Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is a real gadget guy. He is always reinventing the wheel when it comes to our trailer.
Before our last trip he direct-wired a small inverter to our coach batteries with heavy wire. It has been great for charging our computers, phones and cameras. The inverter sits in a small basket on the dinette seat.
We came home one day and our trailer was full of smoke. I had left some note pads and coupons in the basket and the inverter was hot enough to ignite them. Why it didn’t burn the whole place down, I don’t know.
I think we should remove the whole thing, but my husband said it was a fluke and that the system is perfectly safe as long as we keep things clear of it.
For peace of mind shouldn’t we just scrap the whole thing? Is it worth the worry? I don’t want to be unreasonable, but this could have been a real disaster.
--Giving up smoking in Sedona
If wired properly the inverter should be as safe as any other electrical system in your trailer. I would lose the basket and mount it so that you won’t pile anything on top of it.
One thing you should consider is a “LIST.” I have talked about lists before. Many people have a checklist for departure -- making sure everything is unhooked, turned off and put away properly.
Another checklist can be used when leaving your rig for the day, or a few hours. Check things like stove burners, electrical items, Wi-Fi, water, awning, even making sure the cat is in sight. It’s easy to forget things and some can become damaging and even disastrous. Many lessons come from experiences. “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.”
We always turn the water off outside when leaving for the day. We learned this the wet way. Our daughter’s loom, stored in the shower, fell against the cold water knob. We left for the day and fortunately the park owner turned the water off when she saw it pouring from beneath the motorhome. Everything was a soggy mess, but it could have been worse. What if the toilet malfunctioned? There would have to be a sequel to the Robin Williams RV movie.
Since we started a daily departure checklist we have found the cat shut in the closet, the burner left on low from morning breakfast, Wi-Fi hotspot left on, vents opened, and awning up.
Making a list and checking it twice will ease your mind and save you from dealing with many issues.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink