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Old 03-17-2021, 08:54 PM   #1
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Options for the DIY'er

I am getting very close to final build and want to gather comments on what options will net the best cost savings for the DIY'er. I've been reading this forum for several months about solar, insulation, HVAC, etc. I am a very capable mechanic and engineer, but I don't want to attempt things that are just better off left to a factory install. I want to save some money but I also don't want to get over-my-head or turn my new trailer into a hack-a-thon.



Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-17-2021, 09:29 PM   #2
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Can't tell you how many times people have posted that they should have gone with the factory installation of a system. DIY was a bunch of work and they didn't save any money.
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Old 03-17-2021, 09:38 PM   #3
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Yup,

Pay me now, or pay me in spades, with ample aggravation, later.
Get what you want, NOW.
The DIY projects will abound AFTER you get your rig, configured as you'd prefer it.


Anything, anything at all concerning routing wiring should be put in up front. That includes solar, TV stuff, whatever else is your mode of use.
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Old 03-17-2021, 09:44 PM   #4
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I may install my own surge suppressor. Installing the same system that Escape puts in might save $100. Not a lot, but since it's something I'm on the fence about ordering, I'm confident of leaving it off the build sheet. Knowing that I could install my own if I change my mind is a good place to start with these decisions. We currently have a Scamp and have done a number of small mods. These trailers lend themselves to small projects if you're comfortable doing, and get some satisfaction, from the work.
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Old 03-17-2021, 09:57 PM   #5
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I wouldn't, but that's me

I'm tickled my used rig came with the surge suppressor. $100 bucks?

Do as you please.


As a wise, kinda cranky old sage once passed along to me....."coffins don't have pockets". Enjoy things while you're here.
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Old 03-17-2021, 10:11 PM   #6
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Wink ... not to save money ...

I'm planning to use the 'DIY approach' in lieu of (ILO) several somewhat 'high-dollar' options that can be had from ETI:
  • Air conditioning (mini-split ILO ETI AC options)
  • Lithium battery and inverter/solar installation ILO the many ETI options for similar
  • Self-installed microwave
With the possible exception of the microwave I do not expect to save any money compared to the factory alternatives and I do anticipate a significant amount of time and effort expenditure on my part.

The gains I hope to achieve are installation, component, and operating features tailored to my particular wants and desires and which are substantively different from what ETI offers.

I've put a fair amount of effort in to researching, cost /effort estimating, and planning this stuff already. IMO if one is among the majority of folks who will be perfectly satisfied with what ETI offers (which IMO by-and-large is good (maybe not "best" by some measures) quality stuff which by most reports here functions as promised) there's lots of good value in taking the ETI options.

IMO on a straight apples-to-apples (equal-feature) comparison there's little to no likelihood of meaningful cost savings with DIY approaches, and there's no question if you include time and effort. IMO the only reason to DIY is if you strongly desire something substantively different from what ETI offers and are willing to pay for that in terms of dollars, time, and effort.

One person's considered opinion (YMMV), just for your consideration, have fun (don't sweat the little stuff )!

(yes, there's plenty of 'room' for small-project DIY stuff that can be quite worthwhile; e.g shelving/storage solutions, lighting upgrades, etc, etc; the forum is full of great posts and tips about such for those so-inclined; but those don't rise to a scale of economics that makes $ savings the 'driver' in my mind)
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Old 03-17-2021, 10:51 PM   #7
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Solar is a popular choice for many Escape owners. Some because the trailer they own just didn’t have it and others because they wanted to go their own way. If you have enough knowledge and you think the offered system is what you want\need order it with your trailer, if not plan and install your own system.
Many Escape owners replace the table or request Escape to deliver the trailer with the table uninstalled. There are few table support systems on the market that may work better for you.
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Old 03-17-2021, 11:40 PM   #8
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I enjoy doing modifications to our trailer just as much as I enjoy camping and using those modifications.

It is not always about saving money but doing something that better fits your camping style.

I think only you can determine if a feature or modification is within your scope.

You may find something you like and can do in the link below.

Good luck!
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Old 03-17-2021, 11:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggscape View Post
I enjoy doing modifications to our trailer just as much as I enjoy camping and using those modifications.

It is not always about saving money but doing something that better fits your camping style.

I think only you can determine if a feature or modification is within your scope.

You may find something you like and can do in the link below.

Good luck!
I know I found a few.
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Old 03-18-2021, 03:35 AM   #10
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We did our build sheet in about 5 minutes. We had a 17B prior so we knew what we wanted.

What I forgot to order, the surge protector and the detachable cord.

What I wished I had ordered. Solar prewire and a couple more outlets, specifically a USB by the bed in our 19.

