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Shade Sails – Stylish Summer Shade

Shade sails are large free-floating canvas structures that provide shade to a sitting area outdoors.  These versatile structures offer shade when a patio umbrella just doesn’t do the trick, especially in the hottest part of the summer months.  These structures come in a wide range of sizes and generally have a ring in each corner that is attached via different types of hardware that hold it securely in place and prevent it from moving too much in the wind.

What and When are Shade Sails Used For?

For those who have an outside patio or deck that is not covered with a structure of some type, shade sails offer the right amount of shelter to keep the harsh rays of the sun off of you during those scorching summer days.  This allows people to be able to access their outside patio areas and use them as an extension of their home when the weather is nice outside.

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What to Consider When Buying Shade Sails

When you decide that you want to purchase shade sails, there are a few things to consider.  First, the size and shape of the shade sail is important.  Do you want more coverage or only a specific area covered?  Depending upon the area that needs to be covered, you may need to purchase a larger sail or a smaller one.  Always measure the area and then start your search to see what size sail will work best for your needs.

Does the sail you plan to purchase come with the appropriate hardware?  If it does not then you will need to look for and purchase the right rigging system for your sail.  It is recommended that you purchase a sale that includes the right hardware so that you know it is going to stand up to the elements.  Most shade sails are designed to stand normal winds and rains and will remain intact until they are taken down.

Is the material UV rated?  In other words, will it filter out the dangerous rays of the sun and keep you and your family safe?  Not all shade sails are manufactured from UV safe materials, so you will need to ensure that this is the case if that is something that is important to you.

Benefits of Shade Sails

Although shade sails are not always recommended for protection from rain storms, they will offer good shelter if they are angled correctly.  Most shade sails are installed on a slight downward angle so that the rain water will run off.  A slight mist may come through the shade, but they generally water resistant, just not completely waterproof.  Shade sails are pleasing to the eye and people enjoy them as a centrepiece to their yard.

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What to consider when buying

When you are looking for a shade sail for your yard, there are several things to consider. 

  • the size of shade sail - you can purchase a rather large sail or a smaller one, it just depends how much coverage you need.
  • the shape of the sail – triangular is very popular, but a four point sail provides better coverage;
  • do the corners have double stitching? - double stitching is tantamount to the longevity and durability of your shade sail.
  • does the shade sail come with hardware? – hardware should be provided that is specific to the shade sail and allows for easy installation. Many sails need the various pieces installed and connected, so it is very important that you understand how allow the components fit together.  Make sure that instructions are provided.
  • decide fabric weight depending on what you want the sail for, lighter fabrics or loose mesh tend to allow a lot of UV rays in;
  • stainless steel caballing in the perimeter of the sail will be more durable and won’t stretch during the lifetime of the sail.

Installation and Care of Your Shade Sail

Proper installation of your shade sail is the best way to guarantee that it will last as long as possible.  Once the sail is installed it should be taught enough to support you if you hang from it with your bodyweight.   Most sails are designed to withstand light winds and weather, however if a tropical storm is expected or some other heavy weather, you should plan to remove the sail and put it away in a shed or garage to ensure it will not tear or otherwise be damaged.  Each time there is a serious weather event where the sail remains installed, examine it carefully afterwards for any tears or other damage and make certain that the entire anchor points are secured.

Shade sails should be connected to sturdy posts that are stable enough to support the sail.  If you use wooden posts they should be a minimum of 4 x 4 to support the sail.  The taller the post, the wider it should be, so if you plan to have 8 foot posts, they should be a minimum of 6 x 6.  Metal poles are also useful but must be powder coated or galvanized to ensure that they do not rust. 

Once the summer season is over, remove your shade sail and wash it with a mild detergent, allow it to dry, then fold it and store it in a cool dry place away from moisture.  If you plan to install the sail yourself, make sure that you have someone assisting you and holding the ladder, for example, if you are up high and leaning over to make connections.  If you want to install a shade sail on a dock you will need to use a pergola structure to secure the sail.  Whatever the sail is secured to must be completely secure and not moveable.  Turnbuckles must be lubricated to ensure that they do not seize.  This can be done on an annual basis and all hardware should be replaced if any components are damaged or are not operating properly.

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Shade sails are an attractive and affordable alternative to covered decks and porches.  They are highly desirable because of their versatility and non-permanence.  Sometimes people decide that they do not want to have an area covered and it is much easier to remove a shade sail than an entire roof because it is easily removed.

What to consider when buying a shade sail 

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Everything you need for your Campervan or Caravan

Camping with a campervan or caravan is an extremely pleasant way to relax.  With your self-contained unit, you can drive to any location and enjoy everything the area has to offer from the comfort of your own home on wheels.  Making certain that you have everything that you will need on your trip is a crucial step to a successful adventure.  It never fails that you find yourself in a remote location and there is that “one thing” that you could use or worse, desperately need.  We have compiled a list of all of the items that you should need for any adventure so that you can review the list and glean ideas.

Before you leave, add emergency contact information into your wallet, let family know how long you will be gone and the area you will be going to.  Bring plenty of cash, traveller’s cheques and a credit card for emergencies.  Check on the weather reports for the destination that you will be travelling to.  Bring your cellular phone and the appropriate charger so that you can keep it ready at all times.  Don’t forget to pack any prescription medications that you are currently taking because if you are going off the grid there is no opportunity to deal with emergencies such as that.

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The Vehicle

caravanWhile most campervans have all of the accessories needed, you want to ensure that you have all that you need for most emergency situations.

