Monday, September 10, 2012

Suburban Propane Furnace Digital Thermostat Upgrade

My original plan was to upgrade both the AC and Furnace thermostats to digital controls, but after several camping trips, I realized that we barely touch or adjust the AC temperature knob. We usually set it on maximum coldness at all times, especially during summer it's not worth upgrading it in my opinion, at least for now. In contrary, the furnace analog thermostat control needs constant temperature adjustment to make you comfortable inside your rig. It is very inconsistent in regulating the temperature inside the RT, you either get too hot or too cold in-between/during cycling.

I opted for the ICM SC1600L Heat Only battery operated digital thermostat with backlit (Amazon link: ICM SC1600L Heat Only Thermostat). It has a simple slide-on switch and big backlit LCD display, plus it's made in the USA. The stat measures 4.6 inch (W) x 3.75 inch (L) x 1.12 inch (H), it fits perfectly to the analog stat original location. The battery (x2 AA) should last for about a year as per owners manual, which isn't bad. It's a simple upgrade, all you need to do is connect the red and white wires from the furnace to the new stat.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Upgrading Dometic Fridge External Cooling Fans with Bypass Switch Installed

The 3-way fridge upper exhaust vent on Agile's and RS's is mounted lower than the top of condenser coil, making it not very effective in venting heat, an external fan(s) is really needed to assist with cooling. Our Dometic Fridge came with 2 (92-mm) external cooling fans forcing air to the condenser cooling fins, it runs rather noisy and draws too much power at around 0.36 amps each. The fans are controlled by a thermostat switch mounted to the condenser coil. The fans automatically turns on when it reaches a preset temp in the condenser coil , then turns itself off when condenser coil cools down.

I replaced both fans with a bigger (120-mm) and more efficient fans. I found one at our local Fry's Electronic store, it's made by Silenx (Amazon link: Silenx Effizio 120mm) . Current draw is only listed as 0.09 amp, very quiet at  12 dBA, and moves a decent amount of air at 44 CFM airflow (more specs. pictured below). I also added a bypass switch wired in parallel with the thermostat switch, this way I can run both fans continuously if I wanted.

Before starting, make sure to disconnect the fridge from 120-volt and 12-volt power supply. Measure if a bigger fan(s) will fit the back of your fridge, the 120mm fan is a perfect fit on mine. Remove the stock fans. Install a bypass switch and a 12-volt inline fuse (optional). Install the new fans using L-brackets (see pictures of install below).

Parts lists that you might need:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Folding Mattress for Sprinter Front Seats

The mattress fits across the 2 front seats. A 1/2 inch plywood is used for the mattress support with a 2-inch high density foam topping for comfort. The bed is 61-inches long and 24-inches wide unfolded. When folded, it measures about 30.5-inches long x 24-inches wide. It's perfect for a child or short adult. I store it behind the driver seat when not in use. If you need a longer bed, try this DIY aisle bed: Click here

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Aisle Bed in Roadtrek Agile

RT Agile rear convertible seat/king size bed can comfortably sleep 2 adults. With our two small kids, there is no way we all fit on the rear bed. The bed can fit three the most, 2 adults and a small child should be fine. When camping, I always ended up sleeping on the floor using a camping self- inflatable mattress. It's okay, but the floor gets really cold during winter or cold season camping, not to mention cleaning the floor thoroughly before laying your mattress or you end up with a dirty blanket and pillow in the morning.

The only available space you can put a 2nd bed/mattress is on the galley floor or on top of the 2 front seats. I believe Sportsmobile does make a foldaway mattress accross the sprinter 2 front seats. I did make one myself, try this link Click here. The problem with the front seats bed is the limited 62 inches length, this is okay for a child. To sleep an adult, a longer bed is needed. The galley floor has limited space, so off-the-shelf cot/ camping bed obviously will not fit.

I used our old folding table frame as a bed support. The frame is made of high strength steel and can hold an adult weight without a problem. The bed can be folded when not in use and can be stored behind the drivers seat.

The finished bed.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Most Compact and Lightweight Portable Camp Chair

I've been looking for a compact camp chair that we can use during camping trips. The old full-sized folding chairs we have were bulky, heavy and took up a lot of space in the RV. After doing some extensive research online, I finally found this...the "Alite Mantis " chair. I have tried many compact chairs at our local stores, but none of them is more compact, comfortable, and lightweight as the "Alite Mantis". This chair is so small when folded and tucked inside it's carrying pouch; it is just a little taller but less in diameter than a 2 liter soda bottle. Chair sets up easily using a strong aluminum hub and pole system similar to the design found in many lightweight tents. The seat and poles seem to be very well constructed and very durable. Needless to say, this chair rocks!

Some things to consider: Chair sits low to the ground and might be a problem to some people getting out of the chair especially to someone with back problems, but I find it to be very comfortable with a relaxed position. Price point, it is more expensive than other compact chairs on the market, but you pay for the quality, construction, and design of this chair.

Here are the specs:
Unfolded:     (H x W x D) 29 x 21 x 22 inches
Folded:        (Diameter x L) 5 x 17.5 inches
Seat height:   8 inches
Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
Seat material: Ripstop nylon
Frame construction: Aluminum
Weight: 2 lbs.

It's a lot cheaper if you get it from Amazon. Here is the link: Alite Mantis Chair

Click on pictures to enlarge.
Image from Alite website.