article: RV Boondocking and Dry Camping

my thoughts on this article. from a vandweller’s point of view.  Some of my objections are technical, some are financial.

> With many campgrounds closed, full-time RVers that aren’t prepared to dry camp or boondock might find themselves in a pickle.

Agreed.  Luckily for me, I never had the budget to become dependent on rv campgrounds.

> Generator – You don’t NEED solar. A generator will get the job done!

Depends on “the job”.

What could one do with $1000 of generator (Honda eu1000i, 1000w ) or $1000 of solar (800w)?

  • Generator
    • large (IMO unnecessary) loads like microwaves and electric coffee makers
    • charging lithium, or Bulk-charging lead
  • Solar 
    • medium loads
    • fully charging lead (Pb)  batteries to avoid battery murder
  • optimal mix for Pb
    • generator in the morning while you make coffee
    • shut off generator when Vabs is reached, allow solar finish the full charge

> Batteries – Where can you put additional batteries? You might lose a storage bin to these.

Adding solar does not require adding batteries, since additional loads during the day can be run off the panels.   I would recommend onlookers keep the existing battery bank until it proves insufficient for needs.

> Some people might be perfectly comfortable running a generator for an hour or so each night to top up their batteries.

Great solution for lithium.  Recipe for battery murder with lead. Absorption takes hours.

> There has been a tendency for RV manufacturers to move towards all-electric rigs. Some people are afraid to have propane on board. It probably also simplifies the build for them. An all-electric coach is not a deal-breaker for boondocking

To quote Sternwake:  “fear of propane will be expensive”.

Other issues with all-electric:

  • they are typically designed for pedestal power, and have no incentive to be efficient
  • they tend to run appliances on 110v, requiring additional inverter losses off-grid

 

> We both work and have our internet router and computers going all day long. We like to be able to get up in the morning and make a pot of coffee without being concerned about running out of power. With 1360 watts of solar panels on the roof and 600 amp hours of lithium batteries

Problem:  need coffee in the morning

Proposed solutions:

  • spend (I’m guessing here) $8000 on panel and a ton of lithium to run Mr. Coffee machine; or
  • use a $20 propane burner and a percolator, pour-over, or press.  My Melitta pour-over was 50 cents on clearance at a supermarket, and I bought many bodum presses for $2 at thrift stores over the years.

Admittedly the first option is more fun, especially if it can be written off as a biz expense, etc.

> we have only had to run the generator a few times when we’ve had rain for multiple days in a row or poor sun exposure.

Sounds like a successful setup.  I’d encourage onlookers with that much solar to reduce power consumption in poor insolation rather than spending another $1000+ on a generator.

At first glance, you might think that an Instant Pot would be too power hungry for boondocking. But once it gets to pressure, it only uses a bit of power to keep it at pressure for the cook time. And because it cooks faster than most other methods and doesn’t heat up the house, we consider it a boondocking essential.

A stovetop pressure cooker is $40 new ($5 at thrift stores) and uses 0 watts on propane.

> If you have an electric only fridge, it will figure heavily into your power usage calculations.

My 12v compressor fridge uses 12A/day.

conclusion

while I agree with much of the content, it leans heavily on the most expensive solutions for each problem.

One Reply to “article: RV Boondocking and Dry Camping”

  1. Hey, thanks for reading! We love hearing different points of view. We had the funds and the interest in building out a solar installation ourselves. You’re right – we didn’t NEED what we did but we’ve been pleased with our system. Everyone should make choices that work for their lifestyle and budget. Stay safe out there!

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