Q & A: Solar Battery Charge, Exterior Protection, Water Filters, and Fuel Tips

Q. I’m looking for a way to do a trickle charge on my battery. I’ve seen some RVs that appear to have solar panels. What do you recommend that I should know about them before proceeding down that road?

A. Many RV batteries suffer from parasitic drain caused by monitoring devices such as LPG and CO detectors, as well as radio displays. That’s why some RV manufacturers install 5-watt solar panels as a battery maintainer so parasitic drains don’t kill the battery while the RV is not in use. For the actual battery charging, it is recommended you use a 10 to 15-watt solar charger.

Q. We’re newly retired and planning our first big trip to the Gulf Coast this winter. We love our new motorhome and want to keep it looking great. Is there anything I should be doing to protect it from salt and rust damage?

A. The best way to ward off salt spray problems is to wash the RV on a regular basis. You can also apply easy-to-use waxes and protectants to the finish to form a barrier from salt until you can wash down your unit.  Ask your local ROUTE 66 RV Network dealership in the area you’ll be traveling through – for their recommendations.

Q. While we’re out on the road, I want to be sure that I’m getting the safest drinking water possible. I’ve noticed that aftermarket filters are available. How do they perform? Do you have any recommendations?

A. You can use an outside in-line filter. The best are those which are KDF and activated carbon filters. Filters with KDF will remove more than just bad taste and odor. They also remove or greatly reduce harmful contaminants and bacteria. You can also install these filters under the sink for just drinking only.

Q. I love to travel, but with gas prices as high as they are, is there anything we can do with our trailer to save fuel when towing?

A. Americans still pay less for fuel than most countries in the world. If fuel prices rise 50 cents a gallon and you put 6,000 miles on your RV at an average of 10mpg, it will only cost $300 more per year. On an average weekend trip of 200 miles, it will cost you an extra $10. That said, here are some things you can do to save money:

Everything you do can make a difference. Chances are there won’t be one thing that will make a big improvement, but doing a lot of little things may. First, check and adjust the trailer brakes and magnets to make sure they are working properly and not hanging up. Have the wheel bearings been packed lately, which will allow them to spin freely and not build up heat? Are you carrying a lot of extra weight in your trailer and in your tow vehicle with items you won’t use on your next trip? Do you carry a full tank of water from home, which adds significant weight? Are your weight distribution bars set up properly to distribute weight between axles? What about your tow vehicle? Is it heavy enough to pull your trailer, cargo and passengers in a safe and efficient manner? Do you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle when all you need is a two-wheel-drive? A two-wheel-drive vehicle can save you several thousands of dollars at purchase and significant miles per gallon on the highway. Is it properly tuned up? Are your tires inflated to the proper pressure for safe and efficient towing? Do you have highway tread tires – which roll easier – or off-road tires on a four-wheel-drive vehicle?

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