------------------

I would like a simple combination USB, 12V outlet, Voltmeter unit in the upper cabinet somewhere but don't want to start pulling wires in a new trailer.
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Old 03-18-2021, 06:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shearwater View Post
I may install my own surge suppressor. Installing the same system that Escape puts in might save $100. Not a lot, but since it's something I'm on the fence about ordering, I'm confident of leaving it off the build sheet. Knowing that I could install my own if I change my mind is a good place to start with these decisions. We currently have a Scamp and have done a number of small mods. These trailers lend themselves to small projects if you're comfortable doing, and get some satisfaction, from the work.
Because of the conditions in some of the campgrounds I have stayed in, and the sensitivity of electronic components, I would NOT be without a surge suppressor as it verifies “safe” power after plugging in, and will shut down if voltage goes too high or too low.
In the 5.0TA, ETI installs the surge suppressor’s readout over the refrigerator. Having installed a switch to control the electrical element of my water heater without going outside, I can tell you that routing of wires to that location is no picnic. If ETI would have run the 120 VAC wire and installed a switch for the water heater (they wouldn’t at that time), I would have gladly paid $100 to avoid the aggravation. Unless you intend to Mount the readout in another location, I would reconsider the $100 “savings.” I have done a lot of mods to my 5.0TA; some have been enjoyable and a source of satisfaction. Others have been a PITA and a source of frustration. In many cases, mods which involve wiring have been a PITA. The one exception was installing my own inverter. I wanted 2,000 watts and ETI installs a 1,500 watt inverter. Because it is inside the rear bench of the wrap-around dinette, access and routing was easy. But the inverter was an afterthought. I didn’t think I wanted one when I composed my build sheet. Had I done so, I might have asked if they would have installed a higher capacity inverter. I typically use it very little. It will run my 1,500 watt coffee maker if we are not connected to shore power and if we stop at a rest area for lunch, the microwave oven.
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:03 AM   #12
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Old 03-18-2021, 07:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Effie View Post
There are few table support systems on the market that may work better for you.

Effie - can you point me in the right direction here? This is one I did not consider. Thanks!


David
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
I'm planning to use the 'DIY approach' in lieu of (ILO) several somewhat 'high-dollar' options that can be had from ETI:
  • Air conditioning (mini-split ILO ETI AC options)

Alan - I am gettting the E19, so AC requirements can vary greatly, what AC unit/system are you looking at?
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:01 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the great response! Really looking forward to joining this community "for real" in the next couple of months.
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Old 03-18-2021, 08:54 AM   #16
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I'm not planning any options by myself to save money. I am thinking to do two things because I want to do it differently from how ETI does it:


1) I want to install my own solar panels and solar charge controller, because I want stick on panels and I want an MPPT controller.
2) I will probably put on my own AC unit, because I think there is a better option than the two ETI offers.
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Old 03-18-2021, 09:02 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlandman View Post
Alan - I am getting the E19, so AC requirements can vary greatly, what AC unit/system are you looking at?
Please see this thread wherein rubicon327 (Dave) details his installation of a minisplit AC unit in his own E19, another member's E21, and with contributions by at least one other member (jphil23462) about his 5.0TA minisplit installation: Custom Air Conditioning Retrofit

IMO that excellent thread, in its entirety, should be required reading for anyone considering that undertaking; Dave is the innovating pioneer of this mod for Escape trailers .

In that thread Dave touches on things that can be specified in a 'new build sheet' IF one intends to do the minisplit DIY from the get-go. In my case that 'preparation' includes a customized cut-out in the rear OH cabinet and complete elimination of the rear roof-vent shell and headliner cutout (both which ETI has agreed to accommodate on my build sheet).

Have fun!
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Old 03-18-2021, 09:08 AM   #18
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There were two things that were important to me, when working on my build sheet.

I never wanted to fish wires under the vinyl. If you are the same, but want to add some 12 volt appliances/lights, etc. have wire drops OR the plugs added during the build.

I never wanted to run propane lines/fittings. That's why I had Ten Forward built with a propane quick connect outside. YMMV
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Old 03-18-2021, 10:07 AM   #19
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Regarding the table support systems -- there are two options that are very popular with Escape owners: The Lagun and the Springfield pedestal system.

The Springfield is quick and easy to raise and lower, so quite useful if you often convert the dinette table for sleeping. It is also more stable than the standard two-leg arrangement.

The Lagun has an offset leg that removes the obstruction of any leg directly under the table where your feet go. Also provides room for dogs to sleep under the table area. We bought and installed the Lagun and love it in our 21 with U-shaped dinette.

You can find threads herein regarding installation of each, but the good news is I believe each of these is now available as an option on new build trailers directly from Escape.

Good luck with your quest,

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Old 03-18-2021, 10:25 AM   #20
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As has been stated...let ETI run any wires you think you might want. I installed a Victron BMV-712 and thought I could easily attach the display cable to ETI's battery monitor wiring. NOT! That wiring went in/out of small cavities between the shower wall and the kitchen area and then in very tight spaces under the stove and sink. I finally had to find an easier route thru the upper storage bins and down the rear corner of the trailer.
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