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90 Minutes

Our new Magnum inverter arrived Wednesday afternoon, but it was way too hot (high 90s) to install it.

Footprint and functionally (both are 2000W inverters) the Magnum MS2000 and the Freedom inverter/charger are nearly identical:

MS2000 vs Freedom Inverter/Charger

 

However, the MS2000 is pure sine wave while the Freedom is modified sine wave.

So . . . we scheduled the inverter swap for early Thursday morning when the heat is not so intense.

The morning replace and install went like clockwork . . . 90 minutes total . . .

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By the way, this is the 5th time I’ve done this on our Newmar:

  1. Removed original Freedom. Installed first Magnum MS2000. (2011)
  2. Removed MS2000 because it failed. Re-installed Freedom. (2012)
  3. Re-installed refurbished MS2000 after warranty repair. (2012)
  4. Removed refurbished MS2000 after it failed again. Re-installed Freedom again. (2018)
  5. Installed the new, second MS2000. (2018)

Fifth time is the charm, eh?

 

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Old is the New New

Our old inverter is now our new inverter

So it’s early afternoon. We’re chillin’ in the RV . . . I’m computing, Jan’s reading one of The Expanse books.

Then we hear a very loud noise that sounds as if one of our air conditioners fell off the roof. (BTW, that’s not what happened.)

It was the sound of our generator starting up. This happens when the voltage in our batteries drops precipitously. And that’s just what happened.

Our inverter/charger failed — well, the battery charger half crapped out.

So for maybe an hour or so we were running off our batteries and drawing them down, down, down until our AGS (Automatic Generator Starter) kicked in and fired up the generator. Voila!

Thank god I kept our old inverter . . . a venerable and dependable Heart Freedom circa 2001.

Two hours later I had pulled out the Magnum MS2000 and installed the Freedom. For the nerds, I also had the swap out Magnum’s high-tech ME-ARC control panel with the Freedom’s basic remote control. Easy peasy as both remotes are the same size and connect to the inverter via a phone line.

A new Magnum is on order because it’s a Pure Sine Wave (PSW) inverter while the Freedom is a Modified Sine Wave (MSW). Basically, the difference between a PSW and MSW inverters is that a PSW is gentler on electronics.

New Magnum will be here in a few days. Oh joy.

This is the 3rd time I’ve done this inverter swap

 

Hot Springs, Hot RV

But first, the Photo of the Week . . .

Dog Shoes. Wear ’em when it’s hot!

 

HOT SPRINGS

We took a road trip the last week of May to a geothermal site near Mammoth Lakes . . . just up Highway 395 from Bishop.

Hot Springs Trip (click on photo to enlarge)

We learned about the hot springs from a recent edition of the Escapees magazine. Just Jan and I went because we didn’t want our Golden Retriever around really really hot water.

Anyway, some photos from our day trip . . .

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And a short movie . . .

 

 

HOT RV

Why do air conditioners always break in Summer and not in Winter? Riddle me that.

A few days ago while the Bishop temperatures hovered in the mid-90s, our front 6-year-old Dometic Penguin II AC started behaving badly. Its compressor would stay on for 6 minutes, then go off for 4 minutes . . . over and over like clockwork. Although the AC fan stayed on, for 6 minutes we’d have cold air, but then warm air for 4 minutes. That made for not-so-good cooling, and the temperature inside our RV started climbing.

I looked for help on a couple of online RV forums, and received a promising solution from someone I was familiar with. He said to disable the “freeze thermistor” — essentially, cutting the “blue wire”.

So I schlepped onto our RV roof, removed the front RV shroud and cut the blue wire . . .

Naked AC

 

Which Wire Did He Say?

 

After putting everything back together again, I climbed off the roof and went inside to fire up the AC again. However, this message appeared on our thermostat:

Quick! Run!

