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Old 10-26-2020, 10:46 AM   #1
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Assorted questions about options

Sorry for the deluge, but we are novices and appreciate guidance from more experienced users.

1) I am tempted to upgrade to lithium batteries because of their reduced weight and greater discharge capacity. They are, however, pretty expensive. Have others found these to be a good investment?

2) What are the advantages/disadvantages of a removable power cord?

3) What are the advantages/disadvantages of the SeeLevel II tank monitoring system?

4) Is the investment in a solar panel reasonable when most of our stops will be at sites with electric hookup? There will be occasional nights with no hookups, but those should be rare.

Thanks to all who comment.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:25 AM   #2
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1) For our style of camping , I cannot justify the cost of lithium batteries
The standard lead acid batteries have met our needs

2) We had the standard power cord on our Casita and have the removable cord on our Escape . Much prefer the removable cord .
Yes , you could forget the cord and leave it behind but that is also possible with a thousand other things

3). The tank monitor system on our Escape works sporadically and gives mostly erroneous readings
I know of no one that has a trailer tank monitoring system that is consistently accurate
I would not devote a bunch of money to any system that may or may not work

4) Solar is a genuine asset if you camp off grid / boondock but if you always camp with hookups then it’s just adding weight , cost and taking up space
I would try camping without it and see how it goes . You can always add a portable solar panel at a later date
I
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:57 AM   #3
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Pretty much ditto except for the power cord.

I've had removable cords on my last two trailers and on this one I didn't order one. I've done the conversion previously so not ordering the factory one was no biggie.

But this summer I was packing up in the rain in a slightly muddy site with the power post about 5' away. The thought did cross my mind that I only had to wipe dry 5' of cord, not coil up and wipe dry 25'. Probably won't do the conversion.

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Old 10-26-2020, 12:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
1) For our style of camping , I cannot justify the cost of lithium batteries
The standard lead acid batteries have met our needs

2) We had the standard power cord on our Casita and have the removable cord on our Escape . Much prefer the removable cord .
Yes , you could forget the cord and leave it behind but that is also possible with a thousand other things

3). The tank monitor system on our Escape works sporadically and gives mostly erroneous readings
I know of no one that has a trailer tank monitoring system that is consistently accurate
I would not devote a bunch of money to any system that may or may not work

4) Solar is a genuine asset if you camp off grid / boondock but if you always camp with hookups then its just adding weight , cost and taking up space
I would try camping without it and see how it goes . You can always add a portable solar panel at a later date
I
I agree with Steve on three out of four. I do not think solar adds that much weight and if the batteries are at all depleted, they will be getting charged when you are driving to your next location, unless it is pouring rain or extremely cloudy. The fixed panel is not likely to be stolen, but a portable panel could be.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:07 PM   #5
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First, thanks to all who are taking time to help us learn. It is not clear to me what advantage a removable power cord brings. Ron's reply mentions having to deal with less wet/muddy cable, but I don't know if he is referring to a fixed or a removable one. In either case, can't you just expose only as much cord as is needed to reach the site plug?
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:08 PM   #6
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I would also agree with what has been said. On the power cord I wondered why you would want it removable anyway? The reason given was one less area a creature can climb into, makes sense to me.
I would be sure you had the trailer at least pre wired for solar, we bought our Escape used and that was one of the things I wish the original owner had done.

No matter what you will LOVE your new home on wheels.

Enjoy the journey,
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:20 PM   #7
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The attached power cord from the factory pulls out of a little fingered hole...all 25 feet...if you are luck. There is a lot of luck involved that the 25 feet you push in does not get all tangled up behind the trailer wall. If it does in a 19 you have lift the bed or lay on the floor to fix it.

With two normal batteries during the summer we are good for 3 to 4 days in one spot without power or solar.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:33 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bobwirtz View Post
Sorry for the deluge, but we are novices and appreciate guidance from more experienced users.

1) I am tempted to upgrade to lithium batteries because of their reduced weight and greater discharge capacity. They are, however, pretty expensive. Have others found these to be a good investment?

2) What are the advantages/disadvantages of a removable power cord?

3) What are the advantages/disadvantages of the SeeLevel II tank monitoring system?

4) Is the investment in a solar panel reasonable when most of our stops will be at sites with electric hookup? There will be occasional nights with no hookups, but those should be rare.

