Photo courtesy of Flickr user AFresh1
When you travel full-time in an RV, you realize you need a lot of nifty gadgets to keep your trip rolling. We’ve laid out our top 10 items you must have for your RV. These gadgets have made our travels a little easier, we’re confident they’ll do the same for you.
- Solar Panels
Cost: $100 – $2,000+
Why we like it:Solar panels allow you to harness the power of the sun’s rays to charge your batteries. From a tiny solar panel to keep your chassis battery charged, to a four-panel 1000-watt system to power all your electronics, a solar panel system is our favorite RV gadget. We have a basic two-panel system that keeps our batteries charged when living off the cord. With two 80-watt panels we can stay charged while using lights, laptop computers, and general low wattage devices.
- Smart RV
Cost: Around $400 + installation and membership
Why we like it:A cell phone sized electronic device that tracks your RV movement, battery levels, and allows you to share trips with friends. The Smart RV will alert you via text or email if your RV moves without your permission (i.e. being stolen), or if your battery is running low. With the Trip Journal feature you can share your favorite trips and destinations with your facebook friends and other Smart RV users. Best part is the device provides an extra sense of security for RV owners.
- LED Lights
Cost: $20-$40 per bulb
Why we like it:LED light bulbs replace the halogen bulbs most commonly found inside an RV. LED bulbs use approximately 90% less energy than halogens. Other great reasons to switch to LED: cool to the touch, reduced heat inside the RV, longer lasting and more resistant to vibration. Since LED’s consume less energy you can boondock longer without running the generator. Make sure you understand the Kelvin Rating (color temperature) of the bulbs before you purchase.
- Stainless Insulated French Press
Cost: $50-$200 depending on brand/style
Why we like it:Coffee and tea lovers far and wide will tell you it tastes better. Eco-conscious people will tell you it’s the green way to brew! We’ll simply tell you a French press is perfect for an RV. Simple design means less moving parts to break while traveling and no electricity needed to get that morning buzz. Purchase a double-walled, insulated French press for two reasons: stainless steel won’t break like glass and the contents inside the press will stay warm for hours.
- TripMaker RVND 7710 GPS
Cost: Around $400
Why we like it:When traveling in an RV, a standard car GPS doesn’t cut it. The RVND 7710 has a HUGE easy-to-read 7” screen, perfect for a more setback RV windshield or dash. Type in the details of your RV and this GPS unit will help keep you out of “trouble”. No more worrying about low bridge clearance, weight restrictions, or locating a campground. With millions of POI’s (Points of Interest) it’s easy to plan while on the road. Our favorite option is the speed limit warnings: when approaching a reduced speed limit a voice warns you “speed limit reduced ahead” giving you ample time to slow down. If this GPS saves you from one ticket it’s paid for itself!
- AC/DC Universal Laptop Charger
Cost: Around $150 depending on brand/model
Why we like it:A universal charger allows you to plug into 120 volt AC power or 12 volt DC power. DC power is great for two main reasons: when you’re driving you can power a laptop without draining the house batteries through your inverter and when you’re boondocking a 12 volt DC charger pulls much less power than an inverted 120 volt allowing you to live off the cord a little longer without running the generator.
- Solio Bolt
Cost: Around $70
Why we like it:The bolt is a wallet-sized solar panel with a built in battery. Simply stick it on the dash of your RV and it charges the internal battery with the sun’s rays. If your cell phone, e-reader, camera, etc. runs out of juice, just plug directly into the USB port on the Bolt and you have instant charging power ANYWHERE!
- NOOK or Kindle Tablet
Cost: Around $249
Why we like it:With the tablet you can store all of your books, magazines, movies and more all in one device! It satisfies all of your multimedia desires and then some. CNET and other resources all agree they are the two best tablets on the market. Light-weight and no more magazines taking up your very valuable space! More space and less paper!
- Tire Minder
Cost: Around $300 + additional transmitters
Why we like it:This small wireless device monitors the tire pressure and temperature saving you from a blow out! To be honest the initial setup may seem a little overwhelming (trying to get your psi to an exact number), but once you use it a few times it’s quite simple. Just screw on the transmitters to the tire valve, turn on the receiver, and bam! You can monitor ALL of your tires. We have transmitters on wheels of our RV and our tow car. I’ve been using the system for a year and can honestly say it’s saved my butt a few times.
- Soda Stream
Cost: $79 – $199
Why we like it: We love sparkling water and sparkling lemonade, but we don’t like carrying a bunch of extra bottles around. You can enjoy fresh, convenient homemade sodas and protect the environment at the same time. No heavy bottles to carry, store, or throw away. It’s simple to clean, use, and reuse.