I hope the subject line isn't confusing. I know from doing some research online that non-Florida residents can obtain a SunPass for use on the toll roads down there and I see that there are two types of devices, the SunPass Mini and a more conventional device.
I'm wondering if anyone could give me advice on obtaining one of those things. Here are my circumstances and questions:
(1) I don't drive to Florida very often at all (last trip in my car was in 2005 via the Auto Train; that trip involved paying tolls on FL-417, the Bee Line, and Alligator Alley). My wife flies down to visit relatives typically twice a year and rents a car. But we are thinking about a vacation down there this summer, either driving all the way or taking the Auto Train, and so I've been pondering the idea of getting a SunPass just because I hate waiting on line at tollbooths and fumbling around with cash. We'd likely be making a full circuit all the way down the east coast, possibly as far as Key West, across to Fort Myers, and up to Orlando to stop at Disney on the way home (and I want to go over the Sunshine Skyway en route just to see the bridge). From looking at the map we'd almost certainly be using some of the toll roads at some point, probably multiple portions of the turnpike, Alligator Alley, and maybe some of the roads in the Miami and Orlando areas.
(2) I see that the Mini basically works out to have no cost other than the tolls you pay because the cost of the device is refunded back to your account, whereas the regular device appears to have a non-refundable $25 charge—i.e., if you cancel your account, you do not return the regular transponder like you do with E-ZPass and you're out the $25.
(3) On the other hand, I see the Mini will stop working once it's removed from the windshield.
(4) First question: Does the SunPass Mini interfere with transponders on other systems, such as E-ZPass or remote gate openers that use stick-on transponders? The reason I ask this question is that I remember back before Virginia integrated its old Smart Tag system with E-ZPass, the E-ZPass would prevent the Smart Tag from working if you forgot to put the E-ZPass in the no-read bag (Virginia, of course, didn't provide a no-read bag). If the devices interfere, this would be a reason to get the conventional transponder.
(5) Obviously another reason to get the conventional transponder would be the convenience for my wife in that she could just take the device with her when she flies down and then use it in whatever rental car. That brings me to the second question: If you don't use a SunPass for a long time, does the account expire or otherwise get revoked? The Virginia E-ZPass agreement says somewhere in the small print that you're supposed to use the device at least once every six months or your account may be cancelled. I got a letter of this sort once when I hadn't had reason to drive on the toll roads for awhile. Ultimately they didn't cancel the account after I called them. But my question stems from those circumstances because if Florida would cancel your SunPass account for non-use, then it would be a clear reason not to get the conventional transponder.
What it really boils down to is that from my research, the SunPass Mini seems like the more sensible device for someone living in Virginia at first blush because you can close the account and get all your money back. I suppose if you do that, when you get home you can just scrape the thing off the windshield if it does interfere with the E-ZPass. I'm wondering if those of you who drive to Florida, or who live in Florida but have transponders for other states as well, can give me any thoughts on whether it makes more sense just to get the conventional device because of the ability to bring it with us on future trips (even if only twice a year), or whether I'm right to find the $25 nonrefundable charge for the portable device to be off-putting. (It seems to me that if I get the Mini device it doesn't make sense to keep the account open once this trip is over simply because I have no idea when I might take my car down there again.)
Thanks in advance for any help.