Consider adding these or ensuring that the items you do have are in good condition and in decent working order:

  • Spare tire
  • Engine oil
  • Gas can
  • Baling wire (if exhaust parts fall off)
  • Windscreen washer fluid
  • Water
  • Emergency Kit
  • Tire jack
  • GPS device
  • Maps (for those going “off the grid”) and out of range of GPS sats
  • Basic tool set
  • Tire inflation kit
  • Levelling kit for under your campervan
  • Blocks to place around tires to prevent rolling
  • Window coverings
  • Patio lanterns
  • Awning
  • Tarps
  • Patio Lanterns
  • Fold up picnic table
  • Fold up tables

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Sleeping Arrangements

sleeping bagSome families have campervans that have room for every member to sleep.  Sometimes there are hot evenings where you would rather sleep outside.  Either way, it is important to have the following:

  • Tent
  • Foam bedding
  • Sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets
  • Sheets
  • Pillow slips
  • Throw blankets
  • Cozy pyjamas/lounge pants
  • Alarm clock and batteries



camp outhouse bathroomA bathroom is one of the many great conveniences of a campervan.  This means you are not subjected to those disgusting “pit” toilets that smell horrible or public bathrooms that are never as clean as they should be.  Many campervans have a toilet, show and sink in a small area, but these are super convenient and make for easy access to amenities.  Pack these things:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet cleaner
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Face cleanser
  • Towels
  • Wash cloths
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush
  • Hair dryer
  • Razors
  • Make up (ladies)
  • Make up remove cloths or solution
  • Ear cleaner swabs (Q tips)
  • Shaving cream
  • Laundry bag
  • Mirror
  • Supplies to clean the bathroom
  • Bathmat
  • Shower cap (when you want a shower but don’t want to wash your hair)

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Kitchen / Food Preparation

campfire foodMost kitchens only need the basic items, but longer trips do require more planning.  Create a meal plan and grocery list together as a family or with whomever you will be taking your adventure with and shop to gather all list items.  Some staples can remain inside the campervan at all times but others must be purchased fresh each trip.  Here are the kitchen items you should have on hand:

  • Pots of several sizes
  • Frying pans of a few different sizes
  • Roasting pan
  • Baking pans
  • Kettle
  • Coffee pot (electric or stovetop)
  • Coffee mug
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Tea pot
  • Tea cozy
  • Tea mug
  • Mustard
  • Sugar
  • Seasoning
  • Spices
  • Utensils
  • Table Cloth
  • Table Cloth Clips
  • Butter dish with cover
  • Mesh food covers
  • Cooking oil
  • Olive oil
  • Soup mix
  • Pasta
  • Knife sharpener
  • Large serving spoons
  • Casserole dishes
  • Cheese grater
  • Salad spinner
  • Strainer
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Platters
  • Serving trays
  • Appetizer dishes
  • Skewers
  • Roasting baskets
  • Barbecue brush
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Plates (Large and small as well as paper plates)
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Dish detergent
  • Dish cloth and towels
  • Plastic wrap and containers
  • Tin foil
  • Dish soap
  • Drinking water
  • Oven mitts
  • Wine opener
  • Wine glasses
  • Beer mugs
  • Ice chest and ice
  • Lighter and waterproof matches
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Ziploc bags of various sizes
  • Garbage bags
  • Barbecue grill and propane or charcoal
  • Camping stove
  • Rope/string for clothes line

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Around the Fire

campfireGathering around the fire is something that man has done since the dawn of time.  A good fire provides heat and it can be used to cook food too if necessary.  When you sit around the fire you need certain things to make the experience a comfortable one.

  • Chairs
  • Roasting forks
  • Fire grill
  • Cooler (doubles as a drink holder and side table) (ice chest)
  • Guitar
  • Lighter fluid
  • Cushions for seats
  • Speaker (if you want to play music from your smartphone)
  • Axe
  • Insect repellent
  • Beer holders
  • Plastic sippy cups for mixed drinks
  • Straws
  • Marshmallows
  • Hatchet
  • Chainsaw (if you are going “off the grid”)
  • Propane fireplace (during times of fire bans)
  • Firewood


Going on an Adventure

campingCamping is great, but sometimes you want to get out and explore your surrounding areas. This requires certain equipment, so it’s a great idea to have it all on hand.  You don’t want to be left stranded at the campsite when you could be out having an adventure. 

Many items are optional and are for use on certain types of trips, but we are listing all of the things we can think of:

  • Hiking boots
  • Rain gear
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Kayak
  • Surfboard
  • Stand up paddleboard
  • Knee board
  • Wet suit
  • Flippers
  • Snorkel and mask
  • Mesh bag for shallow dives
  • Camera
  • Memory cards
  • Laptop
  • Backpack
  • Water bottle
  • Bathing suit
  • Goggles
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency whistle
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Inflatables for the water
  • Beach chairs

Relaxing in General

relax hamockIt can be difficult to decompress when you want to take a vacation, but when you surround yourself with items that help you to relax, you can easily take on the role of vacationing mom/dad/entrepreneur or whatever it is that you do for a living. 

We suggest bringing these types of items:

  • Outdoor games such as croquet
  • Books/Magazines
  • Hammock
  • Lanterns
  • Candles
  • Binoculars
  • Radio and batteries

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clothing-jeans-beltUnfortunately, you cannot simply take a peek into your closet to get something to wear so you must pack appropriate clothing to wear on your trip. 

Make sure that you bring different options to suit the weather:

  • Warm weather clothing – shorts, t-shirts, sandals
  • Cold weather clothing including a nice warm jacket
  • Undergarments
  • Waterproof pants
  • Lounge style pants
  • Shorts
  • Jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Several types of shoes and boots to suit many types of situations
  • Gloves
  • Shoes/socks


Bringing a Pet

dog-pet-chihuahuaYour pet is a part of your family so why wouldn’t you take them camping with you?  Make sure that you bring everything that your pet needs to feel at home. 

Those items can include but are not limited to:

  • Pet Food
  • Treats
  • Blanket and bed
  • Towel
  • Bowls
  • Food
  • Water
  • Toys
  • Plastic bags for excrement (if in public places)
  • Leash and collar and/or harness


Things you can Never Have Enough of

  • Batteries
  • Extra clothes
  • Extra food
  • Blankets
  • Plenty of Fresh Water
  • Fuel
  • Wood for fire

The best course of action when you plan your trip is to decide where you are going and what the weather will be like.  Plan out your route and then follow it as closely as possible.  When you are organized and have all that you need, you are going to have a great time.  Don’t stress out too much about the time that you will spend travelling between points, the idea is to have fun on the trip.  If you want to spend extra nights at certain points then do it.  This is the best way to enjoy every moment of adventure.  Take plenty of pictures and keep a journal if you like so that you can document memorable moments.  Journals are powerful tools to preserve memories for decades.  You can use them to pass the time and to help with remembering the details of all of the fun times you had on your trip.

