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Harnessing the Power of the Sun with a Spartan Inverter

Kimberly No Comments

Soon after our family hit the road we found that some of the best stops are the ones off the beaten path, where there are no hook ups; just you and nature. Whether it’s a week at the beach or a few days at the edge of a butte being off grid gives your family the opportunity to unplug.

Just one minor detail, how can a power hungry modern day full-time RVing family get electricity out on the open range? I need to keep my electronics charged for work. Of course, we’re gonna run the instant pot? Shoot and what about the furnace or some fans? Running the generator sort of defeats the purpose of enjoying the quietness of it all – so that’s out.

Ahhh – I know let’s get an inverter, better yet a whole solar system. We’ve already covered what we did with Northern Arizona Wind and Sun in an earlier post. As a recap, we have 4 panels on the roof providing up to 1100 watts coming down into the Midnite Solar 150 (a 100 amp charge controller) and we currently have 4 6v 220 ahr batteries (bought those at Costco for $87 a piece). So, we have a little more than 400 ahr, which means really only about 200 ahrs that are usable – because we don’t want to discharge these below 50%.

Now – THE INVERTER

When looking for the right inverter we knew right where to go. The folks in Reno, NV at Spartan Power have been in this market since 2003. For our application they sent us the 3300 Watt inverter/charger

Overview

The Spartan Power SP-IC3312 3300 Watt 12V DC to AC power inverter/charger is a low frequency inverter that has a built-in 100A charger, 50A transfer switch and comes with a two year warranty. The SP-IC3312 is great for use at home or in RV, Marine, Fleet Truck, Emergency and many other renewable energy application environments. The SP-IC3312 is packed with unique features and is one of the most advanced inverter/chargers on the market today. The Spartan Power IC Series features power factor correction, sophisticated multi-stage charging and pure sine wave output with unprecedentedly high surge capability to meet demanding power needs of inductive loads without damaging your equipment.

How Does it Work

When utility AC power cuts off (or falls out of acceptable range), the transfer relay is de-energized and the load is automatically transferred to Inverter Mode. Once the qualified AC power is restored, the relay is re-energized and the load is automatically reconnected to AC Bypass Mode. Additionally, the inverter can also be easily customized to Battery Priority via a DIP switch. This helps to extract maximum power from the battery in renewable energy systems such as solar and wind.

Installation

Now let’s get this installed…can’t wait! When working with electricity please be careful.

If you’re more of the “show me how to do it personality” click here for our step-by-step video tutorial.

We started by unplugging power to the rig and turning off the battery cut off for the RV. We needed to upgrade the battery

 

cables so Spartan Power sent us some 1/0 cables. They are rated to withstand up to 3500 Watts continuous. By the way – they manufacture their own cables and I highly recommend using these quality cables.

We also installed a battery cutoff and a slow burn 100A fuse between the batteries and the inverter so at any time we could de-energize the system and the fuse is used to protect the inverter from getting hurt.

Then we had to figure out where to mount this. I chose a solid spot in my front bay had plenty of room for wires and was out of the way of anything else that could possible fall and damage the unit. *PRO TIP – I’ve used this type of trick before…find yourself a large piece of cardboard – place it on the back of the inverter and then mark your screw holes. Then you can use the template to pre-drill exactly where you need to hang the inverter. We used nuts and bolts on the top of the mounting and self-tapping screws on all the other holes.

Next we had to identify which circuits would need to be inverted. I chose four circuits which basically power everything in my rig (convection microwave, and all outlets). My water heater and fridge will run on propane while I’m drycamping. I chose not to wire in my AC’s at this point because my batteries wouldn’t support the load very long and I have a generator as back up if needed.

We basically moved those four circuits from the main panel to a subpanel that is now controlled or powered by the inverter. We also installed a 30A circuit on the panel so we can control when these four circuits are powered by the inverter. So, when we’re plugged into shore power we can flip that switch and use our inverter and the sun to power those circuits. Why would I do that you ask? Because sometimes you may be in a park that charges for your electricity – or you may be limited to 30 amps at your site. By doing this you can eliminate tripping the main breaker.

