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Old 05-07-2014, 06:50 PM   #1
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First month -- lessons learned and suggestions to other newbies

I received my Escape 21 on April 7 and have been traveling in it ever since. I've camped in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and am now in Utah. All but about about seven days have been without hookups, relying on solar power and the batteries for electricity. Here are some of the things I've found out:

- Towing - As I've mentioned in other threads, I tow with a Tacoma and weight-distributing hitch. This seems to be a perfect TV/trailer combination and the trailer tows very well, even in crosswinds. My Tacoma gets 20 mpg without the trailer, 13 mpg towing. I think that's pretty good. The Milano towing mirrors work fine, too.

...however: I've learned to beware of ornamental trees when parking the trailer curbside in a town. Such a tree gave me a good scrape on the passenger's side of the trailer; I was lucky not to lose my awning. I don't think this will happen again, as now I am aware.

- Layout and function - The Escape 21's interior is well designed. The bed is comfortable enough, though I am a restless sleeper. I may consider a topper at some point, but it's not necessary. I've found that I have no problems remaining in a confined space for weeks on end. I guess this is one less thing to worry about if I am eventually incarcerated.

- Holding tanks - the gray water tank is my limiter; I have to dump it after about a week. I am more of a "tourist" than a "camper" so far and spend quite a bit of time in the trailer, rarely using the campground's facilities. Some of this is intentional, just to see how long the tanks would last.

- Propane - I've filled a propane bottle four times; it costs about $15-$18 per fill. About three weeks of my month in the trailer has been in chilly, rainy weather, and I've used the furnace quite a bit. I suspect propane usage will decrease as the weather gets warmer.

- Electricity - A couple of weeks after receiving my trailer I had a second 100W solar panel installed by AM Solar in Springfield, Oregon. Two panels seem to be enough to support my electrical usage. I intend to submit a more detailed post on this after I have more data (i.e., after I buy a microwave and try to use it with the inverter).

Problems - My deadbolt lock failed. The manufacturer will send me a new one once I return to Florida. I seem to have a leaky bathroom faucet, but I'm not sure-- it is a wet bath, after all. I should know in a couple more days. Currently my fridge doesn't seem to be cooling as well as it did early on. I'll know more about this in a few days as well. Could be the way I use it. I've already learned to run it on propane, NOT 12V power.

Suggestions for those whose trailer is under construction:
- If you intend to do a lot of dry camping, consider buying a Bogart battery monitor and request ETI to install it. Knowing your electrical consumption is a necessary first step in determining if you need to augment your solar panel (if you get one).
- You might consider buying a rearview camera and ask ETI to install it. Also, if you are buying a tow vehicle, consider one with a backup camera. My Tacoma has one and it is invaluable for hitching up the trailer. For a person traveling alone, it is a godsend. For others, divorce is now a viable option.

If I think of anything else, I'll add more. So far I'm pretty happy with the Escape 21.

Mike Lewis
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:22 PM   #2
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Thanks for your highly informative post, Mike, especially for those of us waiting for or contemplating a 21'. I'm glad your first month in the new trailer is going so well.

Could you please identify which Bogart monitor you are using, the TriMetrics or the PentaMetric?

I look forward to your report on your two-panel solar array.
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:44 PM   #3
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Thanks Mike,

Great post. I'm looking at the E21 for next year and all this info really helps. As to how the ETI factory solar performs is of great interest to me. I'm a little sceptical of the components they use, and without a " good " battery monitor you don't know what's really going on.
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:47 PM   #4
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Please clarify "filled the propane bottle 4 times" are you saying the dual tanks have been filled twice, once at factory and again on the road? Thanks...
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Old 05-07-2014, 07:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Please clarify "filled the propane bottle 4 times" are you saying the dual tanks have been filled twice, once at factory and again on the road? Thanks...
Please do.
I had new tanks installed about a year after I got the trailer ( I had supplied my own old tanks - dumb ) and I've only had them filled a couple times since. I use propane for furnace and fridge. Also turn on water heater for about half an hour once a day. Not necessary to have it on all day.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:07 PM   #6
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The two propane tanks were full when I received the trailer (well, I presume they were). Since then, on four occasions, I have had a tank refilled. So I have used four tanks-full of propane so far. My excessive consumption, if that is what it is, may be due to cold weather and heavy use of the furnace. Or maybe it indicates a problem with the fridge. I'm new at this, so I don't know any better. Also, I normally don't leave the water heater on all the time, but sometimes I turn it on before I go to bed because I don't want to wait for it to heat water in the morning. I'm still learning the proper routine.

I'm not at the trailer right now, but when I'm back I'll check on the model of battery monitor that I have. Right now I'm at the one spot I discovered on Antelope Island where I can get a reliable cellphone signal for my wifi hotspot.

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Old 05-07-2014, 08:31 PM   #7
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Good summary

That does seem like quite a bit of propane used. I am lucky if I go through 4 bottles of propane a year, though we do conserve. Inside temperature is set down to 8-9°C (46-48°F) at night, though this is done mostly to conserve battery. We aren't cold at all, with lots of cuddles and warm blankets. The furnace is turned off during the daytime, unless we have to be inside for some reason, though that is rare.

In the 19, the water heater is right under my head, so it is turned off at night. It only takes 20 minutes to have hot enough water to use. We turn it off after breakfast until suppertime too, then it is on for a bit then. I imagine that it is on about 2 hours a day, tops.

Cooking probably consumes most of our propane.
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Old 05-07-2014, 08:56 PM   #8
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Last summer during a period of 22 days, we used three tanks of propane. Used furnace for a few nights, fridge was constantly on propane the entire trip, hot water heater and stove sporadically, BBQ usually twice per day, and fire bowl every couple of nights for an hour or two. I ran through propane usage calcs in a previous thread and it seemed to add up about right.

Your propane usage is quite plausible.
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Lewis View Post
I've found that I have no problems remaining in a confined space for weeks on end. I guess this is one less thing to worry about if I am eventually incarcerated.

...

- You might consider buying a rearview camera and ask ETI to install it. Also, if you are buying a tow vehicle, consider one with a backup camera. My Tacoma has one and it is invaluable for hitching up the trailer. For a person traveling alone, it is a godsend. For others, divorce is now a viable option.

Thanks Mike! (for the information, too...)
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:20 PM   #10
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The battery monitor is a Bogart Trimetric TM-2025-A, installed along with the second solar panel and a shunt near the batteries. A button cycles it through battery capacity, charge rate, and voltage. It was programmed at installation. I've learned a couple of things from it already:

- My truck's alternator charges the trailers batteries at a paltry rate of 400 milliamps. The installer told me this is not unusual for trailers, since the distance between the truck's alternator and the trailer's batteries is so far. In my case it must be over 35 feet.

- My fridge draws 14 amps on 12V power! Yowza! So I keep it on propane.

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