The most well-read travel columns are the ones that include adventures such as camping where everyone can afford to take the trip.  Campervan trips are extremely affordable and very fun too.  These types of trips are also a perfect option for large families that have a hard time finding accommodations together.  The idea of several campervans joining together for a trip is becoming more popular whether it is family or friends or a combination of the two.  Deciding on a destination as a family or as a group can be exciting and fun too.  It is a great way to get closer with those you love and to create memories that you will have for years to come.  You can always have a great time without having to spend thousands of dollars.  Start planning your next trip today and see where the road takes you!

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Solar Panels - Get Ready For Summer

As the price of power keeps going up, people are becoming increasingly concerned about their mounting electricity bills. It’s this concern that has seen many homeowners choose to install solar panels to insulate themselves from the upward-moving energy prices. The fact that people are also becoming more environmentally conscious has also helped increase solar energy adoption in many households.

Lower your summer power bill by using solar energy

With summer just around the corner, now is the best time to make your solar investment as summertime is the time when most homes spend the most on electricity bills. The higher summer temperatures mean that your air conditioning will be running almost always – something that you will notice on your power bill.

Solar Panels - Get Ready For SummerStarting the process of installing your solar power system early is advantageous as it gives you the time to go over the installation details and complete the entire process before the sun travels down to this part of the earth for summer. 

If you’re considering installing a solar power system but feel like you need to learn a little bit more about solar before you take the plunge, then you have come to the right place. In this post, we shall be looking at all the aspects of a solar power installation so that you can have an easier time making the decision.


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How a solar power system works

Solar panels, also referred to as solar modules, work by converting sunlight into electrical current. To do this, solar panels are fitted with materials that react to produce electricity when they’re exposed to light; this is referred to as the photovoltaic effect. Solar panels are made up of several solar cells (mostly made of silicon) connected together and sandwiched between a backing plate and protective glass. The entire panel is then surrounded by a frame – usually made from aluminium.

Like other electric devices, solar panels are also rated based on their efficiency. The efficiency of a solar panel is calculated by comparing the output of the panel (in watts) with its surface area. Generally, the more efficient the solar panel is, the more power you’ll be able to get from a given roof space. Panels that are more efficient are also more expensive. Solar Panels - Get Ready For Summer

The electricity generated by solar panels is direct current (or DC). Since most appliances in homes and offices run on alternating current (or AC), an inverter unit is needed to convert the DC to AC. If your solar system produces more energy than you require, you can either store the extra energy in batteries or feed it to the electricity grid and get paid an agreed on feed-in-tariff by your power supplier. 

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Components of a Solar photovoltaic (PV) system

You are going to require more than a couple of solar panels to get a solar power system up and running. There’re a couple of components that make up a solar PV system, these include:

  1. Solar panels. These form the foundation of any solar PV system. Their job is to capture the energy from the sunlight and transform it into electrical energy. The solar panels are the most visible part of the solar power system as they have to be installed outside to receive sun rays.
  2. Solar Array Disconnect. The name may sound fancy, but this device is basically a switch that allows you to cut-off the power coming from your solar array (several solar panels connected together make an array) in case there is a fault in the system, or you need to repair other parts of your solar system. The disconnect switch has to be powerful enough to handle the full power output of your solar array on the brightest of days.
  3. Battery charge controller. This device is necessary if you want to store the power generated by your solar panels for use when there is no sun (i.e. at night or on dull days). A battery charge controller makes sure that the current sent to the batteries is consistent and that your batteries do not get overcharged. It also prevents your batteries from getting discharged back through the system when there isn’t any sunshine.
  4. These are needed to store the power generated by the solar panels during the day for use at night or on days when the solar intensity is not high enough to generate significant amounts of power. You can either use lead-acid batteries or lithium-ion batteries. The latter is a relatively new technology and will, therefore, be slightly more expensive.
  5. DC-to-AC inverter. The energy that will come from your batteries or solar panels will be direct current (DC). To change it to the form that you get from the grid (alternating current or AC), you’ll need a device called an inverter. This will make the energy from the solar panels ready for use by all your household appliances and devices.
  6. Utility power meter. This is an optional device, but it’s important for measuring the amount of power that is being supplied to your home or business by the solar panels. This way you can make improvements to the system for maximum efficiency.

Wiring and fuse box connections will also be required to connect all the components and to connect the solar system to your home’s or building’s circuitry.

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Considerations to make when installing a solar system

There’re several things that you need to consider before you purchase and install a solar power system in your home or business, these are:

  1. Your energy consumption. Before you make any purchases, you will need to evaluate your current rate of energy consumption. This will help you determine the capacity of the system you will need and whether energy storage in batteries will be necessary.
  2. The suitability of your roof for solar installation. Most roofs can have solar panels installed on them. Depending on the nature of your roof, however, you might need to do some additional things to ensure you get the most out of your You should look for the following when evaluating your roof for a solar installation:
    • The orientation of the Because Australia is in the southern hemisphere, north facing roofs will generally get more sunlight than south-facing roofs and are, therefore, better for solar panel installations. East-or-west-facing roofs can also be used for solar, but more panels or higher efficiency panels may be required to produce adequate power.
    • Roof pitch. Solar panels can be installed on roofs that have a pitch between 15 and 40 degrees. For flat roofs, you will need to install the panels using mounts to get the correct angle.
    • Roof size. The size of your roof will determine the kind of system you will install depending on your energy needs. You will need to use high-efficiency panels to get enough energy if your roof is small. But if it’s large, you can use numerous low-efficiency panels that are less expensive to buy.
    • Shading on your roof. Your solar panels will require maximum exposure to sunlight to maximise energy production. Tall trees and buildings that cast shade on your roof may make your system less effective.
    • Your roof’s age. Solar panels are durable and can last for at least 25 years. To avoid having to remove your installed panels to replace your roof, make sure your roof is in good shape and will not require replacing in the near future before you install your solar panels.
    • Roofing material. Although you can install solar panels on most types of roofing materials, some materials such as clay tiles, wood or slate can be quite fragile which means that you’ll need to find an experienced installer to install the panels without damaging your roof.
  1. Local council approvals. Find out if you will need any approvals from your local council before you commence your solar installation. This could save you some headaches later on.

