Brian Brawdy, renowned survivalist and creator of “The Brian Brawdy Show,” which will launch this fall, has partnered with Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. and Solutions From Science to create an off-the-grid mobile residence and production studio, according to a news release.
Brawdy cites his inspiration as an incident that occurred in Tampa, Fla. He was relaxing and enjoying a margarita while watching ships come and go in the harbor, when he noticed a yacht with both a solar panel and a wind turbine mounted to the structure. This innovation sparked Brawdy’s imagination and he realized he wanted to do something similar with an RV.
He designed the brackets and poles to secure the wind turbines on his Lance 2285 travel trailer, and then chose Solutions From Science to help him design the rest of the setup. The trailer uses five solar panels and two wind turbines to generate all the electricity that Brawdy needs. While this is impressive enough for a standard RV, Brawdy has transformed his trailer into a mobile production facility where he creates, edits and broadcasts his show, all powered by the natural energies of the sun and wind.
The heart of the system is the PowerHub 1800 Plus from Solutions From Science. The hub connects directly to the solar panels and turbines, and controls all of the electricity generated by these devices. Some of the energy is directed for immediate needs, while the remainder is stored in four 100-amp hour batteries. Interestingly, the PowerHub 1800 Plus can actually be removed from the truck/trailer assembly and used as a portable power unit for severe situations.
This ultra-high efficiency solar generator can produce up to 1,800 watts of electricity, supplying it as needed. It can be used to power almost anything from a mobile production studio to a residence.
To learn more about innovative offerings from Solutions From Science, visit http://www.SolutionsFromScience.com.
The first of a three-part exclusive interview with Brian Brawdy is live on www.RVBuddiesOnline.com for viewing now.
Brian Brawdy, a nationally known conservationist, travels across North America in his Lance Camper, which is equipped with a host of eco-friendly devices, including solar panels, satellite dishes and wind turbines. His fascinating lifestyle and personal history make for a great story. Referred to as “Eco-Brian” or the “Green RVer,” the former undercover cop turned outdoor adventure expert is making a difference in both how the public views the RV today and how the industry is being shaped for the future, according to a news release.
While Brawdy is much in-demand for interviews on television networks nationwide, in most interviews he usually discusses his passion for the outdoors. “RV Buddies” had the opportunity to sit with him and dig deeper for over an hour of video – covering his lifestyle, adventures and much more. “RV Buddies” has taken the best of the interview and is presenting it in three parts over the next three weeks.
“We’re proud to call Brian Brawdy an RV Buddy,” says show host Mark Summers. “His life and mission are both inspirational and moving.”
For more information contact Mark Summers at Mark@RVBuddiesOnline.com.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of reports on the RV industry and the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show by WSBT-TV, South Bend, Ind. Today’s featured video is the station’s first report from the show.
Innovation. Experts say it’s the big key to a turnaround for the hard-hit RV industry. This year, many of those production shifts revolve around one word: “green.”
It’s more than just improving gas mileage. From fuel economy to fuel cells, solar panels to wind power, green technology is driving the RV industry.
Brian Brawdy is a nationally recognized conservationist who actually prefers the term “eco-nut.”
One look at his home office shows why.
“I hear people all the time talk about home offices. I have a home that’s towed by my office,” he said, referring to his RV.
It’s equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and wind turbines. There’s even a basin to catch rain water for drinking, all with one goal in mind: “To be able to survive off the energy of the sun and the wind.”
Brawdy admits not everything in his RV is practical for the typical traveler.
“I don’t know if everything as a package is practical. I’m a little Type A, (but) bits and pieces; 25% of the RVs manufactured now have solar panels,” he said.
That number is increasing every day, but there are also plenty of green ideas taking hold that people can’t see.
Manufacturers are using lighter weight composite materials. New pressure sensitive, flexible fabric weighs just a few ounces, but holds up like steel.
Dow Automotive contractor Mark Formentini says that helps cut down on fuel consumption.
New lines of Class A and C motorhomes are already using the technology.
“It makes them as much as 2,500 pounds lighter,” said Ron Fenech, Keystone RV Co. president and CEO.
It’s also helping them get upwards of 20 miles to the gallon.
Some motorhomes now run on bio-diesel, and almost all are using lighter weight materials inside the cabin, on everything from cabinets to flooring.
“If you take the weight out, you keep the price down,” said Bob Tiffin, president of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc.
