Last winter, about a year after we bought our Jayco Octane Toy Hauler, we were ready to dive into some RV modifications. None of the 5 modifications were absolutely necessary, but they were all products that we were personally interested in testing out or had heard fellow RVers raving about. On this week’s episode of the RV Atlas podcast, we discuss the details of all the mods that we did on our Jayco Octane toy hauler. We’re talking solar power, water filtration systems, and endless hot water on demand. Plus, we installed a RV keyless entry system and upgraded our travel trailer tires.
A quick note: you don’t actually need any of these bells and whistles to get out there and RV with your family. We know people are interested in the latest RV technology, so we definitely want to cover topics like solar and UV/LED water filtration. But the bottom line is that we camped for years without all this stuff, and so can you. If none of this fits into the budget, camp on.
RV Modification #1: Solar Power
Why did we get solar power?
Being in the RV community (and hanging out in the RVFTA Facebook group) we see a lot of magical destinations and campgrounds that we would like to visit that don’t necessarily have electric hookups. We also know we will be traveling longer distances in the future as our kids get older. For us, we truly appreciate the comforts of our RV and aren’t really attracted to roughing it without electric at this point in our lives. Solar has helped us strike the right balance between being more adventurous and still enjoying our RV luxuries.
What solar power system did we install?
Our system was developed with both our personal needs in mind but also because we offered to be used as a sort of guinea pig for the “RV family who might want solar.” So, in other words, even though we were installing solar aftermarket, Go Power was interested in installing a system that they could offer folks as an option with purchase. We thought this was a wonderful project to get involved with. Right now, many trailers are ‘solar prepped’ but few are able to be outfitted by the manufacturer as an option with purchase. Solar power will be underutilized until it becomes an option you can easily check off on your RV order sheet. We really hope that day comes sooner rather than later. You can listen to our entire podcast with Mark Spilsbury from Go Power who helped us develop our system. Here’s what we installed…
- 3, 100-watt panels
- 2,000 watt inverter 100 amp charger
- Inverter Charger Remote
- 6 deep-cycle gel batteries
What’s our take on the solar power RV modification?
- Solar is a learning curve and we really think it should be done by the experts. We learned a lot through the process, but truly don’t believe this is a DIY process unless you have a serious electrical background.
- It’s unbelievably amazing for our RV to be simply charging itself even while not plugged in.
- Solar benefited us more than we expected on traveling days, not just while dry camping. We’re now able to run the fridge while driving without using propane. We can always keep the fridge on in the driveway and not run up our electric bill. ALL the outlets and appliances while in transit to make coffee, charge laptops or phones, etc. Normally you can run only 12-volt with just the RV battery. Once you have the inverter (turning DC to AC) you can also run 120-volt appliances and plugs.
- Having air conditioning capacity would have taken a system that was far bigger than we wanted or that our toy hauler was capable of carrying. For us this means dry camping will happen in the shoulder seasons or northern places like Nova Scotia and Maine. We are looking forward to some more dry camping trips scheduled this fall.
RV Modification #2: Acuva UV-LED Water Purification
Why did we get the Acuva UV-LED Water Purification system?
It has bothered us for a long time that we use bottled water on RV trips. In fact, we’ve talked about this often on the podcast. However, for drinking water, we don’t trust the filters that attach on the end of hoses for a variety of reasons. We’ve seen some pretty scary examples of mildew and mold growing inside water hoses. In the past, we tried some high-quality pitcher filters that worked decently, but ultimately could not be relied on. We ended up buying bottled water at a couple of campgrounds where the mineral taste was just unbearable. So when we learned about the Acuva, our interest was piqued.
What is the Acuva UV-LED Water Purification system?
In Louisville last fall, we were able to see the Acuva water filter in action and were totally sold. This is an LED UV water filtration system that has been developed to work perfectly within the confines of an RV. UV provides ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, and the LED keeps it energy efficient. The system is incredibly small and easy to install under the sink. The faucet is modern and attractive. It uses very low power consumption and can run off of 12 volt or AC. Most importantly, it filters 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, and pathogens. We installed the Eco Water Purifier which is $649.
What’s our take on the Acuva UV-LED Water Purification System?
- Our initial concern was,of course, the price. However, when we considered that we bought 2.5 gallons of bottled water for every two days of camping, the price became a more reasonable purchase for us. We also would be saving on the filters for the water pitcher we had previously used.
- There is no other way to say this. The taste is bizarrely consistent and delicious. My kids are very picky about water taste because we have city water at home and they aren’t used to well water. They will not drink water if it has the slightest mineral or sulphur taste. They loved this water from all the campgrounds we stayed at this year.
