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Tubing the San Marcos River at Rio Vista Park

Kimberly No Comments

Water! That’s all it takes to make our family content… Well, we like rice cakes and beef jerky too… So any day on the water with a cooler full of rice cakes and beef jerky is a seriously good day! Add ice cream and we’re talkin’ Epic!

So when life presented us with a particularly trying day, we packed up the cooler, pumped up the floats and headed to Rio Vista Park in San Marcos!

What a gem! Like seriously some top 10 USA awesomeness!

Picture a really wide pool with some pretty calm water and then a 6 ft wide spillway… Imagine tubing that!

But wait… There’s more. Two more pools with spillways, each with their own torrential character.

Do it with a float, or don’t. The choice is yours and the experiences are completely different but equally thrilling. Check out it for yourself here:

Oh… Did I mention about the twin rope swings???

Where to go: San Marcos, TX 78666 @29.878367,-97.9345

What to bring:

Floats (local Walmart has the best prices)

Water shoes

Life vests for little kids

Towels

Cooler

Some cash for the ice cream truck (the park is free) here’s where it gets Epic!

Don’t forget the rice cakes and beef jerky!

 

 

FtF Mother’s Day Essay Contest – Win Mom a Free Year of Harvest Hosts

Kimberly No Comments

SuperMom-1

Hey Full Time RVing Families (or those who want to be) It’s time for the Annual Fulltime Families Mother’s Day Essay / Poem Contest!
This year, you could win your mom A Free Year of Harvest Hosts- the membership that allows you to camp at wineries, farms and 1000s of interesting places around the country for free!
Does your Fulltime Mom Rock?
Do you have an amazing RV Mom?
Do you want to win her a free year of Harvest Hosts?
Tell us how much you love your Mom? Tell us why she’s the perfect mom for you?
Now you have a chance to express your love and let her (and everyone else) know just how much she means to you!
ages 5 – 8 Sit with an adult or older sibling and answer the questions about your mother. Have them transcribe your answers if necessary and add them to a home-made Mother’s Day Card.
See Questions below.

ages 9-12 Make a list of amazing attributes that are special about your mom, using the letters M O T H E R in an acrostic poem.
ages 13 – older Write a poem, song or story about your mother. Try and see things from her point of view. Enter your piece in the FtF Mother’s Day Contest

Send your submission to  kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com by Midnight, May 11th, 2017 so we can announce the winner live on Special Mother’s Day Show on Roadschool Moms Radio

The mom of the winning essayist will receive a free Year’s Membership to Harvest Hosts (an FtF Partner)
This contest is open to all readers of this post.

 5 – 8 Interview about my Mom Questions:

All about My Mom
1. How old is your Mom?
2. What is your Mom’s favorite color?
3. What is your Mom’s favorite food?
4. How tall is your Mom?
5. What shoe size does she wear?
6. What is her favorite TV show?
7. What time does your Mom wake up in the morning?
8. What is your Mom’s first name?
9. What do you like best about your mom?
Fulltime-Families-Explorers-Logo-FinalSpecial Note to FtF Explorers:  Please review the guidelines in your handbook to earn your badge for this activity. 
FtF Explorer is a accomplishment driven scouting program for adventurous boys and girls. To enroll your students visit: FTF Explorer Program
 

What’s Harvest Hosts?

Harvest Hosts is  a network of wineries, farms and agri-tourism sites that invite self-contained RVers to visit and stay overnight for free! Through a new partnership with Fulltime Families, FtF Members can now get an Exclusive Discounted Rate for an annual membership.  See the Members Only Benefits Section for details and promo code.
Not an FtF Member Yet?  What are you waiting for?  Join the FtF Family today and start reaping the rewards of membership immediately!

Here’s the Winner of the 2016 FtF Mother’s Day Essay Contest and a Brand New Instant Pot is…

16 year old Daisy Jacobs who submitted her poem “The Gardener”
The gardener.
My mom is like a gardener,
Who pulls out nasty weeds.
Who takes the time to water us
Add the nutrients we need.
Roses, Daisys, cherry blossoms,
She has planted many seeds.
And she adds supports to all our stems,
And does many more good deeds.
I hope that we bloom big for her,
And the love she has decreed.
I wish to one day be this gardener
And plant my own colorful seeds.

