By Steve Savage, Mobility RV Service
Every so often someone seems to reinvent the notion that an all-electric RV — one with no propane system at all — is an idea just waiting for folks to snatch up. I’m afraid that belief is mistaken and remarkably shortsighted, unless you’re speaking about an all-electric system that is designed from the ground up.
This idea normally comes about from someone who was born with a fear of propane. Never mind that many — if not the majority — of RV fires are due to issues that fall into the categories of either “electrical” or “other.” The reality is that propane systems are safe — as long as they are not modified and are used as designed. RV fires overall are hardly common. How many RVers have ever even seen one? I would venture to suggest only a very small number.
Here is the issue with ripping out the propane system and going all electric. To do so requires appliances with substantial power draws and the use of either a 50-amp system or a highly modified 30-amp system so appliances are not all attempting to “drink” from a 30-amp power cord at the same time.
Then there is the issue of flexibility. What do you do when you want to camp where there is no shore power? Don’t say that you will just use a solar array and a battery bank to feed an inverter — at least not until you calculate the numbers and costs of same. Solar systems are never cheap investments and large battery banks add costs and sometimes maintenance. I have worked on systems which depended on ten 125-pound batteries and multiple 3,000-watt inverters, but you would be hard-pressed to pack that much into a standard RV.
The option of running a generator to meet the demands of this all-electric RV all the time brings to mind a case a number of years back. In that instance, an RVer parked near another RVer’s rig. The former felt that his right to uninterrupted power trumped his neighbor’s need to sleep. The neighbor became increasingly irate (perhaps due to a lack of sleep) and began beating on Captain Electric’s generator — receiving a fatal gunshot for his efforts. I do not know how it ended for the shooter, but the story is true.
Then there are questions regarding what heat source for winter camping, what if the generator refuses to start and it is dinner time, and all of the other issues having the option of propane as a backup power source represents. Just a whole lot to consider before starting on the revamp road creating a one-of-a-kind that also likely will languish at some point in the resale market. Just my opinion, if you will, but a really bad idea.
sign photo: davidflanders on flickr.com