Saturday, February 20, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
They tout a lot of things with the light, and it seems a little expensive (~$100) for a light, but for me it seemed worthwhile for what it offered. Being able to walk up to the RV and see where I was going made a lot of sense. Plus, their other features:
- the slight down-tilt of the light which lit more of the pavement than the side of another rig
- the battery monitor that would tell you if you were green or red (under voltage @ 11.5v) from outside the coach
- the security of knowing that if anyone walked up they'd trip the light. Supposedly the detector can tell between a person and a squirrel...
I ordered the light online and was able to find it for under $80. I only ordered one even though I have two porch lights because we intend to use one door more than the other.
They claim that the screw pattern matches most generic lights, so installation seemed like it would be a cinch. Same two wires, and pretty much take the screws out of the old light, pull off the butyl-taped backplate, lube it up with silicone and poof - done. In reality, it was tougher than I'd thought.
First - the screw pattern didn't match, not even close. So, after removing the old light and cleaning off the butyl residue I matched up one screw and redrilled the other three holes. This time, instead of using butyl tape, they recommend putting a silicone seam around the backing. They provide a groove to do so. I thought this would be simple, boy was I wrong.
Problem is that you're working above your head and off to one side. The ladder I was using was too small. I recommend that the first thing anyone who is installing this do is get themselves a nice little platform setup at the appropriate height. You'll see why in a moment. ;)
Anyhow -First step was to clean the area where the old light was. I used alcohol and cleaned around the entire area. Second I filled all the screw holes, old and new, with clear silicone so there wouldn't be any breaches for water to penetrate. Then, after putting the connectors on the wires correctly (white to white, black to black) it was time to silicone the back of the light. Problem of course is that you don't have a lot of space to work with since those wires are on. If you went to do it the other way, the light back will rub silicone all over the outside of the rig. [Recommendation: Two people on a platform would make this a much easier mod. Unfortunately, I didn't have that option.]
So having the light lubed up, the wires connected, I went to put the light in the right location, and lined it up with the wrong screw hole, smearing silicone all over the side of the RV trying to find the right one. I knew that not only was that a mess, it wasn't going to seal right, so I had to do it again. After cleaning up the silicone with mineral spirits (be sure to rewax the rig if you ever have to do this), I learned from my mistakes and put in some small rods (headless screws work well for this) into the correct screw holes, allowing me to put the light over them and just pushing it directly onto the side of the RV. Then, I screwed in the two non-rodded holes, removed the rods, screwed in the last two. Then, with a wet finger and a paper towel in the other hand, neatened up the silicone line around the light.
So - learning experiences here:
- even if the steps are simple, the mod might not be.
- find a comfortable position to do the mods that are above your head. Though that might sometimes be tough when out on the road, it would be worthwhile in materials, frustration and neatness.
- silicone is messy if you get it wrong. Get it right the first time.
Overall, I live the light and it does what I wanted. One thing that I would like it to have is the ability to choose how long you want it to light up. I know their goal is to scare away things that shouldn't be there, and not to use too much power doing it, but it'd be nice if they let me choose how I want it to work. A simple waterproof push switch to choose long or short would be enough.
Would I recommend it? By all means. If you're interested in the mod, more information can be found at http://www.starlightsinc.com. The website itself isn't the best maintained - the mail form wasn't working when I tried, but the info there is everything you need to know to do this mod.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
I'm talking about smoke alarms. I just don't understand using alarms that you can't mute near a kitchen. I don't buy that's its being cautious - I'm thinking its really just all about being cheap and lazy.
Anyhow - I spent $10 and upgraded the alarm near the central area of the RV with one that not only has a 'pause' button on it (muting it if it goes off from burning something on the stove), but also has a light on it that lights the entire door/evacuation area when it truly goes off. Any normal house would have this (I hope) so that people don't go crazy, and the upgrade cost was minimal. The mounting bracket even fit into the same mounting holes. How easy can a mod be? ;)
All that stuff I read about the simple, little life-mods really makes sense to me. This one should be done by every RV'er, though it would make more sense if RV companies just spent the extra - what - 2 dollars wholesale? - and put them in.