Honorable mentions from the hundreds of submissions we were privileged to read go to:

5 yo Allisondra shares about her mom Cat, “I like best that she’s my best friend, loves me as big as the moon and always listens.”

14 yo Josh Arnold shares about his mom, Bunny, “Her favorite place to relax is the beach.
That is why we are there so often.”

Lauri Johnson’s son Andrew says what he loves most about his mom is that she “gives me money”.

A member of the Farnsworth Family wrote:
“My mom and I don’t get along all of the time. Most likely because I am a teenager that wants to be right and she is a mother that normally is.”

According to DJ Travaglino, I am 8 yrs old and 9 ft tall 🙂

From our Acrostic Poem submissions we have:

Jasia Curren says her mother Erin is Magical

Stephanie Church O = Observant: I’ve never stolen a cookie
Austin James tells us his mom Sara is  T = Terrific
Kendra shares that her mother Robyn is H = Helps her to read
Elijah Salyers his mom is E = Epic
For both Jake and Jessi Gebbi R = Rockin Mom!  Go Heather!

Thank you to all who entered and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!  Our next big contest is the Annual FtF Father’s Day Photo Contest.  Follow FulltimeFamilies.com for submission guidelines and contest dates.

 

A Tree For Your RV!

Kimberly 1 Comments

Tis’ the season and living in an RV is no excuse for not decorating.

While it’s easy to string lights on the awning and hang stockings from the slide, finding room for a Christmas Tree can be a bit tricky.

Last year I had a 10in pink prelit tree that I loved looking at.  But it took up valuable real estate on my very limited table and was eventually stuck in a corner.

This year I searched for the perfect RV Tree option and found a few.

My ideal tree would fold completely flat!  Sure enough- they make one!

 

but then I saw this one:

 

A tree that only takes up wall space?  I have plenty some wall space to spare.  This could be the one.

A few more clicks, and I finally found the perfect tree for our RV.

Not as big as the first one, but still a good size and I really liked the colors!

So here you have it – the tree in our RV.

How do you decorate from Christmas? Do you have a tree? Does it fold flat?

RV Basics Seminar Spots Open at Upcoming Fulltime Families Rally

Kimberly No Comments

To increase the education within the FtF community, Fulltime Families has partnered with MyRVSchool.com to bring RV Basics Seminars, Driving Courses, and RV Weigh Services to the upcoming 7th Annual Fulltime Families Family Reunion Rally, hosted in Tallahassee, Feb. 2 – 5th, 2017.

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A RV Basics Seminar will be hosted 1/31 and 2/1 and include:

10 hours of RV Classes (5 hrs per day) $149

RV Weighing $40

RV Driving in Your own Rig!

 

MyRVSchool.com will also be bringing additional education opportunities to this event including RV Driving training, in your OWN RV!

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You can reserve your driving course here.

Fulltime Families is thrilled to be able to bring these educational aspects to the event.  Proper RV Education saves RVers money, time and prevents accidents and unnecessary losses.

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Additionally, MyRVSchool.com will be offering RV weight services.  Overweight RVs contribute to hazardous conditions on the road as well as increased wear and tear on equipment.  RV Weighing is fast, easy and affordable.  Visit My RV School.com’s online scheduler to reserve your RV Weighing spot.

These optional services are available to all FtF Family Reunion Rally Attendees.  Don’t have your spot yet?  Find out about this event and make your reservations here!

ftf-family-reunion-main-logo-final-color-2

Give Your Family the Gift of the Miracle of Christmas

Kimberly No Comments

Each Christmas season, we look for opportunities provide our children with gifts of experience, rather than gifts that will take up space in our RV.   To help encourage others to do the same, we publish an annual list of the Top 25 Gifts for the Full-Time Traveling Family.

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This year, one of our most highly anticipated gifts was a visit to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA to watch The Miracle of Christmas Production.  After attending a performance of Johah during the Not Back to School Roadschool Rally this fall, we all had great expectations and again Sight and Sound did not disappoint.