In addition to helping the environment, it’s also attracting a new group of potential buyers.
“I think more and more companies are going, ‘OK, great! What can we do, holistically, to help the planet?’ But what can we do to help the RV community as well and cut back on some fuel costs?” Brawdy said.
The question now is how to pay for it. The answer will likely determine the RV industry’s short-term fate.
If credit becomes more readily available, inventory will likely continue to move off dealer lots. If frozen credit lines don’t thaw, it could be a while before these green innovations actually hit the road.
When Brian Brawdy goes camping in his recreational vehicle, he doesn’t have to search for an electrical outlet.
He hauls his own power with him.
Brawdy, a self-described adventurer and explorer, travels the United States in a “green” truck camper – a unit that he developed as a showcase for what humans can do to protect the outdoors, according to the Kansas City Star.
Looking for a way to harness the energy that nature provides, he went to work to fabricate an environmentally friendly RV.
Much sweat, many hours and many dollars later, he came up with a futuristic vehicle that features solar panels, a wind turbine, rain gutters and a water-filtration system, and biodiesel fuel.
The energy that he stores in four 100-amp batteries is enough to power an air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator and television – without hurting the environment.
“This is my mobile base camp,” he said while leaning on his green RV at the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America national conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. “With this, I can camp anywhere.
“To me, it’s a vision of the future. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be an astronaut and build my own spaceship.
“This is my spaceship.”
Brawdy started by purchasing a Ford F-350 topped with a Lance camper. Then he went to work to turn them “green.”
His adventure began in 2007, when he was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer. Doctors were able to remove tumors on his lip, but he was unable to speak for a month.
As he recovered, Brawdy did some soul-searching.
“It was a very humbling experience,” he said. “I got to thinking: I am 48 and my gig is half over.
“This was a wake-up call. It was time to go for the things I really wanted to do.
“I had loved the outdoors, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to take adventure to a new level.”
Brawdy, a former police officer in upstate New York and television reporter in Chicago, found that niche in his RV.
He went on an extended road trip, living fulltime in his RV and traveling the country. He hit every one of the lower 48 states, covering more than 60,000 miles.
During his “Conservation Through Exploration” tour, he endured everything from 140-degree heat in Death Valley to camping next to alligators in the Florida Everglades.
“I slept 320 nights in my camper last year,” he said. “This is my home, my new address.
“It’s my mobile base camp. I have gone mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, backpacking and mountain biking in places I never thought I would be camping.”
Brawdy had developed a passion for the outdoors more than 20 years ago after his dad committed suicide. That experience was hard on Brawdy, but he found peace in the outdoors, off by himself.
Many years later, he drew on that passion when he developed his green RV. He admits that coming up with such a unit wasn’t cheap: He estimates that he put $140,000 into it.
Still, he considers the RV a bargain. He points out that he saves on the cost of campground fees. And he has no utility bills in this home.
“I think there could be a future in this,” he said. “Companies like Lance have shown an interest in manufacturing a green RV.
“For me, this was a way of proving that we can enjoy the outdoors without depending on an outside source. I am concerned about the environment and what we’re doing to it.
“I wanted to do more than just recycle old newspapers. I wanted to do something different.
“We have the sun, the wind, the rain. Why not put it to good use?”
Nationally recognized “green” RVer Brian Brawdy will be in Ann Arbor, Mich., June 12 to tour Thetford Corp.’s world headquarters and manufacturing facilities. He will then join Thetford officials at the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) convention in Grand Rapids, June 13-16, to promote both the state of Michigan and a green RV lifestyle to hunters and fisherman.
Brawdy is known as an outdoor adventure expert and environmental pioneer. He has appeared on countless media outlets across North America.
Thetford Corp. has teamed up with Brawdy for a new product introduction initiative. Committed to developing high-quality green products, Thetford recently introduced a new line of Design for the Environment (DfE)-recognized RV care products. This eco-friendly line meets the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) DfE program’s rigorous criteria without sacrificing performance.
Safe for humans and the environment, the five-product line includes UltraFoam Black Streak Remover, UltraFoam Awning Cleaner, Wash & Wax, Mildew Stain Remover and Hard Water Spot Remover. Non-toxic and biodegradable, they are packaged in bottles made out of recyclable plastic, including 25% post-consumer recycled content.
“Since RV cleaners are used outdoors, they must meet even stricter requirements than household products,” said Mary Burrows, Thetford’s manager of chemical development. “We will continue working with the EPA to produce more environmentally-responsible products in the future.”
Thetford will host two press panels at the Outdoor Writers event. The first panel features representatives from the Michigan Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and focuses on the RV industry, with an emphasis on RVing in Michigan. The second panel, featuring Brawdy and Burrows, centers on going green for RV sport vacations.
Thetford is the world’s leading supplier of sanitation and refrigeration products for the recreational vehicle, marine and heavy-duty truck industries. It is a privately held company with eight manufacturing facilities in four nations.
Just as consumers begin to plan their summer getaways, the media has turned its attention to RVing as both an affordable and surprisingly “green” family vacation option, according to a release fro the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Environmentalist and full-time RVer Brian Brawdy was the subject of “On the Road, Off the Grid,” an April 15 story in the Chicago Sun-Times that focused on Brawdy’s commitment to adventure and environmentally friendly RVing. Echoing the sentiments of thousands of Americans who love RVing, Brawdy told the Sun-Times reporter, “Some of the greatest moments in science, the classics — they come when man is alone in nature. And there’s something about waking up in a different place every morning … it’s something I just can’t shake. It’s addictive.”
The Chicago Tribune also reported positively on RVing this month with “Resort Campgrounds Grabbing Bigger Share of Vacation Dollars,” highlighting the continued popularity of resort campgrounds among family vacationers looking to “save a buck without sacrificing comfort and fun.” The article noted many of the family-friendly amenities offered by campgrounds and reported that while hotel reservations are currently down significantly, resort campgrounds are expecting a spike in reservations this year.
In a segment titled “Go RVing and Go Green” on the popular Fox and Friends morning show April 18, RVIA President Richard Coon touted the RV industry’s innovations in creating fuel efficient, environmentally friendly RVs.
The Fox and Friends segment, secured through the efforts of RVIA’s public relations team, featured Forest River’s R-Pod ultra-light travel trailer and Damon’s Avanti Class A motorhome as examples of the industry’s latest innovations. As the camera panned the units’ features, Coon discussed the affordable amenities offered by both models, saying about the towable, “This unit is smaller, lighter, but it’s compact -and has everything in it.” He pointed out that ultra-light travel trailers like this are small enough to be hauled by the new crossover SUVs or even a minivan. About the motorhome Coon said, “It’s one of the new, high efficiency, eco-friendly diesels. I have a Suburban that I drive that gets somewhere between 14, 15, 16 miles per gallon – and this gets the same.”
The Miami Herald’s Lisa Sidmunsun highlighted RVing as one out-of-the-ordinary vacation option for Baby Boomers, saying, “For all those “easy riders” who long to roam – but want a little comfort when they do – renting a recreational vehicle (or RV) is a great way to go. Not only are they economical – RV vacations average 27% to 61% less than other types of getaways, gas included – they tend to be less stressful because you don’t have to stick to a rigid schedule, or worry about things like packing and unpacking, or rushing to catch a flight.”
RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella said, “RVIA’s public relations team is working hard to ensure that RVing is touted by the media this spring as the family-friendly, affordable, and green-friendly vacation our industry knows it to be. Especially in the current economic environment, RVing has never been a better deal for families looking for adventure.”
RVIA’s PR team will broaden the impact of positive news stories and video segments by linking to the stories from Twitter and Facebook. “Green” stories also appear in www.GoRVing.com’s“Going Green” section and all stories are available in the Newsroom at www.rvia.org.
Living lightly on the planet is entering mainstream American culture as consumers demand eco-friendly products ranging from organic clothing to hybrid cars. Even recreational vehicle owners, a group of consumers not immediately associated with environmental responsibility, are jumping on the green bandwagon, according to the Santa Cruz (Calif.) Sentinel.
Eighteen percent of RV owners are already using solar panels, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), and new regulations are being instated to ensure wood products in all new RVs for sale in California have low formaldehyde levels. While green RVs aren’t mainstream yet, experts agree the industry is moving in that direction.
“It’s basic supply and demand,” said Michael Nohr, manager of the Pleasanton-based 21st Annual Manufacturers’ RV Show, which runs May 15-25 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. “Consumers want more green features, so manufacturers are beginning to respond.”
