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Old 05-22-2014, 07:26 AM   #1
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Musikboy's Avatar
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Hot Switches?

My MH is powered up all the time, plugged into Shore Power, keeping the fridge cold, the batteries charged, pretty much ready to go when we want. One thing that confuses me is why this switch panel seems like a throwback to the 70's with hot little lamps behind each rocker switch (see photo.) Seems like it's using a lot more power than it needs to and more importantly, I wonder how long it will be before they just burn out and have to be replaced.

As an Electrical Engineer by education and former trade, I am sometimes amazed at how this brand new 2013 MH has electronics that should have been updated 5-10 years ago.

Another example is the Heat Pump/AC controller. The display can't be read when lit. The LCD display reminds me of my 1st gen iPod. When the backlight goes on, from the angle I am looking at it, the actual information nearly disappears. The push buttons are not glowing, I can't see them at night, I mounted a small magnet-actuated flashlight next to it so when I open the cabinet above the entry door, I can see what's going on. Just strange.

Or the stack of 3 led's that tell me how much water, LP I have left or how full my other tanks are. They are so inaccurate that it's hard to really know what's going on. In my coach, they are in the same place (above the entry door) and are set up in such a way (too high) that you can barely see them through the drilled holes they are buried behind.

Even the Jensen 212 radio, which is "state of the art" in the RV industry is a throwback to the last decade. Yes, it works with 3 cameras and that's just fine but no bluetooth, it uses the OLD Sirius module, not the new inexpensive Sirius XM module, it can't read MP3 CD's but it does have a USB port on the front that won't charge my iPhone, It doesn't support HD FM which has been around for years and other nit picky things that I am able to live with because I've found work-arounds that are OK.

Just seems to me that the electronics are not high priority to RV manufacturers. We all have cars, we are used to heated seats and other such amenities, spending what we do on these rolling palaces, we should at least get the same level of electronics as a mid-level Ford, don't you think?

Anyway I digress...

Just wondering if anyone has ever thought about this stuff, particularly the switches being almost too hot to touch.


Carol & Mitch roaming around in a new 2013 Thor Tuscany 40EX
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Old 05-22-2014, 07:45 AM   #2
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You can fix the indicator switches if you like... I have 2 here the lamp burned out, so I wired in an LED indicator to show when they are on..
if you wished to DISABLE the lamp and switch to LED

You will need: LED assemblies (usually 12 volt) (See note if it is a 120 volt switch).. These assemblies are a tube, roughly 1/4" in diamater with a lense and metal ring at one end, wires come out of the other.. I get them at RS-Electronics in Livionia MI but you can find them at any genuine electronics parts store (The kind of shop where Joe's RV repair shops) and many mail order places as well.

And the "Speed nuts' (Spring steel things) that hold them in the panel.

A drill, soldering equipment and solder

And a test lamp of the proper voltage

ON THE SWITCH backside there are (usually) 3 leads.

One is HOT all the time (Test lamp lights)
One is HOT when switched, Connect RED lead from indicator here, you may wish to solder and tape.

3rd is GROUND (never hot) Disconnect this from switch (Disabling internal lamp) and connect to BLACK lead on LED assembly.

For 120 volt switches...

Different test lamp, And CAUTION dangerous voltages.

Different indicator lamp assembly (This one has a neon lamp instead of an LED and is marked 120 volts, the ones I have both leads are black)

More or less same procedure. With switch ON. measure the voltages, Two of the contacts will show NO VOLTAGE. These are the source and load, ONE will show voltage to the other two. NEUTRAL disconnect it from switch and connect to one indicator lead.

now one of the other two will be HOT only when switch is on.. Like before this gets the other lead.

NOTE: you should not have any 120 volt indicator type switches so you can disregard that last bit about 120 volt switches.

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Old 05-22-2014, 07:58 AM   #3
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Hi Musikboy,
To find the root cause of the problem with manufacturers not upgrading the electronics, just look in the mirror. With the irritations mentioned in the OP, you still purchased the coach. Change costs money. Manufacturers struggle with keeping the cost in line with the price point of the target market they wish to serve. When a manufacturer understands the irritations have become a buy/no buy decision point, rest assured, changes will be made.
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Old 05-22-2014, 07:58 AM   #4
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Sounds like your rig has a lot of old tech stuff - they aren't all like that. But RV manufacturers are low-volume producers, so they can't spread R&D and upgrade costs over a large production volume. Wiring harnesses, for example, get used in multiple models, configurations and years simply because re-designing them is very expensive.

But you are right - the "engineering" in our high dollar toys is not real great. In my experience, most of the "engineers" are production line employees promoted off the plant floor and cobbling stuff together based on their experience and suggestions from vendors. Usually in a hurry, since the market's whims have shifted and they need to make quick changes to include a new tv model or a different floor plan. I've seen connectors melting from excessive amps, plumbing crack from lack of support, gas lines wear through from chafing, etc. And mediocre components like Jensen radios continue to be used when top brand components are available for the same price.
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Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
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Old 05-22-2014, 10:31 PM   #5
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Hot Switches?

I agree that much of RV electronics are in the stone ages. Just look at how long they kept putting tube TVs in when flat screens were readily available and affordable. Lots of copying too. How many floor plans have U-shaped dinettes? My brother worked as a CAD designer at a high end 5th wheel manufacturer and shared that a big part of their R&D was tearing apart the competitors rig and doing some mimicking.

How many more years will the suburban and Atwood water heaters have the same cheesy & flimsy rust friendly exterior door? My grandpa's trailer in the early 1970s had the same cover that mine has today as do 2014 models.

Surely there are better batwing antenna designs without plastic breakable parts that Winegard could employ.

3 point seatbelt harnesses could become standard beyond the cab area.

How much longer will the range hoods use the noisiest fans on the planet and rattle inducing dampers?

Why aren't many exterior metal components (steps, frame, etc. ) powder coated?

Why do we put up with rattles on new rigs that we would never allow in a car?

Who will design a vent cover that doesn't induce wind noise?

Why are there certain items in an RV that the mfg skimps on for supposed weight savings and yet others that clearly could be a lighter and more compact design are not used?

Why do I see hybrid buses in my town and yet RV mfg are only doing a little bit of experimentation in this area?

Why aren't rigs leaving the manufacturer with common suspension and brake upgrades for safety in place? (Anti sway bars, etc)

Why are most motor homes shaped like bricks with little thought about reducing wind resistence?

Why are clearance lamps typically designed to leak?

Hmm... Deep thoughts. .
History: '08 View, '05 Chinook, '01 Jamboree 24D, '78 Apache Popup, 81 Komfort Tlr,
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Old 05-22-2014, 11:52 PM   #6
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Why can't antenna manufacturers like Winegard or Jack come up with antennas that pull in a signal without moving them around? The one that is on the market don't work worth a dang.

And who will invent a satellite dish that requires no external equipment -- simply plug and play with only a cable that runs to your tv (or better yet, wireless!)

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