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The stage is quite large and performances immerse the audience in the experience with a full 180 degrees of wonder and delight. This multi-dimensional  show uses many layers of set design to transport the audience to the hills of Nazareth and the bustling chaos of Bethlehem.  The effect is stunning making each and every audience member feel a part of the story.  The angels fly onto the set from above the audience and live animals walk down the aisles of the orchestra seating area to join the actors onstage.

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The Miracle of Christmas is based on the gospel rendition of the birth of Christ with some  minor artistic license for created characters to help bring the story to life.
The story traverses many human emotions; despair, longing, bewilderment, awe, wonder, and joy with tenderness and a dash of comedy bringing a greater level of understanding of all the issues surrounding this miraculous event.   Our family of  6 (including 4 kids ages 5, 8, 11, 12) were completely mesmerized by the sets,  action, characters and story.

This production is wonderful and provides an opportunity for the family to spend an evening together in joyful anticipation of Christmas. For our family on the road, The Miracle of Christmas was the ultimate Christmas gift that required neither wrapping  nor room in our RV. It has also inspired roadschool lessons on this crucial time in history with the overwhelming number of well-known bible figures.

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Homeschoolers Get Behind the Scenes Access

It should be noted that the Sight and Sound Theater to be exceptionally supportive of homeschoolers and roadschoolers, providing generous savings and starting in April the theather offers a special Behind the Scenes Tour where homeschoolers meet with the actors, go on stage, and tour the dressing rooms/set shop, and animal areas.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of their performances, either in their Lancaster, PA location or the Branson, MO theater, you will not be disappointed.

Snowbirding – In Places other than Florida – Guest Post

Kimberly No Comments

We’ve all heard of birds migrating to places that have a climate which is better suited for their well being. Snowbirding is the human’s version of migrating to places that have better climates. Technically speaking, people who snowbird leave their place of residence due to its unbearably cold climate and migrate to warmer places in order to lead a more comfortable life.

 

In the United States, people who live in areas of the Northeast, Midwest; or those living in areas of Pacific Northwest and Canada choose to spend the greater part of winters in warmer areas. This particular practice is called Snowbirding and the people who engage in such a practice are known as snowbirds. A major chunk of the Snowbird population comprises of retired individuals who no longer can bear excessively cold climates. Others comprise of people with RV’s who love to travel and want to get away from the bone chilling cold and those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder among many others.

 

Where do these Snowbirds seek refuge?

 

It’s quite clear that the Snowbirds seek refuge in warmer areas; they can either go to Florida, which is a Snowbird’s favorite, or Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico and around the Caribbean. After Florida, the next favorite destination of Snowbirds is Arizona. Arizona has a very mild winter when compared to places that get buried snow. Places like Scottsdale and Phoenix are the most visited by Snowbirds and during the winter months, the place is buzzing with traffic. Arizona extends the Snowbirds the luxury to relax in temperatures at 65F during the day and 41°F during the night. Snowbirds have a lot of options concerning their accommodation which can range from staying at hotels, lodges, apartments and a few numbered properties in Scottsdale.

 

  • California is another attraction for Snowbirds and it has a dozen areas where Snowbirds like to settle for the winters, the most popular of them being the Southern Californian areas. Southern California has abundant opportunities for the winter tourists to relax. Some of them include, the hot springs, the desert adventures. With pleasant and close to perfect weather conditions, tourists love this destination. Coachella Valley in Southern California is surrounded by desert cities where most snowbirds flock to.

 

  • Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta are others places in Southern California that are popular among tourists.Texas is another favorite of the snowbirds as it’s blessed with a consistently warm weather. Besides the weather, Texas also has beautiful beaches lined with palm trees to offer to its tourists. The snowbirds get majorly attracted to the tropical feel that’s emanated by the Southern part of Texas. Corpus Christi, Galveston, Port Aransas and Rockport are some of the destinations that snowbirds are totally in love with.