It’s only after you have considered these things that you can move forward and begin your solar power system installation. 

Advantages of using solar energy



Some of the benefits of using solar power for your home or business include:

    • Reduced energy bills as the free solar power will supplement or eliminate your grid power consumption.
    • Reduced environmental impact as you’ll be using renewable energy.
    • Extra income from the feed-in tariff if you generate enough power to supply the grid.
    • Protection from future rises in energy costs as your solar system will serve you for more than 25 years.

Solar power is not only good for the environment but good for your budget too. Invest in a solar power system for your home or business this summer and save!

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Purchasing a Vacuum? What You Should Know

Whether you want a vacuum for your home or business, it is important to find the right vacuum that is most suitable for the type of cleaning that you need to accomplish. A vacuum that is designed for cleaning a residential home is much different than one that is designed for an industrial or commercial application. Commercial vacuum cleaners tend to be larger and more basic and often have much more power than a regular residential type vacuum.Vacuum Cleaner

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Wet and Dry Vacuum Cleaners

A wet/dry vacuum features extremely heavy duty suction power. Whether you need to clean up the sawdust in a workshop or contain an overflowing tub, these types of vacuums are designed to tackle the toughest of jobs. The biggest consideration that one should have when looking at wet/dry vacuum cleaners is their cleaning ability.

The size of a vacuum has a direct effect on the cleaning power it delivers. Larger models tend to deliver the best results, however many homeowners need a smaller model because they have much less storage space and a smaller area to clean.

Many manufacturers tend to overstate the fluid capacity of a vacuum by up to eight gallons. With a wet/dry vacuum, as the float rises inside of the collection tank it will eventually block further suction by the vacuum.

Types of Wet/Dry Vacuums

One of the features of a wet/dry vacuum is that it is generally very basic. Once you consider how much room you have to store the vacuum and have chosen one based on your cleaning needs you will need to decide on the type of vacuum that is most appropriate for what you will use it for.

  • Mini-Sized – are easy to store and extremely light but tend to sacrifice performance and capacity
  • Small – highly portable but also sacrifice capacity and performance
  • Large – powerful and well-suited for tough cleaning jobs. These hold a large amount of debris but tend to be very bulky and heavy, particularly when they are loaded with water.


Noise Factor

Due to the fact that wet and dry vacuums tend to be extremely loud (up to 85 decibels), it is important to consider wearing hearing protection.

Important Features to Consider in a Vacuum:

While these details may seem small, it is important to consider these features when you purchase a vacuum:

  • On-board tools – most vacuums have a utility nozzle to be used for larger debris, a crevice nozzle for small, tight spaces, a dusting brush and a squeegee attachment. One piece versions tend to be more convenient than inserts.
  • Dust bag – these bags tend to prolong the life of the filter cartridge if your vacuum has one. It can also make switching from dry to wet cleaning effortless. Costly “high performance” bags are no more useful than standard bags, so don’t waste your money.
  • Extension attachments – help to reduce the need for reaching or kneeling and/or stooping.
  • Filter – choose a vacuum that takes a pleated filter because it is easier to change and less likely to leak dust. Check to see if replacement filters are readily available before you purchase a particular model.
  • Tool storage – observe where the tools are stored on the model you are considering. Some vacuums have them on the outside while others have a small interior compartment for tool storage.
  • On or off wall – vacuums that roll around take up floor space and can be difficult to move. If you have a vacuum that is affixed to the wall it can eliminate the issue of space but may present different issues in that your movement can be restricted.
  • Hose fittings – many vacuums have two swivel fittings – one located at each end of the hose which helps to prevent the hose from kinking. Some vacuums only have the one swivel attachment at the end that fits the canister.

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What to Consider When Buying a Vacuum

The starting point when you are trying to determine the best vacuum for your needs is to think about the type of cleaning you need to do. Do you have wall to wall carpet, area rugs, stairs, hard surfaced floors or tile floors? Upright vacuums with a bag are a great option for rugs and carpets while canister vacuums are easier to use on stairs and hard surfaces. Hand held or stick vacuums are perfect for quick jobs while robotic style vacuums are perfect for getting the job done while you are not even home.

Are you looking for a vacuum that needs bags or one that is bagless? Both are good options, but the vacuum that needs bags means that there may come a time when you are out of bags and cannot use your vacuum until you purchase more. Bagless vacuums have a receptacle that must be emptied regularly or the hose of the vacuum will become plugged and this can present a whole new set of problems. Regular vacuum maintenance is an important part of ensuring that your vacuum runs properly and does the best cleaning job.

When it comes to motor strength and filtration, you definitely get what you pay for. If you purchase a stick style vacuum it is not designed to tackle tough jobs like your plush bedroom carpet. Purchase a vacuum that is large enough and powerful enough for the job that you want to use it for. If you are using a vacuum in an industrial or commercial setting where it will be used every day then you want something that is more powerful and easy to clean and will be durable. Lighter and cheaper vacuums are just not designed to withstand constant use.

Know what your needs are before you start to look at vacuum cleaners. The best way to understand your needs is to take stock of the flooring surfaces that need to be cleaned, the amount of times you will vacuum each week and the level of soil that you need to tackle. Price points will also vary widely, depending upon the size and type of vacuum cleaner that you choose.

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All About Swag Tents

Camping is one of the best ways to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban living and get back in touch with nature. It’s a great way to spend time with family and friends without all the distractions that plague us on the daily. For those who love to travel but are limited by their finances, camping gives you a low-cost way of travelling without spending lots of money on accommodation – arguably the most expensive part of travelling.

