Boondocking (aka dry camping, dispersed camping, wild camping) may mean slightly different things to different people. You can boondock in the wilderness, at a state park’s primitive site, on a farm, or even at a vineyard. The common denominator is no hookups for your RV; no shore power electricity; no pressurized water source; and no sewer connection.
Boondocking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as some want many of the comforts and appliances of home. But for those who are willing – or want – to avoid the crowds, noise, and tight quarters of an organized campground or RV resort and get away to quiet and spacious new vistas, boondocking may be just the ticket. It just takes a fresh perspective, some planning, and compromises, and managing your precious resources like fuel, water, and electrical energy.
A large “house” battery bank may be able to supply an RV with electrical power for several days, but such a battery bank will likely be quite heavy and take up a lot of space. A generator can recharge your battery bank and/or power large loads, but it requires fuel, space, and supervision; it also makes noise, and the exhaust smells. Your vehicle alternator may be able to recharge your house batteries but shares drawbacks similar to those of running a generator.
Alternatively, a PV (solar electric) system for your RV can quietly and reliably help sustain even a moderately-sized house battery bank while boondocking so you, your family and friends can relax and enjoy your site and surroundings. Your boondocked neighbors will also appreciate your quiet and emissions-free setup.
While there are exceptions to every rule, boondocking with a PV system typically involves addressing four application-specific variables: daily energy requirement, autonomy, environment, and space. See our blog post “How to Size a PV System for Your Boat or RV” for a detailed discussion.
Buying and installing an RV PV system isn’t exactly free. However, buying and installing a PV system for your RV instead of extra batteries and/or a generator may make for a compelling financial consideration that complements a PV system’s operational and environmental benefits. And, since the PV system will likely weigh less than extra batteries and a generator, you may be able to carry more water to help extend your boondocking adventures.
Give us a call at 615- 285-0611 and we’ll be happy to discuss how a PV system for your RV can help you extend and enjoy your boondocking adventures.
About the Author – Jim Goodnight – also known as “crewzer” — is a retired solar industry application engineer, product manager, and forum moderator and has previously written for Home Power and Solar Professional magazines.