 

  • New Mexico is the new favorite of Snowbirds who on hand do want to get rid of the bone chilling cold, but at the same time want to enjoy the wintery sport of Skiing and snowshoeing. New Mexico has an average temperature of 70 degrees in the day and a pleasant weather by the night. New Mexico, with its lakes, rivers, dormant volcanoes, forests, ice cakes and fossils makes up for an interesting destination for Snowbirds.

 

Popular places in New Mexico include Alamogordo and Albuquerque.

 

Author Bio:

Jeff Takson is writing this article from his work experience. He is travelling all the time because of his job. So, he always has to stay at hotels or other rentals apartments. Among many rentals companies, his choice is is holiday rentals from Casamundo.

Be A Part of this Independent Film about RVing Families

Kimberly No Comments

Are you tired of seeing RVing families portrayed in the media as ” victims of circumstances”?

Are you tired of hearing thing like “don’t worry, it will get better” from well-meaning RV neighbors?

Are you interested in inspiring other families to live an intentional lifestyle?

Then, we have an avenue for you to do something!

suburban

Our fellow nomadic neighbors, the Suburban Pilgrims are embarking on a film-making adventure and your support can help dispel the myths of full-time rving families and give an inside view of what it really looks like to live a mobile lifestyle with your kids in tow.

You can be a part of this ground breaking film!

JOIN THE JOURNEY!

suburban3

 

 

Roadschool Moms Share their Top 10 Summer RV Destinations

Kimberly 1 Comments

No matter what your U.S. location, summer is in full swing with long days and starry nights. The Roadschool Moms team hit the pause button on their summer travel to reflect on their top ten favorite destinations in the country visited in their RV. The July 5th episode of Roadschool Moms, now in it’s fourth season, breaks down the highlights of each destination, where they stayed with their families in each location, and the educational opportunities that were found along the way. Here’s a short summary of the Roadschool Moms Top 10 Summer Destinations (in no particular order):

 

Bar Harbor ME1. Bar Harbor, ME This coastal town is located at the base of Cadillac Mountain and neighboring Acadia National Park. As one of the premiere North American destinations dating back to the 19th century, this area once included a Millionaire’s Row of summer estates belonging to some of the most powerful families in the history of this country. The resources that grew from that network of the rich and famous, are still apparent today in the way of museums, shoppes, and historical points of interest. The nature scene is overflowing with sport opportunities while the discovery of the beautiful surroundings is an event in itself. For more information about Bar Harbor, go to visitmaine.com.

Cody WY2. Cody, WY The natural beauty of Cody, WY, is like no other place on earth. This old west town has all the charm of yesteryear while entertaining all ages of today’s traveler. Home to Buffalo Bill, this area has a multitude of things to see including rodeos, museums, out-west activities, scenic byways, wildlife galore, and all the adventure of the great outdoors. All the details for what to see in Cody, WY can be found at yellowstonecountry.org.

lancaster3. Lancaster, PA Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country offers a wide variety of fun things to see and do in Lancaster County for all ages. Theater productions, tours, museums, amusement parks, covered bridges, and Amish activities are all on the list of favorites from previous visitors. Much of this area moves at a slower pace and centers around traditions from a different time period. Amidst the peaceful scenery in Lancaster, a unique blend of attractions, history, and opportunity to explore exists. Visit lancasterpa.com to begin the journey to a change of pace.

assateague island4. Assateague Island, VA The seashore of Assateague Island reaches 37 miles of pristine, white sandy beach and is considered one of the best beach destinations on the East Coast. Bird watching, kayaking, crabbing, fishing, and the many other outdoor activities are the daily routine of visitors to this area. The wild ponies of Assateague Island travel the beach near Chincoteague, Virginia & Ocean City, Maryland offering a grand history lesson in itself. More facts about beautiful Assateague Island, VA can be found at assateagueisland.com.

seaside5. Seaside, OR If the Oregon coast is on your radar for the summer, make plans to stay in Seaside for bonfires on the beach, beautiful summer sunsets, and more things to do than will fit on your travel calendar. While the beach if the place to play, there are so many other sights to take in such as feeding the seals and wildlife watching. Making a day of it can include exploring the galleries, festivals, coastal lighthouses, historical landmarks, and the many sports made available by Mother Nature. Stop by visittheoregoncoast.com for the scoop on Seaside, OR. And if the Oregon Coast is on your route, be sure to check out the Oregon Coast Lighthouses Study Guide in the Learning Store.

montrose co6. Montrose, CO Exploring the Black Canyon and the natural wonder of the Gunnison River is the center of this charming Colorado attraction. Local art and culture are also a treat while the thrill of nature is abundant with fishing, rafting, rock climbing and the breathtaking beauty of the area. Adventure for all ages can be found easily at coloradoinfo.com.

UP MI7. Michigan Upper Peninsula There are four beautiful seasons to enjoy the breathtaking scenery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; however, summer can’t be beat in this area packed full of fun. If outdoor sports on the list of important area amenities, then look no further. Biking, boating, birding, hiking, golfing, and fishing can be enjoyed from sun up until sun down. The UP offers famous lighthouses, museums, historic sights, and even America’s first national seashore. If a trip to Upper Michigan in is sight, keep the calendar open because there is much to enjoy. Check out uptravel.com for more details.

Lake Thief8. Horse Thief Lake, SD In the shadows of Mount Rushmore, the rustic mountain scenery of Horse Thief Lake exists in an area where there is so much to explore, it’s hard to know where to begin! The abundance of family fun available here starts with open roads, preserved nature, world-famous roadside attractions, historic landmarks and so much more. The Black Hills of South Dakota provides the back drop for family memories that will be monumental in the memory books. The best place to begin this top summer destination is at travelsouthdakota.com.

knoxville tn9. Knoxville, TN On the banks of the Tennessee River and in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains is one of the country’s perfect summer destinations. As a neighbor to America’s most visited national park, the area offers much to see and do for all ages for as many days or weeks as are available. Here lies a quirky combination of art, music, science, nature, sports, and history that comes together for entertainment opportunity like no other. Museums, historical treasures, and attractions of all kinds make up a list that is hard to pare down when looking at the things to do list of the area. Water sports include everything from serene to extreme on the river that is so much a part of the region. To experience Knoxville, go to tnvacation.com and start making plans.

tybee island10. Tybee Island, GA Less than 20 miles from historic Savannah, GA, lies Tybee Island known as Savannah Beach. An area rich in history and natural beauty, Tybee Island really does have something to offer for everyone of all ages. Exploring the island’s beach, salty marsh, and beautiful southeastern coastline is an amazing combination of nature that provides a backdrop that is best known for birdwatching. The usual opportunities for watersports exist as well as historical points of interest but all come together with a twist of Southern charm not available anywhere else in the country. To put Tybee Island on your summer travel schedule, start out at tybeeisland.com.

Kimberly Travaglino, Fulltime Families founder, and Mary Beth Goff, creator of Road Trip Teacher, come together as the Roadschool Moms© team with one of the top educational podcasts available on iTunes. Roadschool Moms airs LIVE every Sunday night at 9 pm EST on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. For more details on Roadschool Moms Top 10 Summer Destinations, check out the July 5th episode.

 

Announcing a New Partnership between Fulltime Families and Escapees

Kimberly No Comments

The mission of Fulltime Families is to support the needs of full time / extended time / family rvers and those seeking resources for the full time rving with kids lifestyle choice.

In the past 5+ years, we’ve worked diligently to provide our members with exclusive ftf pricing on the best services and products in the marketplace.  By establishing corporate partnerships with leaders like Thousand Trails, OvernightRVParking.com, Passport America, Time4Learning, as well as small businesses to provide you excellence in Accounting Services, RV Insurance, Photography, we’ve sought to help you make the most of your adventure while saving your time and money. To see the complete list, click on our members’ benefits page.

Last Spring, we rolled out many new membership enhancements,  starting with our partnership with Escapees RV Club.

Escapees has been supporting the needs of RVers since 1978 and they have established an extensive network and support system, including their award winning mail forwarding services.

Fulltime Families has entered into a full reciprocal partnership with Escapees meaning that current and future FtF members will receive a free year of Escapees online membership*.

