Can You Boondock Without Solar
Even before you asked this very important question, it has always been my pleasure to write a helpful post with a balanced perspective regarding power usage while boondocking. Howbeit, thanks for thinking it.
So as the question implies, can you boondock without solar?
Yes, you can boondock without solar but there are other things that you need to consider. The things you have in your RV or camping set up can use propane for cooking, cooling or heating. Some use battery power to run lights and fans and others use generators for power.
As I said above, yes you can. Even so, it will come with a cost or price you definitely will have to pay. In other words, you’ll have to make sacrifices rather financially or otherwise. That may likely constrain you to some extent as you plan
Seeing that you would need a power source to run some appliances (i.e television, computer, handset/mobile phone, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, electric kettle, electric stove, fan, electric griddle, space heater, air conditioner.
This is a few so if you plan to boondock for a while perhaps a couple of days, or weeks. You could actually depend on a generator (with at least 2000 – 7000 Watt capacity), shore power, propane, etc. Without having to use solar which obviously is a renewable energy source designed to mainly charge your battery.
This not necessarily to provide you with on-demand power. Even so, they solely generate DC (Direct Current), rather than the AC (Alternating Current) you get from shore power and generators. However, you are still limited by the degree or amount of power your battery can actually provide. Meanwhile, you can keep that going for a little bit longer seeing that you could recharge it over time. More specifically, this gives you a renewable source of power (“off the grid”) – which undoubtedly is perfect for boondocking adventures.
In the same vein, the advantage remains the fact that your batteries are constantly being charged. While the disadvantage is the fact that you can’t run anything more demanding than you could normally run off the battery system alone. And typically or normally, that rules out the AC (Alternating Current) system, electric heaters, the microwave, and other high draw appliances.
However, by knowing how much power you would need during your stay in the boondocks. This will help you decide whether or not solar is an option you’d like to settle for.
Going forward, the underlying information further explain in details various power source (other than solar) you could rely on while boondocking.
The list includes the following
- Shore Power
This particular power source is one good alternative you could count on. That said, they function or work like Shore Power as they plug into your AC (Alternating Current) system and also provide AC power. But typically or normally, generators don’t provide as much power as shore power does. However, that really depends on the size of the generator. Meanwhile, generators are rated in watts rather than amps (ampere). Even so, a 2000w generator is about right for a small RV Recreational Vehicle. Especially if you don’t need to run major systems (Air Conditioning and the like). It is also imperative to note that a 3500w generator is usually the next step up and could run most RV (Recreational Vehicle) systems on most RVs. You can also connect in series or daisy chain some 2000w generators to get more power.
In addition, it is important to know that overdrawing a generator is not as risky as overdrawing shore power. If you make attempt or try to overdraw a generator, you simply won’t get adequate or enough power to make everything run properly. And that could damage some appliances, though it is not likely anyway.
Furthermore, some motor homes will have a built-in generator that is separate from the main engine. Meanwhile, these can be especially handy or useful as they are insulated and thus not very noisy. Mind you, the use of external generators are often limited by some parks due to the noise (especially at night). Even so, the most important safety rule for external generators is to never utilize or use them indoors. Reason because? They emit, give off, or produce a lot of carbon monoxide gas that could become fatal very quickly in an enclosed space. Do ensure to always run them outside.
This power source is also a better recommendation for you. In clear terms, shore power is when you can plug your RV (Recreational Vehicle) into an AC (Alternating Current) electrical grid. Even so, the available power you can draw on is measured in Amps (Ampere). The most common RV (Recreational Vehicle) connections are 30amps and 50amps. You can connect your RV (Recreational Vehicle) to a line running from someone’s house, but ensure to use caution. Meanwhile, home outlets are generally only 15amps.
Also note that your RV (Recreational Vehicle) will be set up to either use 50amps or 30amps. However, bigger RVs are usually set up for 50amps. That said, you can actually connect your RV (Recreational Vehicle) to a lower Amp power source, but if you aren’t careful it can be risky or dangerous. On the other hand, if you are connected to a lower source than your RV (Recreational Vehicle) was designed for, you can literally damage the electrical systems if you try or attempt to draw more power than the shore power line is rated for. And typically or normally, the worst that happens is that you blow fuses but you could damage the power source or your trailer.
