When is the Best Time to Purchase an RV?

Thinking about taking the plunge and enjoying RV life?  An RV is a significant investment, but with a little research and good timing you can find the most RV for your money.  Here’s how:

When to Buy an RV

When the mercury dips and snow flies, most people aren’t thinking about RV travel.  RV sales centers are quiet and sales staff are willing to make you a great deal on a new or used RV.  With new models rolling out, many dealers are looking to clear out space, making winter months a good time to buy.  Sales usually start happening around Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and Presidents Day in February. And since many people sell their pre-owned RVs after the summer/fall travel season is complete, Craigslist should have good inventory as well. Whether you’re shopping for new or used, there are deals to be had, even on a budget.

It’s important to figure out exactly what features are non-negotiable and which you can live without. Start shopping around in the fall so you can get the lay of the land, see who has what, and pinpoint the models you’re most interested in purchasing.

Where to Buy an RV

If you’re looking to buy a new RV and are interested in lots of bells and whistles, an RV dealer is generally your best bet. You can pick and choose exactly the features you want and customize your RV to your taste, particularly if budget is not an issue.  Deals can be found at RV shows, particularly on the last day of the show when sales people are super motivated to sell so they don’t have to transport featured vehicles back to their showrooms.  Make an offer.  You might be surprised.

If you decide to buy from a private third party via Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, just be sure you know exactly what you are getting. Spend a few hours in and around the RV making sure everything works and noting what isn’t working properly or needs repair. If you can, ask to take the RV for a test drive and spend an overnight. Then start your negotiations.

Wait to Upgrade

Don’t worry about adding all of the fancy features and add-ons before you drive away.  Take the time to figure out exactly what upgrades you need.  Most upgrades can be added after purchase, and some you can save money on by installing yourself.

If you plan to travel to some warm, humid destinations and intend to run air conditioning, RVAC Solutions makes a small, light, Advanced Soft Starter (RVMS-100S-9A and RVMS-100S-16A) that’s easy to install without professional help and can be installed in less than an hour.

A soft starter is a small electrical device that reduces the required start-up current. It can be used to start your AC unit or other appliances. While an AC unit has a running current of 10-15 amps depending on its number of BTUs, it can take 70+ amps to get a unit started, putting a considerable strain on the compressor. A soft starter allows the AC unit to get started and then feeds additional current to the compressor gradually until it reaches full speed.

Plan Your Next Adventure

Then get out there and explore! Traveling in an RV gives you optimal access to some of the best hiking, national parks, and beautiful sites in the U.S.

Hard Start vs Soft Start What's The Difference

Hard Start vs Soft Start: What’s The Difference??

Big appliances need large amounts of power to get up and running. Think about a commercial HVAC system for a large office or apartment building. They can require as much as ten times more power to get started than the typical running current. This power demand and surge stress the motor and the appliance itself and create a lot of heat that can damage various components, shortening its life. One way to protect the machine is by utilizing a hard starter or a soft starter – two different add-on kits with the same goal of getting your equipment up and running without damaging it and preserving the appliance’s life.

What’s a Hard Starter?

As the name suggests, a hard start kit is used to remedy the “hard” starting problem of your air conditioner or other appliance. The air conditioner may start and shut off, make a clicking sound, trip a breaker, or make the lights flicker because the AC drains too much power for the startup.

A hard starter is a good, affordable option when you need an extra boost of electrical current to get an appliance running even though you have a good power source. A hard start kit is a capacitor that collects and stores electricity ahead of time and provides an extra energy boost to your appliance as it’s turned on.

A hard starter kit can be plugged into the run capacitor in just a few minutes. It can quickly spike the inrush of current to reduce the system’s startup time and the amount of electricity needed to run.

Read More: Gil-Bar in the News: “Modernized HVAC Systems Have Key Role in New York City”

What’s a Soft Starter?

A soft starter allows an AC unit or other appliance to get started and gradually feeds additional current to the compressor until it reaches full speed.