Finally, we had the tedious task of threading all of the wiring into the right spots on the inverter. The instructions were clearly laid out in the manual, but the thinker the gauge of wire, the harder it is to mold those lines to lay perfectly. Don’t stress it – take it slow and make sure it’s done right.

Now it’s showtime! Everything runs perfectly and nw I’m ready for boon docking! Thanks to our partners at Spartan Power – you can find out more about their team and line up of products here: www.spartanpower.com

Want to install this product own your own?  Check out the installation video!

Fulltime Families Ambassadors – The Foster Family

Sarah James No Comments

What is a Fulltime Families Ambassador?  The goal of the Fulltime Families Ambassador Program is to continue to build a meaningful, inclusive and strong community on the road. To achieve this, we find a family who will:

  • Be warm and welcoming both online and in-person.  An example of this would be to continue what you already do, by Welcoming new members on Facebook group as they are announced.
  • Share about Fulltime Families wherever they go and encourage membership.
  • Help current FtF Members to connect with each other.
  • Be well versed in the benefits of Fulltime Families and share events, updates, new products, partnerships and FtF news via their personal website, and/or social media avenues.  
  • Look for ways to be inclusive of others, by hosting potlucks, field trips, and potentially Fulltime Families events as opportunities arise.  
  • Communicate with Fulltime Families Corporate how the membership can be enhanced and other ways to make FtF even better.

We currently have 9 FtF families in the Ambassador program that we will be introducing to you!

The Foster Family

Meet the Foster’s; Ian, Brooke, Sierra, and Aayla.

The Foster’s downsized and started traveling part-time in 2011. Brooke said, “We wanted to travel, ditch the rat race and have a more simplistic life. We wanted to enjoy life for the girls.”  Ian and Brooke knew they were working too much which meant they didn’t see the girls enough. They decided they wanted to be closer to their family (each other and the girls) and travel. “At the end of November 2015 a realtor randomly knocked on the door to see if we wanted to sell our house!” Brooke said. So they sold the house and started selling everything else to get ready to travel on the road. Then, they went full-time in January 2016.

The Foster’s are valued members of Fulltime Families. In the Foster’s opinion, the number one benefit to FtF is the community; finding friendships on the road and online. Brooke commented, “There’s a whole basis of people out there and if you have a question theres’ a whole group of people for you.” The Foster’s have been able to build stronger bonds with other Fulltime Families than in their “sticks & bricks” home. “This is not a vacation, this is a lifestyle,” Brooke replied.

They also enjoy the freedom to go where they want. “It’s nice to be one place one day and if it’s not working, you can just pick up and go some where else. And I always have my house with me wherever we end up. It gives us a bit more normalcy to always have the comforts of home.”

Their family usually picks places to stay near the water . It could be any water; lake, pond, stream, ocean. Brooke said, “It doesn’t matter, just water! It’s calming and peaceful serene.” They like kayaking, canoeing, and going to the pool. Their family has other interests as well. Brooke likes hiking, Ian likes anything technical (like drones), Sierra likes horseback riding, and Aalya likes Shopkins and meeting friends.

Sid Turcotte Park in Mattawa, Canada is the Fosters campground! They sold their business in 2011 and retired at that time. They bought the campground to have something to focus on because, “it’s boring having nothing to do after all,” Brooke said. They love hosting anyone, but especially FtF families!

You may not know, but, Brooke is an introvert!!!  However, she is thankful for the FtF community because it’s good. It draws her out and makes her comfortable. She said, “There’s no pressure so she can just ‘be’. Just because you are an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be involved!” Brooke has been involved in many, many ways with our community and even during events. She enjoys being the event photographer and does a fantastic job!

Sierra and Aayla are unschooled. The girls were in the traditional school system but they didn’t fit in the traditional box. They lost their creativity after 1st grade so Ian and Brooke decided to pull them out. Unschooling helped the girls learn again and gave their mom and dad a chance to help their own kids learn how to love to learn! Their family takes the girl’s interests and runs with them by learning everything they can together. It took Brooke and Ian a long time to teach themselves to have the freedom to allow their girls to learn for themselves and let it go. But now, they learn as much as the girls, because they learn alongside them.

