Boondock RVing

Components of an RV electrical system.

With a little bit of gumption you can liberate your RV from the leash of the RV parks. Run it untethered, off the grid. Camp in a wild place, or in a parking lot. Takes some advance planning, maybe some more gear, certainly a change of spirit. This book will help. While its technical specs are out of date by a few years, the general drift of the book’s advice is right on. Like in anything else off the grid, there’s much talk about batteries, inverters and cables. There is not much here about mail forwarding, etc, which is best covered by hanging out on the forums at Escapees, the watering hole website for full-time RVers.

Escapees is a membership club for full time RVers which offers a popular mail forwarding service. You can get your postal mail and packages forwarded in a hundred different ways and schedules. Since it is based in Texas, your official residence can then be located in a state without income tax. Its 35,000 members are eager to share their knowledge of the RV life with newbies.

Also, Workamper is a good online bookstore full of RV-related titles. Guides to: Finding work on the road, cooking, repairs, shopping guides for new rigs, directories of camp grounds, Rving in Mexico and Alaska, dealing with insurance, etc.. Also a book that lists what stores lie at each exit of the interstates! Most of the published lore focuses on snowbirding, and RV parking, rather than boondocking.

Overall, Boondocking RVing is the best book about the logistics of long-term nomadic RVing.

– KK

Escapees RV Club and Mail Forwarding

Workamper

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The Complete Book of Boondock RVing
Bill Moeller
2007, 176 pages
$12
Available from Amazon

Sample excerpts:

Additionally, the cost of staying in private campgrounds is increasing, going up by a dollar or more per night each year. We recently read an article in RVBusiness magazine, written by a campground spokesman, that stated the industry envisions campground prices will eventually reach a level of 50% the cost of a midlevel hotel or more. Consequently, if you would normally pay $100 a night for a hotel room, you would pay $50 a night in an RV park.

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Retail Stores and Restaurants
Retail and chain stores often have large, well-lit parking lots. We have camped at Fred Meyer, Kmart, and Wal-Mart stores (or Camp Wally as they are more commonly called). In fact, Wal-Mart carries an edition of the Rand McNally road atlas with an insert that lists all of the U.S. and Canadian Wal-Marts. other options might include discount warehouses, such as Sam’s Club, or restaurants, such as Cracker Barrel and McDonald’s.

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Casinos are excellent places for convenience camping. We don’t know of any casinos that prohibit overnight camping, unless they have a commercial campground. Of course, they expect you to patronize the facilities, so at least eat in their restaurants, which often have excellent buffets at reasonable prices. … With the profusion of casinos being built all over the country, they can make great overnight stops with good food and entertainment. Some casinos have regular RV parks, but still allow boondocking in certain areas of the parking lot.

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You can use flexible water tanks to transport water to the RV.

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We have two catalytic heaters — a small one (1,600 to 2,800 Btu), which is mounted on the wall, and a medium-sized one (3,200 to 6,000 Btu) we can move around as needed. We’ve kept warm in some below-freezing temperatures with the catalytic heaters as our only heat source.

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Our catalytic propane heater with the folding doors that we made to protect the cabinetry near it.

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There is a bit of controversy over whether 6-volt or 12-volt batteries are better in a battery bank. Two of the arguments for using 6-volt batteries are (1) there are fewer cables involved in series wiring, so there are fewer connection to corrode; and (2) in 12-volt parallel wiring, one of the batteries in a two-battery bank will receive most of the load and most of the charge, and therefore will fail faster than the other.

The first argument has some validity as there are fewer cables in series wiring, so there is less corrosion. The second argument is not necessarily true, if you wire the bank as shown above. if a battery goes bad in a 12-volt bank, you can just disconnect it and use the remaining one. You’ll still be getting 12 volts. With a 6-volt bank, however, one bad battery means the loss of the whole two-battery bank.

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Should you tilt your panels and follow the sun? … We have seen rigs with their panels mounted on racks that allow them to swing around to track the sun. Frankly, this just seems like too much work to us, plus we don’t really think it’s necessary. Also, when panels are tilted up, they can be more easily damaged by the high winds that occur during the winter months, particularly in desert areas.

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Three 100-watt solar panels installed lengthwise on the roof of a friend’s motorhome.