RV Camping Without Electricity: Important Things to Note Before Going Off-Grid

RV camping without electricity may sound like an impossible feat, but it’s actually not as hard as you may think!

You may have heard of the words “boondocking” or “dry camping”. These terms are used by RVers who wish to go camping off the grid without running water, sewer, and electricity.

If you’re looking to do the same and experience the great outdoors with your RV, you’ll first need to come prepared. Follow these tips closely to make your trip a success.

Boondocking vs. Dry Camping: Is There a Difference?

Boondocking and dry camping are often used interchangeably because they mean the same thing: camping without electricity, water, or sewage hookups.

So what exactly is the difference? Let’s have a look.


The term “boondocking” was first used by US soldiers who were stationed in the Philippines during World War II to describe a remote, mountainous area. “Bundog”, where the term came from, literally means mountain in Tagalog.

The origin of the word is important because it’ll help us understand the true meaning of boondocking.

In a nutshell, boondocking is camping outside established campgrounds, away from people, towns, or amenities, without any hookups. It’s all about getting away from civilization as much as possible. Some RVers describe it as camping out “in the boonies”.

Dry Camping

Compared to boondocking, you can dry-camp basically anywhere without hookups: RV rallies, highway rest stops, primitive campgrounds, or even Walmart parking lots.

Dry camping may entail a fee, and some sites come with concrete pads and amenities such as tables and washrooms. While boondocking takes place outside developed campgrounds for free, dry camping takes place at developed campgrounds.

RV Camping Without Hookups: Tips for Beginners

Ready to go off the grid? Make sure to follow these tips first!

The Importance of Water

Before you go boondocking or dry camping, the first thing you’ll need to do is to make sure your fresh water holding tank is full. Treat water as a luxury, because for a couple of days, it will be!

Most RVs have a battery-operated switch that allows you to control and manage the water you’ll be using. RVs can store an average of 6 gallons of water, so you’ll have to be careful when taking a shower or a bath.

Similarly, you’ll have to be aware of how much you use the toilet.

Whenever you flush, the water you’ve used is automatically transferred to the black water holding tank of your RV. So if you’re using the toilet too often, it may build up the smell in your RV, especially if you’re looking to camp out for more than three or four days.

Try to take advantage of campsites that have outhouses. Doing so will limit the amount of waste stored in your rig’s holding tank and it’ll also save the water in your RV.

Utilize Alternative Power

Without electricity, you’ll have to use an alternative power source to run your machines. In most RVs, you’ll have access to 12 volts of power with the use of deep-cycle batteries, gas generators, or even solar panels.

Let’s break down the efficiency of each power device.

RV Batteries

RV house batteries, also known as lead-acid batteries or lithium batteries, are primarily used for powering the electrical appliances found in your RV. The best thing about deep-cycle batteries is that it can be charged with the use of generators or solar panels.  

There are three types of configurations found in RV batteries: 

  • 200 amp hours: May run for an entire day without recharging, making it suitable for occasional camping.
  • 400 amp hours: May run for about three days, which is ideal for long term camping.
  • 600+ amp hours: May run for almost a week without recharging. This capacity is suitable for serious boondockers.

Gas Generator

Most class A and some class C RVs come with built-in generators that feed off your main gas tank.

These generators often come with a safety feature that automatically turns off if your gas reaches a specific amount. This will make sure that you won’t run out of fuel before your next gas stop.

If your RV doesn’t come with a generator, a portable generator will do just as well. Depending on its size, it should run all the appliances in your RV with ease.

The problem with generators, however, is that they’re loud and may disturb the peace around you. Use your generator only if necessary.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are a good, affordable option for charging the deep-cycle or lithium batteries that power your appliances. They come either portable or fixed, and you’ll even find a solar foldable blanket that works just as well.

If you’re looking to go solar, you’ll need to buy a panel that will power the appliances you need in your RV. Your goal is to match the total panel capacity to charge your house batteries effectively.

Heating and Cooling

Here are some tips to keep yourself warm/cool off the grid while conserving energy at the same time.

Battery-Powered Portable Heaters

Portable heaters are perfect for those who are looking to camp during winter. They use a minimal amount of electric power and, as such, allows you to conserve your RV house batteries.

Wood Stove

Most RVs already have wood-burning stoves available. They create minimal smoke, which can be piped through a window.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps take heat from outside your RV and transfer it in when needed. It’s said that they may give off up to four times the amount of heat that portable heaters can.


A liquid propane (LP) gas system is something that is built into many RVs. Propane is handy for operating your fridge, heating your hot water, and running your cooktop.


Vacationing and traveling in an RV can be a fantastic and liberating experience. Hopefully, these RV camping tips will give you the courage to break away from electricity-sourced campgrounds and experience nature’s true freedom.

Happy camping!