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Current Fulltime Families Members can take advantage of this offer by calling 888-757-2582 and having their Fulltime Families membership number in hand.  Don’t remember your membership number?  Email me at Kimberly@fulltimefamilies.com and I will be able to supply that for you.

Not a Fulltime Families Member yet?  It’s a great time to join, as rates will be going up next week!

Click here to join the premier resource for your full time / part time rv family organization.

*Offer applies to new Escapees members only

Fulltime RV Solar Setup for a Family of 6

chrisadmin No Comments

SolarPic2

We started full-time Rving 6 years ago from South Florida.  We had not know what to expect other then we would be living in our 5th wheel RV full-time driving from campgrounds to campgrounds and touring the most beautiful places on the planet.  Electricity was never a concern or a thought at this point.  I just assumed that we would always be plugged into shore power just as if we were living in our house.  Once I realized that sometimes campgrounds are not always an option when traveling, we started overnighting in Walmart parking lots, as we would travel from one place to another.  Our (2) 12-volt DC batteries would do fine until the one night we camped in a Walmart in Northern Florida where we had to run our furnace to keep warm.  Our batteries down to about 50% at 11:00 PM, we went to sleep.  At around 3:30 AM I was woken from the camper shaking violently back and forth.  I naturally got up to see what was happening and discovered that it was 40 degrees in the RV.  My wife and kids being so cold caused the shaking of the RV from their teeth chattering and shivering!  I attempted to turn on the furnace when I discovered that our batteries were dead!  None of the lights, refrigerator, or furnace would run.  I covered everyone up nice and tight and we made it through the night.

The next day, I went to our local hardware store and purchased a generator.  I thought this would ultimately solve our problems with our batteries being dead when not being plugged into shore power.  This did help, but we were lacking on battery amp hours.  I could charge those batteries to 90%, turn off the generator and by 4:00 AM, the batteries were dead again.  At this point, I went out and purchased (4) 6-volt golf cart batteries and wired them in series parallel.  This setup would last us through the night and we were satisfied with that.

After using the system this way for about 1 year, we got the idea to spend 5 nights dry camping in Quartzsite Arizona attending the RV show they do every year.   We were going to be off grid and for the first time for so many nights.  At this point, I was introduced to solar power.  I purchased my first 2 Kyocera 80 Watt solar panels, a cheap solar charge controller, wiring, and a small inverter.   I had planned on powering our 110-volt residential refrigerator with that system and charge our batteries.  I remember telling a solar expert what I was going to do with the system and him telling me, “That is not enough solar power to run what you are trying to accomplish.”  Being on a budget and not totally believing the experts, I purchased the system anyway.  This system did work great but would not keep my batteries charged enough to make it through the night.  I would have to run the generator for 4 hours every night and wake up to batteries that were about 25% full.  We lived with this system for about 3 years where decided as a family that we wanted to do lots more boondocking and less campground camping.  We wanted to save money and park in the most amazing places on the planet.

Boondocking opens up so many opportunities as you can get the best views, places for the kids to run and be loud without campgrounds getting upset, being remote and alone so you have time to enjoy the landscape around you.  In order to accomplish this, I knew that we needed a much larger solar setup.  I started researching the best hardware options and configurations available for RV’ers.

Hardware list:

(4) 260 Watt Canadian Solar Panels wired in series parallel

Midnight Solar breaker box and breakers

2 Gauge wire from roof to batteries and solar controller

Morningstar TriStar MPPT 60 solar controller

(6) Full-River 105 Amp Hour 12-volt AGM batteries

Xantrex PROsign 2.0 2000-Watt Inverter wired with 2/0 Wire

Sirus Solar DS-201 Network Enabled Monitor

With this system, we are able to run (2) residential refrigerators, all the electrical outlets in the RV, charge our batteries, and make it through the night in any environment.  The item’s we cannot run is our air conditioners, electric heaters, and central vacuum.   These items have too much of a load and either our batteries would drain to quickly or the inverter would overload and shut off to prevent damage.  If we need to run these items, we can run our generator.  We also substitute the solar with the generator on cloudy days where the sun is not producing enough electricity to charge our batteries.

