in Guest blog, Mods & Upgrades, Uncategorized

A Creative Outlet for More Comfort

We are all about living more comfortably with less, which means we are in the process of making some modifications that will allow us to boondock (camp without benefit of hookups) more comfortably in The Toad, and for longer periods of time than just a weekend.

First, we invested in a set of generators, to keep us up and running while dry camping or during power outages, based on this recommendation from our friends, Lisa and Dan, of Always On Liberty.

Second, Tim took on an electrical system upgrade process that involved adding four 6-volt deep-cycle batteries, inverter, battery monitoring system and electrical monitoring system. Don’t worry, he’ll soon be writing a feature on how he got that job done, as I don’t understand enough about it to write it myself.

Third, because I hate shivering at night, one of Tim’s Christmas gifts to me was a heated blanket that runs off the RV’s 12-volt system, so that I can remain comfortably toasty in cold temps, even while we’re using battery power instead of shore power. (Before you buy: read photo caption below. It starts with SHIT, which should be a big clue.)

SHIT! Although the blanket was a great idea in theory, and our outlets do in fact work, the blanket itself did not. We even tried it in the previously existing 12V outlet where Tim keeps his desk lamp plugged in. Nothing. Back to Amazon it goes, and our search resumes.

One problem: No 12-volt outlets near the bed.

Handy husband to the rescue! He ordered two wall-mount outlets (one for each side of the bed), and bonus: they have dual USB ports, so we can charge our electronics on them too!

As you might expect, we had to take the bedding, mattress, and plywood cover off the bed platform and temporarily relocate them, which made for a great physical work-out but a very messy living room.

Tim then drilled holes in the floor, and ran a properly gauged wire from the 12-volt fuse panel in the kitchen, through the basement, and back up underneath the bed, where the wire splits to feed each outlet.

Running wire through the basement means crawling into the basement.

He knows the end of that wire is under there somewhere.

This project took about half a day, and both of us played a part. Tim did most of the work himself, as usual, but my assistance was needed to spot and feed the wire through the floor holes, and to holler “YES, THE LIGHT CAME ON!” when he flipped the switch to activate the outlets after the wiring was done. And both of us worked together to restore the bed to slumber-ready condition.

Connecting the wires at the 12-volt fuse panel

Drilling hole in the side of the bed platform, for feeding wire to outlet.
(This was an oops. See first lesson below.)

Lessons Learned

  • Take the time to cut the openings on the platform to fit the outlets, rather than just the wire, i.e. a full rectangle instead of a tiny circle. Tim waited until a few days after we’d put the bed back together to do this part, which meant double the work in getting all the tools out again and cleaning up the mess.

    Connected, functioning (The light is on!), and ready to mount into the bed platform.

  • Identify and purchase the wall plates you want to use to surround the outlets and make things look finished. You’ll see from my photos that we’ve got some rough spots showing next to the outlets, but only until our plates arrive to cover them up.

    Done! Well, almost. Wall plates are on the list.

  • Electrical supplies like wire, terminals, and screw caps tend to come in lengths and quantities larger than any single RV DIY’er will need.  Therefore we invite anyone who plans to tackle a project like this to shop first at Tim’s Discount House of Unused Electrical Parts. We’ve got lots!

(Author’s note: a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.)

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