Additionally, when you connect to shore power at an RV (Recreational Vehicle) park, there will obviously be a circuit breaker on the pedestal. Also remember to turn that on after you hook up, and as well turn it off when you disconnect to leave.
This is another pretty good power source you would want to adopt while boondocking. That said, the easiest way to not run out of propane or experience insufficiency is to bring twice as much. If you’d like to conserve propane, ensure to try the following;
- a) Utilize Reflectix insulation to keep the cold air out. This would likely make an important or perhaps significant impact on your furnace cycle time and use.
- b) Instead of you turning up the furnace thermostat, do ensure to wear heavy pajamas, make use of extra blankets, and also put on a stocking cap to keep your head warm. Always remember – your furnace utilizes both propane (for heat) and battery power (for the fan).
- c) Also ensure to cook on the campfire instead (propane free).
Furthermore, your RV (Recreational Vehicle) may have some appliances that can either run on Electricity or Propane. Even so, the likes of heaters and refrigerators that could switch between the two are obviously common. Meanwhile, the rule of thumb with these is the fact that if or when you are connected to shore power, use the Electricity option. But on the flip side, if you are boondocking (basically camping off the grid), do ensure to use the propane option. In conclusion, however, it really boils down to ”what do you have more of” and ”which is cheaper” – propane or electricity. The choice is yours.
- a) Is It Proper To Leave The RV (Recreational Vehicle) Plugged In While The Refrigerator Is On?
Well, you could leave the refrigerator on almost all of the time. Even so, the RV (Recreational Vehicle) should be on level ground so the refrigerator operates properly. But you would also need to monitor it for when it needs to be defrosted.
Meanwhile, the only other concern with leaving the RV (Recreational Vehicle) plugged in, not necessarily related to the refrigerator, is the coach battery. In the same vein, whenever the RV (Recreational Vehicle) is plugged in, the coach battery is obviously being charged. However, it’s really just a slow trickle charge, but over time it can reduce or deplete the electrolyte levels in the battery cells. In addition, you need to check, or perhaps have somebody check the battery at least on a monthly basis when the RV (Recreational Vehicle) is plugged in during storage.
- b) Is There Any Possible Risk/Danger When You Plug A 30-amp System Into A 50-amp Service While Utilizing The Proper Adapter?
More often than not, this seems to be a controversial subject. Some folk will argue that if they should use an electrical adapter for it, then they consider it to be safe. On the flip side, others will argue that it is certainly not safe to use a 50-amp service for a system designed for 30-amps or a 20-amp service for a 30-amp system. It is worthy of note that electrical adapters are a necessity for RVers.
That said, you may be in a situation where you have to use an adapter to make a connection at a campground. Even at that, it may be an archaic/outdated campground or isolated area that only provides 15 or 20-amp electrical service. Or probably a situation where the only site available is a 50-amp service for your 30-amp system. There are adapters that will go from your RV (Recreational Vehicle) type plug and size – down to household type outlets. There are also adapters that would go from household type outlets to all types of campground RV (Recreational Vehicle) connections.
Meanwhile, it’s really nice to have these adapters on hand when you need them. But you must exercise caution and utilize or employ common sense when you use them. Furthermore, if you have a 30-amp system and you have to utilize a 50-amp service. Make sure to use your RV (Recreational Vehicle) electrical system exactly the same way or manner you do when you’re plugged into a 30-amp service.
In other words, don’t even border or try to run any more than you normally would. On the flip side, if your RV (Recreational Vehicle) is a 30-amp or 50-amp system. And if you utilize an adapter to plug the RV (Recreational Vehicle) into a 15 or 20-amp outlet. You will severely limit what you can operate in the RV (Recreational Vehicle). Here is a link to a 30 amp to a household adapter
Even in this kind of situation, you should only utilize the appliances or electronic equipment that are absolutely necessary. It is also imperative to note that if you place too much of a demand on electrical adapters. Or even use them for extended periods of time, they can possibly overheat and melt. This can resulting in damage to the RV (Recreational Vehicle) power cord or the electrical system.