Camping outdoors with your RV is a good way to save money on accommodation because you already bring your lodging. However, since RVs do not have a stable source of electricity, there are times that your appliances and other electronic devices might not work well. Still, camping without electricity in your RV is a worthwhile experience altogether.
How can you camp in your RV without electricity? You can camp in your RV without electricity by using renewable energy from the sun. You can also take advantage of the amenities offered by campgrounds. Also, you can try cooking outside on a bonfire or washing your clothes using the laundromats.
Let this article serve as your guide to camping in your RV without using electricity. This article will discuss how you can use solar power or any other renewable energy sources to power your different appliances in the RV. This article will also talk about the different amenities offered by campgrounds and other RV parks and how you can use them to your advantage. Lastly, this article will provide tips and tricks for making your RV camping trip worthwhile without using electricity.
Dry Camping: How Does it Work?
Camping in your RV without any electricity exists, which is called dry camping. This takes RV camping to the extreme bare levels as it does not use any form of electricity when living in the RV. We will learn more here.
Camping at its Barest
Dry camping is camping without any electricity connection, piped water, and other amenities most campgrounds and RV parks might offer. It is like the basics of camping that we used to do while growing up, but the difference is that we are camping in an RV and not in a tent.
Aside from the electricity and water sources, there are no proper sewage systems in dry camping, so you would have to manually dump your human wastes and other biodegradable wastes on your own without relying on your plumbing in the RV solely.
Can Be A Hassle
It can be a hassle for people who are not used to being away from electricity and water sources for a long time to do dry camping. Still, some people do it for healing purposes. By healing purposes, they mean mental and emotional healing.
However, some people might find it hard to live without having the simple pleasures of having a fixed and permanent source of electricity to run your appliances inside the RV. Others might feel uncomfortable at the thought of them manually answering the call of nature due to the lack of sewage systems in dry camping.
Thus, if you really want to pursue dry camping, you should always ask your companions if they would be okay living in the RV without any fixed sources of electricity and other normal amenities they might experience in living the normal way.
Can Also Be Healing
As mentioned before, some people go dry camping in their RVs for healing purposes. By healing, they meant mental and emotional healing through self-reflection and realization. Some people who go dry camping frequently leave the civilization behind in hopes of recharging their mental and emotional batteries due to stress and other complications back home.
When they go dry camping, their colleagues will not reach them because of the weak to no signal in the dry camping areas. The lack of stable power sources will not allow you to turn your Wi-Fi on for longer hours, and the signal might be weaker than expected.
Thus, with those situations, the campers experience reconnecting to their inner core, realizing everything they might have done, and reflecting on what they must have done. In the end, they will go back to the city and the civilization recharged, refreshed, and rejuvenated in all senses of emotional and mental healing.
Tapping On The Renewable Energy Sources
Some people who cannot do dry camping can still go RV camping without a fixed source of electricity through using other sources, such as renewable energy.
Solar Power to the Rescue
Solar energy is one of the most popular options for a stable source of electricity among RVers and campers. Many of them have installed solar panels on their RVs, either on the roof or somewhere else. Most people said that using solar panels had consistently saved them a lot of money compared to when they were not using it and solely relying on regular energy and electricity sources.
Installing solar panels to produce solar energy is not a fad nor a hoax, as many people have used them ever since it was introduced among RV campers. It has many benefits to people using it. Most people who have switched to solar power have seen greater efficiency in terms of savings.
How Does Solar Power Work in RV
The solar panels you installed on your RV have cells that gather the energy from the sun, and the circuits take the energy absorbed by the sun’s cells. Then, it is turned into an electrical current, which is fed through the wires to a charge controller that controls the battery’s current.
The energy becomes DC energy, which in turn charges your RV’s house battery or batteries depending on how many you have in your RV. The energy is stored in the batteries to power the appliances and devices in your RV. You can also use this to charge your devices for your use at a later time.
Typically, the DC power from the solar panels and batteries is 12 volts. This DC power can run lights, electronics, and appliances in the RV. However, the 12 volt DC can also be converted to 12 volt AC through an inverter to power other devices and appliances that require 120 volts to run, such as coffee pots.
Harnessing the Solar Power in Your RV
To use the solar power for your RV, you must harness the sun’s solar energy through the solar panels, which will go to the charge controller after converting it to electricity, then to the batteries, to the inverter. You have 120 volts of electricity that you can use while you camp without the normal electricity stream.
As long as you have enough solar panels and batteries and also the conversion ability, you can use the solar panels to generate solar power at your behest. You can be self-sufficient in electricity without relying on more expensive forms of electrical sources.
How Many Solar Panels You Must Have in Your RV
For your solar panels to generate enough electricity to support your RV living, you must know how many of them you must install to supply the proper amount needed to power your appliances and other electronic devices.