From the Dometic Penguin II manual:

Open circuit or out of range Freeze Sensor. Air conditioner and dehumidification operation will be locked out. Heat pump, furnace, heat strip and fan operation can continue to operate but displays the last temperature set-point.

In Ordinary Speak, it’s broke. While the rear (bedroom) AC works fine, the front AC is now completely dead.

Super. It’s late afternoon now and the heat of the day is peaking. Inside, our RV is hot as hell now because I’ve had both ACs off for some time. We need coolness . . . fast!

Solution: a “swamp cooler” . . .

Our Swamp Cooler

 

We picked up the only one left at a nearby hardware store. For those of you not familiar with evaporative (or “swamp”) coolers, they’re basically a desert thing. These coolers only work in hot, dry environments because they operate by evaporating water from a porous material by blowing air over that material. Simple and relatively cheap. Swamp coolers are not as “cooling” as ACs, but in a pinch, they’ll do.

So . . . we now had AC in our bedroom and a swamp cooler up front.

We spent the rest of the day calling RV repair places to find out AC replacement and installation costs . . . between $1500 and $2100. Ouch!

Finally, as a last ditch effort, I went back up on the roof and reconnected the “blue wire” I had cut previously.

Eureka! Front AC is back on again . . . no error messages . . . and it’s been running continuously (no 6 on, 4 off nonsense) since I “fixed” it.

Fingers crossed.

 

The Expanse Renewed for Another Season

The Crew of the Roci

Say what?

If you’re not a fan of the SyFy channel TV series The Expanse, bear with.

But for fans of the show . . . Amazon — in fact Jeff Bezos himself — announced tonight that there will be a 4th season of this futuristic television series. Two seasons of the show (and a 3rd in progress) have aired on the SyFy channel.

 

However, SyFy cancelled the series about two weeks ago. But fans of the show (like yours truly), signed petitions, wrote letters, flew airplane banners over Amazonsent a miniature spaceship into space , and George R. R. Martin in an attempt to save the show.

It worked!

What fans love about the series is its excellent writing. The show is based on a series of novels by James S. A. Corey. In addition, the ensemble cast brings the books to life with the most credible dialogue I’ve listened to in years.

If you’re not a fan, give it a try. Watch episodes on SyFy or iTunes. Here’s a fan-made trailer for The Expanse . . .

Product Review — Hughes Power WatchDog

The Box

At first blush, Hughes’ Power WatchDog looks like a great way to remotely monitor your RV’s power pedestal hookup.

Unboxing

In fact, the Power WatchDog smartphone app (iPhone in my case) monitors the voltage and amperage on both power legs (L1 and L2) plus the total watts your RV is using. Very slick.

Smartphone App

However, there’s a catch: Since the Power WatchDog uses Blue Tooth (and not WiFi), its range is limited — about 200 feet maximum. If you go any further (or even sometimes when you’re in range), you’ll get this smartphone app notification:

Oops

FYI — I received this message so often that I turned off the sound for Power WatchDog notifications . . . which essentially nullified any protection the device offered.

The 200-foot maximum range caught me by surprise. I knew the Hughes device used Blue Tooth networking, but I thought there might be a way to connect it to the Internet via WiFi. Because, for me, with a range of only a few hundred feet, the Power WatchDog is useless.

Consider: while the Power WatchDog will alert you if it finds an electrical error (see NOTE below), it can only tell you that there is a problem. It can’t disconnect your RV from the power source like a more expensive Surge Guard (now Southwire) or Progressive Industries unit both of which offer remote displays to monitor power conditions:

Surge Guard (Southwire) Remote Display

 

Progressive Unit with Remote Display

However, at $144 for the 50A Hughes Power WatchDog model, it ain’t cheap. Instead, I would suggest the Hughes $15 voltage meter :

It works

NOTE: Like previous Hughes documentation I’ve read, the Power WatchDog’s 1-page manual (PDF) is short on details. It doesn’t tell you what electrical errors will trigger a smartphone notification.