Obnoxiously loud and environmentally unfriendly, generators are increasingly left home while dry campers search for a more freeing camping experience.
If you’re worried about the additional challenges of dry camping without a generator, we’ve got your covered. Read on for what to keep in mind.
Dry camping usually means the campsite has no water, electricity, or similar amenities, although it may have a fire ring. Although lots of campers go without these amenities completely, you can still have many of them without a generator.
Obviously, dry camping means you’ll be getting less electricity than you normally depend on at home or on a campsite with hookups. Although it’s not impossible, careful planning is essential.
Most people vastly underestimate the amount of power they need throughout the day and at night. To avoid that, the first step is to figure out how much power you need. This means you need to find out how much power you already use first.
There are a couple of ways to monitor your typical power use.
Now you know roughly how much power you use per day.
Your other option is to fully charge your battery, then live in your RV with no hookups and see how long your battery will keep going. You can do this in your backyard or on a campsite with hookups.
Using your RV as you normally would will give you the most accurate picture of what your battery capacity is like. For even more accuracy, you could invest in a battery monitoring system for your RV.
A battery monitoring system can show you two useful numbers:
You need two different pieces of equipment to replace a generator. You need both because each gives out a different type of electric current that powers certain appliances.
Battery banks provide DC power to 12-volt appliances, from USB devices to your lights, vent fans, and water pump.
This is what you connect to the battery bank to get AC power. Usually, AC power comes out of wall sockets inside your RV. Appliances like air conditioners, microwaves, and coffee machines run on AC power.
Here’s what you need to do to make sure your battery bank doesn’t run out.
Since your campsites have no hookups, you need to fully charge your battery bank using shore power or city power. This simply means the electricity you have at home or at a paid campsite.
Even though you’re going dry camping, you can still take advantage of paid campsites to recharge your battery bank. Keep in mind that shore power comes out as 120v AC power. In order to store it in your battery bank, you must first convert it to 12v DC power.
Most RV campers have built-in converters, so you simply plug your RV’s power cord into the campsite pedestal to recharge your battery bank.
Many lovers of dry camping upgrade their converters to inverter chargers. These nifty inventions not only recharge your battery bank but also provide your electric appliances with AC power. This is incredibly useful since it means you can have both AC and DC power.
Although they cost a lot to buy, solar panels give you unlimited power for free whenever there’s direct sunlight. They also work noiselessly. Recharging batteries using solar panels has recently been on the rise among RV owners.
Unfortunately, solar panels do come with three serious limitations: They’re slow, they only charge if there’s sunlight, and they need a solar charge controller to work.
This means that you need many panels to recharge fast, so they’re not your best bet for appliances that eat up a lot of power, like microwaves or air conditioners.
Solar panels also need direct sunlight to charge. If you’re at night, under a cloudy sky, or in the shade, they won’t work.
Finally, you can’t just plug your battery bank into a solar panel. You need to connect your solar panel to a solar charge controller, which you then connect to your battery bank.
Confusing? Consider solar panel kits. They’re made specifically for RVs and come with solar panels, all the necessary hardware and wiring, and a charge controller.
Conserving power while dry camping helps you avoid running out sooner than you’ve planned. Here are two things you can do to help make the most of your energy.
Every minute you spend in your RV drains your battery bank. Get outside for as long as you can. It’ll make your batteries last longer and put you in closer touch with mother nature.
A cooler will let you unplug your fridge, conserving energy. If you keep your cooler outside during the day, remember to bring it back inside your RV at night so as not to encourage bears.
Don’t leave your lights switched on unless you’re actively using them. This will not only conserve power but also let you bond with nature on a deeper level.
Instead of turning on the lights, place a few stick-up lights on tables and counters. Most of them come with dim and bright options, and some even have a built-in rechargeable battery you can connect your phone to.
Take advantage of any and all electricity sources you can find on your route. If you’re thinking of stopping to recharge at a paid campsite, consider doing so at night.
This will give you a chance not only to recharge your battery bank but also your phones, laptops, and other devices. You can also run power-hungry appliances like your air conditioner or electric heater while you’re there.
Without the grating noise of a generator, your dry camping will feel closer to camping than ever. Not relying on an unlimited power supply will open your eyes to the amount of unnecessary power you may be using.
Becoming super-aware of your energy use will help you conserve resources not only while camping but also back home. You’ll enjoy a truer camping experience and become a better human being in the process.
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