When he hosted his first RV show two decades ago, Nohr joked that the only green option was for the paint job. In fact, even five years ago, the average RVer would have “looked at me sideways” if he tried to steer them toward a vendor hawking green wares, he said.
“Now I’d get a sideways look if I didn’t have vendors offering those amenities — like rigs already fitted with solar panels,” Nohr said. “And it’s really not that big of a leap when you look at the numbers. RV vacations are actually greener than other ones.”
A recent study for the RVIA found that RV vacations have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than their plane/car/hotel counterparts. In many cases, the more traditional vacation emitted nearly twice the amount of CO2 than the same RV vacation, the study showed.
Vacaville-based Vineyard RV Park owner Meaghan Bertram, whose park is a certified green business, said despite the bad rap they get, RVs are inherently efficient — especially where water and electricity are concerned.
The downfall is gas consumption; however she echoed Nohr’s sentiments that consumer demands for a lighter, more fuel efficient model will force the industry to pay attention.
“Overall, I think the industry is really at the crossroads of a huge change,” Bertram said. “Five years ago, nobody in this industry even talked about green. Now it is the new buzzword.”
Sales manager Jim Eberhardt of McMahons RV Santa Cruz — a city known for its green inclinations — said he gets consumers asking about green RVs “all the time.”
He estimated that 20-40% of his customers want to know about eco-friendly options — specifically hybrid engines.
“Fuel economy is what it is,” said Eberhardt, who believes a true hybrid RV will be a huge success when it hits the marketplace. “Consumers never ask about price. A lot of them don’t understand why manufacturers aren’t doing it now.” Until they do, consumers will have to green their rigs in other ways, such as installing wind turbines and converting their engines to use bio-diesel.
Brian Brawdy, an ex-New York police officer turned green RVer, did just that when he decided to hit the road just over a year ago in a quest to live off the grid and get in touch with nature and himself. He will be displaying the fruits of his labors this week at “The Rally” in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I did it not only to be environmentally friendly. The environment I’m most interested to be friendly to is the mental environment of me being out in the middle of nowhere,” Brawdy said. “For me, it’s the combination of green RVing, but also self-reliance and independence.”
Brawdy estimated he invested upward of $10,000 in greening his RV – a 2008 Ford pickup truck with a Lance camper – and hit the road. His journey has taken him to 48 states so far. Thanks to his green modifications, much of the voyage has been augmented by nature. He installed solar panels and a wind turbine on the RV to help generate electricity. He uses a rain filtration system. And he uses electricity-sipping LED lights and fills up with bio-diesel when possible — last year he was able to use it about a third of the time.
The modifications mean he can pull over wherever and whenever – even in the middle of nowhere – because he doesn’t have the need for power hookups holding him back. That, Brawdy said, is exactly what more people need to do to send green RVing into the mainstream.
“More people need to get out. You’re more inclined to want to save something if you’ve savored it first,” he said. “Unless we start encouraging people to explore off the beaten path, nobody’s gonna want to protect it. RVing is not going away. You can’t legislate the nomadic human spirit out of people.”
“RVers spend vast amounts of time in the great outdoors, so it’s only natural that they want to help preserve and improve the environment they enjoy so much,” said Sue Bray, vice president and executive director of the Good Sam Club. “These two initiatives give participants the opportunity to make a real difference for generations of RVers to come.”
More than 9 million people in the U.S. now own RVs. For thousands of RVers, The Rally is the event and vacation destination of the year. RV newbies and veterans alike will gather to share the wildly popular recreation lifestyle through seminars, exhibits, entertainment, games and meetings with industry experts from around the world.
The Rally is an annual event hosted by the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ group with more than 1.5 million member families nationwide, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHomemagazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with Affinity, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are also owned by Affinity.
Going Green contest participants are asked to submit an initial outline of their projects by April 10 to Bob Difley at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to “Going Green” ideas contest 2009, 2575 Vista del Mar Drive, Ventura, CA 93001.
Daily admission is $10 for adults, and a second day’s free pass can be obtained at The Rally site; children 12 and under are free. Admission is also free for Albuquerque area Boy Scouts and their immediate families on Sunday, April 19, provided they wear their Boy Scout uniforms. RV sites start at $169 for two people. Additional information and registration can also be found online at www.therally.com.
For more information, visit www.therally.com. To learn more about Brawdy’s adventure, log onto www.brianbrawdy.com or www.wonderexplorebelieve.net.