The elves always invade our RV this time of year

The elves always invade our RV this time of year

FINALLY December has arrived and I can bask and swim in the glorious anticipation of Christmas!! I just can’t do it before December. I know shops these days put out Christmas stuff as ridiculously early as Oct and certainly most people can’t wait past Nov, but I have to see the beginning of the month before I can really let go. It may just be me, but once Dec 1st rolls around I finally feel free to play unlimited carols, bounce around with wild abandon in Santa hats and decorate the Christmas dickens out of RV….and of course that means it’s time for my yearly wish-list too. Yeah!!!

We’ve done a blog wish-list since our first year on the road (see past years at the bottom of this post), but this year will be a little different. In past posts I’ve focused on smaller gifts, mostly under $50. This year I decided to go BIG and share some of the pricier stuff that’s on our OWN list. Many of these items have been our out lists for years, and I know they’re solid RV favorites. So here you go….

1/ Garmin RV 760LMT GPS 

garmin

The lovely Garmin RV 760

Our current GPS dates back to 2008 and we are woefully old-fashioned when it comes to this stuff. So, I’ve been looking around for a newer GPS Navigator for a while. There are several RV-specific models on the market, but we’ve always been partial to Garmin and the RV 760LMT with lifetime maps & traffic at $400 seems to be the best of the lot. Nice, big screen….lots of cool settings…ability to program size & import POI. Pretty nifty little device and I know it would look awesome on our dashboard.

2/ Magnum MSH-3012M Pure Sine-Wave Inverter

Magnum

Oh, this inverter-charger is soooo sweeet!!

Inverters are super-useful for boondocking since they allow you to take the DC charge from your batteries and convert it to AC so you can plug-in all your regular AC electronics without running the generator. We’ve had a Modified Sine Wave (MSW) Inverter-Charger in our RV since we bought the coach and it’s really not the best thing. The power output from MSW Inverters is “blocky” and most of your sensitive electronics and even some of your bigger ones don’t really like it (in fact it’s burned out our microwave twice!!). So, we’ve been wanting a PSW Inverter for….like…years. But we also wanted it to be a charger, and we also wanted it to be fully programmable (for when we convert to Lithium batteries down the road) and it would be really cool if it were also load-support intelligent (i.e. you can combine AC & battery to power your rig off lower amp plugs) AND it would be just super if it were drop-in to our current Magnum. Well, say hello to the Magnum MSH3012M….sweeeeeet! Not cheap at $2,200, but that’s the one we want, baby.

3/ Tire Pressure Monitoring System

TST

That’s the system we want, baby!

I mentioned tire pressure monitors waaaay back when I wrote my very first post on tire care in 2010, and although we religiously check our tire pressure before every trip we’ve been drooling after an automated approach ever since. There is nothing like real-time input on all your tires (including your toad) for peace of mind on the road and there’s no doubt it could save you from a serious blow-out. There are many good tire-pressure systems (TireTraker, Doran, Pressure Pro) out there, but I’ve been partial to TST and Tire-Safeguard since I first read about them, plus they seem to get consistently positive reviews on the RV forums. Both companies offer flow-through sensors and regular cap versions (we’ll probably go for the latter with 10 sensors at around $500). Maybe this will be the year….

4/ See Level Tank Sensors

SeeLevel

Your tank levels in %%, oh my!!

Everyone knows how frustrating it is to have non-functioning tank sensors. It’s a common RV problem and it happens to everyone. We’ve managed to keep our sensors pretty functional over the past 4 years using the old GEO method, but it would be soooooo nice to have sensors that worked no matter what. The ones that get consistently the best reviews online are the digital See Level sensors.The model we like does tanks and % increments (709 model). Not cheap at around $200, but you can use existing wiring to install them, and the results are pretty neat. These guys usually show up for the big show at Quartzsite so we may give them another visit this Jan.

5/ More Solar Power….And Lithium???!!

See ma...NO shadows!

More power, more power….!!

