As full-time RVers on the road, weekend campers, or even boaters, you'll want to take some of your favorite tech toys with you to be plugged in. However, as we've experienced, once you've installed a solar powered electrical system in your 5th wheel or travel trailer or you simply want to go "off the grid", you'll need to rethink your electronic peripherals. We've researched how we can still be plugged in but keep energy conservation a top priority without running our generator(s). Here's our list of 10 Solar-Friendly Tech Toys for RVers:
1) RAVPower PORTABLE 26800mAh USB BATTERY PACK
This was listed on our Santa's Top 25 Gifts for RVers and Campers article last tear and for good reason! You can buy these in practically any capacity you want. Since we've been boondocking and plug-ability has become limited to 12 volt when we're boondocking on solar, we simply charge these suckers up and take them everywhere with us to charge our phones, tablets, portable speaker, camera, etc. We listed this one first because you can plug in some of the following gadgets to either charge or operate with these. This larger capacity battery pack has 3 ports so we can charge 3 electronic devices at the same time. We purchased this one on Amazon for about $42. Buy many! Great holiday gift, by the way!
(Tip: You can also charge your internet hotspots with these!)
2) OPOLAR F201 RECHARGEABLE PORTABLE MINI USB FAN
WOW! That phrase, 'good things come in small packages' surely describes these little whirlwinds in warm weather. We wish we knew about these when our son was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the hot desert. Instead of traditional small fans that plug into 110v outlets, these are USB powered so we can charge and operate them off of our solar by plugging into our 12v outlet or we can charge them with our RAVPower Portable 26800mAh USB Battery Pack listed above. These little fans last up to 6 hours if left on continuously on battery charge. We use these at our bedsides and living areas while we are on solar to keep the air moving and cool. You'd be surprised how powerful they are. They have two-speed settings and a small LED light. These would also be great to have in your vehicles or to take tent camping! Worth noting, if you kennel your pets, these are fantastic to put up to or tie to the outside of their kennel. We bought two of these for about $15 each on Amazon Prime.
(Tip: We also take them outside with us at dusk to keep the mosquitoes away)
3) O2COOL 10" PORTABLE FAN WITH AC ADAPTER
We needed a bigger fan on warmer days to move the air in our 5th wheel when we're on solar. This 2-speed, dual-power fan plugs in with the AC adapter (included) or 6 "D" batteries which gives us about 40 hours of battery life. Being only 10" square, they pack nicely away in an RV cabinet when we don't need it. We place this on the floor if we step out to keep Krissie and Kandi cool on warm days. We also take it outside on windless days or nights to move their air around and to keep mosquitoes from ruining our evening. We bought this one on Amazon for less than $20. We noticed you can get them at Walmart in the camping and hunting section too.
4) KINGEAR AIR PURIFIER OFFICE DESKTOP AIR CLEANER
When we sold our S&B and moved into our RV, we brought our big honkin' electric Air Purifiers with us. We loved them, however, we didn't love the size, cleaning maintenance, and cost of filters. They were cumbersome and were a pain to stow on packing day. With a little research and reading reviews, we found these portables for $60 each. These air purifiers and filters can both be purchased on Amazon. They are quite small yet pack punch when it comes to purifying the air. These are must-haves if you have pets, cook inside your RV, smoke, or eat lots of bean salad or chili.
(Tip: These also have a fan function to help circulate the air!)
5) LOGITECH BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD
While we do most of our blogging and writing on our laptop, we sometimes will want to sit outside do some writing without lugging the laptop out with us. We found this cool keyboard at a military PX store, but they can be found elsewhere. This one simply takes a two AAA batteries. It is Bluetooth capable so there are no cables or cords. There's an on/off switch on the bottom to preserve the battery life when you're not using it. This particular model has a recessed trough for my electronic tablet to set in. Its one of the best $40-50 I've ever spent.
6) BOSE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER
We've had Bluetooth speakers before, but they never seemed to last. After researching and reading reviews, we figured we couldn't go wrong with buying a Bose product. Don't let this little guy's size fool you. It's rugged with a silicon coating and puts out quality sound at the touch of a button. It's super easy to pair with my phone, tablet, and laptop. It comes with a USB cable for charging. A typical charge will last all day and night of continuous use. We bought ours on sale for $100 which was a big spend for us, but, hey, we enjoy our music!
(Tip: Some outdoor tv's that are Bluetooth capable can connect to this enabling better sound quality when you're enjoying an evening movie or daytime ball game!)
7) YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OIL ORB DIFFUSER
We diffuse essential oils daily. When we operate on solar, we need something that operates and/or charges on a USB cord that can be powered on our 12v system. Well, it just so happens that Young Living has a travel-size USB Orb Diffuser that you can take anywhere you travel - whether in your car, RV or packed in your travel suitcase. Simply open it, add the prescribed amount of water and choice of essential oils, close it up and turn it on. It will diffuse up to four and a half hours continuous (green LED) or intermittent (blue LED). It comes with three essential oil wicks. You can read more about our blog, "Traveling with Essential Oils".
You can order one, two or ten of these little darlings, replacement wicks and any of their high quality essential oils at Young Living Essential Oils. You can either sign up as to be your own distributor (you will need my # as your Sponsor and Enroller #1495003) to receive a 24% discount or if you'd prefer, you can simply sign up as a retail customer and order accordingly. You will need my distributor #1495003 to order whichever method you choose.
8) 12 Volt DC LAPTOP PC COMPUTER CAR CHARGING CORD
This was our most recent purchases, and we love it! Since operating on solar, we needed a way to charge my work laptop without hooking up the generator to operate our 110 outlets. We did a little research and found this little power tether. It powers and charges battery from a 12v DC outlet that Dan installed. This Laptop Car Charging Cord is compatible with my Toshiba Satellite Laptop. Surprisingly, this cost us only $20 using Amazon Prime.
(Tip: Keep one of these in your car! Then plug into your cigarette lighter so you can work or play on your laptop on the road!)
9) ResMed CPAP 12V POWER CORD
Unfortunately, one of us has to wear a CPAP device during slumber. Because it needs to operate with humidification, this was probably 'the' biggest energy user that we had to contend with while on solar. Dan installed a cigarette lighter outlet in the bedroom so we could use this 12v power adapter charger. We researched various CPAP user communities and were recommended this. It works flawlessly. It has an on/off switch so we don't have to unplug it every time. Now, we have complete freedom to boondock where we want and enjoy a peaceful night's sleep too! We purchased the power cord at www.bestcpapprice.com.
10) ELECTRONIC PICTURE FRAME
This was a big hit when we recommended it in Santa's Top 25 Gifts for RVers and Campers. In fact, we were hoping we'd be gifted one of these ourselves! Since living in an RV, it doesn't allow us a lot of wall or surface space to have photo frames. This cool gadget allows us to enjoy photos from family and friends on a timed sequence. Our photos are stored on an SD card, inserted into the card drive, and played continuously when turned on. If we want to change or add photos, all we do is either change out the SD card for another or upload new photos to add to our existing one. Just 'plug and play'! While this particular model isn't exactly 'solar friendly', as it operates on a 110v outlet, there are digital picture frames available that are powered by rechargeable batteries.
(Tip: If you're buying this as a gift, periodically send a small capacity SD card loaded with cool photos you've taken of your travels to your gift recipient.)
There are so many other tech products out there that can help you stay connected and still allow you to enjoy your electronics. Tech companies are adding each day and making them more efficient. These are just a handful of what we've tried.
*Lisa Brown (Always On Liberty) is a paid contributor to the Heartland Blog. All opinions expressed are her own.*