Thanks to all who comment.
#1, I know nothing
#2, I've heard the advantages, still ordered an attached one as that's what I had in the 15A and it worked just fine, never tangled, no critters, and better yet, no need to store it somewhere else.
#3, no idea
#4, the solar panel kept my battery full over four cloudy days when I was using mostly heater and fridge and lights and keeps it full when stored outside with no need for battery charging. I'm happy to have it and not have to worry about batteries most of the time. Even if you almost always have hookups having solar means you aren't locked into that. I mostly do, too, but I may give up my powered site to a friend for a November trip and I am confident I'll be okay doing that as long as I'm in at least partial sun (or partial natural light.)
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:37 PM   #9
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Great questions, thanks for posting. We too are waiting on delivery of a new Escape. We started our RV phase of camping with a Little Guy Silver Shadow teardrop. Very nice for a stick built, sold it last year when we upgraded to a Scamp 16. The teardrop had a removeable power cord, the Scamp had a retractable. I'm probably split 49/51 leaning toward the removeable when we submit our build sheet. We're normally northern campers, so critters and such are not much worry but in 2019 we did a swing through the deep south with the teardrop. While stopped in Memphis, I noticed ants swarming all over the camper, but none got in to either the sleeping area or the galley. I wonder what would have happened with the retractable cord. On the other hand, wrapping up the wet, muddy cord and stuffing into our storage box was always a bit of a pain. The only issue we had with the retractable cord on the Scamp was that it would occasionally start to snake out the opening while we were underway. The door never really latched tightly. We'd always catch it before more than a foot or so escaped.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:16 PM   #10
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1) From my understanding, financially the lithium will be cheaper in the long run as they need to be replaced much less often. I haven't researched it enough to say more.

4) Solar will also keep your batteries charged in storage (assuming there is sunlight), which is better for lead acid batteries. Maybe less/no issue with lithium - much less self-discharge.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by bobwirtz View Post
Sorry for the deluge, but we are novices and appreciate guidance from more experienced users.
.......

There will be occasional nights with no hookups, but those should be rare.
One might wonder how, as novices, you can be so confident of your long-term use habits (assuming you view the trailer investment as long-term)?

But, if indeed you are confident about the rarity of non-hookup camping, then both lithium batteries and solar are expenses you can forego, IMO. Both are. after all. for the specific purpose of supporting off-hookup camping. You can maybe better apply those substantial funds to hookup fees.
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Re: power cord ... I've had a trailer with a permanently attached power cord for 15+ years. Yep, pull-out only as much cord as needed; can count the number of times I've suffered a 'tangle' that interferes with pull-out or stashing on one hand in those 15 years (and always easily resolved with a bit of cord-shaking from outside the trailer).

If it's wet / muddy a cord is gonna get wet/muddy whether attached or not; in such conditions you quickly learn to keep a rag for the purpose of 'wiping as stashing' whichever type you have it would seem. I've never suffered an insect-invasion problem, a piece of foam kept to jam in the gap at the port has always worked.

Some obviously find the removable cord convenient for whatever reasons. Personally I'm not sure I understand the convenience of always having a 25' cord outside the trailer considering how few times I pull-out even a fraction of 25'. With a removable cord that unused footage has to be set-outside (presumably a roll laid under the trailer on the ground?), exposing it to dirt and wet/mud?

IMO the 'functional' pros-and-cons of the two cord types are a 'wash' - it gets down to personal preference not a particularly overwhelming functional difference.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:42 PM   #12
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My thoughts are to go with the the attached ford. You can always buy an extension cord if you don't want to pull the cord out. I have had both, just one thing that stays with the unit and won't be forgotten.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobwirtz View Post
Ron's reply mentions having to deal with less wet/muddy cable, but I don't know if he is referring to a fixed or a removable one. In either case, can't you just expose only as much cord as is needed to reach the site plug?
Yes, I was referring to the attached cord. Pull out what you need. I have had to deal with a wet, muddy 25' removable cord and it is a bit of a nuisance to wipe clean and dry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggscape View Post
The attached power cord from the factory pulls out of a little fingered hole...all 25 feet...if you are luck. There is a lot of luck involved that the 25 feet you push in does not get all tangled up behind the trailer wall. If it does in a 19 you have lift the bed or lay on the floor to fix it.
I've never had to pull the full length out. The one thing that I've never liked about the fixed cord is pushing it back in the hole with all the wiring in that area.

I made a containment box with an easily removable lid. That stops the cord from hitting any of the wiring in the area and allows for access in case of a jam. I've only used it 4 times so far this past summer and the most that I had to push in was about 10' but jam ups haven't been a problem.