They always say you can never have enough power, and that’s certainly true when it comes to living off the grid. We’ve been perfectly happy with our 600 Watt system ever since we installed it in Florida in 2010, but we’ve been thinking about upgrades. Somewhere down the line we’ll probably switch out to a residential (electric-only) fridge and that will mean we need more solar. Also we’d love (love) to install Lithium batteries especially since we’ve drooled over Technomadia’s installation and haven’t been able to stop talking about it. If money were no barrier what would we do? Well, we’d definitely go back to AM Solar (excellent team) and would probably add-on at least three of their GO160 panels, a second Morningstar 45-MPPT controller and 800AH of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries which we might possibly build ourselves. Would that be just ridiculously cool or what???!! This is a high $$ upgrade and may not happen for a while, but it’s definitely in our “big 5″.

So, that’s it folks. I told you we were going big this year, and I think you can see why some of these items have been on our lists for years. For smaller $$ stuff and previous ideas have a look here:

So, what’s on your wish-list this year?

P.S. A few Amazon links in this post. If you love ‘em, feel free to use ‘em and we’ll get a few cents in gas. Share the love, baby :)

65 Responses to 2013 “Big 5″ RV Christmas Wish-List

  1. Runningliner says:

    I highly recommend GPS Garmin 3597
    This is like small tablet, very bright screen . Very advance latest technology.
    Bought this summer. Very Happy !!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Nice-looking GPS. I think we’ll still go for the slightly bigger RV version, but I like the look of this one. ANYTHING will be an upgrade on our old (and tiny) 2008 model at this point LOL.
      Nina

      • Runningliner says:

        Take a look in nearest Best Buy. Take it in your hands, and you will be love it, this is a piece of art. Stored a lot of information of RV camps location and more and more
        I recommend you as former pilot, and as “long distance traveler”
        This Gizmo cost any penny !!

        P.S I am very familiar with GPS technology I use GPS since 1996 Year in all my cars

  2. We just bought a new inverter from http://www.imarine.com – speak to Suzanne Sherwood. Super service and VERY competitive prices. The inverter you want is not $2,200 here. It will cost you just $1,699. Now you owe me a hug when we meet up at Q :-)

  3. I just messed that up. It’s http://www.imarineusa.com. Sorry about that. Hug still required :-)

  4. More travel days! We’re set at 180 a year at the moment, half the year, but I’m hoping hubby will see the light and up it to 270 in 2014. :-)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hey, half the year is still pretty neat. Happy to hear you’re out there and on the road! Hope your Christmas wish comes true :)
      Nina

  5. gohomer123 says:

    I second the imarineusa recommendation! We bought our Magnum from them a couple of years ago. Very responsive and great customer service along with some of the best prices around.

  6. Ray Burr says:

    Nice List, The Tank sensors would be real sweet! I will have to add that one to my long and growing list. I think we need more Christmases.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, those sensors have been on my radar for years. Everyone who installs them seems to like them alot. And the % reading is pretty sweet.
      Nina

  7. RJRVtravels says:

    Great list…We have the Garmin and love it. I had the Rand McNally RVND 7720 – It was OK but the support from Rand McNally sucked – ended up tossing it the trash!

    We have no solar so, that is the big ticket item on our list.

    Tire monitors is on our list as well.

    We also want one of the rocking chairs – just like the one you have.

    Happy shopping!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, I’ve heard alot of people say the Rand MacNally was only so-so. That’s the reason we’ve focused on the Garmin. Glad to hear you like it!!