The biggest lesson that the Foster’s have learned since they started traveling is the be able to adapt because things change over time. They also know that they wouldn’t do anything different. If Brooke could recommend anything it would be to put a lot of time into the living space of your RV. See what is important to you and your family. Figure out what parts of the day are important to being together as a family. She suggests putting a lot of research into the space you choose and how you will use it before you buy!

The Fosters are a wonderful family and we are proud to have them as part of our community!

Each Ambassador family is so important to us and we look forward to introducing the next one to you soon.

Fulltime Families Ambassadors – The Anderson Family

Sarah James No Comments

What is a Fulltime Families Ambassador?  The goal of the Fulltime Families Ambassador Program is to continue to build a meaningful, inclusive and strong community on the road. To achieve this, we find a family who will:

  • Be warm and welcoming both online and in-person.  An example of this would be to continue what you already do, by Welcoming new members on Facebook group as they are announced.
  • Share about Fulltime Families wherever they go and encourage membership.
  • Help current FtF Members to connect with each other.
  • Be well versed in the benefits of Fulltime Families and share events, updates, new products, partnerships and FtF news via their personal website, and/or social media avenues.  
  • Look for ways to be inclusive of others, by hosting potlucks, field trips, and potentially Fulltime Families Hangouts as opportunities arise.  
  • Communicate with Fulltime Families Corporate how the membership can be enhanced and other ways to make FtF even better.

We currently have 9 FtF families in the Ambassador program that we will be introducing to you!

The Anderson Family

Let me introduce you to our FtF Ambassador’s, the Anderson’s; William (aka Bill), Lisa and Jea (aka Bird). Bill was a truck driver and always missed his family while he was away. His lifetime dream was for his family to travel with him. Once Bill and Lisa found out they were pregnant (at 36 weeks with Jea, mind you!), they put their lifetime dream on hold until their daughter was older. They decided to go fulltime on the road. It took them 4 months to get everything in order to leave their home base and pulled out on May 1, 2016. They felt like they were returning to original plans, their life-long dream!

 

Bill and Lisa have enjoyed their travels, they enjoy exploring the National Parks with Jea, but their #1 reason they love this lifestyle is the community they have found within Fulltime Families. “It’s a way of connecting with other like-minded families; adults and kids alike. It’s a community full of other people that understand our lifestyle,” they said. The Anderson’s also enjoy staying places up to 3 weeks because then they’ve had enough time in that area and are ready to move.

When asked what their biggest lesson learned on the road, Lisa answered, “Be flexible. Things will break, plans will change, just go with it and move on.”

After the lessons learned and the seasons traveled, Bill said, “I would have gone fulltime sooner,” and Lisa said, “I would have developed our own remodel plan instead of having the manufacturer do it. It’s not that hard to remodel these things by yourself and now I would make different changes because I didn’t realize our actual storage needs or functionality needs at the time we were purchasing our home. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself!”

Lisa put a timeline on traveling in the beginning (said they’d only travel a year) and now wishes she hadn’t done that because if she’d gone fully in she wouldn’t have limited them so much, especially on things like only being able to travel on weekends.

Bill’s advice, “Even if you don’t have any interest in this lifestyle, you have to try it!”

The Anderson’s are a fun family and we are proud to have them as part of our community!

 

Each Ambassador family is so important to us and we look forward to introducing the next one to you soon!!!

Fulltime Families Game On Rally Wraps with Huge Success – Video Recap

Kimberly No Comments

Last week Fulltime Families Membership Club wrapped up it’s 17th nationwide event, The Fulltime Families Game On Rally.

Led by the fearless Rally Leading Benson Family (who were first time ralliers) and supported by, The Boudreaux Family, The Skeat Family, The Dougherty Family , The Jacobs Family and The Thomas Family, as well as the helpful hands of the event’s attendees, the game themed 4 day weekend took place at the Wilderness Lakes Thousand Trails in Menifee, CA.

Sponsors for the event included:
Workamper News
RVInsurances.com / Marty Adair
CreateLaunchMarket.com

Pre-rally activities included a roadschool field trip of the Nixon Presidential Library and knitting baby hats for the New Beginnings Charity Program.