While an AC unit has a running current of 10-15 amps, depending on its number of BTUs, it can take 70+ amps to get a unit started, putting a considerable strain on the compressor. Soft starters control the voltage flowing through a motor’s circuit, reducing the inrush of current by up to 70% and preventing wear and tear on the engine by allowing it to startup safely and gradually.

Soft starters are a good solution when you’re traveling in an RV and need to run an AC unit, but you don’t have access to a power hookup and are using a generator. Without a power hook-up, your portable generator or inverter system likely won’t have enough amperage to get an AC unit up and running. And a hard starter will not work with a small generator, so it’s useless in an RV powered by a generator.

Hard Start vs Soft Start: How are They Different?

Both a hard and soft starter use a start capacitor and a start relay, but a hard starter’s goal is to make the inrush of current as large as possible, while a soft starter lowers the inrush of current as much as possible

A soft starter is a more complex device with electronics that use algorithms to sense and record numerous events in the startup of your motor.

In short, a hard starter provides a quick boost of power, while a soft starter reduces the initial torque of the motor and gradually feed it power so that it doesn’t put too much unnecessary stress on the motor or appliance. This gradual approach creates less wear on the AC unit, extends its useable life, and prevents overheating or other electrical damage.

It’s two different approaches—quick and powerful versus slow and steady.

Which One is Right for You?

Choosing a hard starter or soft starter is really about the application. What’s your power source, and what kind of equipment do you need to get started?

A hard starter is ideal in a commercial or residential environment where the power source is constant, and the equipment requires a massive inrush of current to get started. Soft starters are generally used in a low power supply environment, such as an RV or camper, where the startup demand isn’t off the charts.

RVAC Solutions Advanced Soft Starter

If you’re in the market for a soft starter for your RV, 5th wheel, or camper, RVAC Solutions makes a small, light, Advanced Soft Starter (RVMS-100S-9A and RVMS-100S-16A) that’s easy to install on your own. It weighs only a couple of pounds and easily fits inside the AC unit’s housing. Each AC unit you intend to run will require its own Advanced Soft Starter.

Easy Camping Meals To Consider For Your RV Trip

Easy Camping Meals To Consider For Your RV Trip

Camping meals have you stumped? No matter the size of the RV, kitchen counter space is always limited, but that doesn’t mean the quality or variety of your meals has to suffer.

With a little recipe research, smart shopping, and planning ahead, you can create tasty entrees that will have your family asking for seconds.

Simple prep (or the ability to prep ahead of time) and easy clean-up are important criteria for any go-to RV meal.  Be sure to clean as you go so your counters aren’t overloaded with dirty dishes and kitchen tools.

A crock pot or Instant Pot can turnout one-pot meals that cook while you’re out adventuring and they won’t heat up your RV.

Here are some of the delicious and simple RV camping meals listed below.

Top 5 Easy Camping Meals For Your RV Trip:

1. Breakfast Burritos (makes 4 servings)

breakfast burritos-rv camping meals

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1/2 pound sausage
  • 6 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked hash browns or skillet potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • Optional:  ketchup or salsa for dipping

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet, brown the chorizo until done. Place cooked chorizo on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up any excess grease.
  2. Return the skillet to the stove and scramble the eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Tear off 4 large squares of aluminum foil and place them on a counter or flat surface.
  4. Heat tortillas and place one on each piece of foil.
  5. Top with cheese, chorizo, eggs, and hash browns.
  6. Roll the burrito up tightly and enclose it in aluminum foil.
  7. Store in the refrigerator or cooler until ready to use. Can be frozen until ready to use as well.
  8. When ready to serve: Reheat burrito, wrapped in foil, on the campfire, grill, or in the oven. Heat until contents are heated thru. Serve with a side of salsa or ketchup for dipping.

TIPS:  Try to place the potatoes/hash browns in the center of the burritos. It helps to soak in any liquid from the sausage and keep it away from the tortilla. Add DON’T add salsa until just before serving or your burritos will get soggy. If you don’t plan to eat your burritos within 24 hours, store them wrapped in a ziploc bag and freeze.