      For others who may be wondering what fabulous collapsable rocking chair JoAnne is referring to, it looks like this (only we’ve got the tan color):
      Wide Bronze Rocking Chair

      I noticed Amazon is now selling one too:
      Tan Rocking Chair

      Nina

  8. George Grothier says:

    Our wish list came thru this year. We finally sold our home and just purchased a new to us motorhome-2005 Newmar Dutch Star. Also treated our selves to a progressive 50Amp surge protector. We pick all next week. X-mas came early. LOL

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well, Happy Christmas to you then!! That’s a big wish come true. Wish you the best of luck & travels with your new coach.
      Nina

  9. Rob says:

    That tire pressure monitoring system makes so much sense. If one of the duals goes how long with the other carry the load? With the sensor you’d know you had a problem & could stop before you lost a second tire.
    The basic system is under $300 (4 transmitters for the dual), that’s less that the price of the tire you might save.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yeah, it’s definitely strong on our list of “wants”. I think this year will be the year we get it. Wonder if TST will be at the Q show? Maybe they’ll do a special deal there.
      Nina

    • Rob,
      Good point on the duals. I drove big rigs for many, many years. I never lost a tire’s mate due to one going flat, although it could certainly happen from over-heating. It was disconcerting to do an enroute tire thump and discover one of a pair flat, though. Blowouts are another matter; you know about them right away!

  10. ondroad77 says:

    Cool list. Hope that Lotto ticket hits by the 25th! We really like our TST’s, but we also added the Crossfires to the Dual’s at the same time. Two less sensors per drive axle, and the Crossfires do a good job of balancing the inner/outer wheels tire pressure.

    We have the smaller RV Garmin, and know that one us has a need for the bigger screen:)!

    Have fun, and cool rockers too…
    Smitty

    • libertatemamo says:

      Indeed…we will NEED that lottery ticket to pay for all these. Then again, a few more years on the wish-list won’t hurt. Haven’t heard of the Crossfires…I will look that up.
      Nina

  11. We like our TST that we bought at Q. Im intrigue by the rocking chair, I might just get one. Are they comfy?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh the rocking chairs are SUPER-comfy. I first “discovered” the chairs from Lu & Terry who we traveled with last year…and that of course led me to buying it for myself. It’s my absolute fav chair. Very happy with it.
      Nina

  12. Can’t wait to see “The Beast” decorated up for Santa! Hope he may bring you one of your Top 5 items!

    • libertatemamo says:

      I sure hope so too. I’m only going to do smaller decorations this year, but I like to bring things “alive” for Dec month. It’s so much fun!
      Nina

  13. Sue says:

    Christmas makes me dream of gloegg……Mmmmm

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yeah….Gloegg!! I wonder if I’ll get the chance to make it this year. I need to find a good group of willing “victims”…hmmmmm :)
      Nina

  14. Allison says:

    Could you explain why you would want to convert to a residential refrigerator? I don’t understand that at all, especially since you boondock so much.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well it’s not something that’s early on our list, but at some point our current fridge will probably die…and at that point it simply makes more sense (better effciency, more space, cheaper etc.) to go residential. The power draw is the biggest negative though (esp. For boondocking) and thus the dream for more solar. It’s just a dream, after all :)
      Nina

      • Bill Joyce says:

        We recently installed a residential, a Whirlpool side-by-side, and are happy with it except one thing, we can’t turn off the defrost cycle. This is a problem when we are on a 15AMP or less cord, the defrost will pop the breaker. We have a pure sinewave inverter/charger, a Prosine 2.0, but being able to live on less than 15AMPs is a big reason we are looking at the Magnum Hybrid.

  15. Doug says:

    I’ve been basking in the 13.3 volt glow of my homebrew 260Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate system for almost a year now. Unless you want to routinely suck every last coulomb out of your cells, you can skip the expensive BMS and save some major moolah.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Nice! Good to know it’s worked out for you. Where did you get the cells to build your bank? I’ve heard a few people who’ve installed their system without a BMS.
      Nina

      • Doug says:

        This time last year, a place called Balqon in Los Angeles was having a big clearance sale on 2 y/o LFPs at a price less than new AGMs, so I went for it! Only time will tell if that was a good investment, but so far so good, and playing with the new tech has also been fun and educational.

