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Old 02-08-2013, 07:13 PM   #221
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Tell us how you really feel Just kidding.

The lack of data is frustrating to me too and I can just imagine how the claims would annoy anyone who is used to looking at these types of numbers and doing calculations based on them.
The info will eventually be out there. Patience.

I don't spend much time thinking about the E-Trek because it is not for me. Number one reason is that it just doesn't seem to have much storage space. In the 190P we had we could fit two fold up chairs, two lounge chairs, Coleman stove, BBQ, Screen Room, tarp, torque wrench, two bags of leveling blocks, a couple of 1lb bottles of propane, hiking boots, bike helmets and clothes, food, laundry bag for dirty clothes etc. I've chosen to leave 1 lounge chair and the screen room out of my current van. I think I could find space for the screen room but the lounge chair is about the size of a golf bag.

I am interested in the tech side of it though and the idea that the technology might filter down to models more suited to us. The inverter in one unit had some impressive features. I think it would work in Europe or North America. 120/240 volt and 50/60Hz auto-sensing, automatic generator start, solar controller, and battery charger all-in-one.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:37 PM   #222
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Tell us how you really feel Just kidding.

The info will eventually be out there. Patience.

I don't spend much time thinking about the E-Trek because it is not for me. Number one reason is that it just doesn't seem to have much storage space. In the 190P we had we could fit two fold up chairs, two lounge chairs, Coleman stove, BBQ, Screen Room, tarp, torque wrench, two bags of leveling blocks, a couple of 1lb bottles of propane, hiking boots, bike helmets and clothes, food, laundry bag for dirty clothes etc. I've chosen to leave 1 lounge chair and the screen room out of my current van. I think I could find space for the screen room but the lounge chair is about the size of a golf bag.

I am interested in the tech side of it though and the idea that the technology might filter down to models more suited to us.
At least they are generating chatter about their products :P :P There is an interesting discussion of the thought processes of engineers going on at the Yahoo board right now (they have us figured out), and more than a couple of others have been wondering about the lack of transparency. I do get upset when companies of whatever kind try to take advantage of people, be it in consumer items, commercial items, or even the huge oil companies, and to their credit, but detriment, many people are very trusting and get taken advantage of.

The e-trek we saw was pretty sparse on storage, like most of the crop of Sprinters out there. The openness they go for, combined with the big enclosed bathrooms really takes its toll on storage space.

Inquiring minds need to know----torque wrench on every trip?
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:51 PM   #223
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
..........Inquiring minds need to know----torque wrench on every trip?
Yup!
and a breaker bar too!

Just might get the urge to rotate my tires

Truthfully, I keep my torque wrench in the van and an extension and socket and breaker bar. The torque wrench is a big one for checking the lug nuts.
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Old 02-08-2013, 08:11 PM   #224
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

I'm no engineer, but I do know a condescending pat on the head, when I see, hear, or read one.
Like Mark says, I can't get past the price tag, so it really doesn't matter that much to me, but their attitude about discussing legitimate technical questions from their current and future customer base is shocking (no pun), to say the least. I also believe that when they read our comments, they're of the mind that there aren't any Roadtrek owners past or present on these forums, who've managed to complete any post secondary education. I totally agree with booster.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:34 AM   #225
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
I'm no engineer, but I do know a condescending pat on the head, when I see, hear, or read one.
Like Mark says, I can't get past the price tag, so it really doesn't matter that much to me, but their attitude about discussing legitimate technical questions from their current and future customer base is shocking (no pun), to say the least. I also believe that when they read our comments, they're of the mind that there aren't any Roadtrek owners past or present on these forums, who've managed to complete any post secondary education. I totally agree with booster.
It is interesting that after coming out swinging both from Roadtrek and the blogger, things have gone totally quiet. Hopefully, they are reconsidering their positions on some of these items, and will come to realize that we Roadtrek owners love our Roadtreks, want the company to do well, and just want to have all future customers (new or repeat) to have good information so they can make an informed decision, and enjoy their new Roadtrek as much as we do ours. If you know what you are getting, you aren't going to be disappointed when you get and use it (especially if you drop $135K on it). That makes for happy and satisfied customers, instead of disappointed ones.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:07 AM   #226
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

They need to figure out what to do.