Official Rally Activities Included family games, arts and crafts, teen specific activities, pot lucks, a talent show, a dance, seminars and q&a sessions, as well as the highly anticipated “Parade of Homes” (click for a video from Less Junk More Journey featuring this event).

 

Honestly, if you’ve never been to a rally – there’s no better way to experience it then by just jumping in with both feet!  But if you want a birds-eye-view – check out this awesome video recap from the Fummins Family Road Trip Youtube Channel:

Want to make your own Rally Memories?  Join Us for Our Next Event!

Fulltime Families Ambassadors – The Mason Family

Sarah James No Comments

What is a Fulltime Families Ambassador?  The goal of the Fulltime Families Ambassador Program is to continue to build a meaningful, inclusive and strong community on the road. To achieve this, we find a family who will:

  • Be warm and welcoming both online and in-person.  An example of this would be to continue what you already do, by Welcoming new members on Facebook group as they are announced.
  • Share about Fulltime Families wherever they go and encourage membership.
  • Help current FtF Members to connect with each other.
  • Be well versed in the benefits of Fulltime Families and share events, updates, new products, partnerships and FtF news via their personal website, and/or social media avenues.  
  • Look for ways to be inclusive of others, by hosting potlucks, field trips, and potentially Fulltime Families Hangouts as opportunities arise.  
  • Communicate with Fulltime Families Corporate how the membership can be enhanced and other ways to make FtF even better.

We currently have 9 FtF families in the Ambassador program that we will be introducing to you!

The Mason Family

Let me introduce you to our FtF Ambassador’s, the Mason’s; Ian, Jennie, Jesse, David, & Veronica. They started considering living on the road because Ian’s job was too much. Jennie and the kids never saw him. Due to work, their family was rarely able to take vacations. The Mason’s were tired of the ‘rat race’ that typically comes with the traditional lifestyle. They made the decision to go on the road in January of 2015, bought the rig in April, bought the truck in May, moved into the rig in June and lived stationary for a few months while Ian finished out his work commitments. Then, they hit the road in September of 2015.

They knew they wanted to travel for a year or two at least, but currently have no end in site! They LOVE this RVing lifestyle! They have no plans for a s&b (sticks and bricks) house ever again!

Jennie and Ian both agree that the #1 benefit to having a Fulltime Families membership is community. Jennie said, “The biggest thing I love about this lifestyle, in general, is sitting around chatting and getting to know people on a deeper level.”

When asked what people may not know about your family, they said, their kids are all 3 adopted and are 1/2 siblings.

The Mason’s family favorite pass-times are exploring the National Park system and volunteering. However, they enjoy this lifestyle most because, in their words, “We’ve found our tribe. Some relationships we’ve built on the road are deeper than any we’ve ever had because of the likemindedness we share.”

Over their years of travel the Mason’s have learned a ‘few’ things! Their biggest lesson has been financial. Jennie said, “Income is not a guarantee. You don’t have to have the biggest & most expensive rig to live on the road. You don’t have to have hefty payments. In fact, you’re better off if you don’t.” Knowing what they know now, they would pay cash and have no debt on the rig and truck.

The Mason’s only regret is that they wish they would have started living the nomadic lifestyle sooner. “This life is doable and it’s amazing,” they said.

We, at Fulltime Families, are thankful for the Mason’s. They have become an amazing asset to our community! Jennie is now employed, for a few hours a week, with Fulltime Families. She in currently in charge of FtF Branches (FtF’s smaller niches where our community can connect around the things they have in common).

Each Ambassador family is so important to us and we look forward to introducing the next one to you soon!!!

Fulltime Families 2K Giveaway

Kimberly No Comments

As Fulltime Families Membership swells to 2,000 Members internationally, we are celebrating with our Fulltime Families 2k Giveaway!

In 2015 when Fulltime Families crested 1,000 Members we gave away a Go Pro!

But as we cross the next great threshold, we’ve come up with an even more exciting event to celebrate the growth of our community, with more opportunities to participate.