 2. Foil Packed Chicken Fajitas (makes 4 servings)

Foil Packed Chicken Fajitas easy camping meals

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups instant white rice (uncooked)
  • 1 ½ cups hot water
  • 1 Tbsp Taco seasoning
  • 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, whole or cut in strips
  • 1 green pepper cut into strips
  • 1 red pepper cut into strips
  • ½ of a red or white onion (optional) cut into rings
  • ½ cup Salsa of your choice
  • ½ cup Mexican cheese blend

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
  2. Combine rice, hot water, and taco seasoning.
  3. Fold up all sides of 4 large sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil to form a 1” rim and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Spread rice mixture evenly onto foil and top with remaining ingredients (chicken, peppers, salsa, cheese). Fold up all sides to form packets. Place packets on rimmed backing sheet.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Cool, then cut slits into the foil to release the steam before carefully opening packets. Top with sour cream.

TIPS:  Packets can be prepared in advance. Simply assemble and refrigerate until ready to bake.  If you don’t have heavy duty foil, use a double layer of regular aluminum foil.

3. Lazy Instant Pot Lasagna (makes 6 servings)

instant pot lasgna quick rv camping meals

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked pasta, like penne
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
  • 2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 24 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef or ground sausage
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced

**Optional:  1 can diced tomatoes (makes casserole chunkier)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Set your pressure cooker to sauté.
  2. Add your olive oil, ground beef or sausage, and diced onions. Cook until the outsides are no longer pink. Drain grease and return the pot to your pressure cooker.
  3. Turn the machine off (an important step so burn notification isn’t triggered because it is too hot). Add spices and stir with meat/onions.
  4. Spread out ground meat evenly across the bottom of your pot. This creates a barrier for the noodles so they don’t stick to the bottom.
  5. Add spaghetti sauce on top of the meat, pour your 2 c. water into your spaghetti sauce jar and shake to get the remaining sauce out, and pour that into your pot on top of your sauce.
  6. Then pour your uncooked noodles in as the next layer. Do NOT stir! Gently push down noodles so they are submerged in the liquid.
  7. Put the lid on and set to pressure, high, for 5 minutes.
  8. Do a quick release.
  9. Stir in 1.5 c. mozzarella cheese and allow to melt. You can either stir in ricotta now or just put a dollop on top of each serving 

4. Pulled BBQ Sandwiches (makes 8 servings)

Pulled BBQ Sandwiches easy delicous camping meals for rv trips

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 6 lbs. boneless Pork Shoulder Chuck Roast (or use 2 smaller roasts)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup store-bought BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Chop 1 large onion and place it into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Combine 1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp paprika and generously sprinkle the pork roast. Massage the roast to rub the seasoning into the meat. Place meat over the onions.
  3. For the marinade, combine: 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup BBQ sauce, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and 3 pressed garlic cloves. Stir to combine. Pour the marinade over the pork in the crockpot.
  4. Cover and set on low for 8 hours. Remove the meat to a large bowl and remove any fat. Shred with forks. Pour any drippings from the crockpot over the meat to taste then brush the meat with warm barbecue sauce to serve.
  5. Serve on a soft hamburger or slider bun and top with homemade or store-bought coleslaw
  6. Leftovers freeze well for another meal

5. Snickerdoodle Mug Cake

snickerdoodle mug cake quick camping food for rv trip

Campfire s’mores are always a favorite, but if you’re looking for something different that isn’t going to heat up the whole RV, try this Snickerdoodle Mug Cake that’s baked in the microwave and ready to eat in minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon until completely combined with no streaks of any ingredients remaining. Blend in milk, butter, and vanilla until the batter is smooth. Into a 14-ounce (or larger) microwave-safe mug with straight sides, scoop a big spoonful of batter, then sprinkle with a spoonful of cinnamon sugar. Alternate layers, ending with cinnamon sugar.
  2. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 ½ minutes, or until cake is done to your liking. Allow cooling for a couple of minutes before serving.

