Carefree of Colorado executives paid a visit to the company’s Elkhart, Ind., facility last week (May 14-17) to give OEM customers a ‘first glimpse’ of some new products and a jump-start on integrating them into the coming year’s motorhome and towable lines.
Although Broomfield, Col.-based Carefree normally does this in August, well ahead of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) Louisville Show in late November, this year’s showing was moved up in light of Elkhart County’s Open House Week in late September.
“The event has always been well-received by the OEMs,” said Piar Adams, Carefree’s director of OEM sales. “This year, we received requests from manufacturers who were interested in getting the latest products, but who wanted to have them on units in time for Open House.”
Among Carefree’s new products on display:
• A screen wall tailored for the back doors of toyhaulers incorporating both screen windows and, inside, privacy panels. “This is like a garage door for the consumer in that they can leave it installed at all times and have access through the door,” Adams pointed out. “They can raise and lower it. They can also roll up one side or the other or both to get the toys out.”
• An entry-level screen room add-a-room designed for smaller travel trailers. “It’s economically priced, and essentially doubles the living space of the travel trailer,” said Adams, noting that the lightweight, polyester add-a-room is waterproof, easy to install, set up and store.
• A new Camp Out Lite awning specifically made for tent campers. “The tent-camping part of the industry is very price-sensitive,” said Pete Briganti, sales rep for Elkhart area. “What we’ve done is eliminate the rafters that go back to the coach — off of our normal Freedom awning) with this awning. It’s held out by straps and into the ground with stakes.”
• The Premium Room, a screen room used in conjunction with Carefree’s Freedom box awning. “This screen room fits tightly to the side of the coach, using rails that actually have an expandable flange seated against the side of the coach that keep all bugs out,” Briganti said. “There are extra flaps sewn where the different connections are made for the rails that makes it 100% bug-proof. On the outside, there are weatherproofing flaps for inclement weather, while inside there are privacy panels that can be rolled up or down, or stored when not in use.”
• The Sidewinder 3, which offers the same tent-camper awning internals as Carefree’s Camp Out unit, housed in a new, attractive case.
• The Mirage two-stage awning, a wall-mounted power box awning intended to complement the original Mirage. “It extends out, then incorporates a 20-degree down-angle to provide more shade,” said Briganti. “One of complaints we had with our original Mirage awning was that — because it was mounted high on motorhomes and towables — there were times of the day when it wasn’t providing optimum shade. By putting in this ‘second stage,’ it drops it down 20 degrees while maintaining a 10-foot extension, which provides lots of protection from the sun.”
In addition, Carefree has advanced the integration of LED lights in its power Travel’r awning and Freedom box awning, a concept initially introduced at Carefree’s Elkhart open house in 2011.
“The biggest difficulty we faced was figuring out how to power the lights to make it easy for everyone as far as installation and for the end-user,” Briganti noted. “So, we ran a wire from our roller bar through the hem of the canopy and up to the sidewall of the coach, where it can be installed with the awning’s power wire through the sidewall. From there, it’s wired into a switch panel — one switch operates the awning, the other operates the lights.”