When the dial rolls on 2k, Fulltime Families will be giving away the following prizes:

1 Grand Prize Winner: $250 Amazon Gift Card

1 Second Prize Winner: $100 Amazon Gift Card

4 Third Prize Winners: $25 Amazon Gift Cards

5 Fourth Prize Winners: $10 Amazon Gift Cards

Prizes will be awarded via random drawing.  The more entries your family has in the drawing, the greater your chance to win! 

Here’s how you earn entries in the Fulltime Families 2k Giveaway

  • All active member families are automatically entered with a single (1) entry per family.
  • All active member families will earn two (2) additional entries for each new member referral.  Referrals must be registered and recorded through the Fulltime Families Affiliate Program.  Referral date must be equal to or greater than 12/12/17.  Not an FtF Affiliate yet?  Click the link to register.
  • No purchase necessary to participate.  All non-FtF (or inactive) member families who are FtF Affiliates will earn one (1) entry for each new member referral.
  • Only 1 winner per family permitted
  • Drawing will take place within 48 business hours after the 2000th FtF Member registers.

20 Resources to help you Roadschool Through the Holidays

Kimberly No Comments

Holiday Roadschool Show Button

This time of year can be hectic no matter what kind of lifestyle you enjoy. Many families on the road take time off to travel back home for the holidays or simply enjoy their surroundings for the season. No matter what your holiday schedule, the Roadschool Moms team encourages you to Roadschool through the Holidays. These are the favorite homeschool holiday resources on the RoadSchool Moms Approved list this year:

Language Arts & Cross-Curriculum Resources

Homeschool through the Nativity from Intoxicated on Life

All About Christmas from Meet Penny

Holidays Around the World from Teachers Pay Teachers

The History of Santa Claus from Lesson Plans Page

All About Rudolph from Mrs. Thompson’s Treasures

Christmas Vocabulary Puzzles from Road Trip Teacher

Truth in the Tinsel from Oh Amanda

Science

Christmas Science Labs from The Science Penguin

Christmas Nature Study from Our Journey Westward

Tie-Dyed Christmas Ornaments from Happy Hooligans

Math

The Twelve Math Days of Christmas from A2Z Homeschool

Christmas Math Facts from ABCya

Writing & Copywork

The Christmas Story Copywork from Mom’s Mustard Seeds

December Scripture Writing Plan from Sweet Blessings

Reading

Advent Book List from My Humble Kitchen

Christmas Chaper Books to Read Aloud from What Do We Do All Day

12 Christmas Books to Read to Your Kids from Stewardship

Art, Music & Other Fun Resources

Christmas Carols Music Study from Squilt Music

How to Draw a Reindeer from Busy Kids Happy Mom

Christmas Tree Chalk Art from Hodge Podge

Lego Christmas Projects from Frugal Fun 4 Boys

Many of the resources above can be used to homeschool across the ages of your roadschool. Here are a couple of other holiday roadschool resources we found that your middle school/high school teens might especially enjoy:

5 Days of Teen Christmas Ideas from Education Possible

Nutcracker Unit Study from Homegrown Learners

Holiday Math Activities from Lindsay Perro


To listen to the Roadschool Moms’s favorite resources used in their own roadschool during the 2015 holiday season, tune into the December 6th episode of Roadschool Moms over at iTunes!

Roadschool Moms is a live, one-hour weekly broadcast dedicated to the needs and challenges facing today’s roadschool moms. Kimberly Travaglino, of Fulltime Families, and Mary Beth Goff, the Road Trip Teacher, team up every week to offer listeners a fresh take on homeschooling while traveling full time, working in current events and featuring a mix of expert guests.

Fulltime Families Announces 2018 Winter Events

Kimberly No Comments

Have you heard about the Fulltime Families Rallies? Are you looking to see if there’s one upcoming on your route?

Fulltime Families is currently accepting Early Bird Registrations for Charter and Lifetime Members, for their recently announced 3 Nationwide Events to be hosted Winter and Spring 2018

General Registration will open on 10/6

We’ve been “on the road” now for over 3.5 years and found that the road can be a lonely place, especially for kids. We just finished the Canadian rally last week and I can say emphatically that we’ve yet to find a better way to connect with other families while on the road than a rally.

