Monday, September 26, 2022

RV life means you never have to leave home (or the office)

This article is part of our new series, Streams, which explores how rapid advances in technology are changing our lives.

Since her marriage in 2016, Brittany Garrett has had to live separately from her husband, Isaac, during some of his deployments in the U.S. Navy. However, after leaving the army in February, the couple discussed a long-discussed plan for uninterrupted togetherness. They sold their home in Virginia Beach and left across America, towing a 22-foot trailer behind a heavy vehicle (first an SUV, then a pickup). Me. Garrett, 26, described the past few months as an opportunity to catch up with her husband for ‘all the lost time he was away’.

“We’re in our mid – 20s childless,” she said. Garrett, who works remotely as a recruitment manager for a child care agency, said. ‘We do not need a house with two bedrooms and three bathrooms. It was something that society makes you think you need at that stage of life. So we have shrunk. ”

Even before the Oscar-winning film “Nomadland,” about a peripatetic RV owner, made people talk about life on the road, the Garretts joined the growing number of households that have an RV, according to Monika Geraci, a spokeswoman of the RV industry. Association, the number is up to 11.2 million in North America. Over the past decade, RV ownership has increased by 26 percent and sales of new RVs have broken all records in March, by just over 54,000 sent to merchants in North America.

Retailers and online markets report that there is also a huge demand for used campers, trailers, buses and vans. According to Bob Wheeler, President and CEO of Airstream Inc., the innovations are still ongoing. His enthusiasm is evident when he talks about the following great things: canopies with built-in solar panels and technology that will make it possible to reuse gray water.

“The pace of change is accelerating,” he said. Wheeler said. “All we can do is propose and design systems that can be flexible.”

Cary Alburn, a retired Colorado attorney who has been campaigning since childhood, notices the progress with amazement. “The explosion of technology in RVs over a few years is almost shocking, especially for those who have been RVs for so many years.”

Mr. Alburn, 77, remembers a time when batteries provided only a little power, and baths and dishes were obviously dumped in the bushes.

“We’ve developed so much with the coaches,” said Dave Simso, owner of Dave’s RV Center in Danbury, Conn. “You’ve never been anywhere you do not have everything you need.”

This could be the case for the extremely luxurious RVs of the Newmar brand that are starting just under $ 200,000 and could rise to $ 1.3 million. But Mr. Simso’s son, Dave Jr., general manager of the company, says even manufacturers of cheaply priced RVs have always tried to keep up with new products – even as ‘new’ microwaves and DVD players mean.

A robust aftermarket allows buyers of older models to update their units. Interest was largely focused on three areas; internet, portable power and what John Tinghitella, president and owner of RV Designer, which supplies replacement equipment for RVs, calls the ‘icky’ topic of toilets.

“At home you never think about it,” he said. Tinghitella, who is also a member of the RV Industry Association, said. “We’ve been doing right and doing it all our lives. We expect to see it again.”

This is not the case while on the go, which gives rise to a variety of toilet innovations.

For the most part, the Garretts park their trailer on campgrounds and connect them to a sewer connection for their gravity toilet. Otherwise, a fish tank at a landfill must be emptied. “This is my job,” he said. Garrett said; his wife finds the process ‘rough’, just like many others.

The couple is considering switching to a compostable toilet where liquids should be kept separate from solids. Other options include a cassette toilet that takes up everything in a container that is removed, emptied and put back in its place, and toilets that burn burn in a metal container just below the seat.

Owners of older RVs are also looking for robust portable power. Many campsites have power outlets on each site. But for ‘boondocking’ – to stay in places without electricity – a kind of power source is needed for lights, heat and charging electronic devices. Gas generators can do this, but make noise and emissions, so upgrading older technology batteries to lithium-ion is a popular alternative.

Grant Walters, regional sales representative for Pleasure-Way Industries, a Canadian manufacturer of the smallest category of RVs, known as Class B, said his company began installing these fast-charging and long-lasting batteries in 2016.

“The decision was one of the better moves we’ve made in recent years,” Walters said, allowing owners to use their pickups everywhere.

“Class B provides a base camp for rural camping,” he said. “It’s conducive to people actively using kayaking, cycling, mountain biking.”

Karen and Ray Abramson of Westport, Conn., Purchased a lightly used Pleasure-Way camper in 2019, which is already equipped with lithium-ion batteries and solar panels to recharge it. “We can probably be completely self-sufficient for five days,” he said. Abramson said.

There is more involved in the switch than replacing old lead acid batteries with new lithium batteries. Specific chargers are recommended for lithium, both for charging with 120 volts AC and also when charging through the alternator of the vehicle, according to the guidelines issued by the manufacturer Dakota Lithium in Seattle.

“Not all chargers on board cars and trailers can charge a lithium product,” said Jeff Barron, laboratory manager at Interstate Batteries. Then there is the cost. Lithium batteries are four times the price of lead acid batteries, and charge controllers can cost an additional $ 2,000, said Mr. Barron said. Andrew Jay, CEO of Dakota Lithium, estimates that a small system costs about $ 1,500, and the most popular, which includes solar panels, is $ 3,000.

The pandemic is widely regarded as the current popularity of RVs, but even before the global downturn, digital nomads took their jobs on the road and not just young professionals. The Abramsons – he’s a CPA, she’s a tutor – are in their 60s. When they got their car, they immediately added a second desk behind the driver’s seat so they could both work while traveling.

“There are a lot of people who want to keep it simple and get away from the complexities of their home lives, but everyone wants to be connected,” he said. Wheeler said.

Airstream’s luxury campers and trailers, like those from other manufacturers, have Wi-Fi and mobile antennas, and there are several companies active in the aftermarket. These antennas promote the reception of a cell phone tower or Wi-Fi access point, whether it is a campsite or a local Starbucks. But they can not improve slow speeds. This is an infrastructure problem and it has been exacerbated by the “exponential increase” in the number of people venturing down the road and expecting high quality internet, says Andy Mikesell, who works in dealer services at Winegard Company, which manufactures and sells RV antennas to retailers and consumers.

“The real trick of the matter is to get all the different parties to work together, and campsites need to set up better networking functions and install better servers,” he said.

For consumers who used to use home internet before, without having to pay much attention to it, obtaining mobile connection can be complicated. In 2019, Leigh and Tom Mundhenk of Ocean Park, Maine, purchased a new Leisure Travel Van. During their first nine-week break away, they never understood how to use the factory-installed cellular booster because it has different data plans.

“There are a lot of different options and we are not technically proficient at all,” Mundhenk said. Mundhenk added that the couple is still trying to figure out what kind of plan they need.

Connection frustration is virtually universal, says Neil Balthaser, a retired technology worker who manages Ultramobility, a YouTube channel for RV owners. This is because mobile internet access is dependent on mobile phone services which can be difficult to get off the beaten track.

“It’s a gimmick when you think about it – your coach does not get any WiFi other than your cell phone,” he said.

Several different businesses offer satellite internet, but it can be time consuming to set up the receiver. Starlink, the company of Elon Musk that offers internet via a variety of satellites, is intended to make the connection easier, but it is not yet available.

For RVers who find technology too old or too new or too icky, Garrett’s first four months of full-time RV life indicate that there are more disadvantages than disadvantages.

“It surprised me that I enjoyed it, and it brought me as much peace as that,” she said from San Diego. ‘Living simpler, that’s the peace I was referring to. Fewer things, more life. ”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Deskhttps://nationworldnews.com
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