But, while a camping trip is meant to be a stress free and relaxing experience, it often gets too difficult and too complicated for a lot of people – more so when it comes to sorting out the “shelter” part of it. There is a lot of stuff to remember to carry, pack in your car, and then set up once at the campsite. There’s one item that can make camping a lot easier, however, and that’s the swag tent.

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What is a swag tent?

The swag is, rightly, identified as an Australian invention. In the earlier days when motor transport was the preserve of a few, men who travelled between farms and towns in search of work used to carry a canvas bedroll that contained their few belongings wrapped up inside. These ensembles were referred to as “swags”, and their carriers as “Swagmen”.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and the swag has modernised to include several more features while still maintaining its traditional function; simple-to-transport-and-setup outdoor accommodation.

A Swag, by definition, is a “tent-like” shelter used for outdoor sleeping and camping. Swags are sleeping compartments usually made of canvas (although swags made of other materials are also available) that feature water and insect proofing. They provide a comfortable and easy way to sleep outdoors without the frustrations and inconveniences of a regular tent.

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Types of swags

Unless you’re looking at a custom made swag tent, there’re generally two kinds of swags; the traditional swag and the dome swag, also known as the tunnel swag.

  • Traditional swag. This type of swag is particularly popular with hikers and bikers as it is less cumbersome to carry and easy to assemble. Here you basically have a mattress sandwiched between two layers of canvas; one side is the base while the other is the cover. It’s a bedroll in essence.
  • Tunnel or Dome swags. This type of swag has a dome or tunnel shape. The shape is held up using ropes and poles which means that dome swags need some installation. Dome swags are generally more comfortable as the setup enables you to have space between you and the upper canvas. These swags offer easy head and/or side access; they’ll keep vermin, snakes and insects out, and are generally well ventilated. The complexity also means that they are slightly bigger and bulkier making them more suitable for campers who are using motor vehicles to get around.


Dome swags, because of their many additional features, are generally more expensive than traditional swags which feature a simpler design and limited features.

The benefits of using a swag tent

There are many benefits of using a swag tent for sleeping outdoors. These include:

  1. Fast setup and pack up. Even the most complicated swag tent will be simpler to set up than a regular tent. A swag enables you to set up fast when you want to hit the hay and pack up even faster when you want to hit the road.
  2. You don’t need extra bedding. Swag tents come fitted with a foam mattress that provides you comfort and keeps you off the cold ground. Just roll up a sleeping bag with your swag, and you’re good to go.
  3. It’s warmer than a tent. The heavy canvas of a swag and it’s relatively smaller volume will help you keep warm on cold nights by trapping the heat close to your body. The foam mattress and the heavy PVC or canvas floor will also help to keep you separated from the cold ground during your slumber.
  4. It’s cooler than a tent. When it’s hot and uncomfortable, you can improve the ventilation of your swag by opening the top canvas layer and the ventilation windows to allow free circulation of air. Since swags are fitted with screen meshes where the canvas opens, you will still be protected from annoying insects.
  5. Swags are heavy duty. Swags are generally designed and manufactured to be very heavy duty and will, therefore, be able to withstand years of use and abuse.
  6. You can use it in the back of your truck. If you’ve got a truck, then a swag is exactly what you need. Set up your swag in the back of your truck and you have a raised comfortable shelter to sleep in.


It’s these benefits that have made swag tents so popular with campers in Australia and other parts of the world.

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Swag tent buying tips

Like buying any other item, you need a healthy amount of information to ensure that you purchase what you need and don’t make the wrong decision when buying a swag. So here are some tips to help you ensure that you invest in the right swag tent for your needs:

  1. Cheap is bad. As with most things, you also get what you pay for when it comes to swags. When shopping for a swag, look for good value instead of looking for the cheapest offer. Remember, a good swag will last you for many years if you treat it well; so spending a little bit more will pay off.
  2. Choose a swag style that suits your needs. If you’re travelling mostly on foot or cycling, choose a swag style that is less cumbersome to carry around. If you are using a vehicle for your travels, then you can choose swags with more elaborate designs and features.
  3. Swags come in different sizes. Swags generally come in two sizes; single and double. If you’ll be sharing your swag with a loved one, then get a double – keep in mind that you will need to transport the swag when selecting the size.
  4. Check the materials. Look for a swag tent made of thick canvas. Swags that are made of thicker canvas offer better waterproofing and insulation and will generally last longer. Also, make sure the zips are heavy duty as they need to be sturdy enough to take some abuse. The material used for the swag’s floor is also something that you should consider. It can either be PVC (will offer complete waterproofing and durability) or heavy canvas (will offer limited waterproofing and is also durable). A waterproof floor will protect you from the wet ground and outside moisture.
  5. Pick the appropriate mattress size. While thicker is definitely better when it comes to the size of your swag’s mattress, it’s important that you find a compromise between comfort and portability.
  6. Get a swag with a bag. Packing and carrying your swag around can be stressful and tedious if you don’t have a proper place to put it in. Look for a swag that comes with a “swag bag” that you can use to pack your swag in.


The type of shelter you use can determine whether you have a good time camping or a bad experience. Swag tents make camping easier and more comfortable by providing you with a shelter solution that is easy to carry and use, with a great assortment of comfort features.

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Swimming Pools in Australia – The Ultimate Guide

Swimming Pool Safety
Building a Pool
Should you Look for a House with a Pool or Install one?
Maintaining Your Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool Troubleshooting
Getting Your Pool Ready for Summer
Summer Pool Maintenance
Getting Your Pool Ready for Winter
Heating your Swimming Pool
Essential Swimming Pool Supplies
Using Pool Chemicals
Pool Chlorinators
Swimming Pool Cleaners
Swimming Pool Pumps

If you are considering installing a pool at your home you should be aware of some of the legalities when it comes to Australian laws.  Each state, territory and city may have specific regulations so it is up to you to ensure that you are compliant.  As the owner of a swimming pool you are responsible for the safety of those who swim in it whether it is with your permission or not.

One of the biggest causes of accidental death for young children is drowning and most of those take place in private backyard pools.  One of the best ways to prevent accidental drowning is to ensure that adequate fencing is in place and that young children are under careful supervision when they are in the backyard.

