Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
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
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.
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.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .