RVIA Economic Impact Study

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association commissioned an Economic Impact Study on the RV industry, released on June 7, 2016. The study found that the RV industry contributes about $49.7 billion in economic output or 0.28 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Through its production and distribution linkages, the industry impacts firms in 426 of the 440 sectors of the United States economy.

Nationwide, the industry is responsible for 216,170 jobs, both directly and inderectly, creating an economic impact of $37.5 billion. The full study results, along with each individual state and congressional district's economic impact is available on the website by clicking here .

RVN Exclusive: AM Solar Offers Convenient System Diagnostics Option

Fri Aug 25, 2017
Author: Scott Hansen

150367470971145.jpgTechnology has become a lifeline for most Americans, opting for the convenience of new technology at work, at home and on the road. AM Solar has tapped into this convenience of technology by offering Victron Energy’s Direct Bluetooth Smart Dongles, which allow RVers to have the diagnostics and displays for the coach’s batteries, inverters, charge controllers and more sent directly to their smart phones.

The dongles allow for the battery status and solar panel power, plus other useful data to be viewed wirelessly rather than trying to figure out everything by hand or paying someone to do so.

AM Solar President Garret Towne says normal system monitors can take an hour or two to install at a labor cost of about $120 per hour, but this technology bypasses that need and sends the results directly to the consumer’s phone.

It is also designed to make the installation easier. In a typical system, a charge controller fits in the battery bay and the RVer must route a phone cable up a cabinet to mount the display onto the wall of the RV. This technology eliminates that need as well. It can be difficult to neatly route a wire up the wall of an RV, Towne says, so this technology gives an easier and cheaper method but still offers the same system status and diagnostics.

"We really like Victron for the wide variety of technology they offer,” Towne says. “Victron does chargers, batteries, monitors, inverters and hundreds of other components - it's nice sticking with the same brand and all of these components can easily communicate with each other. It makes programming and troubleshooting a lot easier. That's what attracted us to Victron and we like that they have a pretty solid supply chain and give us the products we need. They've been established a long time."

The product doesn’t need cell service in the area to make the Bluetooth system work. The system can communicate with the customer whether they have a signal or not, similar to a radio. Similar systems are found in the automobile industry through car stereos that customers can use to play music through iTunes.

Towne says this system is designed to save consumers about $200 on both installation and labor costs, because it can be done by themselves with relative ease. After that, when anything is not working correctly, it will notify the user before it becomes absolutely critical, likewise reducing the cost on service.

“When connected to a charge controller, this will give a consumer the status of the battery bank voltage and the charge current,” Towne says. “In a lead acid battery bank, voltage is roughly proportional to the charge level and you can see how much sun you are getting on your panels. You can look at the phone to see the ultimate parking spot to avoid shadows. It is also a battery monitoring system and will show everything from amp hours of battery life left, log data and more. Communication is also two-way, as you can also use it to program charge controllers, batteries and operating parameters.”

AM Solar is based in Springfield, Oregon and has been serving the RV industry since 2002. At the beginning of the 2016 year, the company structured an employee stock buyout, allowing for the company to be owned by seven employees, which provides a feeling where everyone is tied to the success of the company, Towne says.