Campfire cooking is great, but not always practical.  Most RV-ers use their ovens and cooktops quite a bit.  On those really hot and humid days, running an appliance AND A/C can be easier said than done because of the start-up power demands, particularly if you’re off-grid.  But with a soft starter, you can cook and cool at the same time.

What’s a Soft Starter?

A soft starter also allows you to run one or two AC units using your onboard inverter system. Without a soft starter, you may be unable to run any other appliances while the AC is running.  RVAC Solutions makes a small, light, Advanced Soft Starter (RVMS-100S-9A and RVMS-100S-16A) that’s easy to install without professional help. Weighing just a couple of pounds and smaller than a paperback book, it fits within the AC unit’s housing and can be installed in less than an hour. Each AC unit you intend to run will require its own Advanced Soft Starter. The RVAC Solutions Advanced Soft Starters allows you to enjoy the benefits of air conditioning while still having your other appliances running regardless of your power source. Order yours today!

Ready to Explore the U.S. on Wheels? Here are some ‘Can’t Miss’ RV Destinations

With over 13,000 campgrounds across the country to choose from, the options are endless. If you’re looking for a breath-taking hike, want to see the stars, get in some mountain biking, or hit the beach, here are some of the best campgrounds to pull up to and stay a while.

For Stargazers:

Dark sky parks are your best bet for catching a nighttime celestial show.

  • Chisos Basin Campground, Big Bend National Park, Texas. Surrounded by rocky cliffs at an elevation of 5,400 feet above sea level, the Chisos Basin Campground is the highest point in Big Bend National Park and boasts some superior hiking trails. With the least light pollution of any park in the country, Big Bend offers a stunning view of the night sky.
  • Many Glacier Campground, Glacier National Park, Montana. Along the Canadian border and featuring 700 miles of hiking trails, night skies here are amazing.
  • Trail’s End Campground, Superior National Forest, Minnesota. For those looking to catch a glimpse of the northern lights (best seen between September and March), Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the world’s largest dark sky sanctuary, is a good bet. Kayakers and canoers won’t be disappointed either.

For Mountain Bikers:

  • Lake George RV Park, Adirondack Region, Lake George, New York. From large parks and off-season ski resorts to individual trails, there are many places to go mountain biking at Lake George for beginners and experienced riders. While you’re there, don’t miss Lake George’s most famous cliff-jumping spot, Calve’s Pen, which is only accessible by boat.
  • Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island KOA, Michigan’s Wilderness State Park. Use this KOA as a base camp for easy access to over 26 miles of trails that offer different terrain types and many area attractions. You’re less than 2 miles from a Lake Michigan beach. Gorgeous night skies here as well.
  • Peak One Campground, White River National Forest, Frisco, Colorado. For those who don’t mind dry camping, biking enthusiasts will find more than 50 miles of scenic routes along the Summit County Recreation Pathway System. Climb 1500 feet to the top of Vail Pass. There are enough scenic paths to keep you busy for weeks.

For Hikers:

  • Bullards Beach State Park, Oregon Coast Trail, Bandon, Oregon. The stunning Oregon Coast Trail offers 362 miles of hiking with incredible Pacific Ocean views.
  • Yellowstone Trail RV Park, Pinedale, Wyoming. Located on the path to Yellowstone National Park, the Wind River Range, and Grand Teton National Park with access to the Continental Divide Trail and dozens of others. Lots of lakes and lots to do nearby this clean, well-maintained campground. 
  • Silver Falls State Park, Salem, Oregon. The Trail of Ten Falls’ 7.2-mile route takes hikers not past one but four waterfalls, including a walk behind the famous 177-foot South Falls. Enjoy the shade and serenity under a canopy of old-growth Douglas firs.
  • Harpers Ferry/Civil War Battlefields KOA, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry is the mid-way point of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. This makes for an excellent sample for hikers who want a taste of what the AT is like. This KOA has all the amenities you could want to relax after a day on the trails.