It is unlikely that they can demonstrate that the 800 amp hour battery bank can be charged in 30 minutes.
I read on Yahoo (see below) that to do that you'd have to be able to supply 800 amps to the battery bank. That is a tremendous amount of current (and heat). Newer Roadtreks (not RS E-Treks) have 45 amp battery chargers by comparison.

Quote:
That's my sticking point too. Let's say it's 50% discharged @ 12V, we're
talking about 400 amps in 30 minutes, or a flow of 800 amps @ 12V. For a
24V system, that's 400A. 4/0 is only good to 300A so we're looking at
something like 6/0 wiring. That's about 10,000 watts, or 15 HP. So we're
looking at a 30HP or so generator, that's not small potatoes.
Like you, I really hate to see disappointed customers.

Are some Roadtrek Etreks 12 volt and some 24 volt?
They guys at the Minneapolis RV show told Davydd that the E-trek had a 24 volt system. Mike Wendland's E-trek has a different inverter and his E-trek looks to be 12 volt. He has twice reported 12v voltages from his inverter.

Speaking of Mike W. - I am convinced he does not understand and has little interest in the technical side of his E-Trek. I'm not criticizing him - we all have different interests in life. He completely trusts the information provided by Roadtrek.

I saw this post on Facebook earlier today:



It confirms that he doesn't know that seeing his batteries at 12.5 volts after two weeks of solar charging is terrible performance. That panel probably can output 60 to 80 amps per day. His batteries are not even being maintained by the panel if they are at 12.5 volts.

At 12.5 volts (90% charged) he has accumulated an 80 amp hour deficit over two weeks in the E-Trek's 800 amp hour battery bank. Losing a few days to snow should not have much impact.

If you assume the E-trek solar panel managed to output only 40 amps per day in winter that would mean that 560 amps went into the batteries over the two week period but that doesn't appear to be enough to maintain the battery bank.

After charging he should see 13.1 or 13.2 volts from the solar panel which would be a maintenance charge to keep the batteries healthy.

Looks like something is drawing a substantial amount of current in his Roadtrek RS etrek. I'm not on that Facebook group but Jim from Roadtrek is and maybe he can help Mike W. get this sorted out. 8 agm batteries would cost a lot of money to replace if they are not properly maintained.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:40 AM   #227
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Honestly, I'm not sure they care about what any of us think, based on past dialogue. I think they've decided/realized that to continue the dialogue with us on the E-Trek, isn't scoring them any congeniality or any transparency points, so they're probably better off to just stay silent, and let us continue to speculate, until they're either proved right or wrong.
That said, I don't think I can honestly say I love my Roadtrek. If we hadn't been in a hurry to get started traveling 5 years ago, we might have gone with something larger and more comfortable, or with a different logo on the nose, but the fuel prices were spiking, we'd missed out on 2 others, and the Roadtrek deal presented itself, so we got tired of waiting and jumped in. It's done a decent job as a touring RV. The gas mileage has been a perk. It hasn't cost a (huge) fortune to keep it up and running. Whenever I've contacted them, Roadtrek Service online has always provided great product support in the last 4 years, and their technical expertise and advice has been beneficial on more than one occasion. Our particular model has some shortcomings that I've mentioned at different times in different places on this forum, which preclude it being considered the perfect RV for us. I have never had any real brand loyalty for any of our vehicles, but there are some brands I would avoid for personal reasons. I think that my feelings of overall general satisfaction with our van have recently morphed into something more negative. I now think that if I were ever in the market for another class B van, I doubt I'd consider another Roadtrek, after reading the back and forth in the E-Trek topic. That's the truth, for what it's worth.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:29 PM   #228
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Some new info re: the E-trek

Quote:
All this reserve power is stored in up to eight 6V AGM batteries (1600 amp. hours) and distributed directly to 12V lights and appliances and through a 5000 W inverter to 110V appliances like the air conditioner, inductive stove, instant drinking water heater and convection/microwave oven. The system features surge protection, power monitoring, battery minder/balancer, and solar charge controller.
Notice the: up to eight 6V AGM batteries - up to eight must mean there can be less than eight

and the: battery minder/balancer

Good read here on multi-voltage system battery balancing: http://bus.getdave.com/Docs/12Von24V/

PDF files:
Example of a battery balancer: http://www.hdm-sys.com/pdf/hdm_equalizer_specs.pdf
and another example: http://www.cooperindustries.com/content ... 80156a.pdf
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:19 PM   #229
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Some new info re: the E-trek

Quote:
All this reserve power is stored in up to eight 6V AGM batteries (1600 amp. hours) and distributed directly to 12V lights and appliances and through a 5000 W inverter to 110V appliances like the air conditioner, inductive stove, instant drinking water heater and convection/microwave oven. The system features surge protection, power monitoring, battery minder/balancer, and solar charge controller.
Notice the: up to eight 6V AGM batteries - up to eight must mean there can be less than eight

and the: battery minder/balancer

Good read here on multi-voltage system battery balancing: http://bus.getdave.com/Docs/12Von24V/

PDF files:
Example of a battery balancer: http://www.hdm-sys.com/pdf/hdm_equalizer_specs.pdf
and another example: http://www.cooperindustries.com/content ... 80156a.pdf
The one we say at the Mpls show had 6 in back and 2 under the hood, so 6 and 8 are probably two of the options. If they are offering different amounts of batteries, they must be doing all the "other" voltages like 24 and 36 by transforming the 110 back down. You wouldn't want to pull 24 volts off of just some of the batteries and discharging, and then recharging them unevenly.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:26 PM   #230
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Just a guess but I don't think they're transforming 110v AC. I think that is what the Battery Balancer does - keep the batteries relatively even in a system with multiple DC voltages.

This shop: http://www.vanner.com/products/
offers Battery Equalizers and DC to DC Converters (and other stuff)

Their Battery Equalizer is a smart way to "center tap" series connected batteries. My understanding of it is that it prevents uneven charging and discharging that would lead to the early failure of a batteries if you just tapped in without such a device. You'd use this to get 12 volts from a 24 volt system for example. Seems to be commonly used in bus conversions.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:36 PM   #231
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Just a guess but I don't think they're transforming 110v AC. I think that is what the Battery Balancer does - keep the batteries relatively even in a system with multiple DC voltages.

This shop: http://www.vanner.com/products/
offers Battery Equalizers and DC to DC Converters (and other stuff)

Their Battery Equalizer is a smart way to "center tap" series connected batteries. My understanding of it is that it prevents uneven charging and discharging that would lead to the early failure of a batteries if you just tapped in without such a device. You'd use this to get 12 volts from a 24 volt system for example. Seems to be commonly used in bus conversions.
New one on me, but would be cool if it worked well. It appeared there were an awful lot of cables on the e-trek. I assume the balancer requires all the batteries to be connect through it?

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Old 02-12-2013, 11:34 PM   #232
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

I looked at that spaghetti in an open box to the outside and thoughts came to my mind about the brown out windstorm I went through two years ago at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. If that happened with that battery bank it would be one big mess to clean up.
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:51 PM   #233
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Has anyone figured out the weight added to the chassis by adding all the off grid support stuff? Sorry, but I've lost track. At what point does the conversion process have to consider the maximum weight capacities of the Sprinters and other chassis options? We've had discussions about how some vans have been loaded to within a few hundred pounds of their maximum allowed weights, by the addition of the RV systems and conveniences.
I wonder how much of a trade off the added off grid capability will affect fuel economy, particularly in a class of vehicle that's proven to be more useful as a touring RV, than a destination camper? Will it be a saw off? Someone mentioned the battery balancer is used in some bus conversions. I guess if you begin to compare prices, these new class B vans may be headed in that direction, on a pound for pound, square footage basis. Class B RVs used to be a reasonably economical way to travel, and see the world, without breaking the bank. That seems to have been misplaced in the technological translation somewhere along the way. Maybe that's just the reality of the situation now.
Sorry again, for always referencing the financial end of things, but that's an important factor in the decision making process for some folks, me included.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:09 PM   #234
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
Has anyone figured out the weight added to the chassis by adding all the off grid support stuff? Sorry, but I've lost track. At what point does the conversion process have to consider the maximum weight capacities of the Sprinters and other chassis options? We've had discussions about how some vans have been loaded to within a few hundred pounds of their maximum allowed weights, by the addition of the RV systems and conveniences.
I wonder how much of a trade off the added off grid capability will affect fuel economy, particularly in a class of vehicle that's proven to be more useful as a touring RV, than a destination camper? Will it be a saw off? Someone mentioned the battery balancer is used in some bus conversions. I guess if you begin to compare prices, these new class B vans may be headed in that direction, on a pound for pound, square footage basis. Class B RVs used to be a reasonably economical way to travel, and see the world, without breaking the bank. That seems to have been misplaced in the technological translation somewhere along the way. Maybe that's just the reality of the situation now.
Sorry again, for always referencing the financial end of things, but that's an important factor in the decision making process for some folks, me included.
Someone did do a weight comparison, but I don't recall where, or what the net conclusion was.