- The design is stylish and looks great in our RV with the stainless steel.
- It’s easy to winterize and dewinterize–the stainless steel construction means you don’t have to worry about chemicals from winterizing.
Not looking to install a water filtration system in your RV? Then we highly recommend the Big Berkey Water Filter System. It offers the highest quality water purification, and you can take it with you if you trade in for another RV. We have the Travel Berkey and love it.
RV Modification #3: Truma AquaGo Comfort Instant Water Heater
Why did we install the Truma AquaGo?
We use our RV. A LOT. The shower, the kitchen, everything. And we have three kids. This means there was never enough hot water to do the dishes after dinner or for everyone to shower. We are the type of people that love having the comforts of our RV. We really don’t use bathhouses, unless absolutely necessary. As our kids are getting older, hot water has become more of an issue. The older boys like their daily showers. This was an upgrade that made a lot of sense for our family.
What is the Truma AquaGo?
The Truma AquaGo has been tempting us for years. We see it at all the RV shows, and many of the high end Class Bs have them. We’ve been green with envy for awhile now. Most of the tankless hot water heaters that have entered the market have gotten mixed reviews. But the AquaGo is a “hybrid” water heater that has a mixing vessel allowing it to achieve a stable water temperature. Folks like the FitRV rave about it, and we trust them when they rave.
What’s our take on the Truma AquaGo?
- This was the sleeper hit of the season. We’ve been RVing with kids for years and to suddenly have endless hot water at the campground was practically a religious experience.
- It really, really is instant–within seconds of turning it on the water comes out of the faucets at the perfect temperature.
- It really, really is endless–the boys tested this out over the last six months.
- It’s bizarrely consistent. You never have to adjust the faucet during an entire shower.
- It sips at the propane, which was initially a concern.
We think this company is doing fascinating things in the RV industry, so we invited Billy DiDonato from Truma onto the show to tell us more about Truma and the AquaGo. Honestly, Billy is really funny and super smart, so you should listen to the podcast interview if interested in this product.
RV Modification #4: Goodyear Tires
Why did we get Goodyear Tires?
Tire failure is the single biggest cause of RV roadside emergencies, and we take tire safety seriously. We talk all the time about checking your tire pressure on every single traveling day, but tire quality also plays a role in staying safe on the road. The RV industry has known for awhile now that “China Bombs” are a big issue for RVers. Jayco moved to only using Goodyear tires just months after we got our Octane. Talking to the product directors, we knew the reasons why they felt it was worth it to make the change including increased durability, reduced air loss, and advanced sidewall protection. Plus they are made in the USA. Knowing there was a better product out there we had to change our own.
What’s our take on the Goodyear Tires?
It’s hard to review a product if good performance basically means nothing bad happens. We haven’t had a blowout, and are happy we made the upgrade. We do notice that we have significantly less loss of air pressure when we check over the course of a longer RV trip. We also subjectively feel like we have better towing stability.
RV Modification #4: RVLock Keyless Entry
Why did we install the RVLock Keyless Entry?
We reviewed this product ages ago, but it took us a little while to install it on the new RV. Chalk it up to laziness. However, in the year we didn’t have it on the RV, we were repeatedly reminded about why this is such a fantastic product. Bottom line is that standard RV keys are basically all the same and can be used interchangeably on most RVs. That’s a safety concern for many RVers. More importantly for our family, getting locked out of RVs seems to be a par for the course. Stephanie had to crawl into the RV through the living room window one morning after walking Maggie. Another time she had to drive all the way to Jeremy’s work to get the keys adding an hour of driving to her trip to the seasonal. The cost is $239.99, which can seem a bit high. The price becomes a downright bargain the first time you use that keyless entry.
What’s our take on the RVLock Keyless Entry?
- This product has stood the test of time for us and for many people we know.
- It’s incredibly easy to install. We know many people that have it and haven’t ever heard one person say it malfunctioned.
- Solves many problems: heightened security but also the ability to actually use the lock because you know you’re not locking anyone out.
So our Jayco Octane Toy Hauler got all fancied up this year, and we really couldn’t be happier with the real life experience for these modifications. The only problem is that you get spoiled and it’s hard to come crashing back down to earth when you happen to be renting an RV without solar and endless hot water (joking/not joking). We would love to hear about some of the modifications you have done on your RVs. How have they worked out for you? Did you DIY or use a RV service tech? Also, if you have any other questions for us about these products, feel free to ask below!