Originally Posted by Bullfrog
Have recently Purchased the 2015 Winnebago ERA 70C as our first RV. Recently retired and looking forward to touring North America with wife of 45 years. COVID has changed our retirement plans and we are among the ones newly attracted to RV travel. Learning about our RV at the present. Our first campout will be this weekend at a local park. Taking it easy and staling close to home on our first RV adventure. Hope to try out most of the systems before our first extended trip which we will be starting in late July.
Congratulations on joining the RV community. This post got a lot longer than I planned on.
We have a 2016 Era 70A and enjoy traveling in it. We have encountered some issues, some of which I've created threads about on this forum. Worth taking a look at them and others as you are familiarizing yourself with the Era; I'm assuming your Era 70C shares a lot in common with our 70A.
We spend most nights in parking lots of places like Cracker Barrel, Lowes, Walmart, casinos, etc., so some of the information below is slanted towards that perspective. In an average week we may stay in a campground one or two nights, so some of our concerns about battery power stem from that. If you stay in campgrounds most of the time some of this might not be a major concern for you.
One issue that was a big problem for us was the failure of the battery solenoid, mounted under the passenger seat, that allows the coach batteries to charge from the alternator. In our case, I use a CPAP machine while sleeping, running off the 12V in the rear of the Era and thus the coach batteries are critical. The solenoid failed when we were only a day away from home so we ended the trip prematurely and came home, having no idea what was wrong and how to fix it. If you do a search you'll find this is a pretty common issue.
After watching some YouTube videos I ordered a replacement solenoid and installed it myself. I then ordered a spare and keep it in the RV. I can replace it on the road if necessary so we don't have to end a trip prematurely. BTW, if you ever have to replace the solenoid, the original one and the Winnebago replacement are likely of poor quality. Search for the Cole Hersee 24213 200A solenoid which, from all accounts, is a much higher quality solenoid that will presumably last a lot longer than the cheap factory solenoids.
I also purchased a 'solar generator' which is really just a large lithium ion battery bank with a pure sine wave inverter built in. It can be charged from solar panels, but that's as close to 'solar' as it gets. Otherwise, it can be charged from 120VAC or 12V DC. It will run my CPAP gear for about 3 8-hour nights from a 12V port, without the built-in inverter turned on which shortens the runtime. You can power phones, tablets, laptops, etc. from it with the inverter turned on. Larger 'solar generators' are available at higher cost.
Fear of being stranded in the boonies for an extended time led me to buying a portable solar panel which can charge the solar generator as well as phones, tablets, cameras, etc. Overkill? Perhaps.
We rarely run the AC. Most of the time we run the roof vent fan at night and open some of the side windows to pull in fresh air. Works well except at campgrounds where everyone else seems to feel obligated to have a camp fire and we get smoked out. We have a couple of battery-powered fans to help keep us cool. That said, we avoid traveling in extremely hot weather.
Our Era has a lot of automobile-type fuses, both standard and mini size. Might not be a bad idea to buy a small assortment of replacement fuses and keep them in the Era. We bought an assortment online that was probably < $15.
There are a few glass fuses as well. One that comes to mind is in the power wiring to the front TV (ask me how I know). So maybe a good idea to get a small assortment of glass fuses as well.
We carry a lot of tools with us to try to be as self-sufficient as possible on the road. Screwdrivers, sockets, small battery-powered drill, battery jump starter, 12V air compressor, soldering iron, small water filter, etc. Also wood glue and toothpicks for fixing the inevitable problems of hinge screws pulling out of cabinet doors.
Some sort of leveling blocks and/or ramps are important. At least in our case, our generator won't run if the RV isn't fairly close to level, and sleeping is also difficult if we're not level.
Rather than running the heat in cold weather, we use sleeping bags. Very comfortable and keeps our power consumption down. A friend suggesting attaching sheets to the inside of the sleeping bags with Velcro so they are easy to remove and wash.
I'm assuming you have a surge suppressor to plug into your shore power line. Lots of options there. We recently purchased a Hughes AutoFormer (along with a locking cable) and keep our old Surge Guard model for a spare.
We purchased an aftermarket Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) and it gives us peace of mind while we are traveling, as well as alerting us immediately if there are pressure and/or temperature issues with the tires. We purchased a TPMS from EEZ RV products, but there are a number of units on the market to choose from.
Related to the TPMS, we read a number of threads that recommended replacing at least some of the tire valve stems with metal stems to support the weight of the screw-on TPMS sensors with our system. We installed the metal stems on all 6 wheels, although we probably could have gotten by with installing them only on the rear inside wheels.
We also purchased a Wi-Fi extender kit (several are available; we purchased Alfa Networks gear) to allow us to extend and share Wi-Fi connections at campgrounds, Walmarts, McDonalds, etc. with all of our devices (laptop, multiple phones and tablets). Our cell phone plan allows us to hotspot our phones and use our tablets and laptop when we have cell service; just have to keep an eye on our data usage.
If you are going to use public Wi-Fi it's important to use a VPN. We use the highly-rated NordVPN which we are happy with, but cheaper options are available. There are a few free VPNs but they typically limit the amount of data you can use in a month.
A few useful apps and sites include RV Parky, Ultimate Campgrounds, RV Life and maps.me. maps.me is a GPS mapping application that uses maps you download to your device, so it works anywhere, even when you don't have internet service. Other mapping tools (Google Maps, etc.) need a data connection to function, although they may have some limited ability to allow you to download some maps ahead of time.
If you enjoy birding, you probably already know about the Merlin bird app for bird IDs and info.