A 2.8 genny is 135#, two batteries about 135# also, so you have 270# in what we are used to.

8 batteries would be 540#, solar and controls maybe 100#, associated electronics like a huge inverter, battery balancer, all those huge cables maybe another 100#, so you would have near 750# pounds. That is 500# more, so it could be significant in some vehicles. I think we only have about 1100# or so to play with in ours.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:24 PM   #235
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Propane is usually about 40 lbs. pluse the tank weight. The Onan propane generator is 125 lbs. So you would compare the propane option of less than 200 lbs. total against 8 batteries probably close to 500 lbs. plus a full roof of solar collectors I'm guessing not less than 100 lbs. There seems to be considerable weight addition of maybe at least 400 lbs? I don't think you are going to exceed the weight limits of the 3500 Sprinter but it appears to be a significant addition.
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:21 PM   #236
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Your estimates are probably more accurate than mine, which I guessed (conservatively) was at least 400# for batteries, and another 100# + for the roof panels. I hadn't considered the added weight of all the heavy gauge cables and hardware to connect it, and the hardware to monitor and maintain it, but it does add up to a sizable increase in overall weight. Not excessive in terms of GVWR, but probably pushing the envelope, in terms of how much capacity is left before it maxes out?
I think Davydd also mentioned further back, that when using conventional off grid power systems of alternator, propane, generator, and a couple of decent sized coach batteries, he's never run short of off grid power, and in our experience, neither have we.
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Old 02-14-2013, 09:08 PM   #237
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Some folks on other boards were pointing to contradictory information from Mercedes on the idling issue, most were diesel owners I suspect I sent an e-mail to MB, USA and asked specifically about the Roadtrek e-trek, stating that to be used as Roadtrek is advertising, the Sprinter might need to be idled 1 or more hours a day, for several days in a row. The response was pretty plain and simple. For the conditions I listed, they said it could damage the EGR and DPF systems, and cause failures. I would think that would also make it a warranty violation, so repairs wouldn't be covered. On the Yahoo board, a member says that Roadtrek told him that Mercedes has approved their usage in the e-trek, and I asked MB about that, also. They didn't respond to that part of the questioning. Roadtrek didn't give that member anything in writing, IIRC.

As we have said before, the idling rules would totally rule out running the van to power the air conditioning for any reasonable amount of time. If we are correct in what the AC is, it will draw in the range of 900 watts, also backed up by the 9 hour running info from Roadtrek. 4 hours of running the AC on batteries would be 3600 watts. The engine generator is listed at 3500 watts so it would have to run and hour to replace that energy, at 100% efficiency and charge rate, which doesn't happen.

I think Roadtrek started off with a good idea--getting rid of the noisy Onan--but have overclaimed the capabilities they have to do that. The big killer for them looks to be the idling rules. Without the rules, you could run the van to handle the AC and recharging, although you would have run it a bunch more than Roadtrek implies, I think. Leave off the claims of running the AC on batteries, and Roadtrek would have been on much more solid ground, it appears.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:07 AM   #238
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Leave off the claims of running the AC on batteries, and Roadtrek would have been on much more solid ground, it appears.
And right there is my problem with overkill. I can easily go 5 days drycamping in one place without driving around on just two house batteries. I've done it. If it got close I could always go sight see someplace in the area and charge the batteries. With only 9.8 hours on my generator after two years and 36,000 miles I could also charge the batteries enough just the 15 or so minutes a day I run it to brew coffee in my 110V coffee maker. A Dometic refrigerator running on propane is nearly negligible in its propane consumption. Redundancy with propane is kind of nice. I am not all that technical but I do know enough to know dependency on one system especially batteries is chancey at best. Also, most all claimed battery numbers are only good the day you receive it. Then it is a slowly eroding game of less performance just like this 4 hour battery life laptop computer I am on right now. It stays plugged in at all times during use or at best I might get 15 minutes.

