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Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

As a veteran reporter, Matt Power has covered virtually every aspect of design and construction. His award-winning articles often tackle tough environmental challenges in a way that makes them relevant to both professionals and end users. An expert on both building science and green building, he has a long history of asking hard questions--and adding depth and context as he unfolds complex issues.
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Recent Posts

Review: New Magellan GPS for RV Owners Saves Fuel Costs, Streamlines Travel

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Mar 15, 2016 9:13:33 PM

A new GPS, the RoadMate RV9490T-LMB, has several features added specifically for RV owners, including points of interest and bridge height awareness.

I've written before about the unsung virtues of RV living, specifically how RV living results in less environmental harm than the typical tiny house owner.

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Solarize Your RV Part 1: Lighting Retrofit

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jul 1, 2015 4:38:18 PM

If you're trying to go off grid, one of the easiest energy-saving upgrades is to replace your original lighting with new LED lamps.

REMEMBER THAT SCENE in from the Tom Hanks film reenacting the Apollo 13 mission, where the entire capsule is operating on less power than a coffee maker? That's a good benchmark for making your RV ready and able to go solar. And one of the absolute lowest hanging fruit is lighting.

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Five Ways Moisture Can Devalue Your RV

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 12, 2015 9:52:00 PM

How is it some RVs look pristine after 30 years, and others literally fall apart in a decade? The answer usually lies in how moisture was managed. Don't miss the warning signs I did.

I've been on the road for a few days now in my 10-year old travel trailer, exploring the Canadian RV scene. I'm observing, and learning. What I've gleaned so far is that a RV is a microcosm of a site-built home, where the same vulnerabilities are magnified and writ large. And if you deal with an unscrupulous seller, you double your trouble.

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Replacing Your RV Roof: Insist on Formaldehyde-Free Luan and No-VOC Glue

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 20, 2015 7:02:00 PM

When it's time to completely re-roof your RV or travel trailer, make certain that the new materials will not poison your indoor air for years to come.

Don't trust. Verify. That's my attitude when it comes to auto and RV repairs, after years of trying the trusting approach. No matter what a mechanic or RV service technician SAYS will happen during a repair job, you need to spell out in detail exactly what you are expecting. Otherwise at least half the times, you'll be disappointed. Sad but true.

 

OVER THE TOP. While not always an option, installing new luan over the top of old luan has more advantages than disadvantages. It adds a little weight to the vehicle, but the old luan isolates the new, offgassing material from living space, reducing the possibility of unwanted formaldehyde indoors.
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Analysis: Even in the Driest States, Collecting Rainwater from Your RV Roof Pays Off

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 10, 2015 7:29:28 PM

You might think that certain dry states would not be worth the effort of rainwater collection. But the numbers will surprise you.

Let's take New Mexico, with an average rainfall of just 15 inches a year. Say you parked your RV in a friend's yard an lived in it for a year. How much water could you collect. I did a quick calculation with help from an online calculator. I figure my 8x20' travel trailer (160 sq. ft.) won't have a perfect water trapping record, so i set the percentage at 90 percent (see screen grab below).

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Powering Your RV With Wind: Why You Should Wait

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 9, 2015 10:20:00 AM

Thinking of putting a wind turbine on your RV? Here's why you may want to wait a year or two.

Portable Power The Eolic portable turbine folds up and packs away. Designed at the University of Buenos Aires, it’s a great prototype that would be ideal for RV travel—but it’s not yet a reality. More on the Eolic HERE

AH, WIND POWER. It's a romantic notion—powering your lights, radio and even air conditioner with a silent whirligig on top of your camper.

Unfortunately, it's not as easy a dream to achieve as it should be. What's needed, in my view, is an ultra-efficient vertical axis turbine that operates in 2 mph winds, isolated to create almost no vibration, a unit that folds away flat onto the roof.

Alas, the "perfect" RV wind solution simply doesn't exist—at least not yet. When I say "not yet," I'm making a prediction. I'm willing to bet that some Chinese company will create the perfect RV turbine any day now, and a couple years later, American manufacturers will be casting blame, pounding their fists on boardroom tables, saying "How did we miss this?" It's the same thing (on a smaller scale) that U.S. car makers are now doing, as the Honda Prius they scoffed at becomes one of the best selling vehicles in the country.

Turbine makers are notoriously prone to going out of business. You may recall the promising Windtronics turbine from Honeywell. A sad case of a good idea that died before its time.

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The Key to RV Efficiency: Drive Slowly Enough to Annoy Speeders

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 8, 2015 11:22:00 AM

It's pretty simple. Find the sweet spot for your vehicle and stick to it, come rain or shine.

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Study: RV Vacations Cost Up to 50% Less Than Fly-and-Stay

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 8, 2015 11:11:16 AM

Add to this fact the large pollution footprint of air travel, and RV owners have a "greener than thou" story to tell.

According to the Recreational Vehicles Association, "The study, prepared for Recreation Vehicle Industry Association by PKF Consulting USA, a member of an international travel and tourism consulting group, found that RV travel is 23-to-59 percent less expensive than other types of vacations, for a family of four that owns an RV. For an "empty-nester" couple traveling by RV, savings were 11-to-46 percent."

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Green Certification of RVs Doesn't Guarantee Safe Indoor Air

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 8, 2015 8:57:00 AM

New labels on RVs suggest that certain models are certified green, but that can refer to a wide range of features.

I've been writing about buildings, products and houses for more than 20 years, and I've seen just about every type of greenwash you can imagine. The RV world, until recently, had escaped my notice.

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New Mexico RV Park Goes Solar

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

May 8, 2015 8:44:58 AM

It's one of only a handful of solar-powered RV destinations in the U.S., but Rusty's RV Park expects to save $12,000 a year in electricity bills.

That's no small incentive for a relatively modest operation such as Rusty's, but the 204 Conergy solar panels on the site are worth the investment, according to park owners. The unassuming site offers access to the beautiful Chiricahua Mountains and other natural wonders. With huge sites, long term leases and other perks, it's a park and a region worth checking out.

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