REVIEW- Folding Solar Panel

When we first got Bluebell, the thing that most excited us aside from the Rear lounge, was the good leisure battery set up, which was going to allow us to wild camp more (stay off campsites more) 

We started off by doing a campsite every other day to maintain a charge ready for our night of wild camping- but soon our adventurous sides wanted to stretch the days between campsites. This, and our plans for our 3 weeks Europe tour, where we REALLY didn’t want to stay at a €40 pn campsite when the Europeans cater well for Motorhomes away from sites, saw us looking into options for fitting a solar panel to Bluebell’s roof!! We were both a bit anxious about drilling into Bluebell’s outer skin to affix the solar panel, so started looking  at other options. Luckily for us, the leisure battery is under the drivers seat, therefore this folding solar panel kit was the ideal option for us:

40W 12V Photonic Universe folding solar panel kit 40 watt 12 volt battery charger for camping, caravan, motorhome, boat or any other 12V system

When in use, it sits neatly on the front dashboard and attaches to the leisure battery with crocodile clips. When not in use, it folds easily in half and goes behind the seat in a sturdy briefcase style case. It’s very quick and easy to get out and attach- we get it out when we’ve parked up for the day and it has an indicator on to show how the battery is doing. We managed three weeks in Italy without a single night of electric- therefore we are very happy with it! What is also nice, is that it still charges even if it’s not brilliantly sunny (like most British days….haha) 

For example- last week, we toured the Peak District (in Feb so not long days…) We managed 7 nights away, with only one night of electric on night 3. Not once did our 12v battery go and seeing as we only drove 5-10 miles per day, we put this down to the good ol solar panel! 

 

 

REVIEW- getting online on tour with Motorhome Wifi

As much as we try not to, we can’t help but want to get online when we are away in the van. First and foremost, being self employed musicians means we rely on email for gig enquiries and new student enquiries. Being unable to get online means we can’t keep tabs on our business, let alone keep an eye on our bank accounts, keep in touch with family on longer tours and back up our photos. So as much as we sometimes may crave being cut off from tinterweb, in reality it just cannot be.

After 4 years of touring Britain and Europe and relying on our iPhones, and dodgy 3G signal, not to mention an almighty large phone Bill following our last trip abroad (facebook addict alert!!) the time had come for us to invest In a better solution for our internet needs.

Enter Motorhome Wifi which I’d read extensively about in various magazines, blogs, forums etc.

Right from the onset, I knew we’d made the right choice- Keith spent a good half an hour discussing our requirements with Adam, who was friendly, knowledgeable and “user friendly” I.e didn’t bombard us with techno jargon!! As fellow motorhomers themselves, they understood our needs when off site- as we mainly tend to stay on BritStops these days, or aires/ France Passion sites abroad, we were interested in an antenna that would allow us to pick up pub wifi networks in the comfort of the motorhome, or Free wifi hotspots (more on that later)

After a lengthily discussion, it seemed that the directional iBoost antenna would best suit our needs, promising to pick up signals up to 1km away.

Having just left BT broadband, and signing up to Sky, we would no longer be able to use the BT hotspots (or so we thought) Adam told us about a system that allowed us to buy a Fon account for a one off payment of £34, and this would enable us to still use the BT hotspots. Perfect, and info that we would not have known otherwise, so thanks Adam.

We placed our order at 3pm on Monday with the also friendly Sophie, and at 8.30am Tuesday morning it arrived! Outstanding service!

Once unpacked, it was easy to assemble and set up (although I have to be honest, Keith has rang a couple of times with questions, both of which have been answered quickly and non patronisingly- thank you again!)

We enjoyed giving it a trial run on our weekend away last weekend, and even at a pub in the middle of nowhere we were able to pick up 4 or 5 BT Fon hotspots, not to mention both pub’s networks. It’s also worth mentioning that without the iBoost, we were unable to find these networks on our iPads, iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones.

The other thing that is worth noting is that the antenna collects one signal and then allows you to connect numerous devices to that one signal- excellent for those of you, who like us, have more than one device. When we used to use BT hotspots we could only log on one at a time as we only had one username. This takes that problem away! Hurrah!

We were able to keep an eye on our business email (I know we were only away for 2 nights but…!) update the blog, back up photos, use spotify, Stream music, use facebook/ twitter, and my new favourite site walk4life which I’ve enjoyed looking on for walks local to where we are staying , and updating my miles walked (55miles since 10th Jan!)

So, without a shadow of a doubt, we would give this an almighty 10/10, excellent service, easy to use, and a great product and want to recommend it to anyone else who values the internet whilst on their travels!

Thanks for a great addition to our motorhome gadgets cupboard 🙂

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