Gas cooking is simply better than electric. Any arguments about that?

If anyone thinks they are going to depend on batteries to run air-conditioning I think they will be in for a serious disappointment. I was aghast at one guy saying he would park an E-Trek and run the air-conditioning for his dogs overnight while he slept in a motel room.

From my experience I just don't get the E-Trek concept at all.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:45 AM   #239
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

I still think the E-trek would be fine for touring around with occasional no hook-up overnight air conditioner use.
I think it would be best to drive it the next day though.
If you are not using the air conditioner then you have lots of battery power for the induction cook top, microwave oven, coffee maker etc.
Avoid extended idling if possible and make sure to drive afterwards. Hit the highway. Two to three hours of driving should get the batteries back to 90% charged.

No generator to maintain, no propane to fill ---------- it has its conveniences.
You can run the air conditioner to keep your pets cool for a few hours, make coffee, run the microwave etc. all very quietly. No generator. It could be the right campervan for some people.

I still question the 30 minute charging claim but that wouldn't really affect the use I've described. It seems so unlikely that such a tremendous breakthrough in charging lead acid batteries could happen.

I don't think it would be suitable for no hook-up week in the woods needing the air conditioner daily. From everything we've learned about Sprinter idling it everyday with no driving in between could cause problems.

That's really the point of the current direction of this topic. It is not to discourage anyone from buying it, rather it is help point out how to avoid problems and also to try to explain the limitations to expected when running on batteries only.
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Old 02-15-2013, 12:49 AM   #240
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Default Re: New Roadtrek RS E-Trek

Quote:
Originally Posted by booster
Some folks on other boards were pointing to contradictory information from Mercedes on the idling issue, most were diesel owners I suspect I sent an e-mail to MB, USA and asked specifically about the Roadtrek e-trek, stating that to be used as Roadtrek is advertising, the Sprinter might need to be idled 1 or more hours a day, for several days in a row. The response was pretty plain and simple. For the conditions I listed, they said it could damage the EGR and DPF systems, and cause failures. I would think that would also make it a warranty violation, so repairs wouldn't be covered. On the Yahoo board, a member says that Roadtrek told him that Mercedes has approved their usage in the e-trek, and I asked MB about that, also. They didn't respond to that part of the questioning. Roadtrek didn't give that member anything in writing, IIRC.

As we have said before, the idling rules would totally rule out running the van to power the air conditioning for any reasonable amount of time. If we are correct in what the AC is, it will draw in the range of 900 watts, also backed up by the 9 hour running info from Roadtrek. 4 hours of running the AC on batteries would be 3600 watts. The engine generator is listed at 3500 watts so it would have to run and hour to replace that energy, at 100% efficiency and charge rate, which doesn't happen.

I think Roadtrek started off with a good idea--getting rid of the noisy Onan--but have overclaimed the capabilities they have to do that. The big killer for them looks to be the idling rules. Without the rules, you could run the van to handle the AC and recharging, although you would have run it a bunch more than Roadtrek implies, I think. Leave off the claims of running the AC on batteries, and Roadtrek would have been on much more solid ground, it appears.
I was just re-reading this post and it occurred to me that there are jurisdictions with some fairly strict anti-idling laws on the books. Green house gas emissions, and in some cases, noise pollution being the considerations. Granted, a law is only as effective as the level and intensity of enforcement, but I'd hate to find out the hard way by getting busted for trying to recharge my coach
batteries. Has anyone ever been challenged when sitting idling somewhere (I have)? Does anyone know of places where extended periods of idling are frowned upon, or worse? There are a few places in Ontario, generally on a city by city basis, that have anti-idling bylaws, but I haven't heard how strictly they are enforced. Toronto has an anti-idling bylaw.
Could be a problem for an electric based RV, that must idle the engine for extended periods as one of the methods to keep the batteries charged and to prevent expensive premature failure. I would think that if used primarily to tour, not destination camp, the problem with idling to recharge would be mitigated.
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