A continuous safety barrier must be installed and maintained around the pool and this must meet today’s safety standards.  The fence must be permanent, at least 1.2 metres high with 1.8 metres on the pool-facing side if the other side of the fence is climbable.  A child must not be able to crawl under the fence.  Gates should swing out from the pool, self-close and be complete with a latch that children cannot reach.

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Swimming Pool Safety

There are some basic pool safety rules that should be followed if you have a backyard pool: 

  • Always keep toys away from the pool when no one is using the pool and deflate blow-up toys after every use.
  • Never dive into a pool that is not deep enough because it may lead to brain damage, spinal cord injuries and/or paralysis.
  • Don’t allow any toys around the pool that can be ridden such as tricycles.
  • Never use electrical appliances around your pool.
  • Never run around the pool deck or allow small children to run on the deck as the surface can be extremely slippery and dangerous.


Building a Pool

If you have decided that you want to install a pool, should you do it yourself or hire a contractor?  The main thing to consider is that while this project is one that you can definitely do yourself, a contractor is recommended if you are not a do-it-yourself type of person.  On the plus side, building your own pool can save you tens of thousands of dollars, so it can definitely by the more affordable way to go.

The main considerations are budget, size, shape and intended use of your pool before you begin building.  You can also line up a variety of sub-contractors to help along the way.  Some will work with a homeowner who wants to build their own pool while others will not.  It is important to ask the right questions when you start to interview subcontractors to ensure that you get the right fit for what you need.  Pool design is very important in that the depth of the pool needs to be specific to certain lot lines and utilities contained within the property.  You must determine where gas lines are located before digging can commence.  It is also important to obtain the proper permit from your local city.  The pool plan will show the layout which is the area to be excavated and then once that has been completed the plumbing must be installed.  You need to install main drains, skimmers, filter, heater, pump, fittings, leveller, and also waterfalls if you want them.

Should you Look for a House with a Pool or Install one?

If you can find a home that already has a pool, the cost of that pool will be included in the purchase price so that you do not have to come up with the extra money to take care of installation.  The drawback to this is that you don’t know the overall condition of the pool.  When was the pool installed and how has it been cared for?  The pool may require extensive renovations and care to get it to opening stage if it has not been used for a while.  If you purchase a home with the thought of installing a pool you may never quite be able to save up the money to install that pool, so it can be budget-friendly to purchase a home that already has the pool installed.  Add to that the fact that many home buyers do not want a pool, so you have the clear advantage to purchase the home with the pool at a discounted price if the sellers are motivated to sell.

Maintaining Your Swimming Pool

In order to maintain your pool properly you need to understand the pH levels and total alkalinity.  The total alkalinity is the ability of the water to neutralize acidity and the levels of alkalinity relate directly to the pH of the water.  If total alkalinity is high then pH levels will also be high.   The pH scale ranges between 0 and 14 and neutral pH is 7.

Your pool’s total dissolved solid levels, chlorine, and calcium hardness are some very important things to consider.  You need to understand what these are and how they provide a benefit for the water in your pool.

  • Total dissolved solids are made up of magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorides, bicarbonates and sulphates along with other organic materials that dissolve in the water;
  • Chlorine is for sanitizing and disinfecting water;
  • Cyanuric acid protects chlorine once it is in the water from the ultraviolet rays of the sun;
  • Calcium hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium that is contained in the water. If the calcium levels are too low the water can become corrosive and that can ruin your pool structure;

    You need to determine the ranges for your pool including pH, chlorine, calcium hardness, total dissolve solids level and cyanuric acid.  Here are the ideal ranges:

    • pH: between 7.2 - 7.8
    • Total Dissolved Solids: below 5000 ppm
    • Chlorine: in the range of 1.0 - 2.0 ppm
    • Total alkalinity: somewhere between 80 - 120 ppm
    • Calcium hardness: 180 - 220 ppm, though some say 200 – 400
    • Cyanuric Acid: 40 - 80 ppm

      Each component of your pool water has a testing timeline that you should follow so that your pool functions well.  You want the pool water fresh and clean so all of the elements need to be examined and tested at least one time per week.

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      Swimming Pool Troubleshooting

      Here are several common problems that pool owners are most often faced with and the solutions to them.

      1. The surface of the pool becomes very green and no one wants to swim in it.  This is generally caused by low chlorine levels.  You will need to shock the pool using three times the normal amount of shock that you normally add to the water.  You might also use an algaecide to ensure that the algae is totally eradicated.
      2. If you notice an excess of foam on the surface of the water then it might be that you are using a low quality algaecide.  You will need to use an anti-foam agent and purchase a better quality algaecide in the future.
      3. Clogged Filter. When you notice that there is a large amount of dirt and debris in your pool that is not being filtered out, it’s time to check your filter.  Your filter should be cleaned once every two months and should be swapped out and chemically cleaned annually.
      4. Water is murky. If you can’t see the bottom of the pool then it is usually due to improper pH levels.  If you have had a lot of rainfall it can change the chemical balance of your pool and cause problems.  Test the pH level of the water and make the necessary adjustments.
      5. Green Hair. If you have blonde friends who swim in your pool and it turns their hair green this is due to an overabundance of minerals.  Your local pool store should have a mineral remover that works for your situation.
      6. Stains in the Pool. These can be caused by minerals or organic materials.  If you notice a stain, try to deal with it quickly because the longer it remains the harder it will be to remove.

      Getting Your Pool Ready for Summer

      There are many steps that you must take to prepare your pool for use in the summer, especially since it has been sitting during the off-season with no use.  The first thing that you need to do is get started well in advance of the hot weather.  You may notice that some repairs need to be made once you get closer to the pool and inspect it.  Start with the cover and the deck.  Clean both with a hose or a pressure washer.

