voltage (V), measured in volts, times current (I), measured in amps. The formula looks like this: P=VI. If you looked at a 60 watt 120v light bulb and a 60 watt 12v light bulb, they would both appear to be the same brightness – 60 watts. That makes senses because the power (60 watts) is the same for both. Watts is watts. So, we know the wattage of both, 60 watts, and we know the voltage of both, 120v and 12v, so that just leaves the current (amps). Using our handy-dandy formula, we can calculate that the 120v light is drawing 0.5 amps and the 12v light is drawing 5 amps. Notice how 120 x 0.5 = 60 and 12 x 5 = 60. So what? Who cares? FIRE!!!! That’s why. To achieve the desired power, our 12v systems need to carry 10 times the current of the equivalent 120v systems. The more current you have flowing through wires and connections, the more heat will be created if there are any loose or poor connections. Specifically, 10 times more heat in a 12v system. Coincidently, our stock 26 inch Jenson TV uses 60 watts of power to operate at 12v, so draws 5 amps. The fuse on the TV circuit is 7 amps, so it’s entirely possible that the heat I felt in the socket is due to 5 amps flowing through a loose connection. I bet I find a loose connection up in that insulated ceiling!
Ok, enough with the electrical theory already! What about the wind torn awning I hinted about in my last post. When we got everything setup at Indian Water RV park in the afternoon of Thursday, 4/10, Leticia asked me why I failed to deploy our remote controlled awning when everyone else appeared to have their awnings deployed. I expressed my concern about the wind. I reminder her of the old saying about wind and awnings: if it’s windy enough to think about your awning, it’s time to retract it. Leticia responds with, “You worry too much…deploy the awning already!”. Awning deployed as ordered.
Fast forward to 430am the next morning. CLUNK…SCRATCH…CLUNK…RATTLE…SCRATCH. Leticia and I awaken to the racket at the same time. “Do you hear that?”, she says in a panicked whisper. “Yes!”, I proclaim at a whisper as I’m looking for my shirts and shoes. “I think a raccoon is trying to break into our storage compartment”, she exclaims. I think to myself, “some drunk kid from the Coachella concert must be trying to break in to our storage bin”. With flashlight in hand, I grip the latch of our bedroom door, quietly turn the deadbolt to the unlocked position, and yank the door open as I lurch out and yell “Hey”! I’m soon dumbfounded by what I see. There is what has to be a 25mph+ wind blowing across the campground. Tents are blown down into mangled blobs of nylon. Awnings are whipping up and down like giant horizontal flags. The noise we heard was our awning supports banging around as they try to resist our awnings attempts to fly away into the night sky. I quickly grab the remote control and hit the retract button. The awning races in and settles in to it’s stored position. Relieved, I step outside to enjoy the wind, which is increasing in speed by the minute. I can’t help but wonder why the occupants of the 3 trailers near us haven’t come outside to check their awnings. That had to have heard all the racket. Then I notice that all 3 have small cars parked near them. RENTALS! That’s why they don’t care…they are renting those RVs. Its getting cold, so I go in and fall asleep.
At sunrise, I look out the window and see the wind has calmed down. I go outside to assess the damage. Most tents are in disarray. A few are still standing. Most awnings are still in tact, but are visibly looser and not as taught as normal. Then I walk around to check out my hook ups and see an ugly sight: an awning and the supports have broken away from one of the rental trailers. A woman is taking pictures of the damage. I overhear her tell her man friend, “good thing we paid for that insurance”. Haha. I don’t think insurance covers leaving your awning out in what felt like a tornado!
The winds returned Saturday night and created very dusty conditions. I was impressed with our new rig. It didn’t move around much in the wind and was very comfortable. The dual pane windows and extra insulation helped keep us cool in the desert heat, but, it did warm up faster than expected when the AC cycled off. I’ll bring my IR thermometer gun next time to get a quantitative measure of its insulation performance.
Our daughter and her friend Serena got in about 2am each day. Indian Waters provide ($70 per person) shuttle service between the RV park and the Coachella concert. That saved us a lot of driving in the middle of the night with all the crazies out wander the streets after the concert let out.
Now that our rig is parked safely at our local RV storage facility, I’m worried about someone stealing our batteries. I tried to remove them, but they are way too heavy! To make it look like I removed the them, I disconnected the power wires and left them dangling in easy view. tie Saturday I’ll checkout the 12v socket and make another attempt to remove the batteries.
Next trip: Rocstock model rocket launch in the Lucern valley in June. I can’t wait!
Raquel in RV at Coachella