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Old 10-26-2020, 01:45 PM   #14
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I prefer the removable power cord, but there are just as many that prefer the attached. I like the fact that there is one less opening for mice & insects, and the cord doesn't take up inside storage space or get tangled.

As to lithium & solar, if you do lots of dry camping, they both make sense.

I have a pair of Battleborn lithium batteries & love them. That said, if most of your camping is with hookups, they are not worth the cost. If you winter camp in below freezing weather, you must have them above 32F to charge & above -4F to discharge.

I've had solar on both my trailers, and wouldn't be without it. While I enjoy dry camping, going as long as 91 days in a row, there are also times that having solar for those that usually stay in campgrounds can find it useful. No hook ups available? you can be comfortable in a tent site, overflow areas, etc. It gives you some options. You may also change your camping style in the future.

Escape's price for solar is mid range - you could install it yourself later for less, but if you need to have someone do it for you, it will likely cost more. You might just ask for a solar port, and if you decide to add solar, do it with a portable panel(s).
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:10 PM   #15
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One thing about batteries specifically and 'future growth' ... it's usually recommended that all batteries in a system be the 'same age' so they have comparable behavior both in discharge and recharge modes. IOW if you get 'one' battery and then decide you want 'two' (or more) you'll likely end-up replacing the 'one' you already have even though it may have a lot of life left in it. This holds for all battery types but particularly those darned-expensive lithium.

So, think hard about that battery choice and whatever type you choose it's probably best to anticipate the number of batteries you'll eventually want as best as you can, IMO.
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:46 PM   #16
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While stopped in Memphis, I noticed ants swarming all over the camper, but none got in to either the sleeping area or the galley. I wonder what would have happened with the retractable cord.
After seeing what a swarm of ants did to my wife's car in South Carolina that was parked for a couple of days I wouldn't even want to think about if they decided to march up the power cord into a trailer. Her passenger door sill (probably 3" wide by 3.5' long) was completely packed with small ants. Had to be in the tens of thousands. One of the first projects I did upon purchase of used trailer was to convert the fixed cord and cheap plastic opening to a removable cord.
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:55 PM   #17
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i know very little about batteries decided to go with two stock but might up grade when these fail. i would only get a removable power cord- i don't want a place bugs could get into my trailer and crawl up my leg - bugs are fine outside don't like them inside. I love solar on the roof nothing to mess with really nice to have when you are not plugged in.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:04 PM   #18
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Only additional comments is re the power cord. We went with the external plug in cord as otherwise it is almost impossible to keep the mice out when the trailer is stored in winter. I speak from experience with other trailers.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:13 PM   #19
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Only additional comments is re the power cord. We went with the external plug in cord as otherwise it is almost impossible to keep the mice out when the trailer is stored in winter. I speak from experience with other trailers.

Maybe other trailers. I've found no evidence of mice in 12 years. Trailer is kept in the driveway. A half dozen earwigs took up residence once, at the hole for the cord, which I had stuffed with a rag.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:50 PM   #20
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3) What are the advantages/disadvantages of the SeeLevel II tank monitoring system?
The standard tank level monitoring system uses conductive probes (basically just bolts) which are not reliable because the probe gets dirty and stops conducting. There are only three level probes (plus a reference probe at the bottom), so even when it works the monitor can only show level in four steps (less than 1/3, 1/3 to 2/3, 2/3 to 3/3, and full).

The SeeLevel system uses sensors on the outside of the tank which determine the presence of liquid by capacitance; they are not significantly affected by crud on the inside of the tank wall. The sensors detect the level with good resolution, showing the level as a percentage of full. The disadvantages are that it is much more expensive, and potentially prone to electronic failure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
3). The tank monitor system on our Escape works sporadically and gives mostly erroneous readings
I know of no one that has a trailer tank monitoring system that is consistently accurate
I would not devote a bunch of money to any system that may or may not work
I understand Steve's logic, but SeeLevel is not a "may or may not work" system - it works. There is very little experience with it in this forum because the option is new at Escape, so no one has received an Escape trailer with it yet. There is at least one custom SeeLevel installation by an Escape owner:
New Tank Monitor

My comments from an earlier discussion still apply:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
I think about the only certain thing is that a SeeLevel system will provide a better indication of tank level. This isn't a random experiment or unproven gadget; it's a fundamentally more effective - but more complex and expensive - alternative.

I don't think RV manufacturers such as Escape use the simple probes because there is any question that systems such as SeeLevel are better; they use the simple probes and corresponding panels because they are the best value for typical customers.

There are other industrial level measurement technologies, too, but the SeeLevel design seems best suited to the application.
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