      The next step is to carefully inspect all of the equipment associated with the operation of your pool.  Examine the filter, the pump, and all lines for cracks or leaks.  Your first instinct may be to drain the pool but this is a waste of time and money.  Start using your filter and pump and drag the water with a skimmer to eliminate debris.   Once you have cleared all of the debris, it is time to add the chemicals.  Test your pH level and determine the number.  The ideal number is one between 7.2 and 7.4.  You will also need to alkalinity and that level should be somewhere between 80 and 120.  Next, test for calcium which is ideally between 150 ppm 250 ppm.   Always use separate water samples for each test that you perform.  Some pool owners will have a local professional open their pool for them so that the water is just right.  This leaves weekly maintenance which can be easily performed by the home owner.

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      Summer Pool Maintenance

      During the summertime your pool will get its heaviest use.  There are several things that must be done to keep your pool open all summer.  First, always check up on the chemistry of your pool with a good quality water testing kit.  Keep your pH levels under 7.8 or take a sample to your local pool store and have them test it.  They will be able to tell you what you need to add to your pool water to optimize it.

      Keep an eye on the water level of your pool.  When people are using the pool and jumping into it a lot of water can be lost.  In addition, the heat of the summer sun can cause evaporation.  Top up the water level if needed and adjust the chemicals.  Clean out the skimmer basket regularly, you never know what ends up in there, but sometimes you can get quite a surprise with the occasional frog or salamander.  Check the filter at least once a week when you check the chemicals and be sure to examine the pump valve to ensure it is free of hair and debris.

      Getting Your Pool Ready for Winter

      Once the summer is over you are ready to close your pool for winter.  This will keep your pool safe and clean and will ensure that you don’t have to do too much work to get your pool in shape for the next summer season.  Here are a few simple steps to take to get your pool winter-ready:

      • Shock the water by adding massive amounts of chlorine. This will kill any bacteria in the pool and keep the water clean longer.  Run your pool pump to circulate the chlorine throughout the system.
      • Scrub the tiles down and use extra care to get at the grout and areas that are not normally reached with a regular cleaning.
      • Clean the items you use to clean the pool including skimmers, filters and brushes. Use a filter cleaner to carefully and thoroughly clean your pool’s filter.
      • Cover the pool. If you don’t have a proper pool cover, use a tarp to prevent debris from falling into the pool. This will save a lot of work in the spring because you won’t have to clean sludge out of the bottom of the pool caused by rotting leaves and other debris.
      • Always check the chemicals in the water over the winter and check the water level in the skimmer box along with the pressure gauge.


        Heating your Swimming Pool

        Heating a swimming pool can become very expensive very quickly so it is important to know about cost-effective methods that you can use to get great results.  Gas pool heaters are a good option because they are available in many different sizes and they are best used for pools that are not used that often.  Gas heaters are able to heat pool water quickly and efficiently.

        Solar heaters are an effective and low cost option for heating a pool.  A solar collector is placed on a nearby roof or an area on the ground that receives plenty of direct sun on a daily basis.  Once the collector is in place the water is circulated through it with a pump and filtration system and the water is heated through the pipes and then returned to the pool.

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        Essential Swimming Pool Supplies

        When you are running a pool for the summer season there are many essential supplies that you should keep on hand, including:

        • Pool chemicals. These are for treating the water and eliminating pathogens that can be harmful to your skin.  Chemicals also keep the pool water in an ideal condition for swimming.
        • Test strips. These are an essential tool for you to check the status of your pool chemistry.
        • These keep the pool water clean by constantly circulating and filtering the water.
        • This reduces the amount of dirt and debris that collects in your pool.
        • Skimmers are useful for removing surface debris while brushes on long poles are ideal for scrubbing the sides of the pool.
        • Pools are not always naturally the ideal temperature for swimming, so heaters can assist with making your pool more inviting and accessible.


          Using Pool Chemicals

          Once you complete the initial pool chemical set-up for your pool, it must be regularly maintained in order to ensure that the water is safe and ready for swimming.  Your chemicals are measured using PPM or parts per million and this is the equivalent to one mg of a chemical in one litre of water.  These are the commonly used chemicals in most pools:

          • pH increaser is used to correct the acidity of pool water and slows the dissipation of chlorine.
          • pH decreaser is used to correct the condition of the water in order to allow the other chemicals to be more effective.
          • Chlorine is a sanitising chemical that eliminates algae and bacteria in the water.
          • Chlorine stabiliser is a chemical that prevents chlorine from being destroyed by the sun by extending the life of it 8 – 10 times longer.


            The total alkalinity of your pool is the amount of alkaline substances that are contained in the water.  Bicarbonate alkalinity should be between 80 ppm and 120 ppm which will prevent sudden changes to pH levels.  If the total alkalinity of your pool is low, metal trim can corrode, plaster can become etched and pH can rise and lower randomly.  If the total alkalinity in your pool is high chlorine stops being an effective way to disinfect the water.

            Test the water regularly and if you are unsure of what needs to be added, consult your local pool store or expert to analyze the water for you.

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            Pool Chlorinators

            Chlorine is a key ingredient in your swimming pool.  It is the best product to be used to eliminate algae and bacteria and to sanitize the pool water.  Chlorinators are a way to deliver chlorine regularly into the water and ensure that the water is clear and clean.  There are many different types of chlorinators and delivery systems.  The type that you purchase will be dependent on your pool’s size, the cost of the system and the availability of the system that you are considering.  It is recommended that you choose a chlorinator that is manufactured by a well-known brand due to the importance of reliable chlorine delivery.

            Swimming Pool Cleaners

            No one wants to swim in a dirty pool, so having a decent pool cleaner is important.  There are many different types of pool cleaners including suction-side driven, electronic, pressure driven, return-side driven and robotic.  The type of cleaner that you ultimately choose will depend on the size of your pool, your budget, the type of debris that generally invades your pool and whether it is in-ground or above ground.  When you are thinking about the amount you will spend on a pool cleaner remember that you will save money in the long run by not needing to hire a professional cleaning service if you can regularly maintain the cleanliness of your pool.

            Swimming Pool Pumps

            The size of pump required for your pool is based on the size of the pool that you have.  You must know the number of gallons of water contained in the pool which you can determine by measuring the dimensions to calculate the volume.  The next thing you need to decide is the flow rate of the pump or how often you want all of the water in the pool to complete one cycle through the pump and filtration system.  If your pool is used frequently then you need a high flow rate pump.  If the amount of usage varies you can choose a variable flow rate pump which you can adjust to accommodate the usage.  The pump should be easy to care for in that if the pump needs service, parts should be readily available.  It pays to do your research in order to ensure that you purchase a pump that is commonly used and sold in your local area.