If you haven’t attended a rally yet and you’re on the fence about going to one, I’d encourage you to do it. We’re now planning our routes around rallies, when feasible, instead of only if it one is close by.  Biles Family Pioneer Lifetime FTF #620

Wondering what happens at a Rally?  Check Out Less Junk, More Journey’s videos from the 2017 Tallahasee Rally

Still have questions?  Click here to read all our Rally FAQs

 

Ready to Register – Choose your event below:

Fulltime Families SouthWest Shindig Hangout in Tonopah, AZ

Kimberly No Comments
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Join your FtF Friends for a BLM Boondocking Adventure

The Thomas Family invites fellow Fulltime Families Members to join them for a Back to Basics Good Time at the Fulltime Families Southwest Shindig in Tonopah, AZ, on BLM Land (coordinates delivered after registration),  Nov. 30th – Dec 3rd. 2017.

Family Friendly Activities will be announced shortly.

Families interested in attending this event are encouraged to make their reservations with Fulltime Families asap. Spaces are Limited!

An activities fee of $50 per family will be required to cover supplies for this weekend long event. Please keep in mind, this is not a rally, it’s a “hang out” which has a more relaxed calendar of activities.

Not in the Southwest this Fall? Check out the other scheduled Fulltime Families Hangouts

Interested in hosting your own Fulltime Families Hangout? Contact Kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com

You can reserve your spot for this event by reserving your spot with the form below:

2017 Fulltime Families South West Shindig Hangout
2017 Fulltime Families South West Shindig Hangout
Hosted at Saddle Mountain BLM - Tonopah, AZ - November 30th 2017 - December 3rd 2017
Price: $50.00

What are the cancellation policies for this event?

Hangout Fee Refunds:

  • Cancel between Now and –November 14th, 2017 for a 50% refund.
  • Cancellations after November. 15th will not be refunded.
  • Fees at non-transferable

Camping Refunds:

  • There are no Campground charges for this event.  It is hosted on BLM land which provides free camping for up to 14 days.

 

Shhhh… The Best Kept Secret in RV Furnishings is…

Kimberly No Comments

For years, I have searched the aisles of Camping World looking for fun and interesting things that would be fully functional and funky additions to my RV. For years I have been disappointed. Spare the clock with the days of the week, I have not found anything exciting in any CW across the country.

That doesn’t mean we haven’t spent a lot of money there, in the form of sewer hoses, vent covers and other RV Essentials, we have. But those interesting, dual functioning, perfectly proportioned items that would make life in my camper easier… were not there.

Then, I found them! All in one place, all affordable and all served with a delicious side of Swedish Meatballs… Was this a dream??? No, it’s IKEA!!!

THE BEST store for fun, functional and funky things to add to your RV at affordable prices.

Check out some of the things I got…

High chair 19.99 – Note this chair is light weight, the perfect height for an RV table AND a picnic table, and it’s totally weather proof! Love it!

Toddler potty 4.99 – Simple, portable, works great in the RV and on the tailgate of the truck – oh and it looks great in the middle of my kitchen too! Atleast I think so!!!

Matchbox car carpet $12.99 Since we brought this home it has seen hours of play time. It’s the perfect foundation to build a Matchbox World on top of. Also works great with our train collection and Tonia loves how her Giant Barbie Dolls can wreak havoc on the entire town her brothers just diligently built.

Butt that’s not alll!

 

These dog leash holders for $2.99 each are absolutely my favorite. Not only do they help me organize the various tethers I have for our three mongrels, they also make me laugh!!!

Keep in mind, once you go to Ikea one time you will be absolutely addicted because… unlike that dusty Camping World… Ikea offers (are you sitting down) FREE BABYSITTING!!!!

Yes, you can shop in peace! or make it a date and check out the Ikea Cafeteria.

Check out this menu… Sometimes they even offer “kids eat free” http://www.ikea.com/us/en/store/sunrise/restaurant

And get this … Ikea has RV Parking and they’ll even let you stay overnight! It’s like they were built with FtF’s in mind!

Ikea is definitely the best kept secret in RV stores, so the next time you pass that bright blue and yellow sign, hang a u-ie and be sure to keep a lookout for me in the parking lot – it’s my new obsession! 😉

 

 

 

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