To determine that, you must figure out how many watt-hours you will use each day and the amount of energy the solar panels provide to your RV batteries. When you balance these, you will be able to get an optimal system. You must find the balance between those two factors to determine the right amount of solar panels you must have in your RV, as inadequate solar panels and batteries will just waste your money. Not to mention, solar panels are very expensive, too, so you must know how many panels you need in advance before buying panels for your RV.
It can require a lot of work to figure those out. Still, it will be a much better experience since you will enjoy solar power for your electricity needs.
Components of an RV Solar System
The components of an RV solar system include the battery bank, the solar panels, the charge controller, and the inverter. For batteries, lithium batteries are much better to use for solar applications than lead-acid batteries. Installing the solar panels at a proper angle to get more sunlight is a good thing to maximize the amount of solar power generated by the solar panels.
It is recommended to install the solar panels flatly, or you may opt for a mounting method that allows you to install the solar panels at an angle towards the sun. That way, your solar panels would be able to generate more solar energy for your RV living needs.
The charge controller cannot be removed from the RV solar system, or it will not work at all. The charge controller controls the rate your batteries are charging. Thus, it is required to prevent your batteries from overcharging. It is also helpful to operate the solar panels as efficiently as possible, especially if you are using an MPPT charge controller, which has that ability.
Lastly, you need an inverter because the 12-volt power your solar panels produce is DC, and some of your appliances only work on AC. Thus, the inverter converts the 12 volt DC power to 12 volt AC power, which powers some of your appliances, such as your laptop, coffee maker, and others.
These parts cannot be separated from one another because the solar power system in your RV will not work without any of them.
Are Solar Panels Worth It?
Well, only you can answer that question. If you are into self-sustainability and do not want to add more carbon footprints that can harm the planet, solar panels to generate electricity for your RV is a great idea. It is also great for people who want to dry camp or stay away from the civilization for longer periods. As long as the sun is shining, you can get as much energy as you want without having to worry about depleting it at the end of the day. Solar power is also renewable, and it can save you much money in the long run.
However, suppose you have an active membership to an RV group or are a fan of staying at RV campgrounds where all the amenities are present, including power sources. In that case, installing solar panels might not be worth it. You will not be able to use it, anyway, since your RV would be plugged into the electrical hookups provided by campgrounds.
Using Campgrounds to Your Advantage
This brings us to our second option. This option is perfect for those who want to take advantage of their RV group memberships or nearby campgrounds.
More on Campgrounds and Their Amenities
RV campgrounds are scattered throughout the country, offering various services and amenities to campers and RVers. It offers memberships to frequent goers that provide discounts and savings to its members. Some campgrounds offer tiered memberships, with the highest tier enjoying more privileges that are sometimes exclusive only to the members of a certain tier.
Most RV campgrounds offer electricity hookups to their visitors and guests so that they can freely use their appliances and electric devices inside their RVs without worrying about the interruption of the power supply. Some RV campgrounds even have Wi-Fi connections throughout the premises, which is an added bonus.
Why Campgrounds Are Good
If you prefer having the common luxuries of modern civilization, such as electricity, water and plumbing, and access to service areas, staying in an RV campground is the best option for you. RV campgrounds offer reasonable rates for their members, and most of them usually give huge discounts for long-term stays. This allows you to save more money because you do not need to worry about your electricity bills.
Some campgrounds include electricity hookups to their rates, while some keep it separate with monthly plans for their members. This allows the members to balance the usage of their appliances while enjoying the other amenities of the campgrounds.
It is also important to note that there are RV parks and campgrounds with separate laundry and cooking facilities, which would also allow you to save more money since you will not use your own washing machine, dryer, and cooking appliances that much when you have places where you can do those for free.
Lastly, campgrounds offer convenience and comfort to their members. They can take advantage of the different offerings of the RV park to suit their needs while saving some money in the long run.
Go Back in Time
Finally, RV campers can enjoy the RV lifestyle without electricity by going back to when electric appliances were unavailable. For instance, they can cook outside with bonfires or grill with charcoal and wood. They can also use gas stoves and propane or butane stoves for cooking food. They can also use the abundance of sunshine to dry their clothes outside. Campers can also take advantage of washing their clothes by hand or going to the nearest laundromat to wash their clothes.
We can always go analog in times when digital lifestyles are not applicable.
It is always possible to camp in your RV without relying too much on electricity. Nowadays, some options are surely going to work in these situations. Using solar power and going to campgrounds are good solutions for people who want to live in an RV without relying too much on the mainstream electricity sources for RVs, which can be expensive in the long run. Also, there is nothing wrong with isolating ourselves from civilization every once in a while. Our bodies will greatly benefit from it, and your mind and emotions will thank you more than enough.