            As a pool owner you have plenty to think about including safety and regular maintenance.  If the maintenance is done on a regular basis it will keep your pool in good condition and eliminate the need for expensive repairs and/or work in the future.  It is useful to have a schedule to follow so that you never miss anything important:

            • Skim the surface and brush twice weekly. Empty skim baskets at the same time.
            • Vacuum once per week or when the pool is dirty or purchase an automatic pool cleaner.
            • Run pool pump for 10 -12 hours each day.
            • Check chemicals 2x per week.
            • Shock the water weekly or after a group of people use the pool.

            Swimming pool safety and troubleshooting quick guide

              About BBQ Grills and Smokers

              The first known practice of grilling took place in South America with the Arawaks who used a wooden structure known as a barbocao.  This method of cooking was also adapted by early Americans who used it to cook hogs slowly so that the meat was flavourful and extremely tender.  In modern times hamburgers and hot dogs have become the most popular items to be grilled on a barbecue along with corn on the cob.

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              Historical Moments in BBQ:

              Edward Kingsford was the inventor of the charcoal  briquette.  He was related to Henry Ford and was tasked with establishing a sawmill and a Ford auto parts plant in the northern region of Michigan, USA.  Kingsford notice that there was a massive amount of wood scraps from the Model T production line and he processed the scraps into charcoal under the name Kingsford charcoal.  Briquettes were eventually used in small portable grills.

              The round style of portable BBQ which has a small spherical lid was invented by George Stephen who was a welder.  Stephen was looking for a solution to the wind constantly blowing ash on his food when he grilled it, so he used the bottom of a buoy and welded three steel legs to it.  He created a lid from a smaller sphere and created a BBQ prototype.  After taking the BBQ home and experimenting with it, he started a company called Weber-Stephen Products.  This “kettle” style BBQ is still popular today.

              The first gas grill designed to be used outdoors was created by Don McGlaughlin who owned Chicago Combustion Corporation which is now known as LazyMan.  The gas broiler that he invented featured a grill that was built-in along with permanent coals or lava rock.  The open broiler design was later adapted into a portable grill in 1954 which also featured a 20 lb propane cylinder.

              Modern Grills

              Today’s BBQ grill typically uses either natural gas or propane as a fuel source.  You can cook the food directly on the grill or with radiant heat.  Gas grills are available in a wide range of sizes from small and portable to larger sized grills and may even be large enough to grill enough food for a crowd of one hundred people.  These larger size grills are often custom built and are portable by being towed by a car or truck.  Natural gas and propane grills can be converted to take the other type of gas if desired.  Most gas grills are designed in a cart style which includes a grill unit and a frame that contains a cabinet to hold the fuel tank.  There are generally wheels on one side, sometimes there is a side element for cooking extras and storage below.

              Newer gas BBQ grills have a radiant burner located near the back of the grill which offers even heat over the span of the burner to be used with a rotisserie attachment.  The rotisserie is a long metal skewer that rotates with an electric motor and is ideal for grilling small meat cuts.

              Some grills have a smoker box which uses wood chips to add a smoky flavour to foods that are grilled on the BBQ.  When items are to be smoked, lower temperatures are ideal and the items are smoked for a longer period of time.

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              Infrared Grills

              These grills work by hearing a ceramic tile which then gives off infrared radiation which cooks the food.  The heat that is generated distributes evenly across a cooking surface and can reach as high as 500 degrees C which can quickly sear items.

              Charcoal Style Grills

              These grills tend to use charcoal or briquettes as a source of fuel.  The fuel is transformed into embers which provide the heat that is needed to cook food.  Some people prefer the uniform size of briquettes while others like charcoal because it does not contain the fillers and binders that briquettes do.  Some charcoal grills are round, some are square while others have a more rectangular shape.  There are several styles of charcoal grills including:

              1. Hibachi – this is a traditional Japanese device used for heating, not cooking, but this name was adapted for a type of portable barbecue. These charcoal fuelled cooking devices are called shichirin.  This is a very inexpensive type of grill crafted from cast iron and containing a charcoal pan with two cooking grills over top that can be adjusted.  There is no lid.  These small devices are ideal for their portability.
              1. Pellet Grill. These grills utilize pellets for fuel.  Pellets are composed of vegetable oil and compressed sawdust and are small and puck like.  The pellets are stacked into a hopper and slowly fed into a firebox near the bottom of the grill controlled with a thermostat.  A pellet grill has a versatile temperature range.  It can be set to smoke meat, to cook it slowly or to grill at higher heats.  Top of the line pellet grills are designed to hold a constant temperature for over ten hours.
              1. Cart grill. These grills look similar to a gas grill but can be a kettle design or a rectangle shape.  The lid is generally hinged, and the entire unit is on a cart with wheels.  The charcoal pan can be lowered or raised and there is a drawer below for the collection of ashes and their easy removal.  The multiple features of the modern charcoal cart grill makes it just as convenient as a gas grill.
              1. This type of grill features wire and sheet metal in place of a cooking grid.  The grill generally has legs attached to its charcoal pan and does not have any type of venting system.  The heat can be adjusted by moving the cooking grip up or down.

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              Maintenance and Care of BBQs

              If you purchase a reasonably expensive BBQ you expect it to last for quite some time.  The best way to accomplish this is to keep the grill clean and ensure that all of the surfaces are burned off after cooking.  What you need to do is crank up the heat to high and allow any food bits to burn thus removing them from the grill.  Once the grill has cooled down a simple wipe can remove the excess ash and dirt.  Never cover up a BBQ that has not fully cooled down or moisture can gather inside of the appliance and cause rust to form.

              Many BBQ units can have a life extension with replacement parts.  If a part on your BBQ fails, simply purchase a new part and install it on your BBQ to ensure that it has a longer life.

              How to clean your BBQ