Road Work Play

Full Time RV Living Blog

New Internet Option For Low Income Rvers And Van Dwellers

As rvers we are always looking for affordable internet. If I had known about this plan before I signed with Unlimitedville I would have gone this route.  Some people are reporting being able to use 500 or more gigabytes a month with no issues.

The service is called PC’s For People. They offer UNLIMITED wifi hot spots for 10 dollars a month. The catch is you have to make less than 200 percent of the poverty level. That means 23,760 for a single person, 32,040 for a family of two, etc. You may view the eligibility requirements here.

This PC’s For People is run on the Sprint network. I know that is not optimum for everyone, but we have gotten by running our business on a Sprint hot spot for a year now.

I was very excited when I heard about this plan and couldn’t wait to write this post to share it with you. Hopefully this will be a game changer for some of you.

Click here for the link to the PC’s For People web page where you can view the plans.

Conserving Power While Boondocking in Our RV

Mobile Phone Charging on Solar Powered 12V Plug

While parking lots and other areas may not be officially considered boondocking, we still need to conserve power as much as when we are in remote locations and wonderful woods.

Our DIY solar system consists of 4 6V Crown batteries, and 2 110 watt solar panels but, with power conservation, that setup provides us with plenty of power. So, here’s a few quick ways we keep our power usage down.

Our Inverters, and Their Lack of Use

Most of your small devices run off of DC. When an inverter is used, you are taking your DC power from your batteries, and converting it to AC power. Then your device plugs in and converts it back to DC for its use. Inverters themselves draw power by simply being on. The larger the inverter, the more power is needed for it to function.

We have two inverters in our camper, which we have eliminated most needs for. One Sunforce 1000 watt pure sine wave, and one standard, generic 400 watt. The only time our 1000 watt is used, is when we need to print on our laser printer. The smaller powers our networking equipment, only used when we need to connect to public WiFi.

When the inverters are not in use, they are off so as not to be blasting through our power.

DC Power Everywhere

The largest challenge, was having DC power where we needed it. Unlike AC power, DC does not like long wires. Simply put, the longer the wire, the less power you have at the device’s end. This is resolved with using larger wire, which means more expense, and more weight.

Our batteries and bedroom are on one end of the camper, and our factory converter/fuse panel is on the other. To allow DC power in the bedroom, we have a marine style fuse panel in our pass-though to power an LP detector and DC power plugs on each side of the bedroom.

Our office areas are wired with the same type of marine DC power plugs, running the wire through the walls and floors, to the factory fuse panel. Wiring power into the slide for Laurie’s office proved to be a bit challenging, but we managed to do it.

Powering Our Devices

With the DC power plugs in place, our cell phones can be charged in the bedroom using any standard micro USB cable and 12V USB plug.

For our laptops, which were our main power drain, we purchased very inexpensive Universal DC power plugs. There are various types of 12V plugs to choose from. Some people believe these do not make a difference, as the voltage has to be “stepped up” to power the laptop, but we have found our power usage has dropped significantly since switching to these chargers.

Lower Powered Devices

For some items, you can replace your existing with a low power alternative, which was the case with our water pump. We already use low flow shower and faucet heads, so switching to a smaller water pump cut our power usage down for running water.

We Really Don’t Need Them

Throughout our adventures, we have found more and more things we can do without, that can be replaced by something we already have, or something more efficient.

  • TV – Yes, they make 12V TVs, and if you need a TV, I would suggest this as your solution. We, however, watch almost everything on my laptop already. Losing the TV was the easiest solution for us, and gave us a new cabinet in the process.
  • Coffee Pot – For us, making coffee in a percolator is no more time consuming than using an electric coffee pot. And, I feel like it tastes better. That eliminates the power draw of making coffee, and passes it off to pretty inexpensive propane.

As we continue in our adventures, we’ll update this post with all the new ways we learn to conserve our power.

What tips do you have? Share them in the comments!

Adding a Remote Control to Our Inverter

We use our smaller inverter almost exclusively, and save a lot of amp hours on our batteries because of it. After becoming spoiled by our Sunforce 1000 watt inverter and its remote control we really disliked having to reach to our smaller inverter’s location to flip an On/Off switch.

For some reason, it seems the 1,000 Watt Sunforce is the only inverter with a remote. But, it’s not us to give up. This is where a bit of Google’ing came in to play, and this handy little device was found.

Photo of FImco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch

Fimco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch

The Fimco 12 Volt Remote On/Off Switch can handle up to 20 Amps of 12V current – more than enough for our inerter, or just about any other device you may want to add a remote to.

Installation was pretty simple. We hardwired the switch in, as apposed to spending time trying to locate plugs that would fit. Which made the process:

  1. Cut off the original Fimco plugs
  2. Butt connectors the “in” red wire to the hot on our 10 AWG leads from our DC power panel, and the “out” to the wire running to our inverter.
  3. Connect the blue and black ground wires in the same way.
  4. Add electrical tape for extra precaution, and mount the Finco remote switch using the provided sticky velcro.

That’s all there is to it! We now have a remote On/Off for our inverter.

Pure Sinewave Inverter Hooked up to Remote On/Off Switch

Pure Sinewave Inverter Hooked up to Remote On/Off Switch

Lastly, if you’re impatient and do not want to wait for this to come in the mail, it’s also available from Farm and Fleet and Cabella’s.

Running Network Cable in our RV

Neatly ran network cable in an RV

With an XBox 360 and Media PC on one end of the camper, the router and printer on the other end, and other future additions requiring a wired network connection on each end of our RV, we knew we would need to run a CAT 5 network cable. In a small area, it doesn’t take much to make things look messy, so we know we wanted it done neatly.

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Our Camper Internet Configuration

Our Camper Internet Configuration

Living in a mobile residence can complicate lots of situations, one of those being the fact that you cannot simply run a residential internet connection to your RV and pull it around the country. Our livelihood comes from the internet, and we cannot go without a connection for more than a day or two without having potential customer service issues. There are countless ways to solve internet needs and we are hoping to make sure we cover a large array of them and keep our internet flowing, while spending the least amount of funds.

Without further ado, we bring you…

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