Gulf Islands National Seashore Fort Pickens Campground

Preparing for our fulltime RV journey required a great deal of research. During the research we discovered a few products we thought we would need. In this post I am going to talk about how many of those products are working out.

Staying connected is important to us. On the road WIFI is really not reliable. Most of the places we have stayed have not offered WIFI. The one place that did offer WIFI we found it to be pretty much worthless. So, we are left to using our cell service to provide WIFI through a hotspot. After trying the two biggest cell phone companies one involving two letters of the alphabet the other rhymes with horizon, I found that their claims for “unlimited” data was simply not true. So, we switched to T-Mobile. During our last billing cycle, we used 91 gigs of data. Try that with those other companies! This was the largest data use we have had; this was primarily because we had a busted TV antenna for a couple of weeks and was streaming live TV. Our plan gives each of us 15 gigs of data on our phones and we have a tablet we use as a hotspot with 50 gigs of data. We used 11 gigs over and it was never throttled. I am very happy with T-Mobile. If you are convinced and switch to T-Mobile please tell them I sent you.

Partnered with our cell service we purchased a cell booster. We bought the SureCall Fusion2Go-RV Cell Phone Signal Booster Kit for RVs. This system can be used in your tow vehicle and or your RV. On a travel day we use the booster in the truck. This allows us to have a strong cell signal and hotspot in the truck so that our phones have a good WIFI signal. When we arrive at our destination, I bring the booster into the RV for the same reason. Right now, where we are setup, we are getting one bar and it is not very useful. But using the SureCall Fusion2Go we get four to five bars and can easily stream video. So far, we have been able to stream video everywhere we have been using this system. The system has an antenna for the outside and one for the inside.  It came with two outside antenna and two inside antenna. There is an outside antenna which is mounted to the roof of the RV and one which has a magnetic mount which is on the truck. I only use one of the inside antennas. One is for general distribution of a signal in a small area. I have not found this antenna to work very well. The other antenna is called a “candy bar.” It is about the size of a small Hershey’s Chocolate bar. I mount it on the back of the tablet with Velcro. The tablet then broadcast a good WIFI signal throughout the truck or RV.  I am very happy with this product.

It’s nice to have power on the road. While I’m comfortable with our very small home and a simpler downsized life I am not ready to give up electricity and the conveniences it provides. However, we do want to be able to camp off the grid for extended periods of time. So, we installed a solar system. There is a lot of stuff required to install a complete system, but I will just mention the four major parts, batteries, power inverter, solar panels, and charge controller.  We installed three Vmax Tank AGM 155-amp hour batteries. This gives me 232.5 usable amp hours. Lithium batteries are the best choice but I have about half of the cost of one 100-amp hour lithium battery invested in my three AGM batteries and so far, they are performing very well.  I went with a 2000w GoWISE Power PS1003 Pure SINE Wave Inverter.  This is a budget friendly inverter and has been performing quite well. I ordered my solar panels from BHA Solar. This is a family operated business owned by a full time RVer. We have 700 watts of solar. There are four 175w panels in the system. The kit came with a Morningstar TriStar MPPT solar charge controller. I am very happy with this system. We have not been off grid for more than three days at a time yet but so far, the system is doing what I need it to do. We have been booncrackin (my term for spending the night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.) several times. We have had enough energy to watch a few hours of TV, run my C-Pap all night and brew a pot of coffee with the drip coffee maker the next morning.

We like our ice. Our refrigerator/freezer is so small it could barely manage a couple of ice trays. So, we got ourselves an Igloo Countertop Ice Maker. It makes ice quicker than I would have believed possible and is more than able to keep up with our demand. In order to increase or refrigeration capacity we purchased a Coleman 12v cooler. This cooler is performing well and has made a big difference. It would be well worth the regular price. I picked up the cooler unused at a Salvation Army Thrift Store for $15. What a deal!

We have had much more cold weather than I would prefer. Even here on the Gulf Coast we had temperatures in the low thirties yesterday morning. We had snow in Kentucky and low twenties in South Dakota. How do we stay warm? If we have electric hookup, we use our Lasko Electric Space Heater. This is a small ceramic heater with a blower. This little guy does a great job. If we don’t have electric hookup, we use a Mr. Heater Buddy Radiant Propane Heater. It too does a great job. Most of the time one of these options have been enough to keep us cozy. The RV has a furnace but it requires propane and electric and is not efficient and is too noisy. The space heaters are a much better choice for us.

Finally, if you have been reading my blog you know that somewhere In Kentucky, we lost our TV antenna. Not sure where or why but it’s gone. I replaced it with a King Jack Antenna. First, I should say that the installation was not complicated at all. The hardest part was climbing the ladder followed by cleaning off all the Dicore from the old antenna. I am very happy with this antenna. It doesn’t have to be raised and lowered, which is a plus. It has a signal strength indicator so as you rotate the antenna you can easily see where the strongest signal is. The King Jack works very well and looks a lot cooler on the RV than the old-style bat wing antenna.I am happy with the performance of each of these products. Each in their own way makes life a little bit better on the road.


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