Neophyte boondocker interested in staying long term in the woods

Neophyte boondocker interested in staying long term in the woods

 

Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking. 

Hi Bob,
In the past you have probably reflected on various boondocking techniques. If so, some reruns would be appreciated. For a neophyte boondocker interested in staying in the woods like maybe for 2–3 weeks: How to maximize energy usage? Routine for use of generator and inverter? How to minimize and manage waste? —Dan

Hi Dan,
The challenge here is the 2–3-week time frame. To accomplish that you need to practice more efficient energy usage than boondocking for just a few days. The challenge is a combination of limiting usage and recharging batteries. The obvious way to limit usage is to only use appliances and other electrical devices that draw amps from your battery(s) in the most efficient way. To accomplish this, run your generator while using heavy-draw appliances at the same time. For instance, take showers and wash dishes (both use the water pump), and use the microwave and hair dryer during the same time you run your generator to recharge batteries. The generator will then run those appliances instead of them pulling amps out of your batteries. 

Solar panels

Severely limit long usage periods of appliances, such as leaving lights on when not needed (waking up and going to sleep on the sun’s schedule helps cut down on lights), reducing time watching TV and using your computer (you’re boondocking, enjoy the outdoors or read a book). When reading books, use battery-powered book lights and be sure to carry lots of fresh rechargeable batteries that can be recharged when you are again hooked up.

Use a multimeter to read your battery charge level and don’t let them drop below 50% of capacity (about 11.5 volts) as it could shorten their life.

Generators are not particularly efficient at charging batteries, but one of the most effective upgrades you can do to extend your boondocking time (electrically speaking) is to install solar panels with enough capacity (use this online worksheet calculator) to run all your systems for a typical day after a single day’s worth of charging from the sun. And you can always add another panel to increase that capacity.

Look for the How to minimize and manage waste? part of your question next week. 

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .

##RVT810

 

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7 thoughts on “Neophyte boondocker interested in staying long term in the woods

  1. livingboondockingmexico.blogspot.com

    We’re not huge energy consumers but do like comfort. We have a 235W panel and two 6V batteries. We use our laptops, charge our phones, watch television (LED) and use our electric blanket at night when cold. Our source of heat is our Mr. Heater. I would really like to have an additional panel and two more batteries.

    One important thing is the location of the panel. Ours is in the front half so that we can park the bedroom in the shade, cool for naps and watching a movie.

    We’ve gone several months at a time without hookups. They really aren’t necessary.

    1. Bob

      You have proven it can be done. Solar panels made a big difference in my boondocking. I never missed my generator once I adapted to solar and DC power. It is possible to extend your time in the woods with solar panels and extra water containers. Black tank filling up then becomes the limiter, but in most rigs that takes a long time if you are extra conservative in putting water into the tank.

  2. Tumbleweed

    Anyone who wants to boondock regularly should respect the desire of most other boondockers for peace and quiet. In other words, get solar panels and don’t use a generator at all.

    1. Steveb

      Sometimes using a generator is unavoidable.

      1. Bob

        You can get used to not using a generator if you change your habits somewhat. For instance, using a fantastic fan or parking in the shade to avoid using the A/C. You can cook without using the microwave and make coffee with a Melita instead of a Mr. Coffee. With solar panels charging your batteries you won’t need your generator (which is very inefficient for charging batteries), and an extra blanket negates the need for an electric blanket.

    2. Bob

      Sounds like a good plan to me.

    3. Marhsa F. Tegl

      For those that want total peace and quiet, maybe park further away from all other campers? Myself, I would park further away so I didn’t bother anyone.. but, hey, it’s the outdoors, we’re all family, let’s all enjoy nature.

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