        • libertatemamo says:

          Nice! I’ve heard several folks mention Balqon now and they’re one of the companies we’re looking at for our installation. They have some good products. I’ll have to keep an eye out for their sales.
          Nina

        • Full time RVer w/ diabetes says:

          You were lucky Doug. Balqon went belly up, fortunately I did not buy the lithium cells from them. I almost did.

  16. I want chocolate, jewelry and perfume. How dull is that?

  17. Bill Joyce says:

    If I was going to get a 3000 watt Magnum inverter I would get the new Hybrid model, MSH3012M. Here is a link for a good price, http://www.donrowe.com/Magnum-Energy-MSH3012M-p/msh3012m.htm. This works much like the one Cherie and Chris have, augmenting the power when your shore power has too few amps.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, that’s exactly the model I listed in the post! And thanks to Henrik, I now know I can get it cheaper at imarine.
      Nina

  18. Bill Joyce says:

    Whoops, somehow I did not catch you listed the MSH model.

  19. RJRVtravels says:

    Nina, What is your reason for picking the RV Cap Sensor over the Flow-Through model?

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well mainly the reason is the flow-through sensors are longer/heavier and I’ve read some people having (minor) issues with them because of that. Since we always remove the caps on our tire stems to check pressure (and add pressure) anyway, I figured having the smaller cap version would be equivalent to what we have now & just make things simpler all-around. I just think there is less that can go wrong w/ the cap version. It’s a real minor deal, but that’s probably what we’ll choose.
      Nnia

      • RJRVtravels says:

        Thanks – that was my thought as well but just want to confirm.

      • Doug says:

        Good catch! What most people don’t realize is that the centripetal force of a 1/2 ounce pressure sensor, mounted on a wheel rotating at over 600 RPM, exerts several POUNDS of force on the valve stem, often leading to problems. The lighter the sensor, the better.

        BTW, I bought a TPMS last summer. The peace of mind it provides is priceless.

  20. Doug says:

    When your MSW inverter burned out your microwave the first time, did you replace the microwave with the same exact model? Because in 11+ years of fulltime RVing, I have not had a problem using MSW with two different microwaves (other than them taking twice as long to cook). In fact, because high power PSW inverters are so ridiculously overpriced, I have always recommended a two-inverter solution—a 300W PSW for sensitive small electronics (incl TV and all general outlets) and a 1500W MSW for the microwave, vac, and hair dryer.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, same model both times. It always sounds like it’s dying on the PSW inverter. We have a big honking microwave, so maybe size is part of the issue. Either way it reaaaaaly doesn’t like the inverter.

      Nina

  21. Mike Kuper says:

    I’m surprised to see the negative comment on the Rand-McNally RVND 7720. I’m sure the Garmin is great, but we love our 7720 and would never consider trashing it.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m happy you like it. I’ve seen mixed reviews, but I’ve also heard from people who love it. We’ve always used Garmin in the past, so I just feel more comfortable going that route for the RV version, but I know many who enjoy the Rand-McNally too.

      Nina

  22. Jeff & Cheryl says:

    Nina,
    We arrived here in North Palm Springs earlier this afternoon. Hope to see you two soon, if that would be OK.

  23. You did it and it looks great.
    Hi, Kymee here, I met you at Sams. My husband and I camped across from you.It was nice to meet you BTW. I am glad I am following you now.

    We have been going to Sam’s for years and I am always lucky to meet great people there.

    I read your blog about the white water preserve. I did not even know, past that it was a river, that so much was there.
    We pass there and always comment on how much water is there, some years are worst than others. We love to see it raging.

    Also White Water for us only meant a place for the Bears to cross the highway, from San Gorginio to the high country above Idyllwild. My hubby was born and raised in Idyllwild.

    Thanks also for the this blog about your wish list items these things are items we have been researching and it helped to read yours and others thoughts on all of them.