After owning a Morningstar TriStar MPPT 60 solar controller for about a year now, the one thing that the device is lacking frommpptcontroller the controller is reporting and monitoring.  Yes, the Morningstar has a built in webserver and does have reporting features but it is very hard to get any useable reports and graphs from the device.  The Morningstar has 2 ways to communicate with it.  You can connect to it by RS232 serial connection or you can use the built in LAN adapter.  Most computers today do not have RS232 serial ports on them, so you will need a serial to USB device to connect to the unit if you choose this method.  LAN is much easier but you will need a Windows computer with the MSView software you can download from Morningstar’s website.  The software is not supported on any other platform but Windows Operating Systems.  If you are not familiar with the software, you will find it very difficult to configure and run reports, graphs, and other data metrics that you may be wanting.

sirussolarIn order to combat this issue, I found a 3rd party add-on piece.  The Sirus Solar DS-201 Network Enabled Monitor.  Sirus Solar also has a DS-202 model for those using 2 Morningstar solar controllers.  This device connects to the RS232 serial port on the Morningstar solar controller, an AC adapter or DC hardwire connection for power, and an Ethernet cable for network communication.  Setup on the monitor is quick and simple.  After you have all the wires connected, you go to a computer or mobile device to access the webserver.  You will find the setup tab where you then can either choose DHCP or static IP addressing, serial port configuration, device user name and password setup, time and time zone / NTP configuration, and email setup for system reports and alerts to your inbox.

SetupSS

After your configuration is complete, you can start having fun with the DS-201.  As you can see from the image below, you have all your important views on the “Main” tab.  This included battery charge status, solar charging amps, AMP hours, kilowatt hours, and it even reports as to how much avoided CO2 emissions you did not generate due to using your solar system for charging batteries.  Also important elements are the status of your solar controller and a graph overview of kilowatt-hours and emissions avoided.  All this data is reported to you in real-time as well as the “monitor” tab discussed below.

mainSS

If you click on the “Monitor” tab, a small meter comes up with battery charge status, battery volts, battery temp, array volts, and charge amps.  This is the amp’s going into your batteries from your solar controller.  You also have total watt-hours for the day, amps hours, controller state, and if the controller has any faults going on.

monitorSS

In my opinion, the strongest feature that the Sirus DS-201 has is the graphing capabilities.  This was my biggest complaint with the Morningstar MSView software and Sirus Solar has nailed this!  As you can see from the screen capture below, you get a 7-day to 5-year overview all in one spot with an easy to understand output.  You get battery status, array current and avoided emissions on one simple page.

GraphSS

The one thing that the DS-201 I feel is missing that is important is how many watts your solar panels are generating.  I know that I have 1040 watt max solar array system and I would like to know how much watts are being sent down to the controller in real-time without having to do the math converting amps to watts.  I have contacted Sirus Solar on this and they are open to the possible of adding this feature in the future with a simple software upgrade.

Steps For Version Upgrade when available by Sirus Solar:

1 – Download and unzip Autoupdate program.
2 – Download and unzip file version Sirussolar_vX_X.zip
3 – Export graph data before upgrading. ALL DATA WILL BE RESET ON UPGRADE.
4 – Document all setup configuration data as THIS SETUP DATA WILL BE DEFAULTED.
5 – Run Autoupdate program. Click find to find your DS-201 on the network.
6 – Click browse to find the upgrade file you downloaded, SirusSolar_vX_X_APP.s19
7 – Click the checkbox  “Reboot when complete”
8 – Click the Update button. DO NOT TURN OFF POWER while uploading.
9 – Your web server will reboot after upgrading is complete.

SSDevice

I would recommend the DS-201 to anyone with the Morningstar solar controllers due to its robust features, the ability the view your solar system from a network device LAN or from the Internet.  The support team at Sirus Solar is top notch and if you feel an add-on to the software should be made, they are willing to listen and possible add this in their enhancements list.  At a price of $269.00 without a monthly subscription fee, this monitoring device is a solid investment and compliment to your solar monitoring system.

(Example of MSView Software and webserver)

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MSViewEX2FtF Solar Setup Pictures:

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