For Beach Lovers:

  • Leo Carrillo State Park Campground, Malibu, California. Enjoy the sound of crashing waves in this 135-site campground in a canyon behind South Beach. 1.5 miles of beach, tidal pools, and coastal caves and arches are a short walk. Nearby hiking trails offer panoramic views. 
  • South Beach Campground, Forks, Washington. Inside Olympic National Park, South Beach is one of the best and beachiest RV campgrounds around. You can park your RV on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, enjoy the sound of crashing surf, and spend the day exploring the park.
  • Cape Hatteras KOA Resort, Rodanthe, North Carolina. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Pamlico Sound on the other, you’re at the water’s edge. Lounge on the beach, catch some waves and enjoy some of the best surfing on the east coast. 

Ready to Head Off-Grid with Your RV? Here’s What You Need to Know

Are you inspired to try boondocking (RV slang for not having a power or water connection, also known as “dry camping.”)? Maybe watching Nomadland made you curious; you’re trying to save money, or you want a chance to visit some out-of-the-way sites without the crowds and congestion of traditional RV parks. Whatever the reason, we know two things to be true: going off-grid takes a bit of planning and preparation, and practice makes perfect.

Planning & Preparation:

Three significant things you’ll need to plan for are no power hook up, no fresh water, and no sewage hook up. Surviving without these requires some additional equipment.

  • Consider buying a generator, either gas or solar-powered, so you can charge your RV batteries and power various appliances.
  • Solar panels are a great add-on. They can be installed on our RV roof and connected to a battery, generator, and inverter.
  • Camp Stove or Portable Grill – smaller and larger options usually run off propane.
  • Portable Water Storage – a backup water supply is essential since most people run through their RV tanks faster than anticipated. Extra tanks can be stored out of the way and used when needed, and then refilled as necessary.
  • Portable sewage tank – enables you to clean out your RV, remove the tank, and drive it to a dump station.
  • Portable heater – even in the summer, mornings in the mountains can start pretty cool. Running a heater can wear down your RV battery. A portable heater allows you to heat just the space(s) you need while conserving your RV’s battery/gas.
  • A water filter assures that harmful chemicals and bacteria are removed from your water, whatever its source.
  • A well-thought-out medical kit/pharmacy in a bag. One of the downsides of off-grid travel/living is the distance to a hospital or medical care.
  • Tool/Repair Kit – things have a way of breaking or coming loose on an RV, but most things can be fixed with a few tools and some common sense. Include things like tape, caulk, and sealant.

Not essential, but nice to have equipment includes:

  • Signal booster for cell phone – not every place you camp will offer good cell phone service. If you want the convenience of the internet and good cell coverage, consider adding a cell phone signal booster.
  • Crockpot or Instant Pot – making a meal in one pot is efficient and saves space.
  • Plus, the meal options are endless with just a few pantry ingredients. Campfire cooking is fun and flavorful, but one-pot meals sure are convenient when you’ve been hiking all day.
  • Outdoor Rug – keeps your space clean, helps you track less dirt into your RV, and most can be cleaned with a hose.
  • Advanced Soft Starter for RV Air Conditioners – even off-grid, sometimes the heat and humidity can be too much to handle. RV AC units require a substantial amount of power to get running. A soft starter allows you to power up your AC units even when you’re running on an inverter or generator without a power hookup. Check out these best-sellers from RVAC Solutions.

Learn from Others:

One of the best resources for off-grid RVing is others who have or are doing it. There are a ton of RV community forums as well as videos, blogs, vlogs, and other resources out there. Connect with others for more tips on making the most of your boondocking experience. iRV2 Forums is a great place to start.

Practice Makes Perfect:

Once you’ve done your research and your planning and preparation are complete, it’s time to put your skills to the test. Schedule a long weekend away without hooking up. This can be in a traditional campground or even your driveway; just don’t hook up. Live off your tanks and batteries to get a good sense of what it will be like and how long you can go before you need to refill your water tanks and recharge your batteries.