    Have great day at Sam’s, really NO BAD DAY AT SAM”S. :O)
    Kymee

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup, I remember you. Glad to see you made it onto the blog! And you’re right…never a bad day here at Sam’s :)
      Nina

  24. Russ says:

    I’m also looking at RV GPS units. One reason I’m leaning toward the Garmin is that it appears you can use it with wireless backup cameras in addition to the one camera offered by Garmin, Garmin’s camera not having any nighttime illumination. I don’t have a camera now but want one, and running the wires for a hard-wired camera seems to me a daunting task and having it done is not inexpensive. I’m not 100% certain, but I think the Rand McNally only works with wired cameras. Either way, I like the idea of being able to combine the functionality of a GPS and backup camera system into one display.

    I’ve also been looking at Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) and valve stems, plus the surrounding issues, pros and cons. My Class C has dual tires on the rear. With the proper air chuck and tire pressure gauges (both are inexpensive and widely available) it is not difficult to check the pressure of or fill the inner tires. However, if I want to use a TPMS that has sensors which attach to the valve stems (the other kind being sensors that get installed inside the tires), it would be difficult to replace the sensors or the batteries on the inner tires when need be. Doing so might require removing the outer tires. To overcome this one can extend the valves from the inner tires thru the hand holes of the outer tire. This can be accomplished with valve extenders or by replacing the valve stems on the inner tires with longer ones. Valve extenders have their own issues–leakage, breakage, or causing valve stems to break from the centrifugal forces they can sometimes create. (As an aside, I think Doug may have misspoken before where her refers to centripetal force. That’s a force moving or directed toward a center or axis, whereas centrifugal force is directed away from the center of an axis.) If longer valves are installed then they need to be supported so as to avoid problems which can be created by the same forces. There are also different kinds and sizes of valve stems so care must be given to proper selection and installation. One informative page I came across that discusses some of these issues is here . Click the “Continue to Page” link at the top right.

    Aside from concerns regarding the weight, ease or lack thereof when adding air to the tire, and accessibility of TPMS sensors that go onto the end of valve stems there are two other concerns that come to mind: theft and loss. I’ve been known to leave valve stem caps behind when filling my tires. That’s no big deal, but a $50 sensor is another matter.

    • libertatemamo says:

      How to best monitor the dually’s is a good topic of conversation. We have valve extenders on our inner dually’s so any caps we buy would go onto those. Haven’t thought about the details of proper support on these, so that’s a good tip. I will check your link.
      Nina

  25. Russ says:

    The link to the page I referenced in my post immediatley previous did not appear. Let’s try that again:
    http://www.tirereview.com/Article/60496/make_the_right_call_selecting_the_right_valve_stem_not_as_easy_as_it_seems.aspx

  26. Caryl Marie Kirk says:

    Hey there, Nina…everything looks soooo great…a lot of work that’s paid (or soon to pay off)! Have you done any research on the Rand McNally RV gps? My brother is a truck driver and he swears by it….of course, he uses the commercial freight version but would not without it.

    Kee up the good work and have a great holiday in Europe and boondocking!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yes, I looked at both the Rand McNally & the Garmin when I was comparing RV GPS versions. Both have their positives and negatives, but overall the Garmin seems to get the better reviews. Also, we’re long-time Garmin users so we like the interface. That said, I’ve met alot of RVers who like their Rand McNally.
      NIna

  27. Chi Li says:

    We have been looking into the Balqon LiFePO4 batteries as we are planning to upgrade our RV’s battery bank from the current lead acid ones. We wonder if you have also looked into this company? Their 400ah and 700ah batteries are priced very competitively. This is a public traded company (BLQN) and we just found out their stock tumbled 68% today. We may have to hold off our planned purchase to see if they will go belly up.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Definitely. These guys are high on the list of possibilities for our own lithium upgrade. Can’t comment about the stock issues, but the technology itself seems good. Balqon are basically resellers and base their stuff on Winston cells. If they have a good sale they’re probably worth looking at.
      Nina

  28. […] planned to get a TPMS system (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), something that’s been on my “big” wishlist for ages. I spent several days at the show looking through the various models and even managed to […]

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